Speed and the Newest Packers: Perception vs. Reality

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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.

TERRELL MANNING/OLB, Pick 163 ran his 40 in 4.79, which placed him 9th out of 13 OLB.

ANDREW DATKO/OT, Pick 241 ran a 5.32/40 which placed him 11th of the 25 OT to run.

The reviews are mixed amongst the rookie free agents who were timed in Indy.

SEAN RICHARDSON/S, ran a 4.52/40 which was 2nd fastest of all S.

MICAH PELLERIN/CB, tied for 19th in CB timing with a 4.61. But if as rumored he converts to S he’d be 9th fastest.

JARRETT BOYKIN/WR was timed at 4.74 which was dead last among the 40 WR to test.

MARC TYLER/RB had the slowest RB timing with a 4.76/40.


I’m not saying the team got slower, or that straight line 40-speed is the only real measure of football speed, but I do believe that some writers and announcers way over played the “speed hunt” by the Packers. When I first heard the story I bought in. But checking some of the numbers says to me that Ted Thompson still selects his players based primarily on their on-field game productivity and how they fit into the Packers schemes and needs. Building a track team is still not his goal in crafting the Packers roster.

As I had mentioned in several earlier pieces the NFL’s decision to ramp Training Camp rosters up to 90 players this year plays right into the wheel house of Ted Thompson. It gives the team 10 more bodies to look at and assess. You just have to believe that 1 or 2 of the final 53 players on the September roster might not have been in Training Camp if 80 players were still the max. We’ll never know for sure but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

This roster expansion brings another aspect of player acquisition into play more heavily than ever. If you’ve been following my draft grade evaluation process then you know that as part of every draft grade I factor in the signing of Undrafted Rookie Free Agent, hereafter referred to as URFA. Even though the draft itself is the lifeblood of an NFL roster the average picks per draft is only 8 players when you factor in Compensatory Picks. Combine that with veterans and most teams now will have about 15-20 URFA from the current Rookie class on their roster.

For instance, as of a Friday the 22nd of June roster printing the Packers had 89 players under contract, or about to be. 27 of those players are rookies and only 8 of those are draftees. That means 19 of 89 roster Rookies were signed as Free Agents. That represents 21% of the whole roster. But what I find even more interesting is that of those total 89 players on the roster only 45 of them were Drafted. The other 44 were all signed as URFA at one time or another. So on this roster the percentage make-up is pretty much 50/50 between Draftees and Rookie Free Agents, as they were originally brought into the NFL player  ranks. That is not out of line with the rest of the League’s teams. Even though a higher percentage of Drafted players will make up final September rosters it still demonstrates that even though the NFL draft has been reduced to 8 Rounds through Collective Bargaining most teams would still have plenty of players on their Boards to go back to a dozen of more Rounds. Back when I first got seriously interested in the NFL in the early sixties the draft was 17 Rounds. No, I really don’t want to revert to longer drafts especially as long as WHITEY is running the Packers. I think their ability to go out and get another 15-20 players of their choosing puts them ahead of more than half the teams in the League. And that, in my opinion, is  a conservative estimate.

One last thing I want to get down in writing today is where Packers Rookies were ranked in my TOP 351 PROSPECT List.

This will be in order of my rankings not when or how the Packers acquired them.






#174    DALE MOSS/WR/

#190    B.J. COLEMAN/QB









That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


You can read more from Paul on the Packers and the NFL Draft on his site, Pigskin Paul’s Place.

17 thoughts on “Speed and the Newest Packers: Perception vs. Reality

  1. The speed most show at the Combine doesn’t transfer equally to the playing field.It seems TT agrees with that wholeheartedly…at least in my world he does.
    If TT does bring in more URFAs then most teams and if this has been an increasing number year after year with him as GM,one might think he is moving his thinking more to the College Recruiting than the draft as an absolute.
    The Dog and Pony Show of the Combine/Draft Draft vs The TT Lost and Found Recruiting Company..he seems to be doing just fine.

    1. The extra ten roster spots are not entirely ‘extra spots’ — what also changed in the new CBA is that draft picks count against the roster limit even when they are not signed. Previously draft picks had to be signed before they counted, so teams like the Packers just delayed signing any picks until after OTAs and minicamp were done.

      What this means is that this year TT had 90 spots, while under the previous rules he would have had 80 spots + 8 unsigned draft picks. Thats a net difference of 2 more players in OTAs this year. For TT that change is not insignificant, but its also not as big a difference as some people are assuming.

  2. The writers and pundits are using ‘speed’ as a universal term, and they’re using it out of context. The Packers did target quicker-twitch athletes that move quick laterally, possess good athleticism and play well in a box (short area quickness).

    The writers/analysts are expressing the right sentiment, just using the term ‘speed’ synonymously where they shouldn’t.

    Besides, how many plays a year throughout every game are determined by pure sprinters ‘speed’? Usually it’s the 4.8 40 combine guy NOT getting caught from behind by the speed guy.

    1. Absolutely right. It would be interesting to see the Packer rookies’ ‘speed’ rankings for the 3-cone shuttle and lateral movement, or the ‘quick twitch’ power combination of Bench press+Broad Jump+high jump. 40 times are not the only way to measure what the newsies commonly call ‘speed.’

    2. I agree. Both Perry and Worthy have that explosive first step which is critical. Disruption and distraction will have its desired effect. Should be fun to watch the defense again.

    3. MM reinforced what you’re saying. When asked in PC’s if the team got “faster” he spoke of them getting more “athletic”.

  3. To ED… don’t want to play semantics because the 90 number does represent 10 more players. Unsigned Picks are a thing of the past and will all be present when Training Camp opens. Those unsigned guys in previous years couldn’t practice til they signed so they weren’t PACKERS yet. When Camp opens TED will indeed have 10 xtra guys to evaluate and shuffle around.

  4. Pure speed is over rated, only Bob Hayes produced All Pro numbers as a former track star, the rest failed to last more than a couple years as backups. Hornung and Taylor both had quick starts that made up for average speed along with anticipation and toughness. Walter Payton was caught from behind often. Dick Lebeau who just entered the Hall of Fame had below average speed and started 14 seasons for the Lion’s and was in the top 5 in interceptions when he went into coaching. Only Jimmy Brown had it ALL, size, pure speed, lateral quickness and unbelievable desire.

    1. TARYN an lot of writers were very critical of TED just before the team started their current Play-off run.
      Now they leave him alone most of the time.

  5. The Packers do not need speed, this is a great organization and we don’t need drugs to ruin it……..

  6. If I’m not mistaken, Hayward had one of the fastest shuttle times for cb’s. I believe it’s far more important how fast a cb can change directions than just straight away speed.

  7. I know this article is principally about team speed but I wanted to comment about the draft rankings. Looking at Pigskins rankings of the new guys it looks as though Paul is saying that the Pack received good value on draft picks Worthy, Manning & Coleman, but overpaid on everyone else, especially Daniels. In addition he ranked FA’s Pellerin & Moss in about the middle of the drafted players. I don’t always know how to interpolate FA signings considering these players can go with anyone and management can’t rely on them ending up on their roster. So from a value standpoint it looks like the Pack are below average, but based on Paul’s website they got the second best grade in the NFC. I’m wondering is he saying that the Pack got such great value on some of the players (including the FA’s) that it more than offset the fliers Ted took (McMillian and Daniels)? Or is it that Ted targeted team needs so much that this makes this a successful draft. Just wondering why Paul graded out at a B+ when the parts don’t seem to add up (unless the FA’s the Pack signed carry a lot of weight). I guess a good part of Pigskins column deals with the high percent of FA’s on any given roster.

    1. MOJO: Sounds like I need to clarify a bit here. I always like to compare my Prospect rankings with those of teams around the League. It’s most of my basis for giving out grades. My B+ grade overall is based on getting good players who also fit the PACKERS schemes. I think TED laways does that. What I really like about this year’s Rookies is that I think many of them can contribute as Rookies and will not need to be Red Shirted so to speak. I do count Rookie Free Agents heavily either pro or con. A lot of work goes into finding & signing those guys by the better teams and the PACK is one of the best at it every year. I’m only 1 guy, part time so when the PACK unearths a MOSES and I don’t have him ranked it’s probably more on me that I didn’t even list him. My list will always be different that WHITEY’ Sand that should be good news for PACKERS fans. When WHITEY and his guys don’t outso me in player evlauations then they are in trouble. But i also have to have faith in myself and stand by most of my projections.
      I like what the PACK did. I think the roster talent is improved. I do not thiink TED went out of his way to target speed only.
      Glad some of you found the article interesting enuf to generate some active dialogue.
      Thanks PIGSKIN PAUL

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