Category Archives: 2012 NFL Combine

6

May

Cory’s Corner: Ted Thompson averages a draft whiff a year

Packers general manager Ted Thompson selected future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers with his first pick as the Green Bay GM.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson selected future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers with his first pick as the Green Bay GM.

This will be Ted Thompson’s 10th NFL Draft as the Packers general manager. He has been arguably the biggest lightning rod for criticism over the years.

There is inherent value in every round of the draft, but the most consistent value lies in rounds 1-3, which is where I also focus my attention.

Thompson did a masterful job early on. When you land a guy like Aaron Rodgers as your first pick to begin your new job, things are looking pretty good. He added safety Nick Collins and wide receiver Terrence Murphy, who were both forced to leave pro football early after suffering neck injuries.

The next year, Thompson did another excellent job by adding fifth overall pick in linebacker A.J. Hawk, second rounders in guard Daryn Colledge and wide receiver Greg Jennings and third round guard Jason Spitz. The only guy that was a question mark was third round linebacker Abdul Hodge because injuries forced him to only start one game in four NFL seasons.

But after hitting so many home runs in his first two seasons, Thompson was due for some whiffs. And that’s exactly what happened in 2007. Justin Harrell, arguably the worst pick of Thompson’s career, started just two of 14 games in his three-year career. It was a little head scratching that the Packers even used a first round pick on Harrell, who entered the league hurt after tearing his biceps at Tennessee.

Brandon Jackson is another strikeout. The former Nebraska track star/football player was able to play bit roles but is now looking for a job. James Jones gave the Packers a good return on its third-round investment. He proved he could start but was never capable of winning the top receiver job. The final whiff of 2007 is Aaron Rouse. The safety played just three seasons before signing with the now-defunct United Football League.

The following year, there were two more whiffs sandwiched in between a couple of home runs. Obviously, second rounder Jordy Nelson has carved out a pretty nice career as one of Rodgers’ go-to targets. However, second rounder Brian Brohm, after not being able to get comfortable with the speed of the NFL game, is now playing quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. The other miss was second round cornerback Patrick Lee, who only started one game in his Green Bay career. The other great get that Thompson secured was third rounder Jermichael Finley. Although his mouth got in the way early on, Finley was one of the most athletic tight ends in the game when healthy.

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26

June

Speed and the Newest Packers: Perception vs. Reality

Packers rookies speed

How do the new Packers compare speed-wise to other rookies?

Even though most of my time for the past month has been spent doing team draft grades, I have indeed been watching roster activity and the rumor mill. I want to touch on a couple of aspects of the Packers’ current roster and it’s composition.

But before I head in that specific direction I want to debunk one of the myths I heard during and just after the Packers 2012 draft. I heard talk on national TV and read several articles in print that a big goal for the team this off-season was upgrading team speed. My observation two months after the draft would be that rumors to that affect were greatly exaggerated. Either that or they absolutely had one of the League’s slowest collection of players coming out of the 2011 season, during which they went 15-1. Yes they lost to the Giants in their first Playoff game, but I think that has more to do with their D having problems (like many do these days) containing ELI, and the fact the Packers’ O suddenly decided to become a turnover and mistake machine.

I will grant you that some of their rookie additions could increase team speed incrementally if they pan out, but based on the simple numbers coming out of the combine, Green Bay is still going to look a tad slow indoors on fast tracks. Let’s just look at the numbers of players who are now Packers who ran a 40-yard dash at the combine and how they fared.

NICK PERRY, Pick 28, ran a 4.64/40 which was the second fastest of any DE in Indy. But as an OLB, which he is currently listed at, he would have been tied for 4th fastest. That’s good and I will grant you, a significant upgrade.

JEREL WORTHY, Pick 51timed at 4.79, which placed him tied for 10th out of 22 as a DT. IF he’s a 3-4 DE then you don’t want to know how far the list he was as a DE.

CASEY HAYWARD/CB, Pick 62 was timed with a 4.57/40, which made him the 17th fastest CB out of 32 to run at the COMBINE.

JERRON McMILLIAN/S, Pick 133 recorded a 4.56/40 in indy which made him the 5th fastest S out of 20. That’s a real plus.

10

May

Packers Undrafted Free Agents: Running Backs

Duane Bennett

Minnesota Gophers RB and Packers undrafted free agent Duane Bennett.

If you’re looking for a position group on the Packers roster that might be infiltrated by an undrafted free agent, running back is a strong possibility.

Ryan Grant is likely gone, James Starks can’t stay healthy, Alex Green is coming off a bad knee injury and Brandon Saine is unproven. Here’s a look at the Packers 2012 undrafted free agent running backs and why they might have a shot at making the team.

Duane Bennett, RB, Minnesota
Height: 5-9
Weight: 213 pounds
Pro Day Results: 40-yd. dash — 4.62; 20-yd dash — 2.70; 10-yd. dash — 1.56; 225-lb. bench reps — 28; Vertical jump — 35.5″; Broad jump — 10’00″; 20-yd shuttle — 4.16; 3-cone drill — 6.92.
Career Notes: Finished with 2,126 rushing yards, 13th in Gophers history. … 639 rushing yards on 166 carries (3.85 avg.) senior season. … 96-yard kickoff return for TD against Wisconsin week 10 of senior season. … Blocked a punt and returned it for TD senior season. … Earned freshman All-Big Ten honors. … Sophomore season ended after two games due to knee injury.

Overview
Because I live in Minnesota, I get a chance to see the Gophers play on a regular basis. The Gophers are usually a chore to watch, but they had a few intriguing teams under Glen Mason. Using offensive lineman that were a bit undersized but extremely mobile, Mason built the Gophers’ offense around a running game that featured guys like Marion Barber III, Laurence Maroney, Thomas Hamner and Gary Russell.

After Mason left, the Gophers went from being a mediocre team that was somewhat fun to watch to a terrible team that is painful to watch. Those impressive offensive lines and dynamic running backs now seem like a distant memory, especially the offensive lines. Just ask Duane Bennett.

Bennett was recruited by Mason and kept his committment to the Gophers after Mason was fired. Because Bennett was a Mason recruit, and because Minnesota’s offensive line has been abysmal in the post-Mason era, I have some hope that Bennett might be a better player than his college stats indicate.

Bennett is strong, his 28 bench press reps at Minnesota’s pro day would’ve tied for the most among running back at the NFL combine. He’s also overcome a serious knee injury and makes an impact on special teams. He looked indecisive at times in college, but it was hard to tell if he was actually indecisivie or if the Gophers line was so bad that he just didn’t know what to do with himself.

26

April

2012 Packers Mock Draft – My One and Only

As the Packers draft analyst for DraftTek.com, I’ve done at least 20 mock drafts over the last 6 months. 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 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, as the Packers are up at #28, it will re-run the simulation, eliminating the 27 other players already picked from contention for the Packers pick. Isn’t that rather amazing?

Well anyway, on to my personal mock draft, totaly devoid of any sense of reality and pure guesswork at it’s best:

2012 Packers Mock Draft

Round 1 (#28):  Shea McClellin, OLB Boise State – I’ve finally come around to the inevitable. If McClellin is there, the Packers will take him. I say I’ve come around because I’m not still not convinced McClellin is a first round player, but I so want OLB help that I’ll gladly take McClellin here. Problem is New England wants him also, and guess where they pick – just before the Packers. Alternates: Kevin Zeitler, Lavonte David

Round 2 (#59) Casey Hayward,  CB/S Vanderbilt - the answer to the Packers’ woeful secondary tackling, Hayward actually led his team in TFL as a cornerback! He’s a ball hawk, has excellent field vision and is also a prime candidate for a shift to safety. Alternates: Jamell Fleming, Brandon Thompson.

Round 3 ( #90) Derek Wolfe, DE Cincinnati – Powerful, cat-quick and the prototype size for a 3-4DE, Wolfe would be a fantastic addition to the Packers defensive line rotation. Alternates: Jared Crick, Ben Jones

Round 4 (#123) Nate Potter, OT Boise State – The best left tackle prospect you’ll find this far down in the draft. With a year or two to add some bulk, Potter could be competing for a starting job. Alternates: Matt McCants, Philip Blake

25

April

Green Bay Packers Draft Matchup: LB Shea McClellin vs. DE/LB Whitney Mercilus

Shea McClellin OLB Boise State NFL Draft Profile

Shea McClellin OLB Boise State

Both Shea McClellin and Whitney Mercilus could be considered late risers on most NFL draft boards, including the Packers’ board. Different types of late risers, but late risers nonetheless.

Mercilus had only two sacks and didn’t do much of anything at Illinois in 2009-10 before exploding for 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles in 2011. McClellin wasn’t a highly regarded recruit coming into Boise St., but kept improving and became a feared edge rusher and versatile hybrid LB/DE. While Mercilus was projected as a first-rounder as soon as “draft season” started, it took a while for McClellin to get the attention he deserved and start rising up boards.

If McClellin and Mercilus are still avalaible when the Packers pick in the first round, I would take McClellin. I think McClellin still has some room to grow as a pass rusher and I’d love to see him develop opposite of Clay Matthews. I also think McClellin is a better fit in Dom Capers’ defense. He can rush from the edge, drop into coverage, stunt up the middle and move around if needed as Capers disguises his coverages and schemes.

It’s tough to go against Mercilus’ numbers from last season and his obvious raw talent, but he plays a little too high for my tastes and I think he’s more of a 4-3 DE than a 3-4 OLB. I can’t see Mercilus dropping into coverage or doing much of anything else besides trying to chase the QB from the edge.

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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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25

April

Offensive Tackle Rankings: Packers 2012 NFL Draft Prospects

NFL Draft Logo Image

2012 NFL Draft

With the recent release of longtime Packers left tackle Chad Clifton and Derek Sherrod still recovering from a broken leg, the Packers find themselves operating without a real safety net at tackle.

Currently, Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse and Herb Taylor are the only other true tackles on the roster. We really have no idea if Taylor can actually play, and while Newhouse filled in admirably for Clifton last season, is he a true starter in this league? I think that question has not yet been answered.

Taking all of that in account, I think I just moved offensive tackle up my  priority list for Packers draft picks. There are quite a few nice development prospects at tackle in the later rounds, so I expect Ted Thompson to tap into that well and bring in another warm body to compete for a backup spot.

When Ted pulls that trigger, you can come here and see where he stands in the NFL scouting rankings, shown in the table below. But first, some tidbits on a mid-round tackle that could be calling Green Bay home:

Tom Compton:

While there is no true standout to capture scouts’ attention coming out of the lower level ranks, South Dakota’s Tom Compton could be the first offensive tackle from those ranks drafted, more likely in the fifth round.

Compton possesses good thickness throughout his waist and hips, along with a solid midsection, big bubble, good upper body muscle development and high-cut, thick thighs and calves. He possesses good arm length and a big wingspan, along with the above average hand length that allow him to lock on and ride a defender away from the ball. He also shows solid muscle development throughout his shoulders and chest, looking the part of a classic mauler, as he is big, stout and not the type that has a “jiggly” midsection.

Compton proved to be the “total package” at left offensive tackle as a senior, but the thing that really impressed was his quickness and balance as a lead blocker out of the backfield, as he showed his above average quickness and playing speed into the second level (see 2011 Southern Utah and North Dakota games). He has more than enough athletic ability to pull and get in front of the ball carrier on outside runs. He has the feet to adjust to blocks on the move and can easily slide to adjust to the edge rushers. When he plays tall, he will struggle to anchor, but he has very good balance and change of direction agility to recover.

23

April

Meat and Potatoes of the NFL Draft: Middle Round Prospects to Keep an Eye On

NFL Draft Logo Image

2012 NFL Draft

In last week’s Bridesmaids piece we went over how the cream of the draft is talked about way too much and we peeked just a bit into the crust of the matter with the late rounder’s and UDFA’s.

Today, lets look at the meat and potatoes of the draft, those 3rd though 6th rounder’s.  This is where teams are built; you just have to look at Packer players like Sitton, Lang, Jones, Bishop, Starks and more to see what these players do for a team.

Some of these prospects come out and play right away and even start. But most take a little time to become full time starters.  These players show how good a coaching staff really is.  The best coaching staffs see what these players can do and put them in a position to make plays, all the while teaching them the finer points of the team’s systems and techniques. When a player has to earn his playing time and/or fight to keep it, you get the best out of them.

In this area of the draft system, compatibility and the value from that has more to do with where a player is picked in these rounds then anything else.  One GM’s trash is another GM’s treasure.

I am going to list some players at the positions that Ted Thompson has to draft someone, according to most opinions. The best thing about all this is Ted Thompson has six picks from #90 through #197.  And if his other drafts are any indicator, that could end up being even more picks.

With the signing of Jeff Saturday, this is the area I expect to see the Packers draft a Center.  These Center prospects are ranked in the 100’s overall.

Michael Brewster 6-4 312 lbs. OhioState.  A bigger center with some length. Strong, moves well.  5.25 40, 29 reps at 225#, 4.60 short shuttle and 7.73 3cone drill.

Well coached, played in more of a pro style offense. Just a good football player.

The next player Philip Blake from Baylor is 6-3 311 lbs., 5.25 40 time, 22 reps at 225#, 4.65 short shuttle and 7.86 3 cone drill.

Blake brings a bit of nasty to the position.  Good in pass protection and brings that nasty to the run game.  Started at RT before moving to Center.