Sunday, April 28, 2013

Building The 53 - 2013 Green Bay Packer Draft Picks

Welcome to my fourth annual review of the Green Bay Packers draft (2010, 2011, and 2012).  The 2013 NFL Draft was Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson's ninth draft of his tenure in Green Bay.  The best pick Thompson made during his tenure so far in Green Bay was his first in 2005, when he drafted Aaron Rodgers 24th overall. There have been a number of other great picks along the way as well, too many to name in fact.  Based on my early review, either of Thompson's first two picks in this draft have a chance to be two of the best players he ever drafted for the Packers.

It is apparent that Thompson prefers quantity over quality since he is much more apt to trade back than trade up sans the 2012 NFL DraftWhether Thompson is your college buddy that regularly trools for 6's instead of dime pieces, the fact that Thompson regularly lands dime pieces irrespective of the round that he is picking, is why the Packers have been so competitive during his nine-year tenureOh that and it helps to have a consistently awesome wingman.

The Packers entered the 2013 NFL Draft with eight picksThey traded down three times (no shocker there) amassing four more picks, but then traded up once after that so they ultimately drafted 11 players.  Here are my thoughts on the 11 new members of the Green Bay Packers:

1st Round (26th Overall): Datone Jones, Defensive End 
School: UCLA (Pac-12) 
Height: 6'3⅞" 
Weight: 283 lbs 
Arm Length: 32 5/8" 
Hand Size: 10" 
40-yard Dash: 4.8 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: 7.32 seconds 
20-yard Dash: 4.32 seconds 
225-pound Bench Press: 29 reps 
Vertical Leap: 31.5" 
Broad Jump: 112" 
Wonderlic: 20 out of 50 
Other Possible Picks: Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina), Matt Elam (S, Florida), and Johnathan Cyprien (S, Florida International)
Analysis: If the Packers wanted to "get more physical" as a team then they started off the draft the right way taking Jones with the 26th pick.  In 2009 the Packers hit a home run at 26 when they drafted Claymaker.  I am not saying that Jones is in that class but I could see him being 75% of Claymaker, which would make this draft a success on its own.  The Packers thought they were getting a player like Jones last year when they drafted Jerel Worthy in the second round but Worthy never made the impact the Packers hoped and now he is rehabbing a torn ligament in his knee so he is a long shot to even play in 2013. With no real 3-4 defensive on the roster besides C.J. Wilson, my guess is that Jones starts Week 1 in San Francisco.

2nd Round (61st Overall): Eddie Lacy, Running Back 
School: Alabama (SEC) 
Height: 5'11" 
Weight: 231 lbs 
Arm Length: 31" 
Hand Size: 9 3/8" 
40-yard Dash: 4.53 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: N/A 
20-yard Dash: N/A 
225-pound Bench Press: N/A 
Vertical Leap: N/A 
Broad Jump: N/A 
Wonderlic: 17 out of 50 
Other Possible Picks:Christine Michael (RB, Texas A&M), Tyrann Mathieu (DB, LSU), and John Jenkins (DT, Georgia)
Analysis: It felt like Lacy was going to the Packers in the first round, so to get him in the second round feels like an asbsolute steal.  All the injuries are definitely a concern but if healthy, Lacy gives the Packers an every down back they desperately need.  One last thing on Lacy, he was the last player selected that was invited to attend the draft.  That is the second time in three years the Packers have taken that player.  In 2011 the Packers drafted Randall Cobb at the end of the second round, which has worked out pretty well so far, so let's hope that trend continues for the Packers with Lacy.

4th Round (109th Overall): David Bakhtiari, Offensive Tackle/Offensive Guard 
School: Colorado (Pac-12) 
Height: 6'4¼"  
Weight: 299 lbs 
Arm Length: 34" 
Hand Size: 9 3/8" 
40-yard Dash: 5.15 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: 7.70 seconds 
20-yard Dash: 4.74 seconds 
225-pound Bench Press: 28 reps 
Vertical Leap: 25.5" 
Broad Jump: 101" 
Wonderlic: 25 out of 50 
Other Possible Picks: Shamarko Thomas (S, Syracuse), Barett Jones (C, Alabama), and Khaled Holmes (C, USC)
Analysis: The Packers got the 109th pick as a part of trading back with the Dolphins on Day 2 but let's not lose sight of the fact that the Dolphins owned the 104th and 106th picks as well, thus everyone that went 104 through 109 could have been a Packer if the Thompson held a harder line when negotiating with the Dolphins.  Here are the guys that went 104-109: Jelani Jenkins (OLB, Florida), Duke Williams (S, Nevada), Dion Sims (TE, Michigan State), Brian Schwenke (C, California), and Edmund Kugbila (G, Valdosta State).  I am super salty that the Packers did not hold the line on getting either 104 or 106 because Brian Schwenke went 107th overall and I think he is a perfect up tempo center that can be a starting center in the NFL as soon as next season.  The Packers ultimately took Bakhtiari so now they have 25 tweener tackles/guards on the roster.  Despite not having left tackle height, Bakhtiari has long enough arms to play left tackle.  Worst case scenario I could see the Packers using Bakhtiari as a 6th offensive lineman when they try to run the ball.

4th Round (122nd Overall): J.C. Tretter, Offensive Guard/Center 
School: Cornell (Ivy League) 
Height: 6'3⅝" 
Weight: 307 lbs 
Arm Length: 33 1/4" 
Hand Size: 10 1/8" 
40-yard Dash: N/A 
3-Cone Drill: N/A 
20-yard Dash: N/A 
225-pound Bench Press: 29 reps 
Vertical Leap: 29.5" 
Broad Jump: 109" 
Wonderlic: 33 out of 50 
Other Possible Picks: The Packers picked at 125th overall as well so that leaves only two players selected between Tretter and their next pick so see below for other possible picks
Analysis: For the second pick in a row the Packers selected an offensive lineman, this time they got the Lane Johnson of the Ivy League.  Much like Bakhtiari, it looks like Tretter is a tweener tackle/guard.  Hopefully the Packers can work with Tretter to improve his skills as an interior offensive lineman to push Greg Van Roten for the primary interior backup.  In more pressing news, between the two picks the Packers made in the 4th round I read a report that said the Packers are "willing to trade trade Desmond Bishop", which makes no sense to me.

4th Round (125th Overall): Johnathan Franklin, Running Back 
School: UCLA (Pac-12) 
Height: 5'10" 
Weight: 205 lbs 
Arm Length: 30" 
Hand Size: 9 1/4" 
40-yard Dash: 4.55 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: 6.89 seconds 
20-yard Dash: 4.32 seconds 
225-pound Bench Press: 18 reps 
Vertical Leap: 31.5" 
Broad Jump: 115" 
Wonderlic: 21 out of 50 
Other Possible Picks: Quinton Patton (WR, Louisiana Tech), Earl Wolf (S, N.C. State), and Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
Analysis: In the eight previous draft in Thompson's tenure in Green Bay he selected four running backs (Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn, James Starks, and Alex Green) so when the Packers traded back up in the draft giving up the 146th and 173rd picks to get the 125th pick, the last position I thought they would draft was running back since Thompson already took one in the second round.  As it turns out I was wrong and Thompson actually trade up to draft a second running back.  Based on the tape I've seen, Franklin looks like he can break a run fora long gain every time he touches the ball.  Off the field Franklin wants to be the mayor of Los Angeles after he is done playing football so may be he has a little Robert Smith in him.  After adding Lacy and Franklin in the draft, all of a sudden the Packers have five legitimate NFL running backs on the roster but that is probably one too many so it makes senses that James Starks is on the chopping block because right after the Packers selected Franklin a report surfaced that said the Packers are "willing to trade James Starks".  DuJuan Harris ended the season as the starting running back for the Packers.  With all due respect to Harris, even though he played well at the end of last season, his diminutive body type makes him a long shot to survive as an every down back in the NFL.  Going into the draft the Packers did not have a single every down back on their roster.  After drafting Lacy and Franklin, the Packers now have two legitimate every down backs on the roster for the first time since Ahman Green left town.

5th Round (159th Overall): Micah Hyde, Cornerback/Safety 
School: Iowa (Big "Ten") 
Height: 5'11¾" 
Weight: 197 lbs 
Arm Length: 31 3/8"" 
Hand Size: 9 1/4" 
40-yard Dash: 4.55 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: 6.78 seconds 
20-yard Dash: 4.20 seconds 
225-pound Bench Press: 12 reps 
Vertical Leap: 33" 
Broad Jump: 121" 
Wonderlic: 21 out of 50 
Other Possible Picks: The Packers picked at 167th overall as well so that leaves only seven players selected between Tretter and their next pick so see below for other possible picks.
Analysis: This was a total luxury pick by the Packers since they already have five NFL caliber cornerbacks on the roster.  That said, they did got a player that was voted as the best defensive back in the Big "Ten" last season  in the fifth round so it is not like they took a slouch.  Hyde's measurables are not off the charts but let's not forget that Casey Hayward didn't have the most impressive measurables going into the draft last season either but Hayward was in the running for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.   The Packers shot down initial reports that Hyde would move to safety next season, but my guess is that the only way he makes the roster is if he can excel on special teams while showing the ability to slide between cornerback and safety.

5th Round (167th Overall): Josh Boyd, Defensive Tackle 
School: Mississippi (SEC) 
Height: 6'2⅝" 
Weight: 310 lbs 
Arm Length: 32" 
Hand Size: 9 1/4" 
40-yard Dash: 5.05 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: N/A 
20-yard Dash: N/A 
225-pound Bench Press: 32 reps 
Vertical Leap: 28" 
Broad Jump: 104" 
Wonderlic: 14 out of 50 
Other Possible Picks: Ricky Wagner (OT, Wisconsin), Joshua Evans (S. Florida), and Nick Moody (OLB, Florida State)
Analysis: Although I wish the Packers would have added a run stuffing defensive tackler earlier in the draft, at least the Packers drafted a taller more imposing defensive tackle than they have in pervious years.  For exampled, the Packers picked six consecutive defenders to start the 2012 NFL Draft but none of them are as physically imposing as Boyd. In the first round the Packers added a versatile 3-4 defensive end that can occupy blocked and also get after the quarterback in Datone Jones.  In drafting Boyd, the Packers added a space eating interior defensive lineman with some height that has a chance to be the next Ryan Pickett, which is a good thing since not only is Pickett getting long in the tooth, but he is set to become a free agent this off-season.

6th Round (193rd Overall): Nathan Palmer, Outside Linebacker 
School: Illinois State (Missouri Valley) 
Height: 6'1¾" 
Weight: 233 lbs 
Arm Length: 33 1/2" 
Hand Size: 9 5/8" 
40-yard Dash: 4.72 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: N/A 
20-yard Dash: N/A 
225-pound Bench Press: N/A 
Vertical Leap: 35.5" 
Broad Jump: 125" 
Wonderlic: 15 out of 50 
Other Possible Picks: Kapron Lewis-Moore (DE, Notre Dame), Michael Williams (TE, Alabama), and Joe Kruger (DE, Utah)
Analysis: The Packers were the only team that Palmer visited throughout the draft process so he thought that he would go undrafted.  To Palmer's surprise, the Packers must have liked their visitPalmer projects as a very similar player to the newly departed Erik Walden or Frank Zombo but will be in a fierce competition for the coveted backup outside linebacker spots behind Claymaker and Nick Perry since the Packers like to rotate their outside linebackers.

7th Round (216th Overall): Charles Johnson, Wide Receiver 
School: Grand Valley State (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) 
Height: 6'2" 
Weight: 215 lbs 
Arm Length: 30 1/2" 
Hand Size: 9 1/4" 
40-yard Dash: 4.40 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: N/A 
20-yard Dash: N/A 
225-pound Bench Press: 14 reps 
Vertical Leap: 40" 
Broad Jump: 132" 
Wonderlic: N/A 
Other Possible Picks: Jordan Poyer (CB, Oregon State), Ryan Seymour (OG, Vanderbilt), and Nicholas Williams (DT, Samford)
Analysis: The jump from college to the NFL is difficult, especially at wide receiver.  Since Johnson played Division II football, it will be even more interesting to see how he adjusts since he looked like a man amoungst boys in college but will now be a boy amongst men in the NFL.

7th Round (224th Overall): Kevin Dorsey, Wide Receiver 
School: Maryland (Big "Ten" ACC) 
Height: 6'1" 
Weight: 207 lbs 
Arm Length: 33 3/4"
Hand Size: 9 5/8" 
40-yard Dash: 4.47 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: N/A 
20-yard Dash: N/A 
225-pound Bench Press: 17 reps 
Vertical Leap: 38" 
Broad Jump: 130" 
Wonderlic: 22 out of 50 
Other Possible Picks: Eric Herman (OG, Chadron State), Everett Dawkins (DT, FSU), and Ty Powell (OLB, Harding)
Analysis: Dorsey has a very similar build to Johnson, although Johnson looks a hair faster than Dorsey.  Odd are that only one of Johnson and Dorsey will make the final 53-man roster to open the season so expect a number of spirited battles between Johnson and Doresy throughout the preseason.

7th Round (232 Overall): Sam Barrington, Linebacker 
School: South Florida (Big East) 
Height: 6'1" 
Weight: 235 lbs 
Arm Length: 32 1/4" 
Hand Size: 10 1/4" 
40-yard Dash: 4.73 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: N/A 
20-yard Dash: N/A 
225-pound Bench Press: 22 reps 
Vertical Leap: 37" 
Broad Jump: 122" 
Wonderlic: 23 out of 50 
Other Possible Picks: Zeke Motta (S, Notre Dame), Mike Taylor (LB, Wisconsin), and Jordan Rodgers (QB, Vanderbilt)
Analysis: Mr. Irrelevant of the 2013 NFL for the Packers is Sam Barrington.  If there is one position on the roster that will be hard to crack come next fall, it is linebacker.  The good news for Barrington is that he reminds me of Jamari Lattimore because of his ability to play multiple linebacker position, which is going to be key for any reserve linebacker given the fact that roster spots are so scarce.

Congrats to the 11 players drafted by the Packers, take a day to celebrate and get ready to work because available roster spots are scare.  Check back on Wednesday because I am going to take my first guess at what the opening day 53-man roster will look like for the 2013 Green Bay Packers.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Building The 53 - 2013 NFL Draft Day 3 Preview for Ted Thomson

The first three rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft are officially in the books.  So far Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has only selected two players (Datone Jones at 26 and Eddie Lacy at 61) and traded back three times amassing more draft picks so he has 10 picks at his disposal with at least two draft picks in each of the remaining rounds of the draft: fourth (109 and 122), fifth (146, 159, and 167), sixth (173 and 193), and seventh (216, 224, and 232).

So far I think the Packers got great value drafting Jones and Lacy but missed the mark in trading back three times mostly because roster spots are scarce for the Packers so trying to add another 12 draft picks plus a handful of undrafted free agents to the 53-man roster seems almost impossible.

As always, the Packers will continue to draft the "best player available".  In honor of the Packers having 10 picks left in the draft, here are 10 guys I would fully support the Packers drafting on Day 3 of the 2013 NFL Draft:

Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama, 6'3", 323 lbs): There are a finite number of people with such an impressive body. I wanted the Packers to consider drafting Williams in the 1st round so getting him in the fourth round would be a steal.

Brian Schwenke (C, California, 6'3", 314 lbs): Much like wanting the Packers to draft Williams in the first round, I wanted the Packers to target Schwenk in the 3rd round. Despite the Cowboys reaching for Wisconsin Badger center Travis Frederick at the end of the first round, it pains my Cheesehead sensibilities to say that I still think Schwenke is a better player than Frederick.

Matt Barkley (QB, USC, 6'2", 227 lbs): I know it sounds crazy to draft a quarterback like Barkley, especially on the heels of Aaron Rodgers signing the most lucrative contract in NFL history but there is a method to my madness.  I hate to say it, but Rodgers has been very healthy sans a couple concussions since he took over as starting quarterback of the Packers.  Add in that the Packers don't really have a legitimate backup quarterback on the roster (sorry Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman) so drafting and developing Barkley gives the Packers a valuable trade chip or worst case scenario, a guy that can play if (God forbid) Rodgers gets hurt.

Barrett Jones (C, Alabama, 6'4", 306 lbs): I have Jones rated slightly lower than Schwenke but targeted him for the Packers in the third round as well.  Whether Schwenke or Jones are better, both look like starting NFL centers to me.

Chase Thomas (OLB, Stanford, 6'3", 244 lbs): Although he posted a slow 40-yard dash in preparation for the draft, Thomas has great size and posses great leadership skills that could push Nick Perry for the starting outside linebacker spot opposite Claymaker in 2013.

Ricky Wagner (OT, Wisconsin, 6'5", 308 lbs): After missing out on Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball at the end of the second round, I would totally support drafting the guy that opened a number of holes for Ball throughout his collegiate career because Wagner looks like a nice developmental tackle that, if healthy, could turn into a starting left tackle in the NFL.

Earl Wolff (S, N.C. State, 5'11", 209 lbs): Although Wolff is not the tallest guy, he posted one of the fatstet 40 times at the combine, which makes him an enticing prospect if he is available towards the end of the draft.

Emmett Cleary (OT, Boston College, 6'7", 316 lbs): I made this pick based purely on Cleary's freakish body.  If Cleary can add some muscle to his frame, just like Wagner, he could be the left tackle of the future in Green Bay.

Zeke Motta (S, Notre Dame, 6'2", 213 lbs): Based on being one of the most consistent college safeties for the last four year, I am shocked that Motta is not garnering more interest, especially beccause I could see Motta turning into a poor man's Harrison Smith.

Jordan Rodgers (QB, Vanderbilt, 6'1", 212 lbs): With 10 picks at their disposal, why not use one to let your franchise quarterback hang out with his younger brother?

I hope you enjoyed my preview of what will be the most active rounds four through seven in franchise history for the Packers.  I will try to give my thoughts as rapidly as possible so make sure to follow me on Twitter: @CheeseheadSN.  Also make sure to check back Sunday for my annual review of each pick Thompson made in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Building The 53 - 2013 NFL Draft Day 2 Packers Review

New broke as the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft was about to start that Aaron Rodgers signed a five-year, $110 million contract.  Even if the Packers get a franchise player in the 2013 NFL Draft, I will always remember this draft as the one that Rodgers signed essentially a lifetime contract with the Packers. As always, Rodgers sent out this classy tweet:
After agreeing to the largest contract in NFL history with Rodgers, Day 2 of the 2013 NFL Draft must have felt like small potatoes for Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson.  As usual, Thompson traded back sending the 55th pick to the San Francisco 49ers for the 61st and 173rd picks.

Seems like the Packers got swindled by the 49ers when you look at a similar trade in the second round.  Remember that for the 55th pick the Packers got the 61st and 173rd picks.  Conversely for the 56th pick the Seattle Seahawks got the 62nd, 165th, and 199th picks from the Baltimore Ravens.

Here are the guys that went from 55 to 60: Vance McDonald (TE, Rice), Arthur Brown (ILB, Kansas State), D.J. Swearinger (S, South Carolina), Montee Ball (RB, Wisconsin), Aaron Dobson (WR, Marshall), and Robert Alford (CB, SE Louisiana).  I am salty about missing out on drafting either Swearinger or Ball but that is mitigated by the fact that I absolutely love the guy the Packers drafted with the 61st pick.

With the 61st pick, the Packers choose Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama).  In my first round "mock draft" of what I would do if I were every general manager I gave Lacy to the Packers with the 26th pick.  Here is what I said about Lacy:
"The Packers inability to run the ball is a little bit of a chicken and the egg problem for me.  Clearly the Packers do not commit to the run but it seems like they should be able to run at least a little bit given how much defenses have to respect their passing game.  I would like the Packers to at least have the threat of a three-down back, which they haven't had since Ahman Green left town for the first time sans a couple above average years for Ryan Grant." (Source)

Immediately after the Packers drafted Lacy, I sent out this tweet:
If I signed off on the Packers drafting Lacy 26th overall then you know I am downright ecstatic that they got him at the end of the second round.  Things were plugging along fine with the Packers set to select someone with the 88th pick but two trades were made in quick succession that both resulted in the Packers moving back in the draft.

Instead of taking a player with the 88th pick, the Packers traded back in the draft with the 49ers for the second time today.  The Packers traded the 88th pick to the 49ers for the 93rd and 216th picks.  Almost immediately the Packers shipped the 93rd pick they acquired from the 49ers to the Dolphins for the 109th, 146th, and the 224th picks.  That means that for the 88th pick the Packers got the 109th, 146th, 216th and 224th picks.

From 88 to 97 (the end of the 3rd round) a few guys went that I would have loved to see the Packers draft: Brennan Williams (OT, North Carolina), Stedman Bailey (WR, WVU), and Brandon Williams (DT, Missouri Southern State).

With all the patented trading back by Thompson it will be interesting to watch Day 3 of the 2013 NFL Draft because the Packers currently have 10 picks so make sure to check back for my Day 3 Packers Preview of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Building The 53 - 2013 NFL Draft Day 2 Preview for Ted Thompson

With the first round in the books, let's turn our sights to the second and third rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft.  There are some guys leftover from the first round that I had my eye on for the Packers so it goes without saying that I would fully support the Packers taking: John Jenkins (DT, Georgia), Menelik Watson (OT, Florida State), Kawann Short (DT, Purdue), Eddy Lacy (RB, Alabama), Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International), Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama), or Jonathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State) on Day 2 of the draft.  Besides the guys just mentioned, here are five other players I like for the Packers in the second round:

Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford, 6'5", 249 lbs): The Packers let tight end Tom Crabtree leave via free agency and the same thing might happen next season for tight end Jermicahel Finley since this is the last year he is under contract.  Thus adding an athletic tight end like Ertz fills a need more than being a luxury pick at this point.

Montee Ball (RB, Wisconsin, 5'10", 214 lbs): Although Ball does not have blazing speed, he catches the ball well out of the backfield, protects the ball, and most importantly has the ability to make a quick cut and accelerate through the hole.  All the aforementioned characteristics makes Ball the perfect three-down running back for the zone blocking scheme that the Packers currently use. If that wasn't enough, Ball is one of the most successful college athletes in Cheesehead sports history so I think he should build on that impressive resume in Cheesehead country as a member of the Packers.

Damontre Moore (OLB, Texas A&M, 6'4", 250 lbs): Despite drafting Nick Perry in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Packers need to still consider taking another outside linebacker because Perry is till rehabbing a season ending injury.  Moore's height makes him a nice option at outside linebacker or even defensive end down the road if he adds some weight.

Margus Hunt (DE, SMU, 6'8", 277 lbs): Despite the fact that the Packers already drafted Datone Jones in the first round, the freakish frame and skill set that Hunt possesses would be too hard to pass up if he is still on the board when the Packers pick at the end of the second round.

D.J. Swearinger (S, South Carolina, 5'10", 208 lbs): Although Swearinger is not the tallest guy, he makes up for it by throwing his body around the field with reckless abandon, which would be the perfect compliment opposite safety Morgan Burnett.

Much like I said above about the guys that I targeted in the first round for the Packers, it goes without saying that any of the guys mentioned would be great picks for the Packers in the third round if they fall that far in the draft.  Here are some other guys that I think the Packers target in the third round:

Terron Armstead (OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6'5", 306 lbs): Put together an impressive combine performance to work his way into consideration to be drafted on the second day of the draft.  Armstead better use his long arms (34") effectively though because he has Daunte Culpepper-esque small hands (9 1/4").

Brian Schwenke (C, California, 6'3", 314 lbs): I look at drafting Schwenke as Evan Dietrich-Smith insurance.  The Packers gave EDS a lower than expected restricted free agent tender.  It is too soon to tell whether that will create a rift between EDS and the Packers so it makes sense to add a potential franchise center via the draft.

Wide receiver that falls: I think there will be a run on wide receivers in the second round since only three were drafted in the first round but if a few of the higher rated guys like Robert Woods (USC), Kennan Allen (Cal), or Aaron Dobson (Marshall) somehow fall into the third round then I support the Packers making a complete luxury pick of a wide receiver in the third round.

Barrett Jones (OG, Alabama, 6'4", 306 lbs): The Swiss Army Knife of interior offensive lineman looks and plays the part.  I am not sure how an integral member of three national championship teams at Alabama does not garner more interest in the draft so getting Jones at the end of the third round feels like an absolute steal.

Tyrann Mathieu (CB, LSU, 5'9", 186 lbs): Speaking of steals, all the off the field silliness really submarined the Honeybadger's draft stock since two years ago he was a Heisman Finalist and now he is fighting to be a Day 2 draft pick. Although the Packers are set at cornerback, adding a hybrid cornerback/safety like Mathieu is the perfect guy to step into the Charles Woodson role on the defense in 2013.  Plus I don't see Mathieu getting in as much trouble in Green Bay since there is next to nothing to do in Green Bay besides play football. 

Check back after the third round finished for my Day 2 review and Day 3 preview of the 2013 NFL Draft for the Packers.  Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @CheeseheadSN if you want more timely updates as the draft unfolds.  Finally, make sure to check back Sunday for my annual review of each pick the Packers made in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Building The 53 - 2013 NFL Draft Day 1 Packers Review

It was an interesting first round of the 2013 NFL DraftThere were five draft day trade, only one quarterback drafted (E.J. Manuel), and no running backs were drafted in the first round for the first time since the early 1960's. The biggest surprise of the first round though was the Minnesota Vikings making three picks.

The Vikings had a pair of first round pick heading into the 2013 NFL Draft as a part of trading Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks.  In order to jump back into the first round to make their third pick in the first round, the Vikings traded four 2013 draft picks (52nd, 83rd, 102nd, and 229th) to the New England Patriots for the 29th pick that they used to draft Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee).  In between the second and third pick the Vikings made in the first round of the draft, the Packers drafted a player.

With 26th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson choose Datone Jones (DE, UCLA, 6'4", 283 lbs).  Here were my pre-draft thoughts on Datone Jones:

"It seems like almost every year a versatile defensive lineman like Jones drops to the end of the first round (i.e. Muhammad Wilkerson in 2011) and everyone wonders why he fell so far.  That is especially true for Jones because it looks like he can play almost any position along the defensive line in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense." (Source)

"Put up big numbers last season at UCLA but that was his only real productive season in college because he missed the entire 2010 season with a foot injury and had a lackluster 2011 season.  His ceiling and floor are the highest of the players discussed so far but based on my study of Jones so far, there is much better chance Jones turns out to be the next Cullen Jenkins than the next Justin Harrell." (Source)

Immediately after the Packers drafted Jones, I sent out this tweet:
Although I love Jones, I might actually like the package of picks that the Patriots got from the Vikings for the 29th pick.  Let's see how the rest of the draft plays out before we jump to any conclusions though because a bird in the hand is always better than two in the bush, especially when it comes to the NFL Draft.

Building The 53 - 2013 NFL Draft Day 1 Preview for Ted Thompson

Happy NFL Draft Day! As I said in my preview of the first round for the Packers in the 2012 NFL Draft, the first round of the NFL Draft is one of my ten favorite days of the year.  At this point, Green Bay Packer general manager Ted Thompson is scheduled to make the 26th pick in the first round in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Much like I said in my preview of the first round for Packers in the 2011 NFL Draft, we know that Thompson likes to trade back in the draft to amass more picks so there is no guarantee that the Packers will hold onto the 26th pick.  If no quarterbacks are picked in the first half of the first round, there are a handful of teams that have quarterback needs with early picks in the second round that will want to jump back into the end of the first round so they can selected the player they deem to be the "quarterback of the future" for their franchise.

In case you missed it yesterday, I posted my 3rd annual first round mock draft of what I think every GM's should do in the first round if used their current pick (or picks).  I did not deem a single quarterback worthy of drafting in the first round but I still think a few teams will panic and reach for a quarterback in the first round this year anyhow.

The Packers have no glaring needs but they could still use an every down running back, a left tackle of the future, depth along the defensive line, another edge pass rusher, and a safety.  Before I preview the players that I am targeting for the Packers with the 26th pick, keep in mind these guys will most likely be off the board:

QB: Geno Smith (West Virginia) and Ryan Nassib (Syracuse)

WR: Tavon Austin (West Virginia) and Keenan Allen (California)

TE: Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame)

OT: Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M), Eric Fisher (Central Michigan), Lane Johnson (Oklahoma), and D.J. Fluker (Alabama)

OG: Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina) and Chance Warmack (Alabama)

DE: Ziggy Ansah (BYU) and Barkevious Mingo (LSU)

DT: Shariff Floyd (Florida), Star Lotulelei (Utah), Sheldon Richardson (Missouri), and Sylvester Williams (North Carolina)

MLB: Alec Ogletree (Georgia) and Manti Te'o (Notre Dame)

OLB: Dion Jordan (Oregon) and Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia)

CB: Dee Milliner (Alabama), Desmond Trufant (Washington), and D.J. Hayden (CB, Houston)

S: Kenny Vaccaro (Texas)

Some of my biggest draft crushes will most likely go in the Top 10 (Joeckel, Fischer, Johnson, Floyd, Lotulelei, and Jordan).  After the Top 10 rated players in the draft, most draft pundits think there is not much of a difference between having the 11th pick and the 41st pick.  Leaving aside almost sheer locks for being picked in the Top 10, my biggest draft crushes from above are: Richardson, Williams, and Vaccaro.  If any of those guys just mentioned fall to 26, I totally support the Packers drafting those guys and will explain my affection in more detail as I review the draft.

With all of that foreplay out of the way, here are some guys that I would realistically like to see Thompson draft with the 26th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft:

John Jenkins (DT, Georgia, 6'4", 346 lbs): Some people have Jenkins rated as a second or third round prospect but I view Jenkins as a wider, taller version of B.J. Raji so suffice to say I absolutely love Jenkins.

Menelik Watson (OT, Florida State, 6'5", 310 lbs): Has a really interesting back story that is tailor made for TV pundits to gush about.  Although Watson played right tackle at Florida State, he projects as a left tackle in the NFL given his large hands (10 3/8") and long arms (34").  If the Packers picked Watson it would mark the second consecutive draft they've taken an offensive tackle from Florida State because last year they drafted Andrew Datko in the 7th round.  Given Datko's injury history, on Day 1 of training camp, Watson would have a better chance of playing meaningful snaps for the Packers than Datko.

Justin Pugh (OT/OG, Syracuse, 6'4", 307 lbs): Feels like the second coming of Marhsall Yanda, a guy I wanted the Packers to sign heading into the wacky 2011 NFL season courtesy of the labor unrest the previous off-season.  Pugh seems to project as more of a guard or right tackle in the NFL and the Packers are already set at guard (Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang) and right tackle (Bryan Bulaga and Don Barclay) so this would be more of a value than need pick.

Datone Jones (DE, UCLA, 6'4", 283 lbs): Put up big numbers last season at UCLA but that was his only real productive season in college because he missed the entire 2010 season with a foot injury and had a lackluster 2011 season.  His ceiling and floor are the highest of the players discussed so far but based on my study of Jones so far, there is much better chance Jones turns out to be the next Cullen Jenkins than the next Justin Harrell.

Kawann Short (DT, Purdue, 6'3", 299 lbs): Given how much of a headache defensive lineman Mike Neal has been for Packer fans since they drafted him out of Purdue in 2010, the Packers better think long and hard about taking another Purdue defensive lineman so soon.  That said, I see Short as a much better version of Neal so I totally support the Packers drafting Short with the 26th pick if he is still available.

Kyle Long (OL, Oregon, 6'6", 313 lbs): I am contractually obligated by the NFL to point out that Kyle is the son of Howie Long and brother of Chris Long before I can mention anything else about him.  With that out of the way, Long had some trouble early on in his college career at Florida State but got things back on track at Saddleback Junior College before going to Oregon.  Long's arms are a little short (33 3/8") for a left tackle but he makes up for that with his height and large hands (11").

Eddy Lacy (RB, Alabama, 5'11", 231 lbs): The Packers desperately need a three-down back, which is exactly what Lacy would be for the Packers.  This feels a little like the 2007 NFL Draft when all the signals pointed towards the Packers drafting Marshawn Lynch.  Unfortunately Lynch went 12th and the Packers took the aforementioned bust Justin Harrell 16th.  Despite the running back position being devalued in the NFL, Lacy is the best back in the draft, so I would not be surprised if he went in the late teens or early 20's.

Matt Elam (S, Florida, 5'10", 208 lbs): After the Packers were physically man-handled by the 49ers there was all of this talk of the Packers adding "tough guys" to their team and Elam fits that bill.  Although diminutive for a safety, Elam is a physical presence at safety that could do more of the dirty work to free up Morgan Burnett to be more of a ball hawk in the secondary in 2013.

Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International, 6'0", 217 lbs): Thompson likes small school guys and Cyprien might be the best small school prospect after offensive tackle Eric Fischer.  Although Cyprien is not the tallest or fastest guy, he is a physical presence in the mold of former Packers safety Atari Bigby.

Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama, 6'3", 323): It might be a reach to take Williams in the first round but his combination of size and strength is just what the Packers need along the defensive line.  That is even more of a need given that the Packers will be without the services of Jerel Worthy, one of their two second round picks in the 2012 NFL Draft for most if not all of 2013 as Worhty rehabs a serious knee injury suffered at the end of 2012.

Jonathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State, 6'3", 320 lbs): Even though Hankins had a decorated college career, some thought he should have returned for his senior year to refine his pass rushing skills.  If Hankins can occupy defenders in the NFL like he did in college, I could care less how much he gets after the quarterback because he will open a ton of lanes for other defenders to make plays.

Whether or not Thompson actually makes a pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, check back for my quick thoughts as well as some guys that I hope Thompson targets in the second and third round of the 2013 NFL Draft.