March 9, 2010

$3.3 million richer, Collins should still be upset

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 12:53 pm

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As the uncapped year of NFL free agency is in full swing, to no surprise, the Packers have once again been relatively quiet.

Among the moves that have transpired in recent weeks, both safety Nick Collins and corner Tramon Williams received 1st and 3rd round tenders. And while that may appear to be business as usual to the naked eye, it’s no surprise that Collins was once again irked by the disrespect the front office has shown him and his agents, Herman and Dave Butz. Earlier today it was just announced that Collins has signed that one-year tender, worth $3.3 million. And while talk of a holdout will go away, long-term deal discussion is still at a standstill.

Seriously what is it with not paying this kid? The 26 year old has 13 interceptions in the past two years, to go along with three which he took to the house. Drafted in the second round out of Bethune-Cookman, he wasn’t the flashy pick at the time, but he’s proven to be on the cusp of a top-10 safety in the league. That’s nothing against Tramon Williams, because he performed admirably in a starting role last season after Al Harris went down with a torn ACL, and looks to be an integral part of Dom Capers’ secondary for years to come. But heck, even Derrick Martin, almost exclusively a special teamer (remember the Steelers game? Yep, that’s why), got $1.2 million. Does production mean anything in the NFL anymore? I’d be frustrated too, Nick.

Post-Combine Draft Outlook: Expect Ted Thompson to have several positions at the forefront of his board come pick #23 in April. Among those should be a pass rushing 3-4 outside linebacker after the loss of Aaron Kampman to the Jaguars, an understudy at left tackle after Chad Clifton retires and possibly a running back to ease the load off of Ryan Grant. Some names to remember:

OLBs:

~ Sergio Kindle, Texas (pictured above)
~ Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
~ Brandon Graham, Michigan

OTs:

~ Bruce Campbell, Maryland
~ Anthony Davis, Rutgers
~ Charles Brown, USC

RBs:

~ Jahvid Best, Cal
~ Ryan Matthews, Fresno State

That’s it for now. More to come in a few weeks- you should all know how giddy I get over the draft.

August 28, 2009

News and Views: Crew preparing shakeup?

Category: Brewers,Bucks,NFL General,Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 2:14 pm

denNews: Josh McDaniels announced at a noon press conference that management has decided to suspend disgruntled receiver Brandon Marshall for the remainder of the preseason for conduct detrimental to the team.

Views: And you thought Vick’s return to the NFL was a big story? This newest Mile-High incident will heighten the intrigue for tomorrow’s matchup between the Jay Cutler-lead Bears and the Marshall-less Broncos more still. Remember Cutler was traded away to the Bears earlier this summer after his drama-king antics. Whether Marshall will get what he wants [more money and a trade] remains to be see, but punting and swatting down balls at practice won’t help his cause or his value around the league.

gnbNews: The Packers will be in Tempe, Ariz. tonight to take on the defending NFC Champion Cardinals in their third preseason contest.

Views: If Green and Gold fans want to consider watching a preseason game, this would be the one. The starters are expected to play into the third quarter as is custom, and it should be a great gauge of the team’s new 34 scheme- pitted against one of the league’s best aerial attacks in Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Other areas to keep your eye on: the punting battle between Jeremy Kapinos and Durant Brooks and the progression of first-rounder B.J. Raji. I’ll try to give my full roster and season predictions mid-next week.

milNews: After receiving a $1 qualifying offer from the Bucks nearly two months ago, still nothing has materialized between point guard Ramon Sessions and the Knicks or Clippers, his rumored suitors.

Views: The acquisition of forward Carlos Delfino and point guard Roko Ukic looked to seal Sessions’ fate with Milwaukee, as the team would have three points on the roster (including and Brandon Jennings, Luke Ridnour) while pulling the team’s cap close to luxury levels. But this issue just won’t go away. GM John Hammond has rumored to have been in ongoing sign-and-trade talks with the Knicks’ Donnie Walsh and Clippers’ Mike Dunleavy, with little substance to this point.

On another note, Bucks beat writer Charles Gardner brought up a good observation the other day, noting the influx of players with international experience added to the roster this off-season. Delfino, originally from Argentina, played in Russia last year. Ukic was born in Croatia. Turkish-born Ersan Ilyasova, who re-upped to a new deal, has played in Spain the past two years. And finally, first-round pick Brandon Jennings skipped college ball to play in Italy.  Hopefully the emphasis will be placed on team basketball this year and not dishing the ball to Michael Redd for a low-percentage three every other possession.

milNews: Four Brewers have cleared waivers according to FOX Sports.com: catcher Jason Kendall, infielder Craig Counsell, outfielder Mike Cameron and pitcher Braden Looper. Future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman was also claimed by the Giants, but a deal doesn’t seem likely.

Views: If any deals going to be done it will most likely come before Monday, as players acquired after August 31st aren’t eligible for the post-season. So don’t be surprised if Melvin, who says he’s not trading any veterans, is bluffing here. He may not be getting a deal he likes now, but if teams like the Rockies or Giants slip a few games back of the Dodgers in the coming days, they might get desperate and offer a deal Brewer management can’t refuse. One thing is clear, however. As this team fades into the sunset once again, they will have to seriously considering shaking up their future core. They have Braun locked up, but guys like Fielder, Hart, Hardy all should be trade chips for young, durable pitching, because they won’t be competitive again until they get some.

May 4, 2009

New presents fall to Packers on Draft Day

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 4:41 pm

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With the 2009 NFL Draft a week old, and the initial media-hype and critiquing wrapping up, I figured today was the best day to take a look back on how the Packers did. Coming into the draft, every draft hub around speculated the Packers could have gone in a number of different directions. However, as we all know, especially the final days leading up to Draft Day, players’ stock rise and fall like gas prices. Fortunately for the Packers, two players in particular, Tyson Jackson and Darrius Heyward-Bey, were those late-risers. And because of their controversial selections at 3rd and 7th overall by the Chiefs and Raiders, respectively, Ted Thompson reaped the benefits, having his choice between two prime players at their respected positions: Michael Crabtree and B.J. Raji. Interestingly, it was leaked Friday night by the Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn that Crabtree was the highest rated player on Green Bay’s board, and should he fall he may have been too good to pass up. And just as rumor had it, the stars aligned perfectly for Thompson, giving him his choice. Take the flashy receiver, who has the potential to be a future superstar at a position of strength? Or take one of the only true nose guards in the class to anchor your new defense for years to come? And as it turned out, management opted for the beef. Putting sexiness on the back-burner for a second, this was the right pick. Yes, I understand the receiving core isn’t necessarily built for the future at present with Donald Driver aging and Jennings not yet locked up. However, not only would Crabtree have demanded more money as a premier position player, but he was someone the Packers just did not have the luxury of taking. 

Raji will come in and have a chance to be the Packers’ next plug in the middle, Ala Gilbert Brown. What a lot of people tend to forget was it was the defense, not the offensive, that held this team back last year. Namely, the rush defense, and when you have two backs on divisional rivals (Peterson and Forte) running circles around you, it needs to stop. For all those still hating the pick, here’s a stat for you: in their two games against the Packers, Forte accounted for 205 of the Bears’ 518 total yards (40%), while Peterson racked up 339 of the Vikings’ 716 (47%). Raji will not only demand double-teams at 335 pounds, but he’ll allow fellow linebackers Aaron Kampman, Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk and newcomer Clay Matthews to fly around and make plays. Thompson then did something completely out of character, trading up to get the alluded to USC linebacker, Clay Matthews, the second from the trio of stud linebackers to here his name called early-on. Thompson was apparently so enamored with Matthews that he might have made him the pick should Raji not have slipped. So just like that, after only what had been a few hours, the Packers found themselves not selecting until the 4th round on Sunday, barring another trade-up. Yes, I realize that in giving up three picks (one second and two thirds) for Matthews and a 5th, Thompson got ripped off, but if Matthews pans out, no one is going to remember the trade that was unquestionably a head-scratcher. 

Sunday, the Packers proceeded to add six new players to the roster, including two highly-touted tackles T.J. Lang and Jamon Meredith, a bruising fullback in Quinn Johnson, a defensive end in Jairus Wynn, a corner/safety hybrid in Brandon Underwood and finally another linebacker in Brad Jones. The phones didn’t stop ringing either, as 11 more undrafted signees were brought on, most notably, Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton and a former teammate of Greg Jennings at Western Michigan, receiver Jamarko Simmons. And sitting here a week later, after the dust’s settled and the meticulous scrutinizing is over, all that’s left to do is lace-up the cleats, strap-on the pads and play.

January 25, 2009

Peppers in Green Bay makes too much sense

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 1:56 pm

After the Packers inked 3-4 patron Dom Capers as their next defensive coordinator, it was only a matter of time before Green and Gold fans could expect to hear rumors circulating about Julius Peppers landing in Green Bay. Why? Because according to what Peppers’ agent Carl Carey told NFL.com, his client not only wants out of Carolina next year, but he may want out of the 4-3 scheme entirely.

“He certainly feels that he can excel and thrive in a 3-4 defense,” Carey said. “He is also open to just another system in general that will allow him to maximize his athletic abilities.”

And if that news wasn’t enough fodder for Wisconsin Sports radio hosts, Mike McCarthy sweetened the scenario even more by bringing long-time Carolina defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac in as his new defensive line coach…seems like a match made in heaven, right? Well, not so fast, there are several questions that remain unanswered:

1) It’s anyones guess what kind of rapport Peppers had with Trgovac until Peppers comes out publicly.  Clearly Peppers wasn’t happy with how he was being used in Carolina, and if their relationship has indeed been soured, Trgovac’s presence in Green Bay could be a turn-off.

2) Ted Thompson doesn’t get the name “tight-wad Ted” for nothing.  It’s obvious that he’s not willing to tie up a boatload of money in one player.  And if Peppers were to enter the free-agent fray, he’ll demand BIG bucks. This will more than likely be his last time for a payday, so chances are he’ll hold out for a ridiculous contract Thompson won’t be willing to dish out.

3) Carolina holds all the cards.  They’ll have the option to slap a $17 million franchise tag on Peppers, obviously something he’s praying won’t happen.  Taking into account that possibility, the only way the Pack could pry him away would be via-trade, which for the draft-pick lover Thompson would be an equally steep price to pay.

4) Even if Ted Thompson were to open his wallet (as unlikely as that is) and sign Peppers, there are mixed opinions as to what Peppers’ ideal position in a 3-4 would be.  At 6-7, weighing 283 pounds, Peppers would redefine the outside linebacking position, a spot he’d likely occupy in the Packers’ system.  Yes, his pass-rushing skills are unquestioned, but how would he fair in coverage?

5) While Peppers would no doubt be an upgrade in whatever capacity, many argue there will be other options available come February and March that would fit the Packers’ system better.  Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, the prototypical 3-4 linebacker, leads the pack of those with less question marks.  Not only is he proven in the system, but he probably won’t garner as much cash should he elude Baltimore’s franchise tag.  Another plus? Suggs is 26, Peppers is 29.

Bottom line: If Ted’s hard-pressed enough this year to open his wallet, and (hypothetically speaking) both Peppers and Suggs hit the open market, the decision should be relatively easy: throw every last egg into Suggs’ basket, not Peppers’.

December 30, 2008

Quarterback change a blessing in disguise

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 9:36 pm

In retrospect, looking back on the Packers 2008 season is certainly disappointing; dropping seven more games from a year ago is a drastic step backwards. And while the casual Packer fan will more than likely direct the brunt of the blame at Aaron Rodgers, statistics show that the quarterback position was not the cause of the team’s ills. Here’s a look at Favre and Rodgers final regular season stats:

                COM PCT%   PASS YDS   TDs   INTs   QB RAT.    
Rodgers-      63.6          4,038        28      13        93.8        

Favre-          65.7          3,472        22      22        81.0 

Rodgers became just the second quarterback in NFL history to surpass the 4,000 yard passing plateau in his first season as a starter, joining Kurt Warner. Additionally, Rodgers ranked fourth in the league in passing yards and TDs and sixth in QB rating. And to help sway you a little more, Favre’s 22 picks lead the league (Jay Cutler was second to last with 18). Need I go on? From those numbers, it’s obvious to see that the highly-publicized transition went better than expected.  In just his first season as a full-time starter, Rodgers has cemented himself as a top 10 (if not top 5) quarterback. His mobility also proved valuable- contrary to what Favre was able to display in his final years in Titletown. The 207 total rushing yards he accrewed placed him 7th among NFL QBs. He also had four TDs on the ground. In comparison, Favre had a mere 43 yards with 1 TD on the ground.

While I won’t go on a rant on why the Pack ended up with a sub-par record, I will give you a couple news and views revolving around the team before the off-season begins.

News: 2010 free-agent-to-be Greg Jennings isn’t happy getting paid bupkis anymore.

Views: Can you blame the guy? Statistically, he was one of the best receivers in the league this season despite his snubbing from the Pro-Bowl. Note to Ted Thompson: get this guy locked up! He’s going to be a stud for years to come. 

News: Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders is all but gone…or at least he should be. A decision on Sanders’ future could be made as early as this week.
 
Views: Top candidates to replace him: former-49er head man Mike Nolan, interim Rams and former Saints head coach Jim Haslett, Jaguar defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (who’ll likely be let go) and possibly Winston Moss, the Packers linebackers coach. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess who of those will be hired-if any. Anything to get Sanders O-U-T.

News: The Packers will hold the ninth overall pick in the upcoming April draft, and will receive the Jets’ third-rounder as compensation for the Brett Favre trade.

Views: Compensation could have been a second-rounder had the Jets not had their monumental collapse and made the playoffs and a first if they would’ve made the Superbowl. As far as the 9th pick is concerned, a trade down is always possible. Needs are at corner (with Harris and Woodson aging) as well as offensive and defensive line. Just to give you a quick idea, here were the players drafted in the nine spot the past five years:

2008- Bengals: *Keith Rivers, LB, USC. Rookie Stats:37 tks, 1 INT, 1 FF.
2007- Dolphins: Ted Ginn Jr, WR, Ohio State. Rookie Stats:  420 rec. yds, 3 total TDs.
2006- Lions: Ernie Sims, LB, Florida Stats. Rookie Stats: 124 tks, 0.5 sacks.
2005- Redskins: Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn. Rookie Stats: 46 tks, 2 INTs (12 games).
2004- Jaguars: Reggie Williams, WR, Washington. Rookie Stats: 268 rec. yds, 1 TD.

* Suffered season-ending broken jaw during Week 7 game against the Steelers.

August 17, 2008

Sunday Storylines: Brewers eek out classic

Category: Brewers,Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 12:47 am

Anger. Joy. Sloppiness. Heroics. All interchangeable words that emcompassed last night into early Sunday morning for Wisconsin sports fans. Lucky for us, in the prime-time California twinbill for the Brewers and Packers, the game that actually meant something was a success. While the Packers stumbled around in Candlestick Park, the Brewers held off the resilient Dodgers, backed by 53,000 fans, in dramatic fashion 380 miles southeast at old Chavez Ravine. Here are some positive and negative observations from both teams’ performances:

Positives:
1) Defensive clinic. What else can you say? Mike Cameron has shown that he is deserving of his fourth Gold-Glove every night. He was so convincing to Matt Kemp after his first two great catches that Kemp froze at first on a booming shot by Andre Ethier in the tenth, and was only able to advance to second; a game changing play. The catch by Gabe Kapler is without a doubt the greatest catch I’ve ever seen on live television. Simply amazing-another game changing boost for the Crew.

2) Braunny’s back. In his return from intercostal muscle spasms, Ryan hit a pinch-hit bloop single in the eighth and had the good sense to keep on chugging to second with a hustle double. He later struck-out on a 97 MPH heater in his second at-bat against fireballer Jonathan Broxton in the tenth. Overall a great sign to see Braun back healthy.

3) Snappin’ out of it. If you thought you were going to have a heart-attack in the later innings of the game, just think what J.J. Hardy must be feeling. He snapped out of a 2-23 drought at the plate dating back to August 10th with a 3-5 effort including a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth, followed by another go-ahead base hit to score Ray Durham in the tenth to seal the win. Unfortunately, they were sandwiched by an ugly error in the Brewers’ rough ninth, which he completely misplayed. J.J. came through though. Whew!

4) Gagne sharp; Riske not so risky. In his return to Dodgers Stadium, Eric Gagne had a efficient 12-pitch 1-2-3 inning with some help from his outfielders. Gagne reached a season-high in velocity, lighting up the gun at 95 MPH. Good to see. David Riske, who entered the tenth in relief of Salomon Torres, also had good command, striking out Manny Ramirez to end the wild 5-4 contest.

Negative:
1) Managing. A couple more horrible decisions by Ned Yost tonight. First of all relying on Ray Durham to hit Braun over to third base. Ned, lay a bunt down please. Braun saved Yost from that embarrassment with his speed. But as always, bad managing eventually hurt the Brewers in the ninth inning. Clutching his precious match-up cards, Ned elected to start the inning with Brian Shouse against the lefty Ethier. Of course, Shouse walks him, and the weight of the world is put on the real closer Torres with no outs and a man on first. It was a miracle he only gave up one run.

This was by far the best win of the season for the Brewers. A huge momentum shift into tomorrow’s game with a chance for a 4-2 West Coast road trip heading back home (how big would that be?). If I had to pick a defining game for this season this would be it. Hopefully they can string together some wins and slowly reel in the Cubs.


Positive:
1) Return game revitalized? It has been 12 years since the Packers had the likes of Desmond Howard returning kicks, but could the next great one at last be here? Jordy Nelson was the only statistical bright spot for the Packers against the 49ers, returning two kicks for 57 and 58 yards, respectively. He has all but solidified his spot as a returner for Mike Stock, the team’s special teams coordinator, and Mike McCarthy.

Negative:
1) Incohesive offense. The offense didn’t click all night long. Completely out of sync. The team gained an abysmal 182 total yards to the 49ers’ 355, an astounding differential to the team who ranked dead last in the NFL in total yards per game last season. The offensive-line looked particularly vulnerable, allowing six sacks.

Look for Mike McCarthy to whip his team into serious shape at practice Monday after the pathetic 34-6 showing against his old team. The Packers are now 0-2 this preseason.

And how can I forget about American Michael Phelps, who is now the greatest Olympian of all-time obtaining his eighth gold medal in the Beijing games, surpassing fellow U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz’s mark of seven golds in the 1972 Munich games. Congratulations to Mr. Phelps.   

August 11, 2008

Heir-apparent set to make Lambeau debut

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 4:46 pm

For the first time since the Packers drafted him in 2005, Aaron Rodgers will finally get his first start on a national stage, albeit the preseason, against the Cincinnati Bengals. And yes, in all likelihood Brett Favre will be tuning in to ESPN from his new dwelling in the Big Apple. Here are five areas to keep an eye on during tonight’s game:

1. QB Aaron Rodgers. How can you not focus on him? This is his chance to finally prove to his doubters that he can take the reigns and lead the Packers back to the playoffs. It will be interesting how his chemistry with the first-string wideouts has progressed, although he may be playing without one of them as Greg Jennings is questionable to play with a knee injury.

2. LB Abdul Hodge. What a great story this has been. He didn’t play all of last year with chronic tendinitis in both knees, and was on the verge of getting cut. But after surgery and training this off-season in Arizona, he’s back. More on his battle back here. He should be getting a lot of reps tonight, especially with teammate Desmond Bishop questionable with an Achilles’ injury. If he can prove to coaches he is back to his former-ball hawk self when at Iowa, he may land one of the final spots on the team. The linebacker competition should be fierce.

3. Nickelback spot. Charles Woodson and Al Harris have their starting spots locked up again this year, but after that, the third spot is really up for grabs. Tramon Williams and Will Blackmon both showed flashes of brilliance last year, mainly returning kicks. After those two, Patrick Lee, one of three second round rookies from Auburn, should make a strong case for candidacy as well. And don’t rule out Jarrett Bush in that mix, although many green and gold fans probably would like to.

4. [Backup QBs] Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn. Rodger’s will probably get a quarter of work, give or take a few minutes, but other than that it will be up to draftees Brohm and Flynn to take the rest of the snaps. Brohm was a surprising pick in the second round by Ted Thompson after he had taken an unexpected fall down the draft board. Flynn was taken in the 7th round. They will be working with the second and third teamers, meaning Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley, also high picks, could be likely targets.

5. Young O-Lineman. All I keep hearing out of Packer’s camp is how much coaches all in love with Allen Barbre, Josh Sitton and Brent Giacomini. Scott Wells, Junius Coston and Orrin Thompson are all questionable, leaving extra time for these three to impress. Barring serious injuries, Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher will secure the tackle spots, Wells center and Daryn Colledge/Junius Coston left guard. Of all five spots, Jason Spitz could be the one fighting for his starting job.

August 6, 2008

Favre "saga" must be put to bed soon

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 9:00 pm

After just returning from a long vacation, over a month to be exact, the one thing that has failed to end is the Brett Favre, and I know it is clique, “saga.” I’m going to express my feelings once and for all on this as this issue has mercilessly dragged on without resolution. So let’s rewind. March 4th. Brett Favre tearfully retires in front of a shocked Cheesehead nation. It’s quite obvious he could have returned; everyone saw him display the same if not more fiery passion he’s played with since ’92. Of course, fans continue to undermine Ted Thompson. Brett and Ted do not see eye to eye. Even the casual fan can see Ted has been desperately trying to push Favre out of town for the past three years. But for fans to point the finger at Thompson is ignorant. The fact is, Brett, you retired. Nobody forced you to do so, no, not even Ted. The Packers gave you’re your shining chance to come back. You declined. Any devil’s advocate would say well he didn’t come back because he felt pressured. Well if he really loved Green Bay enough, if he was loyal enough, he would have come back.

Brett has been trying to run the franchise ever since Mike Sherman was head coach/GM. And that just can not happen. You can’t have a player be above the franchise. Ted Thompson recognizes that. Mike McCarthy recognizes that. That shows great leadership on their part; to be able to put their foot down to arguably the greatest player ever to set foot on the gridiron.

Now I understand there is another side to this argument, and that is Ted Thompson’s bias toward Aaron Rodgers, and there’s definitely substance behind that point. Thompson wants Aaron to do well because he had the guts to draft him when nobody else would. He wants to give him his chance, before he bolts. Since 2005, Favre has known Aaron was the future. And now he’s come back playing the victim card. It’s sickening. Brett you knew this was coming. Don’t waltz back to 1265 expecting your job right back, despite cool aid guzzling green and gold fans’ chants and website making. Packer fans: you need to put Brett Favre in the past. He’s gone. Don’t pull this “Fire Ted Thompson” crap. Just look objectively at what he’s done for this franchise before jumping the gun. He pulled them out of the NFC North cellar, drafted extremely well and put them in a position to go to the Super Bowl in just three years. How many GMs would have gone after Ryan Grant off the Giants practice squad? Or drafted Greg Jennings in the 2nd round? This guy has a rare eye for talent. Don’t place the extent of the blame on him. Sure he could have handled it better, the whole Packers’ PR department could have.

Who was the guy that cost the team the NFC Championship, like so many other guy in his career? In a, “What have you done for me lately?” society, many will remember that last fateful pass. Whatever happens, when this saga is resolved, myself and I’m sure many other Packer fans will be relieved, because the way Favre has handled this, many have began losing respect he took 15 years to earn. He has become nothing more than a crying baby who for once did not get his way. His distraction has put this team behind and denied them precious time to prepare for 2008. At this point, getting rid of the headache to the Bucs, Jets, wherever, is paramount. Getting a player or pick in return of would merely be a bonus.

April 27, 2008

Trade obsession persists on Day 2; depth added

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 11:13 pm

Before I get to all my Day 2 analysis, I figured I should provide a link to this excellent chart outlining all the Packers moves over the course of this weekend (it’s on the very bottom of the page). Whew, now that’s a lot of movement. Here’s my quick analysis of the second day picks, six in all, as well as my predictions on these players’ chances of making the team:

Jermichael Finley, TE, Texas- It’s ironic he ends up with the same team he was raving about at the NFL Combine. I love this pick. Finley finally gives the Packers an athletic tight end (Bubba was not athletic) that can stretch the field. He’ll provide Aaron Rodgers with a valuable check-down. He needs to improve his blocking, but he’s got plenty of time. Finley’s chances of making the team: Extremely good.

Jeremy Thompson, DE, Wake Forest- Ted Thompson fools all with a trade up, marking the first time he’s ever done so as the Packers’ GM. And I think it was the perfect time to do it. Thompson was a projected 2nd-3rd round pick, dropping because of injury concerns. As long as he can stay healthy, he’s got a great shot to make fans forgot Corey Williams quickly–great pick. Thompson’s chances of making the team: Very good.

Josh Sitton, OL, Central Florida- A little surprised they chose this guy with higher rated offensive-lineman on the board, but it’s a typical TT move. Underrated guy who was a major reason Kevin Smith rushed for 4,800 yards last year. The reason I think he’ll make the team is because he’s versatile (TT mentioned his ability to play both guard and tackle spots). Sitton’s chances of making the team: Good.

Breno Giaconimi, OT, Louisville- I had done a lot of research before this year’s draft, and this guy’s name was connected to the Pack in numerous draft circles. He’s a monster, (6’7+, 300 lbs.) that gets bonus points for having the most commonly mispronounced name on Wisconsin TV stations tonight. Giacomini’s chances of making the team: Good.

Matt Flynn, QB, LSU- Another quarterback? I can’t imagine Packer nation’s reaction to this pick after it flashed on the screen, but please remember everyone, this is in the 7th round. Flynn is the perfect #3 (as long as no veteran is signed) guy behind Rodgers and now Brohm. He doesn’t have a great arm, but it won’t hurt him because the West Coast Offense predominantly consists of slants and shorter routes. Solid pick given the circumstances. Flynn’s chances of making the team: Average if veteran QB is signed, good if not.

Brett Swain, WR, San Diego State- Ted said in his post-draft press conference that Swain caught his eye while scouting SDSU’s quarterback Kevin O’Connell. There’s absolutely no way this guy makes the active roster, but worst case scenario he creates good camp competition and makes the practice squad. Swain’s chances of making the team: Little to none (may make practice squad).

My final thoughts on the draft: Ted did a great job, although I’m not big on grades, so I won’t give one. But I feel eight of these nine have a good chance of making the final 53 man roster. The competition should be fierce in camp, and I’ll be especially interested to see how the quarterback’s perform in the preseason. Even after Mr. Irrelevant was chosen, the madness didn’t stop. Undrafted free agents began to sign, and the Packers have already inked multiple names. Here’s that list thus far:

TE Michael Peterson (Northwest Missouri State)
LB Danny Lansanah (UConn)
RB Kregg Lumpkin (Georgia)
WR Taj Smith (Syracuse)
LS J.J. Jansen (Notre Dame)
P Ken Debauche (Wisconsin)

Some intriguing names here. Of those, I think Jansen and Lansanah (left) have legitimate shots to make the team. Peterson, Smith, Lumpkin, and Debauche should all create healthy competition, with Lumpkin and Smith good practice squad candidates (along with Swain). Remember everyone, in Thompson’s blueprint, this is the year where depth isn’t just added, it’s significantly improved. They did a great job accomplishing that this weekend.

April 26, 2008

Thompson true to form on day one; trades down

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 11:54 pm

For all those fans who were surprised the Packers dealt their first rounder, it’s time you do a little more research. The Packers’ head man didn’t waste any time accumulating picks on Day 1, dealing the 30th overall pick to the Jets for their second and fourth rounders (#36 and #113, respectively). I was thinking and hoping this would be the case, especially after watching Mike Jenkins, Antoine Cason, and Kentwan Balmer evaporate quickly off the board before 30. Dustin Keller, Brandon Flowers, and Limas Sweed were all there, but honestly, they weren’t alot better talent-wise than who they could have got trading down, and I’m glad Thompson recognized that. Now on to the picks:

With the #36 pick, the Packers select WR Jordy Nelson from Kansas State. Rip this pick as much as you want, but after watching this guy’s game film, he looks special. I especially loved the clip of him torching Kansas’ Aqib Talib (who went 20th to Tampa Bay) for a TD. Nelson possesses great size (6’3, 217 lbs), great hands, and tremendous route running skills. One aspect of Nelson’s game scouts question is his timed speed (he ran a 4.50 40), but for those same “experts,” please remember this kid was a track star in the 100 and 400. Nelson was incredibly productive during his senior year, racking up over 1,600 yards and 11 TDs. So productive, in fact, that his worst statistical game was 82 yards against San Jose State. There are definite concerns, however. He only had that one standout year; his first two years at receiver he had 84 grabs, while during his senior year he racked up 122. Packer fans can also question his role in 2008, as I did originally. At the moment, he appears to be at best #4 on the depth chart, with Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones ahead of him. He has return experience, which looks to be the most likely route for him to break onto the scene next year, but in the long run, Nelson should replace Driver and find his niche as the perfect slot guy for the Packers. 

With the #56 pick, the Packers select QB Brian Brohm from Louisville. Another pick that’s controversial at this point (what Thompson pick isn’t), Brohm provides one thing as  Nelson does: competition. Thompson has stressed that so often throughout his tenure and it hasn’t changed; it’s just amazing how many people are still surprised by these kind of choices. Regardless of position, Brohm was the best player available. The Packers were rumored to be interested in Brian at 30 and also trading up for him before 56, but to the team’s surprise, he fell to them. Had he declared last year, Brohm might have been a top 10 pick. He is a perfect fit for the West Coast Offense, as he is extremely accurate and has good timing on his throws. The knocks on him are his arm strength as well as his durability, both attributes Aaron Rodgers’ lacked out of Cal. It’s Rodger’s job to lose, and hopefully having Brohm behind him will push him to perform up to his full potential. I didn’t expect the Pack to take a QB this early, but he is too talented to pass up.

With the 60th pick, the Packers select CB Patrick Lee from Auburn. This was probably, for the majority of fans, the most sensible pick of the night. Lee is a big, physical corner that fits the mold the Packers look for in their press scheme. Working at AM 1570 the Score in Appleton, WI, I was able to listen to an interview conducted by host Justin Hull last week with the same Patrick Lee. Justin asked Patrick how he’d feel coming into Green Bay with Woodson and Harris to learn from, and Lee welcomed the opportunity. I expect Lee to have the best shot to make an immediate impact of the first three picks, possibly at nickel-back, but also on special teams. He needs to become more polished (he didn’t start at Auburn until his senior year), but he has all the makings of a solid future starter in Green Bay.

Overall, I thought the Packers did a great job on Day 1, setting themselves up for the future. As far as positions I think will need to be addressed tomorrow, a tight-end and change of pace running back would be nice. Guys like Jermichael Finley (TE, Texas) and Steve Slaton (RB, West Virginia) could be possibilities. Plenty more analysis to come tomorrow, as the team holds at least six more selections (one 3rd, three 4ths, one 5th, and one 7th). Draft coverage starts at 9:00 AM, so get up early, because players will be flying off the board real fast. Some of the best of the rest: LB Dan Connor (Penn State), CB Charles Godfrey (Iowa), QB Josh Johnson (San Diego), OG Jeremy Zuttah (Rutgers), and CB Antwaun Molden (Eastern Kentucky).