2014 NFL Draft Restrospective: What were we thinking?

Packers draft pick Ha Ha Clinton Dix named to ALL-Rookie Team

It’s only a couple days before the 2015 NFL draft, but I thought it would be apt to take a step back and look at the 2014 draft; what were thinking this time last year and has any of that come to fruition?  All scouting reports were taken from CBS, who unfortunately has removed these scouting reports or I would link them.

Round 1: Ha Ha Clinton Dix

  • Pros: A rangy, fluid athlete, Clinton-Dix covers a lot of ground against both the pass and the run and projects to either free or strong safety. He has the aggressive nature to attack ballcarriers and shows the read/react quickness to diagnose and take accurate angles in coverage. He has plus hands for the interception and shows vision and natural open-field running skills with the ball in his hands. Anticipates the run well, attacking the line of scrimmage to make some impressive stops up close.
  • Cons: Doesn’t have the preferred strength, at this time, to break free from blocks and isn’t a consistently physical tackler, electing to grab and pull down ball-carriers rather than striking them forcefully.
  • Verdict: Very accurate.  While it took a while for Clinton-Dix to become a starter at free safety, when he did he displayed fantastic range and some spectacular open field tackles.  Clinton-Dix was typically in the right place at the right time and while that didn’t translate to a slew of interceptions, it did mean that the secondary was the best it’s been since maybe Nick Collins roamed the back half.

Round 2: Davante Adams

  • Pros: Broad-shouldered and well-built wideout who consistently wins at the catch-point, demonstrating good leaping ability, timeing and hand-eye coordination. Tracks the ball well over either shoulder and has strong hands to pluck the ball when turned towards the quarterback. Quickly corrals the pass and wastes no time in getting upfield, showing vision to set up blocks as well as strength to run through arm tackles and a nice stutter-step to elude. Deceptive straight-line speed to challenge deep and shows good balance and overall body control to gain separation on comeback and out routes. Good strength and courage to take passes over the middle and isn’t afraid of running through traffic. Alert blocker.
  • Cons: Lacks the elite speed that his gaudy production indicates. Possesses normal acceleration and tops out quickly. Occasionally will allow the ball to swing away from his frame as he attempts to fight for extra yardage, which can result in forced fumbles. Cognizant blocker downfield but isn’t nearly as physical in this area as he is when fighting through would-be tacklers. Production was certainly inflated by Fresno State’s spread offense and because he is the favorite target of highly regarded quarterback, Derek Carr
  • Verdict: Accurate.  Adams showed over the season to be a player that isn’t a burner but displays pretty much every other aspect of a great wide receiver.  Most notably his routes were crisp and he had a little Randall Cobb in him after the catch.  He also appeared to have great recognition and vision, specifically in the game against Miami where Rodgers threw him the fake spike and he had the awareness to get the first down and then get out of bounds.  Adams’ production is again probably inflated by his quarterback, but going from Derek Carr to Aaron Rodgers certainly can’t be a bad thing.

Round 3a: Khyri Thornton

  • Pros: Fluid lower body and easy movement skills with active feet to quickly redirect, showing some range – natural on his feet…fires off the snap with smooth acceleration, getting to his top speed quickly…quick hands and reflexes…very active and plays with energy, effort and hustle – pesky player for all four quarters…has developed his upper body strength and uses his hand grip to tear through blocks. Has some lead in his lower body to anchor and hold his ground…persevering, positive attitude and carries himself well…puts in the work off the field…versatile experience (28 career starts) as a 4-3 under DT and also at DE and the tilted NT spot with USM’s multiple fronts
  • Cons: Appears maxed out physically and lacks ideal length…too easily stonewalled at the POA and needs to add more ammo to his hands and provide more of a consistent shock at contact…pops upright too often and needs to maintain his pad level to create proper leverage…undeveloped hand technique and too easily handled by single rushers – functional strength is average-at-best and ends up hand fighting. Pass rush instincts are lacking and needs to be more technically sound in his approach…leaves production on the field and needs to be more reliable in his movements to finish when the ballcarrier is in the area…minor durability concerns after missing the final game of 2013 due to injury…lackluster career production, especially as a pass rusher with only 5.5 career sacks – his sack total decreased each of his four seasons in school.
  • Verdict: Inconclusive.  While Thornton was stashed away on the IR before the season started, during the preseason he was a complete disaster.  The scouting report was accurate that he’s too often stymied at the point of attack but in the NFL with even bigger backup offensive linemen, Thornton was too often times push right out of the play, resulting in large gaps for the running backs to attack.  Overall, Thornton’s strength was severely lacking and he seemed a lot less twitchy or sudden than reported.

Round 3b: Richard Rodgers

  • Pros: Lanky athlete who has proven the ability to manipulate his weight to fit his team’s offensive scheme. Very good initial quickness for the position, demonstrating the ability to beat defenders upfield with his burst or to gain the advantage while blocking, including on cut-blocks. Long arms and soft hands. Gathers in passes quickly and secures the football. Good agility and straight-line speed for the position. Good bloodlines. Father is Richard Rodgers, Sr., who is credited for making the call and one of five laterals on “The Play,” the famous Cal kick return in 1982 to beat Stanford (and its band). Father now serves as the special teams coordinator for the Carolina Panthers.
  • Cons: Lacks the bulk and strength to hold up as an in-line blocker in the NFL. A bit finesse in his play, relying more on his athleticism than physicality. Gets to the second level quickly but rather than latching on to control opponents, Richard extends his arms and stops his feet, allowing defenders to break free easily from his blocks. Possesses the ability to make the incredible catch but will drop the occasional easy pass and struggles in traffic. Only asked to run relatively simple quick out and drag routes in Dykes’ offense. Only started 11 of 37 games over his collegiate career.
  • Verdict: Somewhat accurate.  While Rodgers best trait coming out of college was his ability to fit into a bunch of different schemes, for the Packers his soft hands became a reliable target for Aaron Rodgers, especially late into the season.  Rodgers also got significantly better at blocking inline as the season progressed, while Andrew Quarless is still the best blocker of the group, it’s not unsurprising to see rookie tight ends make strides in that regard as they learn to cope with the speed and power of NFL defensive lines.

Round 4: Carl Bradford

  • Pros: Sports a compact, powerful frame. Highly instinctive, physical and versatile defender who splits his time between defensive end, outside linebacker and inside linebacker. Good initial quickness off the snap out of the three-point stance, showing enough speed to cross the face of the offensive tackle, as well as an effective club, rip and spin moves to break free. Surprisingly effective when run toward due to his quickness and use of leverage, bending to take out the knees of oncoming blockers and creating a pile. Adept at slipping blocks. Locates the football quickly and shows an explosive burst to close emphatically. Only occasionally asked to drop back into coverage, but shows at least fair fluidity and speed when doing so. Alert player with a history of making big plays.
  • Cons: Played in a highly aggressive scheme that may have maximized his big-play ability while minimizing his faults. Lacks ideal physical traits to remain as an outside pass rusher in the NFL, where he starred for the Sun Devils. Can be engulfed in the running game (whether playing linebacker or defensive end) and does not appear to possess ideal arm length to break free once blockers latch on. Smooth accelerator off the edge but doesn’t possess great speed. Can play out of control, at times, dropping his head to deliver the knockout blow and occasionally whiffing on open-field tackles. Can allow his emotions to get the better of him; benched for the second half against Oregon State Nov. 16 after a physical altercation with teammates on the sideline.
  • Verdict: Inconclusive.  Prehaps the most puzzling player of the 2014 draft class, simply put Bradford didn’t get enough screen time to really make a decision one way or another (he only logged 96 snaps in the preseason and 0 in the regular season).  To complicate matters, it appeared if the Packers initially set Bradford up as an outside linebacker and only really converted him to inside linebacker near the end of the preseason.  From what Bradford did show, the scouting profile was correct that Bradford did have issues disengaging with blockers and sometimes was a non-factor in the running game.

Round 5a: Corey Linsley

  • Pros: Good foot quickness with natural athletic traits to work well on the move. Stays light in pass protection to slide back and forth with a quick recovery step. Mobile and does a nice job at the second level with an accurate sense of his surroundings. Always keeps his head on a swivel after the snap with good awareness to pick up blitzers and slide with extra rushers. Good core strength to hold his ground, not an easy guy to move from his spot – absorbs contact well and uses his hands well to combat rushers. Good initial movement at the point of attack with quick limbs and momentum to surge into defenders. Quick hips and base to gain correct body positioning, keeping his butt low and knees bent to play with leverage. Good tenacity through the whistle and looks to eliminate his target. Veteran presence with versatile experience at guard and tackle. Tough and durable, playing through pain – started every game the past two seasons (26 straight starts) for one of the top offenses in the country.
  • Cons: Average size and length with little growth potential. Too patient at times and is susceptible to explosive inside rushers. Doesn’t always play urgent and will be surprised at times at the snap. Lacks natural explosion and needs to improve his set-up quickness. Strong, but won’t overpower defenders and needs to better control blocks once engaged.
  • Verdict: Inaccurate.  Linsley turned out to be way better than advertised, who showed great power and the ability to be a force in the run game.  While he wasn’t nearly as good in the passing game, his overall level of play was good enough to rank him 5th in the league according to Profootball focus and perhaps more importantly garner the praise of a certain MVP quarterback.  Perhaps the funniest comment in the scouting report is that Linsley can be surprised by the snap, obviously this only applies when he played tackle or guard but for a center prospect this is a little odd.

Round 5b: Jared Abberderis

  • Pros: Sneaky speed with long strides to get behind the secondary…smooth movements with stutter-and-go burst and body lean to create separation – smart and savvy route runner, setting up defenders and making it easy on his QB…good footwork in/out of his breaks, getting open and working back to the ball…natural body control and tracks the ball very well in the air, making proper adjustments…quick hands and focus to handle fastballs and highpoint away from his frame to finish…excellent field awareness and always knows where the sticks are. Tough runner who won’t shy from contact or go down easily, catching the ball well in stride…superb blocking effort on the perimeter and down the field…very high football character and work ethic with a motivated, goal-oriented attitude to exceed expectations – type of guy who will run through a wall for his team…good vision on ST returns and holds school-record for KR career average (25.8) – one ST score on a PR…very productive as a three-year starter (39 career starts) and leaves Madison tied for the school’s all-time reception mark (202) and second in receiving yards (3,140) behind Lee Evans – two-time consensus All-Big Ten First Teamer.
  • Cons: Average height with a lean, skinny build…little muscle definition and lacks an ideal body type – allergic to the weight room and needs to get stronger to better match up in the NFL…lacks quick-twitch athleticism and not as productive vs. jams and physical man coverage…will have some focus drops and uses his body too much, unnecessarily jumping at times…needs to protect the ball better on returns or after the catch…grabby as a blocker and attract holding calls…questionable durability with several concussions over his career and other minor injuries that caused him to miss playing time -tough and plays through pain, but banged up easily.
  • Verdict: Inconclusive. Simply put, Abberderis’ season was over before it started due to injury and not even the Green Bay Packers likely know what they have in their 5th round pick.  One hope is that Abberderis was able to bulk up and get stronger with a full year of time in the weight and rehab room.

Round 6: Demetri Goodson

  • Pros: Excellent all-around athlete who boasts natural skills and good speed. Good size for the position. Brings kick returns skills. Good bloodlines; brother, Mike, is a running back for the Jets.
  • Cons: Former basketball player is still refining football skills. Doesn’t shed blocks well to make tackles. Significant durability concerns; ankle injury ended 2012 season and dealt with arm injury as a senior.
  • Verdict: Who knows?  Goodson got very little attention coming up to the draft and plenty of scouting services didn’t even have a bio on him.  In my opinion, the scouting report could have been written for just about anyone, with the only real interesting bit being he’s a converted basketball player.  Overall, Goodson did show good athleticism for the position but often lost out due to bad technique, as he was often tackling receivers from behind because he had let them slip past him first.

Round 7: Jeff Janis

  • Pros: Looks the part with a tall, muscular body type. Has worked hard to fill out his frame. Fleet of foot with very good build up speed to accelerate away from defenders. Controlled routes and shifts his momentum well with smooth footwork in/out of his breaks. Good hesitation to sell patterns. Good tracking skills and judgment on deep throws. Solid functional strength for the position, making it a chore for tacklers to finish him off. Strong competitor with an intrepid, fearless approach to the game. Very tough and holds onto the ball after jarring hits. Ambitious worker with strong intangibles and excellent character on and off the field. Try-hard player who gets the most out of his ability. Productive resume (37 career starts) with back-to-back 1,500+ receiving yard seasons the past two years. Holds the school record for single-season receiving yards (1,635), single-game receiving yards (300) and single-game catches (18).
  • Cons: Marginal initial burst and needs a few steps to get back up to full speed after gearing down. Bad habit of rounding some routes and will try to freelance too much. Will have some double-catches and fight the ball at times. Hand/eye coordination appears to very average. Limited after the catch and lacks suddenness in space to create much separation. Not the most consistent in traffic. Limited experience as a return man on special teams. Career production and experience came against a lower level of competition
  • Verdict: So-So.  On one hand the scouting report is dead on that Janis is a bigger receiver with good speed and definitely has an advantage with the deep ball.  They were also correct that Janis’ route running left much to be desired, which was a marked difference with Davante Adams.  However, Janis did show great separation ability, with great after the catch speed and perhaps a Jordy Nelson-esque sneaky speed to get away from defenders.

So what do you think?  Was the Packers class of 2014 everything you thought it would be?



Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.


30 thoughts on “2014 NFL Draft Restrospective: What were we thinking?

  1. Even if none of the other players help out a down, this was a helluva draft for TT. HHCD, Linsley, Adams and RRod all have pro bowls in their future…

    Declining franchise my rear end. 😀

    1. I think the general rule is to make sure you hit a home run in the 1st, maybe get on base with the 2nd and 3rd picks and hope you get lucky after that. With just Ha Ha and Linsley I would say that the 2014 draft looks to project well for the Packers and it could get even better if Adams and Richard Rodgers get better as well.

      1. Thomas – and it looks likely that RRod will continue to develop and either (maybe both) Janis or Abby will end up being at least a serviceable 4th option.

        I’ve heard that you want to get 3 starting caliber players or more with every draft class within 3 years. TT has exceeded that in 2013/2014 already: Lacy, Bakh, Barrington, Hyde. HHCD, Linsley, Adams, RRod,

        Wow. TT has been excellent the last 2 years. And in 06/07, 09/10. Not so much in 08 and 11/12.

        Still, we are spoiled fans. Not just at QB.

        1. I think 3 starting caliber players in every draft is a pretty good estimate considering free agency and the short shelf life of NFL players in general. Thompson as you mentioned has had his ups and downs but also credit the coaching staff for making the most of what they get.

        2. ” TT has exceeded that in 2013/2014 already: Lacy, Bakh, Barrington, Hyde. HHCD, Linsley, Adams, RRod,”

          Yes Bearmeat he indeed has. You notice the trend of TT? It’s continuing to go up not down. This is why I can’t believe there’s people out there that still hate him and doubt his greatness.

          The guy is a living legend that has surpassed Ron Wolf in my professional opinion but because he doesn’t talk like Wolf did, he gets kicked around by some people.

          He puts most people to shame during the draft and just watch this week. Ted’s best work is still ahead of him. We all should be thankful we actually have a guy in charge who knows what the hell he’s doing.

          1. I don’t think he’s a living legend yet Ted. During his tenure at GB, TT has proven that he is a very good drafter – except of front 7 talent on D.

            However, even if TT is better than Wolf at the draft (and that is questionable), Wolf also hit several home runs in free agency. Rison, Monroe, Jackson, White etc… TT has gotten Woodson, Pickett and Peppers in 10 years on the job.

            As of now, I’d still take Wolf. If TT/MM win another 2 Super bowls (and they can), then that answer will flip.

            1. Hard to say on Wolf. FA was a different game when he was GM and he never had to really manage a cap. He had plenty of draft whiffs, too.

              1. Oh absolutely. Right now, I think TT and Wolf are about equal. TT is better in the draft. But TT has hardly touched FA in his 10 years on the job. He could have gotten several mid level FA’s after all the funny money is distributed that would have helped the team the following year. But we know TT – he just doesn’t do FA. Ron Wolf had many good FA pickups in his time as GB manager.

                Other than the 2 super bowl appearances for Wolf compared to 1 for TT…the reason I give the slight head nod to Wolf at this point is because he had to completely rebuild the roster from 25 years of attrition, and he got GB to 2 super bowls. TT had Favre, Driver, Barnett, Sharper, Green, that beastly OL, etc.. all good players. Even though it’s been longer, I can think of only 2 good players that Wolf inherited in 1991 off the top of my head: LeRoy Butler and Frank Winters.

            2. I would take Thompson. He has found alot of free agents such as Gioun, Howard Green, Al Harris, Eric Walden, etc. who were not highly touted coming in.

              He drafts well. He doesn’t panick. Even when all around him are.

              He also hires excellent coaches.

              1. Yeah. That makes sense. But IMO the edge goes to Wolf still by a very little bit. Hopefully it’s not even a question by the time ARod/TT/MM go out together!

            3. Bearmeat, with all due respect it’s pretty easy to hit home runs in free agency when the players are proven commodities and all one has to do is offer the most money.

              It takes much more work to hit on draft picks and TT has easily passed Wolf at this point. Even in free agency TT when he does go after the bigger players as far as money goes has hit on most of them.

              Wolf had some major effups in the first round with Jamal Reynolds, Terrell Buckley, and Jon Michels as probably the worst pick of all. Bigger bust than Justin Harrel. Michels was an absolute garbage pick by Wolf. Bruce Wilkerson saved Wolf’s ass.

              Wolf’s pick of Reynolds to complement KGB backfired and Mike Sherman than made things worse and signed Joe Johnson.

              I don’t know man. I know and respect Ron Wolf and glad he’s going into the hall. I just think at this point TT has passed him and is getting better as he gets older. Wolf had an open checkbook and got the job done early on but at the end he left as he knew he couldn’t maintain it. TT is a maintainer and it’s due to his greatness at draft and develop. Yes, he’s boring compared to Wolf but I’m ok with boring as long as we’re wining and TT has super bowl capable teams every year.

              1. I would say free agency is almost as much of a crap shoot as the draft. Every year a large proportion of teams will jettison a premium free agent they acquired last year for whatever is shiny this year. And this cycle repeats over and over again (see Washington Redskins); the real reason is that football is too much of a team sport and players can excel in a variety of reasons. A baseball player has a realistic chance of playing well for any team since the play of baseball is segmented well and is very standard across all teams. Just for a running back, his production depends on his quarterback, his offensive line, the scheme and the coaching staff all to be on the same page.

            4. I think if you are picking between Wolf and Thompson you can’t go wrong. Sure they each had their own philosophies but both are also very good at their jobs.

          2. It’s because the NFL is a drug and TT is stopping people from getting their fix during free agency. As the Packers fans’ friends boast about getting Suh or Revis, Packers fans can’t say anything, cause Cobb and Bulaga are “old” commodities and aren’t the flashiest signings even then.

            I think deep down, Packers fans know they have it great, but will complain just for the sake of complaining.

  2. Fairly accurate I would say. It will be interesting to see this next year about Janis, Abby, Bradford and Thornton..I think the first three will contribute this year but Thornton could be moved out by a new draft pick this year if they get a guy like Phillips, Davis or Goldman..Maybe he can move outside to a DT or DE but the NT will be own by someone else IMO

    1. Thornton is likely projected as a DE in the Packers defense, I don’t recall seeing him ever as a NT during the preseason; I should also mention I do recall him playing a lot in 2 man fronts, which in essence would make him a DT in a 4-3 scheme. Also when you add the fact that the Packers resigned Raji and Guion and I don’t think they are really rushed to find a NT at all.

    2. Really intrigued by a trade-down scenario that moves the Packers into early-mid round 2 and allows them to take Carl Davis. I really like him…reminds me a lot of Kevin Williams.

      I disagree with you, Thomas, in that neither Guion or Raji is guaranteed to last any longer than 2015, whether it’s a function of effectiveness or pricing themselves out of TTs market. I think a quality NT/DT is an important pickup in this year’s draft.

      1. Yep. I think this is a trade down year. It’d be SWEET to have 2 2nds or a 2nd and 2 3rds in this draft. Picks 15-90 are not very far apart…

        and agreed about Raji/Guion. 1 will stay post 2015. And TT will probably draft 1 as well.

          1. I don’t see any reason why Raji would get a lot of guaranteed money anywhere, he took a veteran minimum contract and I don’t expect to him to break the bank even if he has a fantastic season this year.

      2. I can live with a Carl Davis, Malcom Brown or Jordan Phillips in the first as well I also agree with your assessment of Raji/Guion they both are either in their last year playing or as you said playing their price tag up so high that TT will not retain them next year.

      3. THIS! One year deals means that TT/MM/DC aren’t sure. We haven’t seen one play from Raji since his injury. Guion came on well at the end but wasn’t dominant enough to keep our inside backers free consistenly. I think if Goldman is still there at 30……

      4. I will continue to argue this but in reality 3-4 NT is not an important position anymore. You don’t see that many 3-4 NT’s being picked high anymore, and likely both Raji and Guion will be available for cheap next year as well. Also keep in mind Pennel did quite well in the preseason and could be the NT of the future.

  3. Good article. Pretty much agree. Nice draft, TT, and it still could be a great one. Davante Adams does everything well except for getting open and gaining separation. Route running was not a strength (guess I don’t agree that he ran crisp routes). Rodgers: I saw a lack of agility, and certainly did not see a good initial burst, or indeed, much of any burst. His blocking, though it improved from godawful, was still well below average even late. Thrown into the fire because the cupboard at TE was bare. I am encouraged by his improvement in blocking (he wasn’t asked to block much in college, so having trouble with blocking should not have been a surprise) and by his soft hands, and expect him to be a starting #2 TE for the next 10 years. I think the verdict on Goodson should be who knows, it actually was also pretty accurate. He has good athleticism, good speed, fine fluid hips, and was usually in position to make a play, but seemed to have no idea what to do when a pass was in the air. Just incredibly raw.

    1. I look at Richard Rodgers and he reminds me a lot of Martellius Bennett of Chicago though he’ll get more production because his qb is better. I also see him as being a consistent player year in and year out as he progresses. Not a super star but a very dependable and reliable player and I am fine with that. If he exceeds that it’s a bonus.

    2. I will disagree with your assessment on Adams; considering Adams isn’t a physical marvel, his technique has to be great in order for the Packers to pick him in the 2nd round. Adams has great suddenness with his breaks and has great body control in his cuts, which opens up windows for him. Keep in mind Jeff Janis has the advantage in pretty much every aspect when it comes to measurables but Adams was the one who saw time on the field because of his superb technique.

  4. The story of Green Bay’s 2014 draft is still evolving. We already have 3 starting players and a contributing role player (RRod) from the 2014 class. Bradford, Janis, Abberderis and Goodson may all become contributors over the next season or 2. Thornton is the only one I’m not sure of at this point but he’ll have his chance this year and who knows. As mentioned by Bearmeat 2013 was a solid draft class also. This is TT’s time of the year and expectations are high for another strong draft for the Packers. Ultimately the on field results are the measure of a GMs off-season work and for TT the results have consistently been among the best in the league. Winning another SB or 2 is as much as matter of keeping TTs picks healthy as it is drafting them in the first place. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. You have to believe two or three of those guys drafted last year start to have an impact this season. If I had to bet I would pick Bradford, Goodson and Janis. Abberderis and Thornton at this point are long shots.

    2. I think realistically if the players continue to trend they way they were during their rookie years, the 2014 draft can be considered a success. If Bradford, Abbey or Goodson add something to the mix, even better.

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