Category Archives: Jerron McMillian

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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16

April

Packing The Stats: The Importance of Pre-Draft Visits

Packing the StatsSo it’s not exactly a busy week in the world of the NFL (try as they might to might to make it a year long sport), and there isn’t really anything going on until the draft; the Combine and Pro Days are essentially over, free agency has definitely hit that point where teams are now waiting to see what pieces they manage to pick up in the draft before signing anyone new and basically the headlines are now composed of DeSean Jackson missing the Redskins voluntary training camp (i.e. not all that voluntary after all so it would seem) and Aldon Smith trying his best to impersonate a terrorist at an airport.  Needless to say the media dull Packers are even more boring, apparently Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb are going to the Kentucky Derby…which is great and all but in all honesty I don’t really care.

There is however something going on that you should care about…if only a little.  That event is the annual tradition of pre-draft visits.  Essentially, every NFL team is allowed to invite 30 players from the college ranks to their facilities for whatever reason; sometimes potentially draftee’s are just going to get a medical update on an recent injury, some go through positional drills or even chalk board stuff (made famous by Jay Gruden’s QB camp series on ESPN) or even just a more in depth interview for the front office/coaching staff to really get to know a player.  Frankly, the Packers rarely make the news with their visits, as opposed to the Cleveland Browns, who essentially ignored the QB workouts and are instead inviting all big QB prospects for pre-draft visits instead (which is brilliant and idiotic all at the same time, got to love the Brown’s MO).

So who exactly do the Packers invite for visits and does this mean anything in regards to the draft as a whole?  Below is a list of every confirmed report of a pre-draft visit I could find going back 3 years (I chose 3 years because that’s all the data I could find, deal with it).  Also listed is each player’s alma mater, their ultimate draft pick and which NFL team initially signed them.  Two players, Jakar Hamiliton and Brandon Hardin (listed in italics) were both undrafted rookie free agents that initially signed with other teams but were released and then signed with the Packers.  I would wager that the Packers do indeed use their full allotment of 30 players, but some of these visits will never be reported (especially if they are unknown players with unknown agents), so keep in mind that this list is almost certainly incomplete.

18

February

Jordy Nelson 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  Remember during the offseason when everyone called the Packers soft and demanded more toughness? People were mostly talking about the defense. Nobody expected a wide receiver to raise the Packers’ level of toughness, but Jordy Nelson did just that.

Jordy Nelson

2) Profile:

Jordy Nelson

  • Age: 28
  • Born: 5/31/1985 in Manhattan, KS
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 215
  • College: Kansas St.
  • Rookie Year: 2008
  • NFL Experience: 6 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Bounce back. Nelson spent a good portion of the 2012 season banged up and his numbers nose-dived from his amazing 2011 campaign. He needed to stay healthy this season and return to being one of the more underrated receivers in the NFL.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Whenever Aaron Rodgers was in trouble, he’d launch an impossible-looking pass toward Nelson on the sideline. Nelson would somehow catch it and get both feet down with a defender or two draped all over him. Any time that happened, it was a highlight. His 22 catches for 20 yards or more was also nice. If you’re looking for a low-light, Nelson “only” had eight touchdowns. Given the Packers struggles in the red zone, it would’ve been nice to see Nelson come down with a few more scores.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Nelson made the Packers tougher. I know you don’t think of receivers making a football team tougher, but Nelson did. He had knee surgery on Aug. 5, yet never missed a game. He took shots and held onto the ball. He made catches with defenders all over him. He pulled out the Jordy stiff arm every now and then. He was a chore for defenders to bring down on hitch routes. He didn’t quite have the success over-the-top that we got used to in 2011, but he improved in just about every other area.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: It was a strange game on offense for the Packers against the 49ers in the playoffs. Rodgers looked tentative early and the Packers never really got rolling. Nelson caught seven passes, but only for 62 yards. It was a good, not great, playoff game for No. 87.

Season Report Card:

(A) Level of expectations met during the season

(A) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(B) Contributions to team during the playoffs

18

February

James Jones 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction: James Jones is another example of a Packers wide receiver increasing the team’s overall toughness. Jones missed more than two games with a knee injury, then returned and played hurt for the next month. He also played through a broken rib late in the season. Jones risked further injury during a contract year, which says a lot about his character and toughness.

Packers WR James Jones

2) Profile:

James Jones

  • Age: 29
  • Born: 3/31/1984 in San Jose, CA
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 208
  • College: San Jose St.
  • Rookie Year: 2007
  • NFL Experience: 7 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: I’m not sure anyone expected Jones to catch 14 touchdowns like he did in 2012, but they were expecting him to continue being a reliable target in the passing game.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: An 11-catch, 178-yard game in week 2 against Washington tops Jones’ list of highlights. Catching an 83-yard touchdown against Detroit is also up there. Injuries and the loss of Aaron Rodgers caused Jones’ production to dip in the middle of the season. He also dropped a couple of tough, but catchable, passes against the 49ers in the playoffs.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Jones averaged almost 2.5 more yards per catch in 2013 than he did during his breakout campaign of 2012. He seemed to be having more success getting downfield before he was slowed by the knee injury (he struggled to get separation the remainder of the season). When he was healthy, Jones was exactly what the Packers needed him to be: a tough, fundamentally strong, dependable receiver.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Jones’ performance against the 49ers is a game he’ll want to forget. He failed to come down with the ball on three separate occasions when he had a chance to make a big play. Each catch wold have been a difficult one, but it’s those types of plays that need to be made in the playoffs.

Season Report Card:

(B) Level of expectations met during the season

(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(D-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B-

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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6

February

Datone Jones 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers DE Datone Jones

1) Introduction: Rookie defensive linemen rarely light up the league during their first season. There was hope that Datone Jones could be an exception to that rule.

2) Profile:

Datone Jones

  • Age: 23
  • Born: 7/24/1990 in Los Angeles, CA
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 283
  • College: UCLA
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 1 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Give the base defensive line some much-needed pass rush. Jones got after the quarterback here and there, but rarely from base formation and not on a consistent basis.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Jones notched three sacks and registered five tackles over a two-game stretch against the Bears and Eagle. Before that outburst, Jones didn’t have any sacks and only managed one measly tackle. Jones also rarely played late in the season.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Jones would show flashes of pass-rushing ability here and there. He’s also fast enough to make plays downfield if a runner reaches the open field. Jones needs to spend the offseason studying game film of teammate Mike Daniels to learn how to better use leverage and to always play angry.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: As the season wore on, Jones’ playing time was decreased (never a good sign). Fellow rookie Josh Boyd was actually getting more playing time in the end. Jones managed to flush Collin Kaepernick out of the pocket on one of the 13 snaps Jones played in the playoff loss.

Season Report Card:

(D) Level of expectations met during the season

(D) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(D) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  D

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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23

January

Jerron McMillian 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Jerron McMillian

Jerron McMillian

1) Introduction:  Packers safety Jerron McMillian entered his second season with high hopes of taking hold of the team’s second starting safety spot opposite Morgan Burnett.  The team also apparently had those same hopes, as general manager Ted Thompson chose not to address the safety position in the draft nor in free agency.  After a rookie season in which McMillian flashed some potential in both run support and pass coverage, he severely regressed in 2013.  He was beaten out for the starting safety spot by M.D. Jennings and relegated to special teams duty by mid season.  McMillian was cut in early December for his subpar play and reportedly clashing with some of the coaching staff.

2) Profile:

Jerron McMillian

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 4/2/1989 in Newark, NJ
  • Height: 5’11″
  • Weight: 203
  • College: Maine
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 2 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  It would seem that McMillian was the primary reason why Thompson felt he could address other positions during last year’s offseason.  After spending a fourth round draft pick and seeing what McMillian could do in 2012, the team wanted him to win the starting spot over M.D. Jennings and become a regular contributor in the secondary.  They were also hoping that McMillian would continue to progress in his development and flourish in both base and nickel packages.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: McMillian did start at safety to open the season but only because of an injury to Burnett, who wasn’t healthy enough to play.  McMillian missed four tackles in the week one loss to the San Francisco 49ers.  By week three, the Packers had likely already seen enough to know that they had probably misjudged McMillian’s abilities.  They benched him in favor of undrafted and unproven rookie Chris Banjo.  During the week six game at Baltimore, McMillian had his worst showing of the year by allowing two straight long pass plays, one of which went for a score and kept the Ravens in that game.  By week seven, McMillian was relegated to special teams duty.  In early December, McMillian’s true low-light came when the team decided to release him.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Simply stated, McMillian contributed nothing to this year’s Packers team and was easily the most disappointing story in 2013, given what was expected and hoped for.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: N/A

12

December

Packers GM Ted Thompson is in a Slump

Maybe the shades are one way Packers GM Ted Thompson is trying to snap out of his slump

If Packers general manager Ted Thompson was a baseball player, he’d pull up his socks higher, hop over the foul line whenever he ran onto the field, put his hat on backwards, take four warm-up swings before each at-bat instead of three — anything to help change his luck and snap him out of this nasty slump.

Slumps are a combination of human ineptitude and a streak of poor luck. Good players eventually snap out of them, but every now and then, a long, nasty, confidence-killing slump can wreck a once promising career.

Thompson will snap out of the rut he’s currently in. It’s been a rough one, though, marked by a slew of injuries, questionable draft decisions and ill-timed contract extensions. Here’s who and what Thompson can blame for his slump

Himself
Thompson did nothing to upgrade the safety and backup quarterback position this offseason, both obvious positions of need. Instead of drafting a safety or dipping into free agency, Thompson stuck with his current players and the results have been dismal. It got so bad that Thompson cut Jerron McMillian last week, a fourth-round pick  a season ago.

As far as backup quarterback, I usually don’t get all wound up about that position because, in my opinion, if Rodgers goes down for an extended stretch, the Packers are screwed. Well, Rodgers went down and the Packers fell flat on their face. Where I fault Thompson here is for not recognizing just how bad B.J. Coleman and Graham Harrell were. The time to cut bait with both of them was the offseason, not training camp after all the other decent backup QBs were off the market and it was too late to draft another one.

The football Gods
I know every team deals with injuries, but what the Packers go through every season is ridiculous. It’d be easy to pick at Thompson’s recent draft classes coming up short, but it’s hard because most of the players have been injured.

Thompson has drafted 36 players since 2010. Of that group, 18 have suffered significant injuries at some point during their career. That list of 18 includes guys like Bryan Bulaga, Nick Perry, Derek Sherrod, Randall Cobb, Casey Hayward, and Jerel Worthy.