Grading the Packers Rookies: Preseason Week 1

Davante Adams

While it’s a pretty pointless endeavor to grade picks right after the draft, it does start to make some sense to start grading players when they’ve actually stepped on an NFL football field against NFL level talent across from them.  For the next four weeks, I will be grading each player selected in the 2014 NFL draft and seeing how they progress.  In terms of grading, obviously I will be excluding Jared Abberderis, who is out on IR and Jeff Janis, who missed the first preseason game with a shingles (aka adult chickenpox) infection.  Also, grades will be curved based on where players were drafted, a lot more is expected from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix than is expected from Demetri Goodson thus grading will be harder on the 1st round draft pick.

Round 1, Pick 21: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (B grade, B grade overall) - Clinton-Dix played 29 snaps on defense mostly on the 1st and 2nd team squads and surprisingly played a lot of “strong’ safety, as mentioned by our own Jay Hodgsen, the Packers are remaining a defensive team that rolls their safeties so it’s important for both players to be capable of playing free and strong spots.  Other than that, Clinton-Dix held his own, he wasn’t particularly challenged in the passing game and was where he was supposed to be on run plays.  The two plays that did stand out were his recovery on a pass play where he managed to get back into position and knock the ball down and a running play where he completely missed against Dexter McCluster.  Perhaps most important, Clinton-Dix appeared to be where he was supposed to be and was a part of the defensive playing calling, two signs that he is getting a hang of the defense.  Overall, a very solid first performance.

Round 2, Pick 53: Davante Adams (A grade, A grade overall) - First off, this grade is not including Adam’s special teams play, which obviously was an F.  I do find it a little odd that the Packers decided to try out Adams, who has no experience in returns in college, in monsoon weather on the first preseason game.  Either way, Adams play on offense was much better and might signal big things to come.  First off, Adams is not very fast but runs very crisp routes and at least against the Titans defense was often open and by a wide margin.  While often times his quarterbacks straight up missed him being open or threw him some wobbly balls that he couldn’t reel in, I think he is a player to keep an eye out on, especially if he starts seeing Aaron Rodgers behind center.  The only thing limiting his growth is likely the huge amount of talent ahead of him, but either way I would say Adam’s week 1 performance was the best of the draft class.

Round 3, Pick 85: Khyri Thornton (F grade, F grade overall) - Do you remember Thornton playing at all? I certainly didn’t until I watched the game a second time.  Thornton played mainly with the 3rd team defense and logged 30 snaps and was completely unremarkable.  While Thornton wasn’t exactly drafted for his pass rushing acumen, he certainly didn’t surprise anyone and it is a little alarming to see so many defensive linemen ahead of him in the pecking order, especially considering he was a high draft pick.  On the field, he wasn’t able to generate any push and often times was the linemen furthest back from the ball, which naturally makes running lanes bigger.  Secondly, Thornton appears to lack a second move or way to disengage with his blocker as he often ends up getting stonewalled.  It is possible that the Packers are asking him to be a blocker soaker in the mold of Ryan Pickett, but even when Thornton moved to defensive end he failed to get much push.

Round 3, Pick 98: Richard Rodgers (B grade, B grade overall) - Rogers was maybe the surprise player on the 1st team offense and saw action as both a tight end and a fullback.  While his run blocking isn’t pretty he is effective and likely more practice and playing time will improve his technique.  As for his pass catching and route running, Rodgers does a good job as a bigger receiver in shielding the ball away from defenders and shows the ability to adjust his body to make the catch.  While I’m not sure if there is a pecking order between him, Brandon Bostick and Andrew Quarless, Rodgers does seem to be the most complete package of the 3.

Round 4, Pick 121: Carl Bradford (D grade, D grade overall) - Bradford was simply not in the game much, playing only a mere 8 snaps with the 3rd team defense.  This number is surprisingly low considering Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba, both who are on the roster bubble got 23 and 15 snaps.  The two undrafted rookie linebackers Adrian Hubbard and Jayrone Elliot both received 6 snaps, which makes Bradford’s 8 all the more surprising since he was a mid round draft pick.  Overall, Bradford was largely invisible on the field, which of course might be due to the fact that he simply didn’t have many chances to stand out.  Overall, the only reason I can think of his low snap count is a poor showing in practice, or else he should be seeing a lot more snaps than he did.

Round 4, Pick 161: Corey Linsley (B- grade, B- grade overall) - Linsley played 29 snaps on offense, mostly with the 2nd team and acquitted himself well.  While he wasn’t often asked to solo block defenders, he did keep his head on a swivel and was an effect combo blocker.  When he was asked to solo block, Linsley really shined in run blocking, where he was able to generate good push and open up lanes for his running backs.  While his pass pro is still pretty ugly, Linsley did fare well on passing plays as well.  Overall, both Linsley and starter JC Tretter did well in week 1 and it’s probably still in the air who wins the position at the end of the day.

Round 6, Pick 197: Demtri Goodson (C grade, C grade overall) - Goodson had a very rookie like first game, making some really great plays followed by some really poor ones.  On the positive side, Goodson has plenty of playing speed as he was able to keep in the hip of receivers running go routes all night.  On the negative, Goodson doesn’t have much technique when things go poorly; he was obviously called for defensive holding once when he failed to get his head around to block the pass but also grabbed his receiver on the passing touchdown to Bishop Sankey near the end of the game.  I think Goodson’s chances would be a lot higher were he able to demonstrate some return abilities but at the moment I would say its 50-50 if he makes the team, but at very worse the Packers will try to get him on the practice squad.

 

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • Archie

    Looks like Teddy boy blew two more top draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. In 10 years, has he ever drafted an effective DL? Nope. That’s one hell of a record. A blind man could do a better job. It’s not how hard you work that matters, it’s how effectively you work. Worthy turned out to be quite a pick. First we trade up for him, then we move him out of his natural position, then, when he fails, we trade him for a conditional 7th round pick. That is so Teddy. Can’t get enough of those 7th round picks, not even the conditional ones. The emperor has no clothes on but the homers are blind and extend Teddy boy into the distant future. Really?

    • Jay

      It was the first preseason game in a quagmire. To use that to make the giant leap and declare players are busts and Thompson missed in the draft again is very unfair.

      While the defense can certainly be better, the Packers have made the playoffs five straight years. We all know how much Ted hates free agency, and the players on the roster weren’t Mike Sherman’s. They had to come from somewhere.

      Drafting defensive linemen is one of the hardest positions to get right, and it’s right up there with quarterbacks. You’re going to have some busts, but you’ll also get some correct. Sure, Thompson has plenty of misses, but let’s give it a full season before we declare another mis-draft.

      • Archie

        Yes it is early and it is possible for somebody to reverse course 180 degrees but that is a rare happening in my experience.

        Usually what you see is what you get. CMIII was good from the get-go. Raji looked OK at first and then went 100% dog. Hawk has never looked good. Neither has Harrell, Worthy, Perry, Neal or Jones.

        How can our defense be any good when we have missed on 4 #1 picks and 2 #2 picks over the last few years. Thompson can’t draft defense to save his life! Never could (see SEA under his stewardship). And we are supposed to believe the answer is Julius Peppers at age 34? Really? TN put a TE on him Saturday night and he disappeared.

        BOTTOM-LINE: Pack front 7 was soft last year and, it was soft Saturday night.

        Packer fans will know for sure soon enough. For now my vote is this front 7 is no better than last year’s, maybe worse. Secondary looks improved.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          CMIII was not very good to start out with, first off he was injured for a lot of the preseason and he actually wasn’t all that good till the middle of the 2009 season. But really, Matthews really became dominant in 2010.
          Lastly, the Packers defense line was soft during the preseason game on purpose; the goal of the preseason isn’t to run a full package of plays and blitz on every down, its to play vanilla and get some grading done. The Packers defense is going to look soft, hell do you really think the Packers running game is that good?

    • aaronqb

      Get a life Archie

      • Archie

        Try making a constructive comment jerk-off.

    • djbuttplay

      Mike Daniels is effective.

      • Archie

        True. In situations. But do you really think he will hold up as a full-time 3-4 DE? I doubt it. But yes, he is deserving of a roster spot.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Johnny Jolly was also quite effective. Also you can’t really argue with the team basically being in the post-season every year under his watch. Sure he’s screwed up but so has every other GM. I won’t say he’s brilliant but he’s definitely good.

  • funcrusher

    I think you’re being a bit hard on Thornton, though I haven’t rewatched the game like you have.

    On the Mike Neal missed sack, the QB rolled out and Thornton chased him down causing him to throw a check down. It didn’t work out very well, but Thornton did his job.

    Later, he nearly recovered the fumble across the field on the sideline after the QB strip.

    There was at least one other QB pressure that I saw.

    Like I said, I haven’t rewatched the game to see how far he was being pushed back on run plays, but he had a few nice moments.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Thornton did manage to get into the backfield once on his own, but on the Neal sack, the QB was so far out of position that it becomes very easy to slip past the blocker (who can only assume the QB is still in the pocket). As for the almost fumble recovery, first fumble recovery is largely a matter of luck, and second even though he was the 2nd person to get there after Rolle missed the ball, he still wasn’t the one to come up with the ball. I will say however, this is only the 1st preseason game so there’s a lot of time for him to improve.

      • funcrusher

        You make good points.

        By the way, I really like the concept of this article. I’m looking forward to reading it the next few weeks.

  • BRinMilwaukee

    I never liked the pick of Khyri Thornton in the 3rd round. Of course, I also didn’t like Rodgers in the 3rd. and he might turn into our starting TE. Time will tell….

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I’ll reserve my final judgement until I see him play more, but it is a little disconcerting to see him so far down on the depth chart; from what I can tell, Raji, Daniels, Jones, Neal, Boyd and Pennell are all ahead of him.