Hi everybody, before we jump in just want to let you know this probably will be my last chat until training camp. With that, let's get to it. Yeah, they've gone defense early and often. One reason I'm sure is they haven't hit big on many picks on that side of the ball so it's always been a liability, and they need to keep putting valuable resources into it. Is there reason to think this one will be any better with defensive players taken with the first two picks? Don't they eventually have to hit on a couple? Mike Daniels was a really good pick, Kenny Clark looks like an excellent one. Jaire Alexander looks promising. But they rarely have two first-rounders, so this is an especially important draft, especially with one of the picks being high (No. 12).
Receivers definitely can improve their hands, just like basketball players can improve their shot as they get further into their 20s and into their 30s. You see that a lot in the NBA. But you don't go from bad hands to great hands, just like you don't go from a bad shooter to a really good one. Moore's hands were the issue in college too. You're right, he's got to improve there or it will be a short career. I guess he'll be a case study. Nobody is leaping to mind going back to the 90s for me as far as examples of guys who really struggled catching and then ended up being really reliable catching.
Maybe some of the pro-oriented scouts when draft seasons hits, but not college scouts from what I can tell. A big part of the college area scouts' jobs is to try to catch as many players as possible live (in practice or a game) and to visit their campuses for background research -- talking to coaches, equipment guys, janitors, anybody who has regular contact with these guys. But some of the pro guys and maybe even GMs can travel a little less because of the easy access to video. It sounds like Gutekunst still is on the road quite a bit during the season.
I've only read the bios of those guys, haven't asked anybody about them, but the most interesting guy seems to be the tackle from Virginia Tech, Yosh Nijman. He's huge (6-7, 320), ran a great 40 (4.81), and while tackles don't run 40 yards, that is an indication of an athletic big man. He had two broken legs early in his career and another injury or two, but it sounds like he's kind of interesting developmental guy. I'm not sure which draftee will have the hardest time making the roster, it will depend in part on injuries. I guess when it doubt go with the last two picks, Hollman and Summers,
Hmmmm, good one. Left to right, Bakhtiari, Taylor, Linsley, Turner, Bulaga. It's really tempting to put Jenkins in there at one of the guard spots, could very easily happen. But for now I'll guess the veterans Taylor and Turner.
It's pretty tough for me to glean much. I think scouts and coaches get a lot more out of it, but even they can be fooled. Two years ago Josh Jones just jumped off the field in the three OTA practices that were open to the media. Each of those practices he made two or three plays on the ball where he broke fast, looked explosive. I thought they'd found themselves a player. But that part of his game didn't show up in training camp and hasn't since. I guess one of the things you can tell is whether a QB can throw the ball. I remember in the offseason stuff when they signed Josh Heupel way back when, all he did was throw checkdowns. That's not an exaggeration, in the practices I saw I honestly don't remember him throwing anything but a checkdown. He probably had a weak arm as it was and I think he'd been injured. He couldn't throw the ball. Thinking back, Brian Brohm threw a lot of wobblers in his first offseason. I think coaches and scouts can see a lot about how guys move, whether DBs have loose hips when changing directions, and how sharp RBs can cut. Same for receivers. But I can't tell a lot from it.
A little, yeah. I mean, they brought in Sam Ficken for competition but I'd be surprised if Ficken beats him. Doesn't mean it can't happen. I remember when they drafted Conway and then signed Longwell as an extra leg for camp. I didn't think Longwell had a prayer, but Conway missed a couple kicks in the preseason opener, then hurt himself putting in extra work, and Longwell won the job.
Good question, I thought in the later rounds they might draft a returner/slot receiver, but they didn't. So I guess Trevor Davis stays in the running. Alexander did some punt returning in college. Valdez-Scantling returned a couple kickoffs last year. That's a potential weak area, although the kickoff is on the road to becoming extinct.
Yeah, that clearly was the priority. Three big-money FAs on defense plus his first two picks. Speaks volumes. It's not something you can do regularly, and he had to overpay in free agency, but he had to do something. I thought he might sign a lot of guys in free agency to spread the risk around and hope he hit on a couple players, but instead he went big on three defensive players. I mean, I get why he did what he did, he felt he had to do something drastic, and he got younger and better at OLB. I'm intrigued by it, that's about as far as I can go. It's not like he signed any great rushers, but I'm intrigued by the idea of having six or seven guys they can rotate who are anywhere from OK to pretty decent rushers, keep sending fresh guys at the QB. It worked great for Seattle, though I don't think the Packers have anyone as good as Michael Bennett was. Still, LaFLeur talked about that after the draft, how tough it is on offenses when a defense sends wave after wave of fresh rushers at them. No idea on the second part of that question, about Rodgers and LaFleur's system.
As I said in last Friday's chat, the couple scouts I traded texts with that day were pretty high on Savage. He didn't get any play in the media leading up to the draft, and in fact when I started checking around with a handful of scouts a couple weeks before the draft, he wasn't even on my list of first-round possibilities. But then a scout said the two guys who seem to moving up boards were Savage and Thornhill. Sure enough, by draft day Savage was in the mid-20s on a couple mock drafts I looked at. With the open starting spot and all the resources they put into drafting Savage (trading two fourth-rounders to move up eight spots to get him), he pretty much has to start this year, and they need him to be a good player.
I think the character issues were the biggest thing. Sounds like teams thought he was too unreliable and irresponsible.
Interesting question. In May of '16 I thought Randall and Rollins were good prospects. Randall looked really springy and had very good ball skills, and Rollins seemed like he'd keep getting better after only playing one year of college FB. But Alexander last year looked better than Randall did as a rookie. He's more competitive and more physical as a tackler. To be honest, I probably thought more of Rollins at this time in '16 than I do of Jackson now, and I say that mostly because I thought Rollins played OK as a rookie and was going to improve a lot and end up being good. That obviously didn't happen, among other things his speed was an issue. Jackson is a more natural football player, is really good at playing the ball in the air. But after a strong training camp he struggled during the season, took way too many penalties, was really grabby in coverage, and there's still reason to wonder how big a problem his lack of straight-line speed is going to be -- that's probably why he's so grabby. But he does have impressive instincts and ball skills, it's not like there's any reason to give up on him after one season. This will be a big year for him. How much does he improve? I still wonder if he'll end up at safety. Wouldn't be surprised at all if he does.
I haven't looked at the DL contracts recently and don't want to take the time to do it now, so this is just kind of guesswork. The Packers can keep the cost a little lower by signing him to an extension this year rather than waiting until next year. He has two years left on his contract at this point (that includes the fifth-year option they've already exercised), so that's two years of injury risk he'd be taking if he doesn't sign an extension. So that works in the Packers favor. I have to think we're talking in the range of $15M a year, maybe a little more. It's definitely doable for the Packers. I thought it was interesting, last year at one point when it looked like Khalil Mack might be available, I asked Gutekunst if in principle it was possible for the Packers to have one of the highest-paid QBs and highest-paid defensive players in the league, and he immediately answered yes.
I'm assuming he'll be at the rookie minicamp, which starts tomorrow.
As a general theory, I do. That's why he makes $33.5M a year. I mean, does Brady really have that much offensive talent around him? Now, all QBs need help. And LaFleur's plan to help is with the running game. That's where I'm still surprised they didn't take a running back earlier, because while Aaron Jones is a talented back, they can't rely on him to stay healthy and definitely can't give him too many touches or he'll get hurt. Like I said, don't get me wrong, he still needs weapons. But they have talent to work with there. St. Brown and Valdez-Scantling are really big guys who can run. Maybe they won't pan out, but there's ability there. Sternberger was a pretty high pick for the future. Jenkins in the second round. I get your point and have to think next year's draft will have more emphasis on offense. But you can't have everything in this league -- free agency and budget/cap constraints prohibit that -- and to some degree the Packers have to rely on Rodgers to carry their offense. Maybe as he hits the end of his career here that will have to change. I do wonder about RB though, if they've left themselves too thin there.
I'd be leery of giving Jones enough touches to get to 1,000 yards, just wouldn't want to risk him getting injured. So if I had to guess now, I'd guess against them having a 1,000-yard rusher. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's more important that Jones is available all season. Yeah, OL should be improved. They paid Turner a lot of money -- I think it was a $9M bonus -- and used their second-round pick on a guy (Jenkins) who appears to be pretty much NFL ready.
I have not seen a practice yet. There was a minicamp last week but I didn't go because I was working on draft stuff. The rookie minicamp practice will be open to reporters tomorrow, as will three OTA practices (one a week) and their mandatory minicamp.
It's changed a lot. Besides Thompson leaving, Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith are gone, they had a big say in personnel while here. Jon-Eric Sullivan and John Wojciechowski both were promoted to high front-office positions, and then Gutekunst hired Milt Hendrickson from the Ravens this offseason to be his top adviser. So it's changed a lot. Gutekunst, not Thompson, is making the final call, and the top advisers around him have all changed.
Freeman is a possible example. Coming out of college the knock on him was he was a body catcher. He had occasional drop issues throughout his career -- I remember he had a bad drop late that was costly late in Super Bowl XXXII -- but he was a very good receiver. I don't think his drop issues were as bad as Moore's, though. Jones had a lot of drops as a rookie, but I don't remember reading-hearing that that was an issue with him in college. And from the very start -- going back to things you can pick up watching minicamps -- he was very much a hands catcher, which is what you're looking for.
A lot of it probably is semantics. He has a subluxation, which means the shoulder has popped out. Sounds like it's probably a partial tear. One team I talked with last week said he can play through it and manage it this year but that it will wear out and need surgery, very likely next offseason. Everything the Packers have said (while being very unspecific) is consistent with that. It's a long recovery from surgery, like six months, so that's why they'll wait until next year. I'm assuming Gary didn't want it this offseason because he wouldn't have been able to work out for scouts, which would have hurt his draft stock, and it is something he can play through if he wears a harness, etc.
Tough to say right now. I still wonder if Marcedes Lewis has enough left in the tank to make it this year. They gave him a $500,000 signing bonus, so they think so. But I don't think it's a given he makes it. Graham, Tonyan and Sternberger are very likely to be there, and then probably Lewis, but we'll have to see on him.
You see those things all the time, if you look at all the different pundits and draft experts there are probably 50 steals, maybe even more. I think Gil Brandt ripped the Packers' draft. I saw earlier this week that former Washington and Houston GM Charley Casserley rated it the best draft in the league. Nobody knows.