How much Playing Time will Packers CB Micah Hyde get in 2014?

Micah Hyde vs 49ers

Packers DB Micah Hyde has his work cut out for him this training camp.

If you can somehow block out his dropped pick-six that would have beaten the 49ers in the playoff, Packers defensive back Micah Hyde exceeded expectations in his rookie season.

So we should all prepare for Hyde to take the next step and be even better in 2014, right? Not so fast.

I know we’re a long way from training camp, but who is Hyde going to beat out for consistent playing time?

Tramon Williams? No way, especially if we get the Tramon from the second half of last season.

Sam Shields? I hope not. If that happens, it means the Packers just  wasted a whole bunch of money on Shields.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix? Hyde hasn’t truly played at safety in the NFL so it’s hard to envision Hyde beating out the team’s No. 1 draft pick.

Morgan Burnett? It’s possible, but again, Hyde hasn’t played safety in the NFL. I can’t see him beating Burnett, who is entering his fifth season and second year of a new contract.

Casey Hayward? Only if Hayward isn’t the same player he was during his rookie season following an injury-wrecked sophomore season.

As of now, and “now” is a looooooong ways away from training camp, exhibition games and real football being played, Hyde is the Packers dime back and nothing more. Hyde will have to have himself a helluva training camp to earn more playing time beyond that.

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

What would it take for you to stop following the Packers?

I’m asking because of the hullabaloo over the Packers signing troubled Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla and the “risk” that people think comes with signing a guy like him. Really, what risk is there?

Let’s say Lyerla gets arrested for cocaine again. The Packers can just cut him and move on. Let’s say he tweets something terrible again. The Packers can just cut him and move on. Let’s say, God forbid, he does something on the same level as Aaron Hernandez. Once again, the Packers can just cut him and move on.

(By the way, it’s unfair to lump Lyerla in with Hernandez, but people are doing it, anyway. A drug arrest and an offensive tweet don’t mean you are going to murder someone in the near future.)

I suppose you could argue there is risk if Lyerla does, in fact, make the team, then does something to get cut during the season and forces the Packers to scramble to fill a roster spot. But even then, teams have to fill vacant rosters spots all the time during the season.

Is Lyerla a public relations risk? Are people mostly worried about the Packers’ image taking a hit and the term “Packer people” becoming more and more a thing of the past (if it ever existed in the first place)?

Obviously, no team wants to deal with its players getting arrested or making offensive remarks on social media, but is anything a public relations risk to the NFL these days? Does the phrase “public relations risk” even exist in the Packers — a team who has no trouble selling “stock” in the franchise and has a season-ticket waiting list filled up for what seems like forever — vocabulary?

The New England Patriots had one of their players (allegedly) commit multiple murders. I didn’t notice fewer people at Gillette Stadium last season or large quantities of New England residents renouncing their Patriots fanhood. Ray Rice (allegedly) knocked out his then-fiance in an elevator and just gave a really weird news conference about it, but I doubt people in Baltimore will stop supporting the Ravens or cite the incident as a reason to stop filling the NFL’s coffers with cash.

The Packers and the franchise’s most popular player went through a bitter divorce in 2008. The bleachers at Lambeau Field were still packed and the team today is more popular and profitable as it ever was.

Unless you think the Packers follow, or should follow, some pretend moral code when it comes to the players they bring in, what’s the risk in giving a guy like Lyerla a shot? Does signing a guy like Lyerla make you question your Packers fandom? Are you now one step closer to not following the Packers because they gave this kid a shot after he did and tweeted some very dumb things?

I doubt it. Besides an extended run of futility on the field, it’s hard to envision anything significantly dampening enthusiasm for the Packers in the foreseeable future.

The only way I would stop following the Packers is if I lost interest in football, and that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon. I used to be a huge baseball fan, but my interest has waned recently because baseball has gotten really boring, even more boring that it always has been. MLB seems to be intentionally pushing away fans by not addressing easily fixable pace of play issues and it’s even driving once die-hard fans like me away from the sport.

Sure, I’d like every Packers player to be an upstanding citizen and a beacon of the community, but that’s not realistic. I respect your point of view (even though it’s pie in the sky) if you feel that the Packers should simply stay away from players like Lyerla, whose red flags are completely out in the open. I get it. We all want to root for people with a track record of doing the right thing and staying out of trouble.

But if  you’re against the Lyerla signing because of the “risk” involved, you’re way off base. There is little, if any, risk.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • We’ve heard plenty about Lyerla’s off-field issues. What are the Packers getting on the filed with the tight end? Zach Kruse focuses just on the football aspect of Lyerla, and it kind of gets you fired up about his potential.
  • This week’s Cheesehead Radio featuring Dan Shonka providing a Packers draft review is an absolute must-listen.
  • Ross at Packerstalk.com wonders if Clay Matthews could play more snaps at inside linebacker. I’ve always wondered the same thing. Matthews is definitely fast enough and explosive enough to play the position, I think. But if he moves inside beyond just the occasional snap, who’s going to rush from the outside? That’s putting a lot of faith in players like Nick Perry, Andy Mulumba, Carl Bradford or an undrafted free agent to come through.
  • ALLGBP.com’s Thomas Hobbes breaks down some numbers for Packers kick and punt returners. I thought Micah Hyde was too slow to be an effective returner last season, but he did better than I thought he would. I’m anxious to see Jared Abbrederis in this role, although I worry he could break in half after one too many hits.
  • Brandon Marshall signed a new contract (on “The View,” for crying out loud) and Jason at Acme Packing Company wonders if the 3 year, $30 million deal sets the market for Jody Nelson, who will turn 29 on May 31 and hits the open market after this season. If the Packers can get Nelson for 3 years and $30 million, they need to get that deal done now. I’m guessing after accepting a below-market deal last time, Nelson is probably looking for something in the five-year range.
  • Packers president Mark Murphy said this week that ideally the Packers would like to extend Ted Thompson’s contract before Mike McCarthy’s, since all football decisions are made by Thompson. In a perfect world, that’s how I would do it too. But if the Packers think highly of McCarthy and view him as the coach they want for the forseeable future (and it appears that they do), they shouldn’t risk losing McCarthy if Thompson doesn’t sign an extension in a timely fashion.
  • David at LombardiAve.com makes season predictions for the Packers sophomores in 2014.

Non Packers links and other Nonsense

  • I am not in favor of slavery reparations, but after reading this piece from Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic…wow. Makes you think…
  • Men are paying up to $1,000 for a wingman to help them meet women. If any of you men out there would like to hire me as a wingman, I’d do it for a case of Spotted Cow.
  • If hiring a wingman for $1,000 isn’t working, try Twitter.
  • David Zurawik absolutely nails it on the Ray Rice fiasco.

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Well, I had a column about Michael Sam and his misguided decision to become a reality TV star ready to publish, but since Sam wisely chose to eschew his reality TV career for the time being, that column wouldn’t have made much sense.

So, it’s 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, the in-laws are on the couch watching the Marty Stuart show on something called RFD-TV, and I have to come up with something else to write about.

It might be kind of a cop out, but how about I take a look at the entire post-draft Packers roster and share some general thoughts?

Too boring, you say? Too bad, I say. The Marty Stuart show is almost over and I need to crank something out quickly.

I’ve copied and pasted Bob McGinn’s Packers depth chart from earlier this week in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. My thoughts on each position group will follow.

(Oh, and if you really wanted to read something about Michael Sam, Chad Toporski came out of retirement to write about him on Saturday for ALLGBP.com. Check it out.)

WR — Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, Kevin Dorsey, Myles White, Jeff Janis, Chris Harper, Alex Gillett.

Until the end of 2011, the Packers had been fortunate with their injury luck at receiver. That luck appears to have run out. Greg Jennings was gimpy at the end of 2011 and into 2012. Nelson hobbled through 2012. Cobb wasn’t himself in the playoffs in 2012. Cobb and James Jones missed significant time in 2013.

If nothing else, the Packers three draft picks at receiver should provide some insurance in case of another injury outbreak. Longer term, if any of the three picks turns out to be a stud, it gives the Packers some leverage and flexibility with Nelson and Cobb hitting unrestricted free agency after this season.

 

Key training camp battle: Boykin vs. Adams for the No. 3 receiving job.

TE — Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor, Richard Rodgers, Jake Stoneburner, Raymond Webber, Justin Perillo.

Who, if anybody, is going to emerge and provide a threat down the seam now that Jermichael Finley is likely gone? In my opinion, the only player with the speed and size to do it is Bostick, but he’s got a long ways to go and needs to improve his hands. Quarless showed signs of life late in 2013, but I don’t think he’s a down the seam type of tight end.

Key training camp battle: He needs to get through a tryout first, but what if Colt Lyerla makes it into camp and enters himself into the training camp battle royal?

T — Bryan Bulaga, David Bakhtiari, Don Barclay, Derek Sherrod, Jeremy Vujnovich, Aaron Adams, John Fullington.

Mike McCarthy might as well move Bulaga back to the right side now that Bakhtiari has a year under his belt and looked promising. If Bulaga gets hurt again, Barclay has the experience at right tackle to step in.

Key training camp battle: Derek Sherrod vs. himself. If Sherrod flops in camp, he will reserve his spot next to Justin Harrell in the Ted Thompson first-round flop hall of fame.

G — Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Lane Taylor, Andrew Tiller, Jordan McCray.

No worries about Sitton and Lang. I do wonder if Barclay and newly drafted center Corey Linsley will see time at guard as well.

Key training camp battle: Sitton vs. Lang to see who can have the funniest quotes and tweets from training camp.

C — JC Tretter, Corey Linsley, Garth Gerhart.

I have nothing against Tretter — it sounds like he’s a talented and bright player. But on a team torn apart by injuries every season, it’s nerve-wrecking to open camp with a guy who snapped his ankle in a non-contact fumble-recovery drill as the leading candidate to snap the ball to Aaron Rodgers.

Key training camp battle: Tretter vs. Linsley. The Packers drafted an actual center for a change in Linsley. He’s an undersized mauler, so we’ll see what kind of fight he gives Tretter.

QB — Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, Chase Rettig.

Stay healthy, Aaron Rodgers.

RB — Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris, Johnathan Franklin, Michael Hill, Rajion Neal, LaDarius Perkins.

FB — John Kuhn, Ina Liaina.

This is probably the deepest the Packers have been at running back in the Favre/Rodgers era. Lacy is a legit No. 1. Starks was on turbo speed last season and is less prone to injury as a backup. Harris, aka the used car salesman, will be back and Franklin will try to rebound after a lost rookie season.

Key training camp battle: Harris vs. Franklin. I think the edge here goes to the used car salesman, but you never know how he’ll look post-knee injury.

DE — Josh Boyd, Datone Jones, Khyri Thornton, Jerel Worthy, Carlos Gray.

Wow, the Packers don’t have any proven defensive ends. Zip. Zero. Nadda. Someone has to step up here, preferably Jones since he appears to have the athleticism to get after the quarterback.

Key training camp battle: Thornton vs. Worthy. If Worthy loses, does he also lose his spot on the roster?

DT — Mike Daniels, B.J. Raji, Letroy Guion, Mike Pennel.

I like this group, mainly because Raji can’t play any worse than he did in the second half of last season. If Daniels is his usual disruptive self and Raji bounces back at least a little bit, this group should do the job.

Key training camp battle: Raji vs. Boyd. I don’t see Boyd so much as a defensive end. I think he’ll push Raji for snaps at the nose.

ILB — A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Sam Barrington, Jamari Lattimore, Victor Aiyewa, Jake Doughty, Joe Thomas.

Here is my bold prediction for the season: Sam Barrington will eventually beat out Brand Jones and have a breakout season. I wrote about Barrington after he was drafted and still have high hopes for the kid.

Key training camp battle: Jones vs. Barrington. Watch out, Jones. My man Barrington is coming for ya.

OLB — Clay MatthewsJulius Peppers, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Carl Bradford, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Jayrone Elliott, Adrian Hubbard.

Peppers will probably move around and not play exclusively at OLB, but if he does line up outside, I wouldn’t mind seeing Matthews move around the formation a bit more.

Bradford seems like a mean SOB, something the Packers have missed since losing Desmond Bishop. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bradford get an opportunity to play inside as well.

Key training camp battle: Nick Perry vs. Mike Neal. Neither player is in danger of losing his roster spot, but precious snaps will be at stake for whoever emerges.

CB — Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Jumal Rolle, Demetri Goodson, Antonio Dennard, Ryan White.

Another deep group, especially if we get the Williams we got at the end of 2013. Hayward is coming back, Goodson is a wild card and Hyde has a year under his belt. Let’s play.

Key training camp battle: Hayward vs. Hyde. I’m sure Dom Capers will find ways to make sure both players get on the field, but there will still be a battle between these two to play in the slot.

S — Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo.

It can’t get any worse, can it?

Key training camp battle: Richardson vs. Banjo vs. someone not yet on the roster or Hyde. The Packers have to bring in another safety  to make the battle for the No. 3 job a three-way dance, right? Or does Hyde take snaps at safety?

SPECIALISTS

K — Mason Crosby.

P — Tim Masthay.

LS — Brett Goode.

Will we get the Crosby of 2013 or the Crosby of 2012? Flip a coin, but it’ll probably be something in-between.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • Since the Packers are typically one of the most injured teams in the NFL, I thought it might make sense to compile the injury history of each Packers 2014 draft choice into one spot. Here’s what I came up with. Am I missing any injuries to any of the Packers new players?

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Missed a month after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus suffered in the Iron Bowl loss late in the 2013-14 season to Auburn. Returned in time to play in Alabama’s January bowl game.

Davante Adams
Never missed a game due to injury.

Khyri Thornton
Missed final game of career with an undisclosed injury.

Richard Rodgers
Missed one game in 2012 with a sprained foot. Missed one game with a thumb injury in 2013. Limited in spring practice with a shoulder injury suffered during the 2012 season.

Carl Bradford
I couldn’t find much about Bradford’s injury history. Either he’s been perfectly healthy, or I didn’t look in the right places. Feel free to post in the comments section if Bradford missed any games.

Corey Linsley
Played all of 2012 with a foot injury that required surgery following the season. Missed both preseason camps in 2013 as he recovered from the foot surgery.

Jared Abbrederis
Missed all of one game and part of another with a concussion in 2012. Some reports indicate Abbrederis may have suffered three or four concussions in college. He says he only had one, and it wasn’t that bad.  Abbrederis left a game against Northwestern in 2013 with a head injury. Left a game in 2013 against Iowa with a rib injury. Abbrederis also missed the senior bowl after suffering a hamstring injury in practice. 

Demetri Goodson
Missed the last eight games with an ankle injury in 2011. Broke his arm and played in just four games in 2012. Missed two games in 2013 with another arm injury.

Jeff Janis
Didn’t miss a game in college. Did suffer a minor ankle sprain during Senior Bowl practices.

  •  John Rehor at Packerstalk.com wonders if expectations are too high for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Given the Packers recent run of injured and ineffective first round picks — Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod, Nick Perry and Datone Jones — I hope we don’t set the bar too high for Dix.
  • The Packers gave Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla a tryout. Here’s a Q&A with the troubled but talented player over at Cheesehead TV.
  • Michelle Noyer-Granacki consistently turns out excellent Packers content over at BleacherReport.com. In this piece, she lays out how the Packers bolstered the receiving corp on the cheap using multiple draft picks. Remember, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are unrestricted free agents this offseason.
  • I’ve never been into jersey numbers, but a lot of people are. If you are one of those people, be sure to check this out from Acme Packing Co. on the history of Packers draft picks and jersey numbers.
  • Opening day vs. Seattle is a long ways away, but his peek at Aaron Rodgers vs. Richard Sherman from LombardiAve.com will make you wish the game was happening tomorrow.
  • Our own Kris Burke says the time is now for Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers to finally turn the defense around.

Non Packers links and other Nonsense

  • When you hear about political correctness run amok, this should be Exhibit A.
  • Is there any way to cut down on the number of promising young MLB pitchers who blow out their arms?
  • There are some really dumb things in this piece. Yes, after having a kid it’s tougher to get together with friends or do the things you used to do, pre-kid. But it’s not as dire as this piece makes it out to be. With a little bit of effort, you can still maintain a pretty solid balance of being a parent, homebody, friend, and person who enjoys having fun outside of the home/family environment.

 

Around the NFC North: NFL Draft Edition

Teddy Bridgewater

Is Teddy Bridgewater the quarterback the Minnesota Vikings are desperate for?

The 2014 NFL draft is over and the Packers have a slew of new players to work with as they try to win another Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions also drafted a bunch of talented new players as they try to wrestle away control of the NFC North from the Packers.

Let’s take a quick stroll around the NFC North and look closer at how the Vikings, Lions and Bears stack up after the draft.

Minnesota Vikings

1 (9) Anthony Barr, lb, UCLA.
1 (32) Teddy Bridgewater, qb, Louisville.
3 (72) Scott Crichton, de, Oregon State.
3 (96) Jerick McKinnon, rb, Georgia Southern.
5 (145) David Yankey, ot, Stanford.
6 (182) Antone Exum, db, Virginia Tech.
6 (184) Kendall James, db, Maine.
7 (220) Shamar Stephen, nt, UConn.
7 (223) Brandon Watts, lb, Georgia Tech.
7 (225) Jabari Price, db, North Carolina.

Bridgewater….uh oh
Without a doubt, the NFC North team that worries me most after the draft is the Vikings. Watch 10 minutes of tape on Teddy Bridgewater and you’ll see a quarterback who always looks downfield when moving around and out of the pocket. You’ll also see a highly intelligent quarterback who is asked to set protection pre-snap and progress through multiple reads on passing plays. Finally, you’ll also see a helluva competitor. Bridgewater seems like the type of who will run into a brick wall over and over again if it means winning a football game.

As you can see, I’m high on Bridgewater and was hoping he didn’t end up with the Vikings. He probably won’t start right away, but Bridgewater to Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph could end up being a deadly combination down the road.

With the exception of 2009 when the Vikings had Brett Favre, the Packers and Aaron Rodgers have owned Minnesota, thanks mostly to the Vikings’ incompetence at quarterback. That could be changing with Bridgewater now in the division.

A 5th round steal
Keep an eye on Stanford guard David Yankey, who somehow fell to the fifth round and was snatched up by the Vikings. He’s a mauler, and if he cleans up his technique to fix some balance issues, he’ll be road-grating paths for Adrian Peterson in no time.

Reaching for Barr?
Anthony Barr seemed like a bit of a reach at No. 9 overall, but who am I to argue with defensive genius turned Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer? Barr is raw and, like Bridgewater, might need a year or so of seasoning. But if anyone can take Barr’s pure athleticism and turn it into on-field production, it’ll be Zimmer.

5 1st round picks
Under Zimmer, it’s a new regime in Minnesota. That new regime set out on draft day to solidify arguably the two most important positions on the field: quarterback and pass rusher. Time will tell if they accomplished what they set out to do, but I like the vision and love the Bridgewater pick.

Minnesota has had five first-round picks the last two drafts. Sure, they may have sacrificed some depth, but if three of those first-rounders turn into blue-chippers — especially Bridgewater — and the others competent starters, it will pay off.

Chicago Bears

1 (14) Kyle Fuller, db, Virginia Tech.
2 (51) Ego Ferguson, dt, LSU.
3 (82) Will Sutton, dt, Arizona State.
4 (117) Ka’Deem Carey, rb, Arizona.
4 (131) Brock Vereen, db, Minnesota.
6 (183) David Fales, qb, San Jose State.
6 (191) Patrick O’Donnell, p, Miami.
7 (246) Charles Leno, ot, Boise State

Thank you, St. Louis
I was crossing my fingers that the Vikings didn’t end up with Bridgewater. I was praying to St. Vince that the Bears didn’t wind up with defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Thankfully, St. Louis picked Donald at No. 13 and the Bears took cornerback Kyle Fuller with the next pick.

If you’re in the NFC North, you can never have enough defensive backs to chase around the likes of Jordy Nelson and Calvin Johnson. Fuller was a very fundamentally sound corner at Virginia Tech. He was also a solid tackler, which will come in handy against Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy and Matt Forte.

I’m still happy that Donald was gone before Chicago picked, but that doesn’t mean Fuller won’t give the Packers fits down the road. He should be an adequate replacement for Peanut Tillman.

Another Micah Hyde?
Staying in the defensive backfield, the Bears picked Minnesota safety/cornerback Brock Vereen in the fourth round. Like the Packers’ Micah Hyde, Vereen is a player who can hold up well against slot receivers and slip back to play safety or shadow a tight end, if needed.

Aaron Donald…didn’t need him
Sure, the Bears might have been mad about getting so close to landing Donald, but that doesn’t mean they left the draft empty-handed at defensive tackle. Ego Ferguson out of LSU and Will Sutton from Arizona St. both need a lot of coaching, but have high ceilings. Ferguson, especially, appears to have the tools necessary to play multiple positions along the line and perhaps one day fill the shoes of the departed Julius Peppers, at least in terms of his versatility.

Defensive upgrades
The Bears allowed 30 or more points seven times last season, including a combined 77 points in the final two games to miss the playoffs. Second-year head coach Marc Trestman, known as an offensive innovator, now has some defensive toys to complement his two big receivers, versatile running back and enigmatic quarterback.

Will it be enough to finally unseat the Packers atop the NFC North? If Aaron Rodgers gets injured again, it could be. Otherwise, I’ll still take the Packers.

Detroit Lions

1 (10) Eric Ebron, te, North Carolina.
2 (40) Kyle Van Noy, lb, BYU.
3 (76) Travis Swanson, c, Arkansas.
4 (133) Nevon Lawson, db, Utah St.
4 (136) Larry Webster, de, Bloomsburg.
5 (158) Caraun Reid, dt, Princeton.
6 (189) T.J. Jones, wr, Notre Dame.
7 (229) Nate Freese, k, Boston College.

A shiny new toy
Doesn’t first-round pick Eric Ebron seem like another one of those shiny new toys the Lions pick up every year? These shiny new toys look impressive and get everyone talking, but rarely lead to additional wins.

Don’t get me wrong, Ebron seems like a heck of a player, but he also seems like a typical Lion: flashy, super-talented, a bit of a headcase, frustrating.

Detroit desperately needed help in the secondary, so we’ll see if they’ll end up regretting taking Ebron so high with plenty of good defensive backs still on the board.

Stealing Van Noy
The Lions did upgrade the defense by adding Penn St. linebacker Kyle Van Noy in the second round. I was hoping Van Noy, who can rush from the outside and cover the middle from the inside, would fall to the Packers to provide some long overdue competition for A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones.

Sleeper of the draft?
One of the most intriguing players coming into the draft was “tight end” Larry Webster out of Bloomsburg. Webster is 6-foot-6, 252 pounds and played defensive end at Bloomsburg. He began playing football in 2012 after four years on the basketball team.

It sounds like Webster is going to play tight end in Detroit. If he ever figures out how to harness all that size, strength, speed and leaping ability, who knows what he could turn into.

Another new regime
Like the Vikings, Detroit also has a new coach. Jim Caldwell rarely blinked while coaching the Colts and Peyton Manning. Will he show more emotion watching Matthew Stafford try and get the Lions back into the playoffs?

I know this is a post about the 2014 NFL draft, but doesn’t the fate of the Lions still mostly rest on Stafford? If Caldwell can help Stafford become more than just a quarterback who puts up gaudy numbers, the Lions might have something.

Green Bay Packers Final 2014 Draft Board

Jared Abbrederis

Wisconsin Badtgers WR Jared Abbrederis was drafted by the Packers in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL draft.

The 2014 NFL Draft finally arrived and is now over, which means the Green Bay Packers have made all of their selections and we know who will be joining the team in training camp and hopefully helping bring another Lombardi Trophy to Titletown.  Our team at ALLGBP.com has done a fantastic job in breaking down each of these players. Be sure to check out each breakdown and get to know the newest Packers.

Let’s take a look at this year’s full slate of draft picks:

Round 1

21st overall – Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

What the heck would Ted Thompson have done if the Arizona Cardinals stayed put at pick No. 20 and selected Clinton-Dix? That would have meant Ryan Shazier, C.J. Mosely, Calvin Pryor and Clinton-Dix — all targets for the Packers — would have been gone. Good thing Arizona traded back and Clinton-Dix was there for Thompson to take. Safety is the most glaring hole on the Packers roster and Clinton-Dix should be able to step in on day one and provide an upgrade.

Round 2

53rd overall – Davonte Adams, WR, Fresno St.

The Packers needed another big WR after James Jones left for Oakland. Thompson has a good track record of finding WRs in the second round, and if Adams works out, expect to see a receiver who runs precise routes, goes up and gets the ball, and is strong enough to gain leverage and make catches even when covered. Adams won’t wow you with his speed, but he’ll fit right in if he does, in fact, develop into the next James Jones.

Round 3

85th overall – Khyri Thornton, DT, Southern Mississippi

An under-the-radar need for the Packers heading into the drat was defensive line depth. With Thornton, the Packers add another big guy to the rotation who has the potential to develop into more than just a rotation player. Thornton doesn’t appear to be as explosive as Mike Daniels or as athletic as Datone Jones, but he does seem like a player who could anchor the edge of the line in a 3-4 scheme if he improves his conditioning and irons out a few technique quirks.

98th overall – Richard Rodgers, TE, Cal-Berkley

Rodgers probably isn’t strong enough to be a dominant blocker in the NFL, but if he can turn his athleticism into production in the passing game, we won’t complain too much about his blocking. I like Rodgers’ potential to be a red-zone threat, something the Packers desperately needed last season. It’s probably going to take some time for Rodgers to develop, but the tools are there to build a good receiving tight end.

Round 4

121st overall – Carl Bradford, LB, Arizona St.

If you want versatility, Bradford is your guy. He played outside linebacker, inside linebacker and defensive end at Arizona St. and also appears to have the athleticism and attitude to stand out on special teams. Bradford’s got a bit of a mean streak in him, something the Packers defense desperately needs. I want to see what Bradford can do at inside linebacker. He reminds me a lot of Desmond Bishop.

Round 5

161st overall — Corey Linsley, C, Ohio St.

For the first time in forever, Thompson drafts an actual center instead of taking a tackle with the hopes of turning him into a center. Linsley is more of a physical run-blocker than precise pass-protector. His skillset matches up nicely with the bulldozing style of Eddie Lacy. But if Linsley is going to succeed in a Packers uniform, he’ll have to get better as a pass-blocker. Linsley could also play guard, which I suppose means T.J. Lang could move to center. I hope that doesn’t happen because Lang looked awful at center when he was forced to play it a few times in 2013.

176th overall – Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin

The former walk-on at Wisconsin begins his pro career with the Packers. We’ll be hearing a lot about Abbrederis’ worth ethic and smarts, but I’m most excited about seeing what he can as a kick and/or punt returner. The Packers seem to always be scrambling to find returners so having another option like Abbrederis will be nice.

Round 6

197th overall – Demetri Goodson, CB, Baylor

This pick was kind of a head scratcher. The Packers are wrecked by injuries every season, and Goodson has had a hard time staying healthy. He’s also 25 years old, which makes you wonder if he’s already hit his ceiling. On the positive side, he’s really fast and could team with, or compete against, Abbrederis for a kick/punt returner role. He switched from basketball to football so he’s got a lot to learn. Maybe his ceiling is higher after all.

Round 7

236th overall — Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State

I didn’t even know Saginaw Valley State was an actual school until this pick was announced. Janis sounds like he’s got all the physical tools to be a successful NFL WR, but needs to be polished up and tested against big-time competition. Aaron Rodgers has to be happy with the Packers draft. He already had Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to throw to, now he has three more new receivers and a tight end.

Undrafted free agents

( check back at 8AM Central for a separate post with a complete list and more details, but for now, here are some early reported signings)

OG John Fullington, Washington State

RB Rajon Neal, Tennessee

LB Jake Doughty, Utah State

QB Chase Rettig, Boston College

CB Ryan White, Auburn

OLB Jayrone Elliot, Toledo

RB James Sims, Kansas

DT Mike Pennel, Colorado St. – Pueblo

OG Jordan McCray, Central Florida

DT Carlos Gray, NC State

TE Justin Perillo, Maine

LB Joe Thomas

Packers 2014 NFL Draft: Day 1 Grade and Analysis

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

New Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix holds up a jersey after being selected in the 2014 NFL draft.

With linebackers C.J. Mosley and Ryan Shazier off the board, the Packers used the 21st pick in Thursday’s NFL draft to take free safety Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix and hopefully provide a long overdue boost to the safety position.

Ever since Nick Collins’ career ended in early 2011, the Packers have plugged in the likes of Charlie Peprah, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian at safety with disastrous results. Can Clinton-Dix help end the long-running nightmare for the Packers at safety?

He very well could. I didn’t have any safeties rated as first-rounders in this year’s draft, but with the aforementioned linebackers off the board and general manager Ted Thompson not trading down, Clinton-Dix was the most logical selection.

After the Packers took Clinton-Dix, other safeties came off the board. Deonne Bucannon and Jimmie Ward — originally pegged as possible day-two targets for the Packers — were taken by Arizona and San Francisco, respectively.

Obviously, several teams had first-round grades on a number of safeties. Good thing Thompson and the Packers snatched up Clinton-Dix when they did.

What they’re saying:

“But the chips fell into place for the Packers, who headed into Thursday with a need at safety, and left it with a prospect who had top-10 talent. Clinton-Dix should be a Day 1 starter for Green Bay.” – Chris Burke (via SI.com)

“How long have we been saying the Packers needed to find their next big-play safety? At least since the end of last season, if not earlier. The only NFL team that did not get a single interception from a safety in 2013, the Packers have finally made a move to replace Nick Collins, who hasn’t played since his Packers career ended with his neck injury in Week 2 of the 2011 season.” – Rob Demovsky (via PackersNews.com)

“I’m very good on the post. I’m very good covering, helping out, double-teaming, whatever the case may be, I’m good at doing it. Like I said, when I get in there and learn that playbook and be comfortable and relax in myself and be consistent, I think I’ll be fine and help the Green Bay Packers win.” –Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (via JSOnline)

“It fit very well for us filling need and having best player available. We felt he was best player on board.” – Ted Thompson (via Packersnews.com)

Who was on the board at No. 21:

Bucannon and Ward were still out there, but most people had them rated below Clinton-Dix. Michigan St. cornerback Dequeze Dennard was another option, but he’s under 6-feet and the Packers typically don’t take corners unless they’re 6 feet or taller.

Even though the Packers could use a tight end, taking Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro or Troy Niklas over Clinton-Dix probably would not have been the wisest move.

This year’s draft is stacked with talented wide receivers. If the Packers want to bolster their pass-catchers, they should be able to do so with a guy like Marqise Lee, Jordan Matthews or Martavis Bryant on day two.

The Packers had plenty of options at No. 21 and ended up taking a player who hopefully will fill a desperate need on the back end of the defense.

Why they went with Clinton-Dix:

Did you want to see yet another year of god-awful safety play from the Packers?

Of course, we don’t know if Clinton-Dix will solve all of the Packers’ safety problems, but something needed to be done. I thought Thompson might trade down or take another defensive lineman with the 21st pick and snag a safety on day two. Well, he didn’t make a trade and he pulled the trigger on Clinton-Dix.

If Thompson would have waited to get a safety, two good ones in Bucannon and Ward would have been off the board.

The Packers hope Clinton-Dix can do two things:

1. Start right away and play well (obviously)
2. Boost the play of Morgan Burnett

With a young and talented partner back there, perhaps Burnett sees the light and lives up to the contract extension he signed last offseason.

And if he doesn’t, Micah Hyde could end up getting a turn at safety.

Either way, a defenisve backfield that features Clinton-Dix, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Hyde and a returning Casey Hayward is plenty to get excited about.

Day 1 Grade: A?

How do you grade a draft pick two hours after it’s made? It’s silly.

But if you’re going to make me assign a grade, it has to be an “A,” right?

The Packers desperately needed a safety. Clinton-Dix was the best safety on the board and maybe even the best player overall still available. The Packers selected him.

That’s worth an “A” for now. Check back in three years and I’ll let you know if that “A” still stands.

Packers 2014 NFL Draft – First Round Pick: Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Safety Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix

With their first-round pick (21st overall) in the 2014 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers select Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama

PLAYER DETAILS: 

Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix
FS
Alabama
6-0/208 lbs

CAREER NOTES: 

Seven interceptions in 38 games with the Crimson Tide. … 100 career tackles. … First-team All-American in 2013. … Third-team All-American in 2012. … Earned playing time as a true freshman. … Tore his meniscus before playing Auburn senior season, but was back a month later for the Sugar Bowl. … Played running back in high school.

COMBINE:

4.58 40 yard dash, 11 reps on the bench, 2.68 10yd split, 78.5-inch wing span, 33-inch vertical, 9 foot, 11-inch broad jump, 7.16 3-cone,  4.16 20yd shuttle.

SCOUTING REPORT: 

A solid all-around safety, Clinton-Dix can play “center field,” cover the slot, tackle and contest jump balls with big wide receivers. He’s also tough. Following a standout sophomore season, Clinton-Dix battled a knee injury last season and still performed well. After having surgery to repair a torn meniscus on Dec. 2, he returned a month later and chased around Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl to record six tackles, two for a loss. Clinton-Dix’s 40-yard dash time doesn’t stand out, but spend a few minutes watching him on tape and it’s obvious he plays faster than his 40-time reflects. Clinton-Dix wasn’t an intimidating hitter at Alabama, but in today’s NFL, teams want pass coverage over a guy who makes highlight-reel hits. He’s also a little small, which could cause problems against tight ends or the likes of Brandon Marshall or Calvin Johnson in the NFC North.

COMMENTARY:

It’s been three years since Nick Collins’ career ended prematurely and the Packers have yet to recover at safety. With Collins gone, opposing teams have encountered little resistance throwing over the top against the Packers. Ditto for deep corner passes or seam routes to tight ends.

Oh, and Packers safeties haven’t done much to support the run defense and cover for slow-footed A.J. Hawks and not-quite-good enough Brad Jones.

Enter the guy with the funny name, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Safety was obviously the Packers most gaping hole and general manager Ted Thompson tried to fill it with Clinton-Dix. With Ryan Shazier, C.J. Mosley and Calvin Pryor gone, Clinton-Dix was the most obvious pick for the Packers.

I think Clinton-Dix is a good player and will help the Packers, but I didn’t have any safeties in this draft graded as a first-rounder. It wouldn’t surprise me if Thompson felt the same and tried to trade the pick.

But let’s not get into trades that may or may not have been discussed, or subjective grades that range all over the place. Clinton-Dix appears to be a good football player and the Packers desperately need good football players at safety.

Put Clinton-Dix next to Morgan Burnett and let’s see if the Packers safeties finally take a major step forward this season.

VIDEO:

Would you Give Packers Coach Mike McCarthy a new Contract?

MM- lombardi trophyBy now you’ve all probably read Bob McGinn’s piece in Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the Packers talking to Mike McCarthy about a contract extension. McCarthy signed a 5-year deal in the spring of 2011 that runs through the end of the 2015 season.

McCarthy and Packers general manager Ted Thompson will have nine NFL drafts under their belts after this week. That’s a remarkable stretch of organizational consistency and one of the benefits of not having a “real” owner. God knows what someone like Dan Snyder or Jerry Jones would have done before, during and after the Favre divorce.

But the past doesn’t mean much in the NFL. We’re all happy for McCarthy and Thompson’s long working relationship and the Packers philosophy of not emotionally overreacting to organizational adversity by handing out pink slips. That philosophy, however, doesn’t protect the Packers from having to make difficult decisions.

One of those difficult decisions is whether to extend McCarthy’s contract well before it’s due to expire. It appears that the Packers are looking to do just that, and I agree with their decision.

One of the points McGinn made in his piece revolved around the wisdom of extending McCarthy before the Packers know for sure if Thompson will want to sign another contract after the GM’s deal runs out following the 2016 draft. It’s worth thinking about — if the Packers bring a new general manager, odds are good he will want to hire his own head coach. That organizational stability could go out the window if a new GM asks to fire McCarthy with 3 years and $20 million left on his contract.

But is that reason enough to not extend McCarthy? The Packers think highly of McCarthy as a head coach and I happen to agree with them. I wouldn’t want to risk losing McCarthy simply because Thompson might be close to calling it a career.

Packers fans, myself included, can get quite angry at McCarthy for certain playcalls during games. I got news for ya: Fans of the other 31 NFL teams do the same thing every Sunday. McCarthy is a good coach and the Packers would be wise to keep him around beyond his current contract. Here are a few reasons why:

  • According to Football Outsiders, the Packers have been one of the most injury-plagued teams in the NFL during McCarthy’s tenure. Nonetheless, McCarthy has a .646 winning percentage, a Super Bowl trophy, four division titles and two appearances in the NFC championship game.
  • Some credit Aaron Rodgers, not McCarthy, for the Packers success despite all the injuries. Rodgers deserves plenty of credit, but so does McCarthy for working to develop Rodgers and navigate the organization through the Favre-to-Rodgers transition.
  • Under Thompson, the Packers roster is constantly turning over and always filled with young and unproven players. It takes a coach with a steady hand to develop all of the new players and ensure that the highs are never too high and the lows too low.

Of course, it’s not all duckies and bunnies with McCarthy. The coach’s critics will point to the team’s near-collapse last season after Rodgers got hurt and the yet-to-be-fixed holes on defense as two major reasons to not go all-in on McCarthy. I don’t disagree with those criticisms, but from where I view it, the good far out-weighs the bad with McCarthy.

Mike McCarthy has won in Green Bay despite a slew of injuries and rosters filled with players who are young and inexperienced. He’s also helped develop the league’s best quarterback and keeps his teams focused through various sticky situations.

Like any coach, McCarthy has his faults. But those faults aren’t glaring enough to not bring McCarthy back for another run. Extend his contract and let the winning continue.

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

I finally got around to watching “Last Day at Lambeau, the excellent film that chronicles Brett Favre’s painful separation from the Packers. Even though I am probably the last Packers fan on Earth to see it, it still brought back all the memories I thought it would, plus a few more.

There are many things we will never know about the Favre soap opera, but there is one thing in particular I wish I had the answer to: Why didn’t the Packers just trade Favre to the Vikings? I kept asking myself that question as the drama unfolded in real-time back in 2008, and while I was watching “Last Day at Lambeau.”

Apparently the Packers didn’t want to trade Favre within the division, especially to a division rival like the Vikings. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Ted Thompson should have been sitting by the phone, rubbing his hands together and sneering like Mr. Burns on The Simpsons while he waited for the Vikings to call.

It was obvious the Vikings wanted Favre, so much so that they broke league rules and tampered to try and make it happen. The Vikings are the same franchise that traded a billion draft picks for Herschel Walker. It’s also the franchise with a fanbase that hates the Packers more than they love their own team, and would enjoy nothing more than to get Favre on their team simply out of spite.

The Vikings were a team desperate for a quarterback, and drooling at the possibility of that quarterback being Brett Favre.

The Packers ended up trading Favre to the New York Jets for a measly conditional draft pick, which ended up being a third-rounder. Ted Thompson had no leverage in dealing Favre, except with one team: the Vikings. Who knows what Thompson could have extracted out of the Vikings for Favre. One first round pick? Two first round picks? A first and a third? We’ll never know.

The “you can’t trade him within the division, especially to the Vikings” theory doesn’t fly with me. Why? Because if you didn’t think Favre was good enough to help the Packers win a Super Bowl, why would he be good enough to help the Vikings win a Super Bowl?

Why not try and get the upper-hand on your rival by fleecing them in a Favre trade?

Of course, you never know how these what-if scenarios would play out in real-life, but that’s never stopped me before. So, what if the Packers traded Favre to the Vikings for first-round picks in 2009 and 2010?

That would’ve taken away Minnesota’s 2009 first-rounder, robbing them of the chance to take Percy Harvin 22nd overall.

Let’s assume Favre would have improved the Vikings by a win or two and the Packers would be getting Minnesota’s pick in the mid-20s instead of the early 20s in 2009. Maybe that means Thompson doesn’t have to trade into the first round to nab Clay Matthews (he actually used the third-rounder from the Favre deal as part of the package to move up) and just takes him with the pick he got from Minnesota for Favre.

Or maybe Thompson, in a trade-up mood in 2009, takes Matthews, then trades for a third first-round pick and grabs Vontae Davis (No. 25). Hakeem Nicks (No. 29), Louis Delmas (No. 33) or James Laurinatis (No. 35).

Minnesota ended up with the 30th overall pick in the 2010 draft (they traded it to the Lions). The 30th pick would have given the Packers a chance at taking Rob Gronkowski (No. 42).

We could do this all day, but I think you get the picture. Yes, things turned out well for the Packers after Favre’s departure, but I’ll always wonder what the Packers would have done if they sent Favre to Minnesota for a haul of draft picks.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Ted Thompson held his pre-draft news conference this week and, predictably, didn’t reveal much. Whenever the tight-lipped Thompson speaks publicly, I always wonder how much money it would take for him to write a book or do a long television interviewing revealing everything that happened behind the scenes during the Favre divorce.
  • Most mock drafts are just fodder for us to kill time before the draft. But this Packers-centric mock at Cheesehead TV takes a really deep look at what the Packers might do with their selections. You will be smarter after reading it. Or maybe you won’t. Who knows.
  • Here are a few scenarios where the Packers could trade out of pick No. 21 in the first round. In this draft, I can see Thompson trading down and gathering more picks instead of trading up in the first round.
  • Thompson has had success in the second round recently. The folks at Lombardi Ave. has prepared a list of possible second-round targets for the Packers.
  • Just when you thought the podcasts at PackersTalk.com couldn’t get any better, they book Mike Freeman and Wes Hokiewicz as guests. The nationally-known Freeman appeared on the Out of the Pocket podcast and Holdkiewicz, a local beat writer, shared his knowledge on CheeseHead Radio. Last but not least, Old Bag of Donuts preview secondary prospects in the NFL draft.
  • Jay Hodgson is the newest scribe at ALLGBP.com and continues cranking out useful pieces that focus on the X’s and O’s of the Packers and football.
  • Aaron Rodgers reported former Packers TE Tom Crabtree to PETA over Twitter this week.

Non-Packers Links and Other Nonsense

We’re only days away from the NFL draft and a temporary reprieve from offseason boredom. Unfortunately, once the draft is over, we still have to wait a long time for training camp to open, then we have to slog through an agonizingly boring preseason before finally getting actual football in September.

You’re going to need something to keep you occupied through these down periods. That something should be Action PC Football (APC).

APC is a single-season replay football simulation game that makes you the head coach of your favorite team(s). Like Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP), which I profiled last week, APC makes you use your brain, not your thumbs, to achieve success.

Unlike OOTP, APC is not a general manager simulation. You don’t progress from season to season and sign free agents, manage a salary cap or draft rookies. Instead, you play individual NFL seasons on a game engine that challenges your football knowledge while generating incredibly realistic results.

Do you think your coaching acumen can take the 2011 Packers to the Super Bowl instead of fizzling out in the divisional round? Are you cocky enough to take one of the lousy Packers teams from the 1970s and 80s and try to make them into Super Bowl champions? You can try it all with this game.

You can also create what-if scenarios (try putting Bart Starr on the 1995 Packers or insert Reggie White onto last year’s Packers) or play games and leagues made up of franchise all-stars or players from different eras. And like OOTP, the game is customizable. You can set up the game exactly how you want to play it. 

In other words, this game is a football junkie’s dream.

Oh, and I completely forgot to mention that you can also play college football seasons!

The game comes with the 2013 season and a set of championship teams. Other individual seasons, franchise all-star packs and decade sets are sold separately and are frequently on sale, allowing you to stock up at a reduced rate.

If you need even more of a reason to check this game out, developer Dave Koch is a lifelong Wisconsin resident and Packers fan. If you buy Dave’s game, you’re supporting one of our own. Dave also makes a baseball, basketball, hockey and golf game and has been making these types of games since 1992.

He also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you buy the game and aren’t satisfied for whatever reason.

Yes, games like Madden are fun and serve their purpose to meet the football fix for a mainstream and casual audience. If you’re reading ALLGBP.com, there’s a good chance you’re more than just a casual fan. You probably know more about the game than the typical pimply-faced 13 year old who smashes buttons and constantly throws deep post patterns while playing Madden online.

APC is a real football game for diehard football fans. Check it out.

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