Category Archives: Zach Kruse



Diondre Borel Catches the Eye of Aaron Rodgers on Day 1 of Packers’ Minicamp

Photo: David Dermer, Getty Images

NFL teams rarely keep six receivers on their 53-man rosters. Seven is almost unheard of.

But if the young players comprising the Green Bay Packers depth chart at receiver continue to impress as they have to start this offseason, GM Ted Thompson may have no other choice than to select more than five for his final roster.

After the first day of the Packers mandatory three-day minicamp Tuesday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers singled out one of those young receivers to heap on more praise: Second-year receiver Diondre Borel.

“Diondre Borel is a guy that gives us a different look because he plays a similar position of that of Randall Cobb,” Rodgers said in an interview with “Diondre has made as big of jump as anybody from year 1 to year 2. He really made the most of his reps on the scout team last year.”

The Packers signed Borel as an undrafted free agent in July of 2011. Despite catching just two passes for 35 yards during the preseason, Borel impressed Thompson and the Packers staff enough in camp to earn a spot on the team’s eight-man practice squad to start 2011.

What made Borel’s inclusion on the practice squad all the more impressive was the fact that the former Utah State Aggie was making a transition back to receiver from quarterback, a position he played during his final three seasons in college. At Utah State, Borel threw for almost 7,000 career passing yards—ranking him second in school history—after playing in eight games as a receiver during his freshman season.

Borel was impressive enough during his time on the Packers’ practice squad that he eventually received an offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be on their active 53-man roster—an invitation Borel declined for a pay bump in Green Bay and a chance to make the roster in 2012.

At just 6-0 and a little under 200 pounds, Borel doesn’t possess a unique frame or blazing speed. 6-foot-4 Tori Gurley—another practice squad receiver who will be competing with Borel for a roster spot—has the height that no other Packers’ receiver has. But Rodgers thinks Borel’s history as a quarterback gives him the mental capacity to make his mark on the receiving depth chart this summer.

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NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB Alabama

Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB Alabama

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

Player information:

  • Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
  • 6-foot-2, 279 lbs.
  • Upshaw surprisingly weighed in at 279 lbs at the Alabama Pro Day, 6lbs heavier than he weighed at the NFL combine. He says he feels “250″ thanks to workouts he’s been doing, but wanted to come in under 270. Reportedly ran a 4.77 40 yard dash.

NFL Combine:

  • N/A 40-yard dash
  • N/A 20-yard shuttle
  • N/A 3-cone drill
  • N/A broad jump
  • N/A vertical jump
  • 22 bench press reps
  • 32″ arm length
  • 9″ hands

News & Notes:

A two-year starter for the Crimson Tide, Upshaw notched 17 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss in those two seasons.  He played both defensive end and linebacker, with primary responsibility to get after the quarterback. Upshaw consistently was at his best in big games – doesn’t shy away from the pressure.

What they’re saying about him:

Frank Cooney (CBS Sports): “Alabama coach Nick Saban predicts Upshaw can play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense or “put his hand in the dirt and play defensive end” in the NFL. Based on his play in college, regardless of where Upshaw lines up, he will probably wind up in a quarterback’s mug. Used as an edge rusher, sometimes as the Tide’s so-called “Jack” linebacker and sometimes as an end, Upshaw thrashes blockers with great hand and arm action and shows ample speed and agility to find his way into the offensive backfield. He has instincts beyond that of a pure pass-rusher, with an uncommon awareness for draws, screens, counters and reverses. Although he was not asked to drop into coverage often at Alabama, he has a fluid athleticism that may allow him to adapt to such a demand.”

National Football Post (Wes Bunting):  “I like him as a 34 outside backer who can play on the strong side, take on linemen at the point and also rush the passer. He’s at his best attacking downhill, using his strong hands to disengage and always is around the football. Looks like a year one starter to me at the next level with scheme versatility.”

NFL Combine: “…due to his size, strength, and play against the run, Upshaw has late first-round talent. Look for him to pair with a pass-rush specialist opposite of him at outside backer in a 3-4 scheme where he can set the edge, work against tight ends and be a heavy run defender.”



2011 Packers Yearbook: Most Disappointing Player

2011 Packers Yearbook: Most disappointing player

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Tramon Williams went from one of the most promising CBs in the NFL to givng up record numbers in passing yards. A shoulder injury and little support from the pass rush didn’t help Williams, but he still gets my vote for most disappointing.

Al: For me it has to be Mike Neal.  Based on his play early in 2010, I fully expected him to really come on and be a handful for offensive lineman to contain. Of course, he never got the chance and when he did come back, you could see he wasn’t the same guy. And now he’s suspended for four games. Ugh. I haven’t given up on him, though. I still want to see what he can do if healthy. Still holding out hope…

Chad: Perhaps the “underrated” tag fits better here, but I just can’t get over the disappointment of Mike Neal. The most unfortuante part is that this disappoint extends from his rookie year all the way into next season. His injuries, while pretty much out of his control, have been the biggest disappointment for Mike Neal and a large source of frustration to boot. But his latest four-game suspension for 2012 is his most recent disappointment. This kid could have been doomed from the beginning.

Kris:  AJ Hawk.  It looked like he finally turned the corner in the 2010 season, but 2011 was a disaster for the Ohio State alum. It was so bad that there is now legitimate debate about replacing him in the lineup with DJ Smith, an unkown who showed flashes in limited playing time.  For someone touted at the “sure thing” of the 2006 draft, Hawk is not close to meeting those expectations.

Michael: Jermichael Finley. As a huge fan of Finley, I was disappointed with his 2011 campaign. It wasn’t just the dropped balls, but the lack of consistent domination that he is capable of. He showed it off in the Arizona playoff game in ’09, in the Week 3 Bears game this season, but most times he was just another guy. It was hard to watch Finley be just another guy as other tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham had monster seasons.



2011 Packers Yearbook: Most Valuable Player (not named Aaron Rodgers or Clay Matthews)

2011 Packers Yearbook:  Most Valuable Player (not named Aaron Rodgers or Clay Matthews))

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Greg Jennings. This one would be more obvious if Jennings didn’t get hurt, but he gets the nod because of how powerful the Packers passing game was.

Al: I can’t pick on anyone on offense besides Rodgers, sooooooo, I’ll go with  Ryan Pickett. In the two games that Pickett missed, the Packers gave up 344 rushing yards. Playing the majority of the time in a two-man front, Pickett is just an immovable force on the line of scrimmage. Dom Capers always says his defensive philosophy starts with stopping the run, so that makes Pickett my choice. My second choice would be Desmond Bishop, for similar reasons.

Chad: It’s hard to compare offense to defense, but since the defensive unit was so bad this year, I think I’ll have to go with an offensive player. That being said, I can’t get past the performance that Jordy Nelson had this season. True, Greg Jennings is the better receiver, yet Nelson was putting up numbers all year. I can’t fault Jennings for the injury, but it’s hard to dismiss how well Nelson filled in for him and consistently delivered. And according to ProFootballFocus, Jordy was second only to Victor Cruz in yards per route run among wide receivers.

Kris:  Greg Jennings.  He’s matured into the leader of a lethal receiving corps with Donald Driver’s role becoming more diminished.  Many other teams would have trouble keeping this many talented pass catchers happy, but Jennings (along with Driver I suppose) has helped keep the other receivers’ focus on the ‘we’ not the ‘me.’ 

Michael: Greg Jennings. I have to agree with Kris and say that Jennings’ growth as a leader were extremely valuable to the team in 2011. Jennings has always done things the right way, but especially during the playoff run in 2010 and the 2011 season, Jennings really grew into a leader. He was extremely consistent on the field and became more and more vocal throughout the year.



2011 Packers Yearbook: Most Photogenic

Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Donald Driver2011 Packers Yearbook: Most photogenic

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Donald Driver. People will always love the smile.

Al: Clay Matthews. It’s all about the hair and image. So Cal Clay can give you multiple looks, tied back in a pony tail for public  appearances, loose and flowing when he’s just chilling around town. Whatever he does with it, he takes a hell of a  picture and the women love him.

Chad: It’s hard to get past the charisma of Donald Driver. From his pearly whites to his shiny bald head and diamond earrings, there’s no bad angle one could find with a camera. (Okay, floating back down to Earth now . . .)

Kris:  Aaron Rodgers.  That s**t-eating grin of his cracks me up every time whether it is part of a photo bomb endeavor or just on TV.

Michael: Greg Jennings. While Rodgers has more fame and Driver has the unbeatable smile, Jennings shines in front a camera. You can almost see his personality bursting through. Although not the level of Driver’s, Jennings also has a pretty notable smile.

Thomas: Aaron Rodgers, he might be the most consistent quarterback in the NFL right now, but he’s even more consistent in photo bombing the captain’s pictures.

Zach: Rodgers, Jennings and Driver are all great choices, but we can’t leave out Clay Matthews, can we? He’s Hollywood because he wants to be.



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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He is a PFWA member who can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for




2011 Packers Yearbook: Most likely to become a Packers coach

2011 Packers Yearbook: Most likely to become a Packers coach

(Be sure to place your vote in the poll below.)

Adam: Jarrett Bush. I could see Bush as a future special teams coach. On the field, Bush is obnoxious, passionate and a little goofy — the perfect recipe for a future in coaching special teams.

Al: If he was still around, I would pick Mark Tauscher. I always think offensive line when it comes to who would make a good coach,  and of the current packers group, Jeff Saturday is the logical choice. But I don’t feel like being logical today, so I’m thinking out of the box here and saying Nick Collins. Collins may soon find out his playing career is over, yet is probably not ready to let go of the game. there’s only one solution: become a coach.

Chad: Call me crazy, but I think A.J. Hawk could fit the bill. The Packers don’t seem to want to get rid of him, and he’s been more of a cerebral player than a physical one. Maybe they’ll offer him a coaching position as an alternative to cutting him in the future . . .

Kris: Can we count Mark Tauscher? Mike McCarthy kept him around the team in 2010 after he was placed on IR and the players in locker room obviously respect him.  If not him, then Clifton.  His knowledge of the offensive line would make him an ideal coach.

Michael: Donald Driver. I have no idea if Driver would even consider coaching once his playing days are over, but there is something to be said about a player that carved an unlikely path to NFL success. Driver has the intelligence, personality and an ability to connect to others that would be beneficial for a coach to possess.

Thomas: I’m going to go with another offensive linemen and pick Jeff Saturday.  My reasoning is that the Colts offered to keep Saturday with some sort of agreement to work in the front office in the future, and that says to me that he wants to stay in football once he’s playing career is over.  Saturday has probably seen it all and was a focal point of probably the most complicated offense in the NFL for 13 years with Peyton Manning so I’m sure he understands how to teach other linemen to do the same.



NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Jonathan Massaquoi, OLB, Troy

Troy OLB Jonathan Massaquoi

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy

Player information:

  • Jonathan Massaquoi, OLB, Troy
  • 6-foot-2, 262 lbs.
  • Majored in social sciences at Troy and is the cousin of both Visanthe Shiancoe and Mohammed Massaquoi.

NFL Combine:

  • 4.89 40-yard dash
  • 4.53 20-yard shuttle
  • 7.38 3-cone drill
  • 120″ broad jump
  • 33.5″ vertical jump
  • 20 bench press reps

News & Notes:

A top prep prospect in the state of Georgia, Massaquoi committed to Troy early but failed to qualify his freshman year…Spent one year at Butler Country Community College, racking up 20 sacks, before transferring back to Troy in 2008…Redshirted in 2009…Was a first-team All-Sun Belt conference selection after posting 13.5 sacks in 2010…Had five games with more than one sack…2.5 sacks against Ohio in Troy’s bowl game…Posted just 5.5 sacks his junior year after being named preseason defensive player of the year in the Sun Belt…Finished his two-year career at Troy with 31 tackles for losses…Has long arms at over 34 inches…Looks more like a developmental prospect at outside linebacker rather than an immediate upgrade/fix.

What they’re saying about him:

Frank Cooney (CBS Sports): “Some NFL teams think Massaquoi is an untapped talent who might have benefitted more if he played college at a higher level with more expectations and better competition. He has an interesting combination of strength and agility that served him well at that level without showing much technique.”

National Football Post (Wes Bunting): “An effective small-school pass rusher because of his length. However, isn’t a real flexible kid, lacks a sudden/explosive element to his game and looks more like a reserve only to me.”

NFL Combine: “He put an “above average” season on film and is a middle- or late-round prospect. He is hurt by the fact that he is such a tweener, playing defensive end in college at 250 pounds without showing the type of athletic ability that would intrigue a 3-4 team to move him to outside linebacker. Massaquoi’s stock will depend on his pre-draft workout numbers — he could be selected nearly anywhere.”


Video Analysis:

  • Not much explosion to his game
  • Looked lost in run support
  • Motor always appears to be running
  • Shows some bend/ability to get skinny
  • Very quick off the edge on sacks vs. Ohio