Packers 2015 NFL Draft: Day 1 Analysis

Ted Thompson surprised us yet again. Just when we all thought we had a hunch what Thompson was up to, he pulls the trigger on the best cover safety in the draft, Damarious Randall.

He led Arizona State with three picks last year, including a 59-yard touchdown return vs. Notre Dame.

The reason everyone is so surprised is because safety wasn’t a priority — cornerback was. But Randall might be better than drafting a straight-up corner because he has the ball-hawking skills of a safety combined with the coverage skills of a cornerback.

What cannot be discounted is that Randall tallied 9½ tackles for loss out of the free safety position. That’s pretty impressive considering the Pac-12 is known for its precision passing and high-octane offenses.

What they’re saying:

“Double digit tackles in four games, three picks, six tackles and an interception return against Notre Dame. All this kid does is make plays.” — Mel Kiper Jr. via ESPN.

“Dom Capers likes to use six defensive backs at a time. He can cover in the slot, we know that and he’ll help on special teams. I thought he was a suspect tackler though.” — Jon Gruden via ESPN.

“It’s become a pass-first league and he’s by far the best cover safety in college football. He’s gone from a third- or fourth-round Senior Bowl oddity to, I think, a first-round draft pick. I had to get over that a little bit because he’s not as good a tackler or as physical as, say, London Collins of Alabama. But I think he fits the NFL more.” Mike Mayock via

“I think he’s a football player. He’s got really good ball skills and he has a knack for catching the ball. He played centerfield in baseball in junior college, which I think is a marvelous trait as a defensive back.” Ted Thompson via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Other options on the board::

Malcolm Brown, the Texas defensive tackle ranked as the 21st overall prospect by CBS Sports, headlined the group that was still around. That was followed by Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong and Nebraska outside linebacker Randy Gregory. The guy that many thought the Packers would take if Thompson didn’t trade the pick away was Eric Rowe, who was the sixth-ranked cornerback out of Utah.

Why they went with Randall:

Thompson ultimately chose versatility. He likes that Randall can cover in space but is also big enough to attack the line scrimmage — something that will be needed when when Adrian Peterson gets back to 100 percent.

It almost reminds me of how Thompson attacks drafting the offensive line. He tries to find out how many different positions his linemen can play and then makes a decision based on their versatility. And Randall fits perfectly in a division that still has Calvin Johnson and Alshon Jeffery to deal with.

Another reason why I like this kid is because he’s going to stay hungry. Randall played at two different community colleges before ultimately landing at Arizona State. Not too many NFL players start out at a community college before hearing their name called in the first round on draft day — other than Aaron Rodgers and the ever-present chip on his shoulder.



Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn


58 thoughts on “Packers 2015 NFL Draft: Day 1 Analysis

  1. Cory: You are a very generous grader. I wish that I had you when I was a young lad in school. What follows is the scouting report on Randall by

    “Randall is considered undersized for the safety position and some teams have him projected as a cornerback. While he has the speed and athletic traits to transition to cornerback, his cover skills and technique need quite a bit of work to be ready for the NFL level. Randall has a nose for the ball and a strong desire to make an aggressive tackle in space, so there could still be teams that give him a legitimate shot at safety, where he carries a higher draft grade.”

    In other words, he’s a project. This selection has “bust” written all over it. When one considers that we could have selected either Stephone Anthony or Malcom Brown, my grade for this pick is “D+” and I, too, was a generous grader when I taught school.

    1. The question then becomes, who’s scouting do you trust more: Nolan Nawrocki or Ted Thompson?

      1. Sorry, Matt, but that isn’t the real question. The real question is, “Was Randall the BPA at the time TT made the pick?” We should all try to answer that question objectively. For the good of the team, I hope that Randall works out and is able to make the transition from safety to CB. I also hope that he makes his transition faster and better than Nick Perry’s transition from DE to OLB.

        1. I guess I don’t know if he was BPA or not. My point was, if you could see the Packers’ report on the player, it would probably be somewhat different than’s. Which one is correct? We won’t know for a few years. But quoting’s scouting report as proof that this was a bad pick or a reach indicates that, indeed, you are giving more credence to their scouting than the Packers’.

          I’ll admit I was surprised by the pick. I don’t know if he will be any good or not. But I’m intrigued by his profile (slightly undersized but athletic and versatile, still improving, potential return man) and I can at least see the vision they have for him. Who knows? Maybe he can be for the defense what a different Randall has been for the offense. Thompson seemed (by his standards) legitimately giddy over landing him at 30, so that gives me hope. Randall has also expressed a willingness to do whatever is asked of him, unlike Perry who explicitly said he was a 4-3 end and not a 3-4 OLB, so that also gives me hope.

          Which is all a long winded way of saying that assigning grades the day after the draft is silly. The Packers valued him there. Other people didn’t. We’ll see who was right when the games are played. The team’s track record with DBs has me optimistic. I do hope the do address linebacker, but it looks like a lot of linebacker talent remains on the board.

          1. The analysis is in the context of Randall as a FS…undersized, yes. Tackling? Maybe. But how do those particular attributes relate to his potential as a CB? He’s got better than average size for a CB and we all know that many CBs are allergic to contact.

            In the end, what will determine whether or not Randall is a bust is if he makes more plays than he gives up. We’ll have to see on that.

            1. That’s what I wondered. Gruden called him a suspect tackler. Does that thinking change when he’s being compared to the other corners rather than to Landon Collins?

          2. I couldn’t agree more. Case in point is on another Packer blog, the author said that virtually no one in the media had Randall as a corner, which is where the Packers plan to play him. Randall himself even said several teams he spoke to looked at him as a corner.

            It is easy to get consumed by the self important media reports. I don’t mean to be too harsh, but the guys in the media are there for a reason and not being considered for any GM jobs. I will always give a pro like Thompson the benefit of the doubt. The proof is overwhelmingly in the pudding.

          3. simply stated the obvious, that Randall is a safety who “will need quite a bit of work” in his transition to CB to be ready for the NFL. Of course, none of us have access to the Packers’ scouting report to make a comparison, but we shouldn’t all be like Chairman Mao’s mindless cadres, parading around and chanting, “In TT we trust.” TT has rolled the dice in the past and lost. He is not infallible. He makes mistakes. Nick Perry is one of them. I think it was “Bearmeat” who stated that “we don’t need a whole lot more to put us over the top.” That was especially true before free agency when all we needed was help on the D-line and the LB corps and, perhaps, another TE. For whatever reasons, valid or invalid, which would be a subject for much further debate, our secondary became weakened and TT has now sought to remedy a problem area he allowed to develop with a project CB. We still have those several other holes to fill to “put us over the top.” We’ll see if TT can fill those holes in the remaining rounds of the draft or with UDFAs.

        2. If I had to guess, the Packers probably view some of the names we’ve all been talking about for months as perhaps more ready to step in and play and fill the obvious immediate needs. They probably feel this guy is more likely to develop into a game changer. If that was indeed the thinking, I’m ok with that. There will be more opportunities this weekend to get plug-and-play guys.

        3. Interesting point is that Mike Mayock put him as Eagles pick on April, 29th @20… So, what to say on that. One scout says that is wonderful pick, another that this is tricky pick. What to believe? You chose to believe to those who does not like the player… Some of us chose to believe people who already proved themselves as good evaluators of the players – Packers Football Operations & Player Personnel… And I think they have better record than that NFL scout…

      1. NO. And he’s not currently better than HHCD, Shields, Heyward or Hyde either. Further, with this pick, TT is basically acknowledging that Goodson won’t pan out.

        The versatility and ball skills are great. But… I don’t like this pick overall, especially compared to who still was on the board at positions of need. Especially because we don’t need a whole lot more to put us over the top.

        1. I’m on the fence with this pick, not so much based on who he is, but–as you say–based on what was left on the board when the Packers picked.

          I don’t take this pick as an indictment of Goodson. With Hyde contributing at safety in addition to CB, the Packers really only have 3 CB to work with (I’m not counting the PS guys). They needed depth at CB, especially considering Hayward’s balky hammies and Sam Shields up and down play a year ago. I’m not so sure that this is how I would have gone about finding that help.

          1. Well, this pick does make it clear that they don’t trust Heyward yet either. Conversion project in the first round? I dunno about that. It’s not worked out well for Dom in the past…

      2. After months of analysis, a whole team of scouts across the nation, Mike and his coaching staff – The emphasis is on Special Teams. This guy is an immediate improvement over Bush as a backup DB who is also a ST whiz.

        We are all surprised but remember that TT also is looking at getting value in the next rounds. He deprives the competition of this guy and there isn’t really much out there after him (at FS).

        I think TT believes he can get better value for the other positions he wants to fill. Lets at least wait until Saturday night before venting outrage or go apply for his job.

    2. I’m not here to defend the pick, but… Nemo, why did you only post the “weaknesses” part of their scouting report. Shameless attempt to support your opinion. Be fair and post it all! Here are his strengths according to same scouting report.:

      “Plus athlete with good speed. Scouts love his toughness and effort. Inspired effort as a tackler, racking up 177 tackles during two-year stint at Arizona State. Looks to punish. Explodes into targets and jolts his victims. Takes very good angles in space in run support. Instinctive blitzer who times snap and has a nose for the quarterback. Senses throws underneath and breaks on them early. Highly competitive on 50/50 throws and won’t give an inch to receiver. Took two interceptions for scores. Good hands — played some wide receiver in junior college and was also an explosive returner while there”

      1. Al: If you had read my response to Matt, you would have known that I cited to simply for its opinion that Randall is a safety who “will need quite a bit of work” in his transition to CB to be ready for the NFL. But, that should be obvious even to you and others who take offense at even the slightest criticism of TT. Randall also has quite a bit of talent and I’m sure that Dom Capers will find ways to use that talent to help the team this year. In many ways, I think that Randall is much like Eric Rowe, another safety turned CB, although Rowe is taller and can better defend against some of the taller receivers in our division, and has experience at the CB position. Both are considered better safeties than CBs. Had the Pack selected Rowe, I had envisioned him being used immediately to help in the slot and to fill-in at times on the boundary when needed but eventually returning to safety once there is some stability at the CB position. The same may occur with Randall, but I think that he’ll need more time to make the transition to CB. We’ll see. I do see potential there just like I saw potential in Nick Perry, another 1st round draft pick who converted to a different position. Selecting among Goldman, Brown (who, was the BPA, IMO), Kendricks, Anthony or Rowe would have been a safer bet.

  2. I don’t mind Damarious Randall as a player. He has to convert to CB, which would bother me more in a 1st round draft pick except CB Coach Whitt seems to be very good. Randall might have been the most talented “CB” on the board other than Jalen Collins, who I am fine on passing on due to the weed issue – ok passing up Gregory too. My real issue is that Malcom Brown was in the middle of Tier 3 for me with a solid 1st round grade. Randall was in the middle of my Tier 4 with a high 2nd round draft grade. Randall just wasn’t BPA IMHO, but I think he can be a starting NFL CB and contribute this year.

    1. I turned to my wife when the Packers went on the clock and said something to the extent of: Malcolm Brown or Eddie Goldman at this pick. Take it to the bank.


  3. I figured there would be more joy out of this group simply because it spells the end Jarret Bush in GB?! Time will tell. All of the “horrible pick/great pick” is meaningless until they get the pads on. He could be great. He could be bust. That holds true for every pick last night.

    1. Jarrett Bush was good for what he was: a high-motor ST gunner and emergency CB. If you needed him for any more than that, look out!

  4. speed = fast twitch fibers
    The guy adds 12-15 lbs. of muscle with the help of trainers and he’s 5′ 11′ and 208 – 214 lbs. or he’s really a corner and you leave his weight alone.

    He’s already one of the most instinctual guys in the draft. You improve him where he is weak and you have a gem.

    NFC DB Coach: “I have him as the best safety in the draft so that should tell you what I think of his ability to play with his size. Just give me a good player”.

    The NFL is all about turnovers and this guy causes them. Lots of them.

    Character Issues – None that we have heard
    Drugs – None that we have heard
    etc, etc
    Lots of stuff we have not talked about.

  5. a B+ could of been a “slam dunk A”…wow, you sure your not Vic Ketchman?? No way in hell this strange project pick would of been an A on anyones grades.

    1. The only way we’ll know will be to look back in 4 years at the end of his rookie deal and see where he is.

    2. Actually, watch the video that the bleacher report guys gave this pick. They loved it and gave it an A+ and a B+. Personally, I think next day grades are pointless but many fans love to be angry so they take them to heart. GoPack!

    3. Actually I had him graded as an A on my chart so you are wrong billy. I’ll say it again, the Packers got 3 players in one pick. Randall will save Ted two roster spots. That’s huge.

  6. Whatever this kid’s qualifications are, one thing is sure: he’s Jay Cutler’s new favorite receiver.

  7. TT on why he drafted D Randle…….

    Because he’s a football player.

    Well, actually every player in the draft is a football player.

    And, actually this guy was one of the few that was not i.e., he played baseball his first 2 years in college and then injured his shoulder.

    But the Packer media and Packer fans lets this guy get away such drivel.

      1. If Teddy had a son that would mean he had sex with a woman? Guess he’s adopting?

    1. I don’t think you understand what he meant at all. He meant that he makes plays, is instinctual, and is a positive impact on the field wherever you put him. Even though he is a tweener, he knows how to play football.

      A lof of these guys in the 1st round lack instincts or just aren’t there mentally. I think what Thompson meant was that he is a natural football player.

  8. I prefer not to apply grades to individual draft picks until I see the player perform in NFL regular season games. I have nothing against Randall but I didn’t expect him to be a 1st round pick. As with all draft picks time will tell us if TT has valued him correctly or not. Hopefully, as we go through the remaining 6 rounds we’ll get a better sense of TT’s plan for this draft. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Agreed 61.

      If TT grabs Dawson (or perhaps Kendricks) in round 2, and gets another developmental 5 technique later, all is forgiven. 🙂

      1. I’m looking for an OLB in round 2. Danielle Hunter, Lorenzo Mauldin…maybe a move up for an Eli Harold. At what point do you seriously look at Randy Gregory?

        1. Soon. He’ll go in the top 15 of this round I’d think. I’d be fine with anything at LB of any type these next 2 rounds. Goldman won’t last to us, and the value at DL is gone after him until late.

          TT must really think Raji and/or Guion is going to hit this year and be resigned for big $$.

  9. I think he will be a fine player, but I would question if he was the best available on the board.

      1. Yes, mocked at 20 to a team that wanted him as a FS, and he wasn’t in fact taken by that team. When you’re the best player at your position and there aren’t many other players with a lot of talent at that position, you get overdrafted. I try not to conflate actual talent level with where the player will be drafted. They are separate and distinct things. Some of the ILBs will be overdrafted as well.

        1. “I try not to conflate actual talent level with where the player will be drafted.”

          I try not to conflate in public, if it can be helped.

  10. Ted at the butcher shop –

    “Hi, do you have any nice steaks? I’m having guests over tomorrow night for a cookout.”
    “Why yes, we have Porterhouses on sale at @ $10.99/ lb.”
    “Great, I’ll take 2 lbs. of Bologna.”

  11. At least we know one thing for sure, assuming this guy contributes this year, drafting this guy should provide Capers with more scheme flexibility. Now let’s hope they address their hole at ILB today and pray one of those linebackers falls to them.

    1. Perhaps Ted has solved the ILB before the draft with Matthews and Bradford. Perhaps.

  12. I’ll say it now…..This kid will do more for the defense than Nick Perry and his bandwagon cheerleaders could ever thought possible in his rookie season and beyond….Stopping the plane….now we get the guy(s) to derail the train today. 🙂

      1. It’s like the pocket watch received when one retires with the inscription…”Lest We Forget” or I’m placing the same vigor of hope as others did with Perry…opening the door for karma…unafraid. 🙂

  13. Why people are unhappy about this pick, in priority order:

    1) It didn’t directly seem to fill a position of need.
    2) It wasn’t a player everyone was expecting Thompson to take.
    3) He wasn’t BPA on the couch GM big board.

    Those people who complain for Reason #3 should check their egos at the door. Either that or become a professional scout.

    1. lol… I love no. 3. I really believe that some here believe they are on par with Ted Thompson and actually believe they can do a better job acquiring the most talented players in the world. Maybe TT reads these comments and will hire them for future positions.

      1. My personal favorites are the numbskulls who say, “Woah, I’m not sure if he was the best player on the board…” without naming any possible alternatives who might be better.

        Gosh, so ya think that maybe there might be a surprise pro-bowler somewhere in the next 200 picks? Wow, thanks for the insight. And for going so far out on a limb, too!


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