Category Archives: Predictions

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?

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21

May

Packing The Stats: What Makes a Returner?

Packing the StatsWith the selection of Jared Abbrederis by the Packers in the 5th round, fans all over Wisconsin gushed that one of their own was finally picked by the Packers.  Fans were quick to heap praise on Abbreferis’ try hard attitude, underdog story and “little engine that could” mentality.  Others however questioned the logic, Abbrederis was going into a loaded position and doesn’t have the physical tools to really contribute right away.  How about as a returner?

Lacks elusiveness and is a straight line athlete. He will catch the ball and get some yards (what its blocked for) but he won’t be a good returner that can make plays, just a guy that won’t make mistakes. If your ok w/ that from a return man that’s up to you. I prefer a little more.  - Stroh 2014/05/10 17:51

Challenge accepted!  I think the question before addressing whether Abbrederis could be a good returner for the Packers is first to look at what kind of players the Packers typically like.  I would argue that the Packers do not seem to be very fond of speed/jitter-bug returners that are currently in vogue like Dexter McCluster, Quintin Demps, Trindon Holliday, Tavon Austin etc (interestingly not many of these types of players did all that well in returning last year).  Randall Cobb might be the closest player to that mold, but I would argue that Cobb had a much better and diverse skill set than any of the players I just listed.  What I decided to compare combine/pro day results of notable Packers returners from 2008-2013 to the top ranked returners from the 2013 season based on ProFootballFocus metrics (I excluded some players who had incomplete combine/pro day numbers to make analysis a little more straight forward).

The combine/pro day drills I chose to look at were the 40 yard days, which measures straight line speed, the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone, which measures agility/flexibility and finally the broad and vertical jumps, which measure acceleration.  I didn’t analyze bench press for instance because I felt it was largely irrelevant to being a good returner, who typically don’t block or tackle anyone.

Workbook1

 

Data 1

Data 2

9

May

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was the perfect pick for the Packers

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was the 21st overall selection by the Packers. He had 51 total tackles for Alabama last year as a safety.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was the 21st overall selection by the Packers. He had 51 total tackles for Alabama last year as a safety.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix fell right into the Packers’ laps.

Green Bay was widely considered to take outside linebacker Ryan Shazier or inside linebacker C.J. Mosley but when both were off the board, Clinton-Dix became the obvious choice.

Clinton-Dix is perfect because he’s fearless. He’s fearless about prowling near the line of scrimmage and disrupting the running game. He’s fearless about punishing receivers over the middle and he needs to be fearless about slowing down Green Bay’s kryptonite — the 49ers read option.

In 11 games for Alabama this past season, Clinton-Dix had 30 solo tackles and 3½ tackles for a loss. Those are solid numbers for a linebacker, let alone a safety. He will not back down from the line of scrimmage and that’s exactly what the Packers need after hemorrhaging over 370 yards a game on defense this past year.

At 6-foot-1, he’s big enough to cover the taller, rangy receivers the Packers see twice a year in 6-foot-5 Calvin Johnson, 6-foot-4 Brandon Marshall and 6-foot-3 Alshon Jeffery.

Despite Nick Saban’s reign of college football supremacy, his former standouts have struggled as defensive backs. Guys like cornerback Dee Milliner, who was taken 9th overall by the Jets in 2013, safety Mark Barron, 7th overall by the Buccaneers in 2012, and Dre Kirkpatrick, 17th overall by the Bengals in 2012.

Yet, Clinton-Dix, who should start opposite of Morgan Burnett, will flourish in a defense that was similar to what he used to in Tuscaloosa.

This was a great need pick. Of course general manager Ted Thompson will never admit to picking for a need but it filled a hole nonetheless.

Looking ahead

The Packers have the 21st selection (53rd overall) in the second round and the 21st (85th overall) and 34th selections (98th overall) in the third round tonight.

My first pick is Southern Cal center Marcus Martin. The versatile interior lineman would be a great fit to challenge J.C. Tretter at center. My next pick is Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland. Undersized at 6-feet, but his ball-hawking instincts are stuff of legend.

8

May

Packers 2014 NFL Draft – 10 Last-Minute Predictions, Opinions and Whispers

2014 NFL Draft

2014 NFL Draft

As the 2014 NFL Draft is about to begin, here are some things that have been whispered into my ear as well as some of my own opinions and predictions.

1) Whisper: Packers have done EXTENSIVE research on two safeties in this draft – Deone Bucannon and Kenny Ladler.
2) Prediction: The Packers will draft a WR in Round 2 or 3 and probably another in Round 6 or 7.
3) Opinion: I really think the Packers MUST do whatever it takes to pick up safety by end of Round TWO. Preferably a strong safety.
4) Whisper: Among the Day 2 DT group, Packers like Ego Ferguson, Kelsy Quarles and Caruan Reid.
5) Prediction: Packers will trade back at some point to pick up another late round pick and draft a QB. My favorites: Brett Smith and Taj Boyd.
6) Whisper: Atlanta has inquired about the availability of Morgan Burnett via trade. Don’t know if it went anywhere, but they asked.
7) Opinion: Packers would be smart to add a legitimate Red Zone threat like Austin Sefarian-Jenkins
8) Whisper: Packers have done extensive research on Scott Crichton who is not considered a good 3-4OLB convert candidate.  The whisperer thinks he can be a Jared Allen type.
9)Prediction: Based on #8, the addition of Peppers and Guyon, the subtraction of Pickett and Jolly and other indicators, we will see a decent amount of straight-up 4-3 this season. That would also make Shazier an even  better fit.
10)Whisper: Not Packers related, but I hear Falcons are ready to pick Taylor Lewan and Vikings eyeing Justin Gilbert.

Funny, last year I wrote the following, “Overall, I have much less confidence in my thoughts above than in previous years.” Well here we are again – same feeling, even stronger.  The whole QB uncertainty especially makes it pretty hard to predict.

Anyway, those are my Predictions, Opinions and Whispers – what do you think?

 

JUST FOR FUN: Let’s take a quick look at what we got right in previous years:

2011

Whisper: If Derrick Sherrod were to fall into their lap.  Then he’s the guy.     DONE
Prediction: The Packers will take a wide receiver in rounds 2-4    RANDALL COBB
Opinion: This should be the year Green Bay breaks out of it’s disdain for small wide receivers. Give me Jernigan or Cobb    DONE

8

May

My One and Only 2014 Packers Mock Draft – ALLGBP.COM

2014 NFL Draft

2014 NFL Draft

As the Packers’ draft analyst for DraftTek.com, I’ve been involved with more than 20 mock drafts since the 2013 season ended. They’re not entirely mine, however, as the actual picks are made by computer.  I get to input needs information, and can try to “grab” certain players (if they are available at that spot) or “lockout” players from contention.

Analysts for the other 31 teams all do the same thing. What results is the closest thing to a real draft simulation (they don’t call it a mock) I’ve seen anywhere. It ‘s quite unique and if you are not familiar with it, you really should check them out.

What’s even cooler is that on draft day, the “simulation” is updated within minutes of when each pick is selected. So, when the Packers are up at #21, it will re-run the simulation within minutes, eliminating the 25 other players already picked from contention for the Packers’ pick. So at any point in the draft, you can get a quick view at what the landscape looks like for the rest of the draft. Isn’t that rather amazing? It’s a great thing to be checking as you watch the draft unfold…

Here’s how today’s  today’s final DrafTek  NFL Draft simulation ended up:

1 Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
2. Deone Bucannon, SS Washington St.
3. Dion Bailey, FS, USC
3b) Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky
4) Taylor Hart, DE Oregon
5) Corey Linsley, C Ohio State
5b) Daniel McCullers, DT Tennessee
6) Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
7) Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina

Picks 1,2,4 and 7 were mine.  I highly doubt Bucannon lasts past the early second and last few days have been full of speculation on Shazier being taken before the Packers pick. In all, this has been one of the toughest drafts for me to get a handle on. The #1 pick is still unknown and never have the QBs been such a complete question mark.  How they come off the board will have a lot to say what the first two rounds end up looking like.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for an “all-mine” mock draft, taking into account needs, value and trying to predict who might be available at each pick:

26

April

Cory’s Corner: Running back position is on life support

We all know what the NFL has become.

It’s a week-to-week aerial circus that promotes scoring and keeps fans interested with countless big plays.

LeSean McCoy is one of the best running backs in the NFL. But, it's his versatility that makes him so good, not just his running back ability.

LeSean McCoy is one of the best running backs in the NFL. But, it’s his versatility that makes him so good, not just his running back ability.

Thirteen teams accounted for at least five 300-yard passing games last year with the Broncos and Saints leading the way with 12 and 11.

The 300-yard passing game used to be the litmus test for solid quarterback play. But with the increased number of passing attempts and the stricter rules for defensive players, it’s tougher for a receiver to be guarded man-to-man.

With the passing game the way it is now, will we ever see the running back be revived? The running back used to be not only the focal point of an offense but of a team. He was the guy that was in charge of softening up the defense and also took the reins when it was time to salt the game away.

This has been a pretty pathetic offseason if you’re a running back. Fifteen backs have signed for an average contract of two years, $4.17 million. Contrast that with kickers and four of those signed for an average of three years, $6.4 million.

I never thought I’d see the day when kickers would be netting more than running backs. But kickers can be an equalizer with a strong foot for field goals and kickoffs.

Another factor that has really hurt the running back position is the recent trend of platooning the position. It really never allows a running back to get into a rhythm and see the changes and shifts the defense is making during the course of a game. There’s something to be said about bringing a running back in that is a change-of-pace. For example, DuJuan Harris would be the perfect home run threat to the battering ram that is Eddie Lacy.

The West Coast offense has also played a part in the running back’s slow demise. Bill Walsh was a genius for coming up with a system that uses precision short passes to take the place of plodding runs. And that has also put more pressure on players and coaches to draft the right quarterback.

12

October

Which Joe Flacco will the Packers see in Baltimore?

Joe Flacco has been pretty average for most of his career, except for the 2012 playoffs.

Joe Flacco has been pretty average for most of his career, except for the 2012 playoffs.

Prior to the 2012 season, Joe Flacco rejected a contract worth about $14 million per year. At the time, that contract seemed generous for a quarterback who had won five playoff games yet had never thrown more than 25 touchdowns in a season through four years.

But Flacco thought otherwise, so played out the final year of his rookie contract.

After a 9-2 start last year, the Ravens lost four of their last five regular-season games and backed into the playoffs at 10-6.

Then, Flacco put together a four-game postseason stretch in which he led the Ravens to a Super Bowl title, throwing for 11 touchdowns without an interception, while posting a passer rating of at least 106.2 in each game.

Following Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco cashed in with a six-year contract worth around $20 million annually. He may be only slightly more (or not) than an average NFL quarterback, but he took a gamble—and it paid off.

This week, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers may be forced to put all his chips on the table to generate a pass rush against Flacco and the Ravens, as Green Bay will be without Clay Matthews for about a month.

Last season, with Matthews and Nick Perry out of the lineup nursing injuries, the Packers were forced to go with Erik Walden and Dezman Moses as their outside linebackers. This year, they’ll start Perry and Mike Neal in Matthews’ absence.

Matthews is unquestionably Green Bay’s most valuable player on the defensive side of the ball, and thanks to a hamstring injury that kept safety Morgan Burnett out of the lineup for the first three games, the Packers have yet to play a full game with their top two defensive players.

But even if the secondary is taking form with Burnett back, Flacco figures to have plenty of time to throw the ball behind a strengthened offensive line and against a Matthews-less Packers defensive front. Baltimore traded for Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe a couple weeks ago, and he’s expected to make his first start this weekend on Flacco’s blindside.

Flacco is what he is. As far as NFL quarterbacks go, Flacco’s a pretty Average Joe.