Saturday, April 24, 2010

With the 23rd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft the Packers COULD HAVE taken...

Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson is a firm believer in drafting the best player available. As result, if I was the general manager of the Green Bay Packers and employing the best player available approach, instead of drafting Bryan Buluga (OT, Iowa) with the 23rd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, here are some players I would have considered drafting:

Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma St), who went 24 to the Dallas Cowboys. Donald Driver seems ageless but in the next few years he is going to slow down and Bryant looked like the perfect guy to replace Driver. The off the field issues surrounding Bryant probably scared Ted Thompson but the chance to get the most physically gifted receiver in the draft with the 23rd pick would have been hard for me to pass up. Yes, Jordy Nelson and James Jones are sitting in the wings but neither really projects to be a starting wide receiver opposite Greg Jennings, which made Bryant even more enticing.

Kyle Wilson (CB, Boise St), who went 29 to the New York Jets. Some scouts had Wilson rated as the best cornerback in the draft, even ahead of Joe Haden (CB, Florida) who was selected 7th by the Cleveland Browns. In terms of value, Wilson would have been a steal at 23 in my book. Despite most pundits thinking the Packers need cornerbacks, they have the bodies IF (and it is a big if) everyone comes back healthy so cornerback was NOT actually a need for the Packers. After Charles Woodson, the 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, the Packers have:
- Al Harris: old and coming off a knee injury is never a good sign but Harris is a former Pro Bowler that stays in impeccable shape which should allow him to come back stronger than ever.
- Tramon Williams: after Harris went down last season, Williams looked like a starter in the making if he cuts down his Ahmad Caroll esque holding penalties.
- Pat Lee: a former second round pick that has a big upside but has yet to play because of injury. Lee essentially redshirted in the NFL so far the last two seasons, if he gives the Packers anything in 2010 then its a huge bonus.
- Brandon Underwood: was a highly touted recruit out of high school that lost his way at Ohio State. Underwood resurfaced at Cinncinati and went on to have a pretty successful college career. Underwood is physically gifted at 6'1" but has yet to show much in the NFL.
- Will Blackmon: is an electric return man that just can't stay healthy. This season is make or break for Blackmon. If healthy, Blackmon would be worth having on the roster for his return ability alone. If Blackmon contributes anything at cornerback, the Packers would be ecstatic.
- Josh Bell: gave up the touchdown to lose to the Steelers with no time remaining in week 15 and doesn't look like a long term solution at cornerback.
- Trevor Ford and D.J. Clark: haven't been around long enough to know one way or another.

Jerry Hughes (OLB, TCU), who went 31 to the Indianapolis Colts. I have a huge football crush on Hughes. According to the Football Outsiders new SackSEER stat (looks at vertical leap, short shuttle time, collegiate sacks, and collegiate games missed), Hughes projects to have the most sacks of any player in the 2010 NFL Draft in his first 5 seasons in the NFL. Granted that is pure speculation but Hughes would have fit very nice opposite Clay Matthews as a stud outside linebackers in the 3-4 for the next ten years. I guess the Packers think Brad Jones, Brady Poppinga, and Brandon Chillar can contribute at outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews.

Chris Cook (CB, Virginia), who went 34 to the Minnesota Vikings. See all of the discussion about the Packers' cornerback situation above. In terms of Cook, the main thing I like about him is that he is 6'2". You can't teach height and with all of the trouble big physical receivers gave the Packers last year, having a 6'2" cornerback would have fit nicely in 2010. Quick tangent, why are there so many tall wide receivers but not very many tall cornerbacks? I guess tall cornerbacks usually aren't that fast but almost every cornerback seems to be 5'11" while most wide receivers seem to be at least 6'2". As a result, not many talented, tall cornerback backs come around like Cook.

Taylor Mays (S, USC), who went 49 to the San Francisco 49ers. Mays turned into the defensive Tebow of the draft, people either loved or hated Mays. I fell into the former camp, I love Mays almost as much as Jerry Hughes. Mays is 6'3" and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, those type of physical specimens come around once every 5 or 10 years at the safety position. There were questions about Mays' ability to change direction while in coverage but any time you can get such a physically gifted player, you have to take him. Furthermore, the Packers tried to play the "psycho" package with one defensive lineman, five linebackers and five defensive backs. Last year, Chillar was the fifth linebacker but got burned whenever he got matched up on a running. Instead of using Chillar, the Packers could have inserted Mays as a hybrid linebacker/defensive back. I know you don't draft a player in the first round for such a specific use but it just shows the versatility Mays would have added to the Packers defense.

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