Category Archives: 2014 NFL Draft

12

July

Cory’s Corner: Will teams Johnny Manziel-proof themselves?

Johnny Manziel made this social media post on a  recent trip to Las Vegas. If it affects his play remains to be seen.

Johnny Manziel made this social media post on a recent trip to Las Vegas. If it affects his play remains to be seen.

With the explosion of social media in the last few years, many think that sports teams will need to Johnny Manziel-proof themselves.

Or will they?

By now, everyone has caught a glimpse of Manziel’s mini-vacation photos he took in Las Vegas a few months ago. In it was the usual charade of Vegas: scantily clad women in a party atmosphere with Johnny and his friends.

Now I don’t think this is a big deal. Manziel hasn’t thrown a pass in the NFL yet, and he decided to go to Vegas moments after he was issued the Browns playbook.

Yet I was surprised to see and hear about how many people were upset that he wasn’t at home cramming his brain with hot routes, silent counts and hand signals.

First of all, let the players fail before jumping all over them for a decision based on free time.

Taken a step further, what if said player was a veteran? Would Packers fans have a problem if Aaron Rodgers started filling up social media with himself partying in the offseason?

Football players live in a 24/7 media bubble that makes them feel like they are being suffocated. That’s why offensive linemen usually give the most candid quotes, because that group of hard workers hardly ever gets a microphone thrown in his personal space.

Obviously, athletes have to be a little bit more cautious with what they let the world to see. This isn’t high school where you can post a picture of something and only your close friends are going to see it.

But then again, I don’t think it’s fair for athletes to live as hermits. The reason Rodgers is so adored in Green Bay is because he is approachable. He is spotted in the grocery store, restaurants and doing other regular people things. But Packers fans, being in the smallest NFL town, are smart enough not to ruin every public appearance that he makes by splashing it up on social media every time.

What it all comes down to is filtering. Herm Edwards, the ESPN NFL analyst who is outspoken to a fault, had a brief talk at the NFL Rookie Symposium a few years ago. The main thing he said was, “Think twice before you hit send.”

---- Get AddToAny
9

July

What Can the Packers Expect from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Eddie Murphy?

OK humor me for a moment, but watch Trading Places or Coming to America and tell me it doesn’t look like the Packers just drafted a young stand up comedian from Brooklyn, New York.

Alright with that out of the way, we often hear about how some positions are more “primed” for a successful rookie season than others.  Quarterbacks is often cited as the position with the hardest transition between college and the pros likely because college football has a more diluted pool of talent and a wider array of “gimmicky” schemes that often just don’t work in the NFL (see: Wildcat offense).  Wide receiver and offensive linemen are another two positions often cited as having slow progression, again likely because the NFL route tree is considerably more complex and refined than in college and the same can be said about protection schemes and the wider array of pass rushing options professional teams use.  On the other hand running backs and cornerbacks are said to be some of the quickest positions where teams see positive production; the Packers enjoyed perhaps one of the finest rookies seasons out of Eddie Lacy last year on his way to the rookie of the year awards likely in part due to the fact that running the football has a lot of innate talent involved.  Both running backs and cornerbacks also likely rely more on physical traits than the other positions and as a result also have some of the lowest career averages of any position.  But what about safeties?  On one hand, safeties do rely on their speed and agility much in the same way a cornerback does because often times safeties and cornerbacks switch roles.  On the other hand, safeties are responsible for a lot more than just covering a man or a zone; they have to be able to read offenses and routes, fill in gaps and provide run support and in the Packers 3-4 scheme are also responsible for calling the majority of the assignments in the defensive secondary.  So which one is it? Will the Packers be getting an instant rush of success and production out of Clinton-Dix or will he require a season or two to really come into his own?

28

June

Cory’s Corner: Colt Lyerla worth the risk for the Packers

We’ve officially reached the dead point of the Packers’ season.

Colt Lyerla was taken by the Packers as undrafted rookie. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.

Colt Lyerla was taken by the Packers as an undrafted rookie. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds in addition to a 39-inch vertical.

You won’t see oversized guys moving in fridges and TVs into St. Norbert College dorms until July 25, so this is when things start to slow down a bit.

But until that day approaches, one of the most important positions heading into next season is tight end. And with Jermichael Finley’s status still uncertain, despite his nameplate still being attached in the locker room, the that job looks to be wide open.

And the more I examine it, why can’t Oregon standout Colt Lyerla be the next sure-handed tight end target for the next generation? He’s got impressive raw ability, has a knack to get open, maintains soft hands which is helpful for tough grabs in traffic and at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, he has the frame that will keep on the field on running and passing downs.

Everyone knows that Lyerla left his Oregon teammates early last season and also pled guilty to cocaine. But during his two-and-a-half years in Eugene, he played for two head coaches, which isn’t exactly easy for any kid, let alone one that saw his parents divorce at age 9.

The Packers can give something that Lyerla has never had before or has never taken advantage of before: A proven, successful structure and an ear to listen. More than anything, Lyerla needs to be placed into a routine that works to give him confidence, which will earn him trust with Aaron Rodgers. And also he’s going to need to be able to find players on the team that will allow him to explain where he’s coming from, which will allow Lyerla to trust his teammates.

Lyerla has shown off his athleticism to the Packers this spring with amazing leaping catches that have even wowed some members of the defense. He’s got the ability. There’s no doubt about that, which is why he made The Play of the Week on SportsCenter in high school.

Amazingly enough, Lyerla is a lot like Finley when the Packers drafted him as a 21-year-old in 2008. Finley had plenty of physical attributes and filled up a scout’s notebook with superlatives, but he also publicly criticized one of the best Packers passers of all-time and didn’t accept his role on an offense that had lots of firepower.

25

June

What is fair value for Eddie Lacy?

Eddie Lacy Pro Bowl

How much would you pay this guy?

Packers fans have been quipping that the running back is the most fungible position in the NFL; I’ve said it, my colleagues here on the blog have said it and tons of you have said it in your comments (yes we do read your comments).  In truth, it’s an easy thing for Packers fans to say simply because the Packers aren’t the type of team that revolves around running the ball; with Mike McCarthy at the helm, Aaron Rodgers behind center and Ted Thompson on top of the front office, the Packer’s have been a pass-first, pass-second, run as an afterthought type of franchise.

On the flip side, ask any Minnesota Vikings fans what they think about the running game and I’m sure you’ll get a completely different response.  Outside of a miraculous 2009 season, there hasn’t been much for Vikings fans to hang their hat on; sure the defense has been occasionally good but their football identity is running the ball with Adrian Peterson.  However Peterson is a once in a generation type of player and the simple fact is that running backs are not very valuable in the NFL; they’re production has plateaued lower than their receiving counterparts, the massive toll playing the position takes on their body and future production and the shift from the workhorse back to the running back by committee approach means you don’t need to find a running back that can do it all.  As a result, less and less running backs are being drafted, especially in the first round.

Packer’s fans might just have to start rethinking about the value of the running back position as the Packers might have a real star on their roster with Eddie Lacy in green and gold.  While Lacy was a godsend for the Packers last year and was essentially the offense while Aaron Rodgers recovered from his broken clavicle, Lacy was paid a mere $405,000 for perhaps the best season a running back has had since Ahman Green in his heyday. Keep in mind this is after winning rookie of the year honors; when Charles Woodson won defensive player of the year honors in 2010, the Packers responded by giving him a huge increase in pay even though he still had plenty of years left on his contract.

15

June

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said this week that the current group of Packers receivers could be the deepest he’s had.

Remember before the 2006 season when Brett Favre said that teat team was the most talented he’s been a part of and we all chuckled? We thought it was just Favre being Favre, talking out of his you know what and maybe even having a little fun with his buddies from the Super Bowl teams of the 1990s.

Well, after a year of seasoning, the Packers went to the NFC championship game. Favre saw something in that group a lot of us overlooked and that talent eventually emerged. We can debate whether Favre’s statement was accurate when it came out of his mouth, but it ended up being a lot more accurate than we thought it would be.

Now Rodgers is heaping praise on a receiving group that features two rookies, a guy coming off a broken leg, no proven tight end and Jarrett Boykin, who appeared dead in the water last season before doing a 180 and coming up big when the Packers needed him.

Is Rodgers going overboard with his proclamation of this group’s depth? Not necessarily.

Favre qualified his praise of the 2006 team by saying it was also the most unproven and inexperienced team he’s been a part of. Most people conveniently overlooked that part of the quote.

The key phrase in Rodgers’ recent praise for his receivers is “could be.”

If Rodgers would have continued talking on the subject, he would have continued by saying his receivers “could be” his deepest if:

  • Randall Cobb returns to his old self.
  • Jarrett Boykin takes another step.
  • Davante Adams is the real deal and fills James Jones’ shoes.
  • Jared Abbrederius proves he’s the fifth-round steal a lot of people think he was.
  • Jordy is Jordy.
  • A tight end emerges as a red-zone threat.
  • Someone we’ve never heard of plays well.

Rodgers probably didn’t feel the need to expand on the “could be” portion of his praise because he’s confident that if his collar bone stays in one piece, a lot of those “ifs” will disappear and “could be” will turn into reality.

Packers News, Notes and Links

11

June

Offensive Linemen Musical Chairs, 2014 Edition: who stays, who goes?

Outside of special teams, nothing is more confusing, more obfuscated or more esoteric than offensive line play; We all know that Joe Thomas is supposed to be one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL right now, but do you or I really know that?  I’ve never watched a game specifically focused on Thomas (which would of course require me to watch a Browns game…..so no thanks), and I suspect that even Browns fans probably haven’t really paid all that much attention to him.  The only real reason I know of Joe Thomas at all is 1) he went to Wisconsin and 2) I’ve been told he’s one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL today.  At least with other positions, there are splash plays or statistics we can fall back on whether it be sacks, yards after the catch, Dwight Freeney’s spin move, the back shoulder catch etc.  But for offensive linemen, none of that really exists; the “pancake” has never really gotten off the ground as a established metric of offensive linemen success nor does a great block ever make the Sportscenter highlight reel.  Add on top of that there are actually 5 positions on the offensive line, and we get a confusing mess of contradictory statements; offensive linemen must all work together, but each have different jobs.  Tackles are tackles and guards are guards, except some are left tackles but not right tackles and some are right guards but not left guards.  Center is a unique position, unless it isn’t and you put a guard in there.  There is a distinct difference between “interior” linemen and “bookend” offensive linemen, unless of course you kick your tackle to play guard.

In all of that, the Packers are faced with a conundrum; there are 5 positions and traditionally 2 backup positions, making 7 offensive linemen total.  What I’ve done is made a mental excercise of some combinations of offensive linemen that are likely to happen when the Packers roster is reduced to 53.  A couple rules: I’d highly doubt the Packers carry any more since offensive linemen aren’t all that useful on special teams meaning they’d almost always be on the inactive list.  Of course the Packers have had more than 7 offensive linemen in the middle of the season due to injuries and what not, but its obviously not their first choice.  Also there needs to be a backup for both tackle and guard; supposedly there is a significance between the two but Ted Thompson probably disagrees since the vast majority of offensive linemen that have been on the Packer’s roster were college left tackles.

8

June

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers footba

If B.J. Raji and A.J. Hawk had a baby, he would fit in perfectly on the Packers defense.

(Pause)

Now that you’ve cleaned up the vomit and are fully recovered from the mental image of Hawk and Raji breeding, please continue reading:

All signs are pointing to Hawk starting at linebacker for the Green Bay Packers for the 9th consecutive season. Over the last eight years, Hawk has amassed 832 tackles, 18.5 sacks, nine interceptions and four forced fumbles.

If I were to ask you to name a memorable Hawk tackle or a key play where he forced a fumble or knocked down a pass, could you do it? I’m racking my brain right now and the only play I can come up with is when he sacked Sam Bradford in 2011 and flipped off the Packers bench.

That play was memorable, but not necessarily because of the impact it had on the game.

Raji had dollar signs in his eyes when he turned down a lucrative contract extension from the Packers midway through last season. Those dollar signs turned to tears after Raji’s play fell off a cliff, the extension offer was withdrawn, and Raji returned to Green Bay on a 1 year “prove-it” deal worth $4 million.

If I were to ask you to name a memorable play in Raji’s career, I guarantee everyone reading this will cite the pick-six against the Bears in the 2011 NFC title game and the ensuing Raji Dance. Raji also had 6.5 sacks in 2010 and occasionally gets featured in replays blowing up the center or pushing back a double team and wrecking a running play.

It’s safe to say both Hawk and Raji have failed to meet Packers’ fans expectations. Yes, Hawk is consistent, but with the No. 5 pick in the draft, Packers fans wanted a guy who scared the other team, not someone who’s just consistently ok. Raji has had moments of brilliance, but gets wiped off the line far too often and disappears for long stretches that lead to breakdowns in the Packers run defense.

Basically, if Hawk had some of Raji in him — an occasional flashy play that changed a game — and Raji had some of Hawk in him — more consistency — both players would be closer to meeting the expectations of Packers fans.