As the 2009 Green Bay Packers draft came to a close, I had to say I was more excited about this team than I had been since the 2008 NFC Championship Game.
Some needs were addressed while others were looked over as being not as pressing, but in the end, the Packers came out with one of the better drafts of any team we saw over the weekend.
However, it has always been my theory that there is no such thing as a good or a bad draft pick on the exact day of the draft.
In 2002, the Lions were applauded for their selections of Joey Harrington, running back Luke Staley, and offensive lineman Victor Rogers.
The point is that no one knows who is going to be good for which team, so there is no point in grading a team’s draft or saying what was a good pick. Rather, I am going to break down the Packers draft in terms of what I liked, and what I didn’t like about each one of their picks.
This is helpful because if someone liked the pick, they can relate to it, but also see why some would not like the selection, and vice versa.
No thumbs up or down.
Just the good and the bad of the 2009 Packers draft
No. 9. B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
What I Liked: Raji was the obvious pick in this situation as the Packers move to a 3-4 scheme next year.
We have seen all throughout the NFL what a good nose tackle can do for a defense that plays the 3-4 scheme, and Raji will not be an exception to this rule. He will be able to come in right away and start at the nose tackle position and will succeed.
He eats up blockers and is a better pass rusher than most give him credit for. He has a high motor and, as was mentioned before, was clearly the right pick in this situation.
What I Didn’t Like: Where is Ryan Pickett going to play?
Head Coach Mike McCarthy says that Pickett will move to the defensive end position, but I am not sure if I like how that is going to work out.
Pickett is your prototypical nose tackle, and he is just a tad bit smaller than Raji is (by seven pounds). That seven pounds is not enough to turn him into a 3-4 defensive end, and I do not think he can succeed there.
If he is not a threat on the outside, it will not open up things for our rushing linebackers on the end.
No. 26. Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
What I Liked: Other than picking up another first round talent in Matthews, I loved that we addressed the need opposite of Aaron Kampman at the outside linebacker position.
Brady Poppinga was penciled in as the starter before the draft, and after the Packers passed on Brian Orakpo and Aaron Maybin, the position was still very much an issue.
In Matthews, they get a hard nosed athlete that comes from a long line of successful football family members. He will start right away and has to be considered an early candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
What I Didn’t Like: How much did we give up for this guy again?
Picks No.s 41, 73, and 83 for this slot and pick No. 162.
According to the NFL Draft Pick Value Chart, the picks that we received totaled 727.6 and we gave up 890. Those stats do not lie, and this really shows how much Thompson wanted Matthews.
Also, Matthews started just one season at Southern Cal, so he is a little bit of a one hit wonder. While we did not need as much depth in this year’s draft, we still could have received more in this trade.
No. 109. T.J. Lang, OL, Eastern Michigan
Why I Liked It: True to Ted Thompson, he goes with another versatile, small school offensive lineman in the middle of the draft.
I had Lang as a third round pick, and the value to get him here was very good. He will probably play right tackle in the NFL as I do not think he is fast enough to play on the left side of the line.
With Mark Tauscher looking more and more like he will not come back, Lang should have a shot at obtaining the starting spot.
Why I Didn’t Like It: One of the stories of this year’s draft was offensive lineman falling, and this was the case even in the fourth round.
I thought an even bigger steal was out there on the draft board in Notre Dame’s safety David Bruton, but Ted Thompson seemed content with the safety situation throughout the whole draft, so Lang was the pick.
Not too much to complain about on picking him.
No. 145. Quinn Johnson, FB, LSU
Why I Liked It: I didn’t know much about Johnson coming into the draft other than he was one of the top fullbacks in the class.
After the Packers selected him, I can see why the Packers drafted him to come in and compete for a starting gig. Johnson absolutely destroys linebackers and, playing in the SEC, that is quite an accomplishment.
Johnson will not give you much more than a lead blocker, but on the goal line—he will be vital and it was a good pick up.
Why I Didn’t Like It: Any time a team has two solid fullbacks (Korey Hall, John Kuhn), you don’t expect them to go back to that position, but the Packers did.
While Johnson was a fine draft pick, he will have to fight to make the team, and his one-dimensional style of play makes him questionable.
With guys like TE Cornelius Ingram and OT Xavier Fulton on the board, this pick will have to be reevaluated later.
No. 162. Jamon Meredith, OT, South Carolina
Why I Liked It: The value of this pick was unbelievable, as Meredith was a second round pick in most mocks, going as early as the first in others.
With the aging left tackle Chad Clifton looking at his best years in the rear view mirror, a replacement is necessary and Meredith gives a great body to work with, along with quick feet, and a smart mind.
Competition on the offensive line is never a bad thing, and Meredith brings the potential to start.
Why I Didn’t Liked It: Did Ted Thompson really see something that 31 other teams missed on?
Meredith has all the physical tools to be great, but a lot of character concerns are raised.
In particular, some sources were saying that Meredith was uncoachable even though he denies those reports. While it seems like Meredith will have a chip on his shoulder next year, that chip better stay in line or else he will be gone just as fast as he was snatched up in the fifth round.
No. 182. Jarius Wynn, DE, Georgia
Why I Liked It: At first, I was mad at the selection of Wynn because I had never heard of him, and he just seemed like an undersized defensive end.
Then, I realized that these are the picks that Ted Thompson usually turns into gems, and I eased up a bit.
Wynn had two sacks in the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State and really came on strong at the end of the year. He will have to bulk up a little bit in order to play defensive end in the 3-4, but could be a late round steal.
Why I Didn’t Like It: There was SO much value on the board at this point in the draft, and some of the bigger names were still out there that I would have liked to see over Wynn.
Cedric Peerman, the running back out of Virginia, was a steal at this point and we passed on him for whatever reason.
Wynn is a wait and see prospect, but the Packers staff must have liked something.
No. 187. Brandon Underwood, CB, Cincinnati
Why I Liked It: Any time Mel Kiper likes a pick, I have to like it a little bit.
Underwood was one of three Bearcat cornerbacks to come out to the draft this year and Kiper claimed that Underwood was the most underrated.
He has the ability to play both the cornerback and safety position, and is a stud on special teams from everything I hear.
Why I Didn’t Like It: Coye Francies from San Jose State was still available when Underwood was taken, but Thompson must have valued his versatility very highly.
It’s hard to find problems with a sixth round pick, especially one with a lot of upside, but I probably would have liked to see Francies at this point in the draft.
No. 218. Brad Jones, LB, Colorado
Why I Liked It: Jones was the second player that I had no idea on in Thompson’s draft, but he tested out very well at the combine and at his pro day—so he has a lot of upside to him.
Also, Dom Capers knows what he is doing in putting the 3-4 scheme together, so that gives me hope that he will have a shot to make the team at best. More than likely, he will be moved to the practice squad or cut by the time the preseason rolls around.
Why I Didn’t Like It: One of my favorite players of the draft was still available at this point, and that was Rashad Jennings from Liberty.
Thompson signed a running back after the draft in Tyrell Sutton, so he was obviously thinking about the position. Jennings brings a ton of upside, and I think he will be a starter in the NFL one day.
Jones led his team in sacks and hurries last year, but I doubt he can make the transition to the NFL.