The 2009 Packer draft resulted in immediate dividends as Clay Matthews sparked Dandy Dom Capers's new 3-4 defense. BJ Raji, Brad Jones, and Jarius Wynn also provided some punch to the defense, while TJ Lang and Quinn Johnson made contributions to the offense.
The 2010 Packer class will need some miracles, plural, to come close to matching that class in rookie results. There are hundreds of draft reviews and grades already, with most of them giving the Packers overall grade somewhere between a soft "B" to a low "C."
While some experts and fans like the Packers OT prospect Bryan Bulaga, and others love getting safety Morgan Burnett, everyone agrees that it is very unwise for Ted Thompson to ignore the pass coverage of his CBs and the pass rush from his LOLB spot.
On the Bulaga pick, I am not sold on this guy as a left tackle in the NFL, and neither are Brandon Graham or O'Brien Schofield, two Big Ten guys who went through or around Bulaga last year. Of course, some Bulaga-backers chalk that up to Bulaga not being 100 percent physically coming off a thyroid issue.
Here's the problem with that excuse: In the NFL, it is very, very rare for any player to be 100 percent physically healthy once a season begins. And the Packers will face a lot of better DEs and OLBs than Schofield and Graham. H
eck, just in this division the Packers will see six games facing Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, and Kyle Vanden Bosch. If Bulaga looked bad against 230-pound Schofield, what will he look like against Peppers and Allen? Don't ask Aaron Rodgers that question.
In all, Thompson added zero CBs and OLBs, and this coming off doing nothing in free agency. Maybe Thompson has suffered so much trauma from the air attacks his defense suffered in the Arizona playoff loss, or the Steelers loss, or the two Vikings losses, that he has forgotten that nobody covered anyone in that game and nobody came close to sacking Brett Favre, in either game.
Everyone has seen the pieces to the puzzle that the NY Jets have added, prior to the draft. That allowed them added flexibility in their draft and yet they still took a CB who many predicted to be a Packer pick. This guy, Kyle Wilson, will be their nickelback. Thompson said that he doesn't believe his LOLB and CB situation is "as dire as others make it out to be."
But that is the same line he was using last year leading into the season about the Packers OT situation. He was feeding the public the idea that Allen Barbre was a player, and was ready to take over the RT position.
He also had us (some of us) convinced that having no backup LT was no worry as he could just shift over Daryn Colledge from his LG position. How did that all work out again?
Alright then, let's take a look at something different here, something interesting. Let's pretend I was drafting this year, and I didn't make any wild trades up because who knows what that trade value would have been, and creating a trade partner is even more mythical than my re-doing the draft.
For the record, we will just stick with our original draft positions, and see what the draft could have been had I been making the picks, or with a bit of foresight (as Ted apparently had when he felt the urge to take Mike Neal in round two, and when he traded his 3rd and 4th round picks to move up in the 3rd round for Morgan Burnett).
You all know the actual picks, but had Ted stayed at his original positions, here are the guys he could have had if he had just stayed put and executed it. All of these guys were available at these original spots.
No. 23- Dez Bryant, WR
Not a position of need for the Packers, but he could have immediately improved the punt and kick return units, and he was clearly the BPA at that point, and lessons learned from passing on Randy Moss should have made this pick an easy one.
Dallas couldn't believe their good fortune and they immediately traded up to the No. 24 pick to take Bryant, as Jerry Jones learned his lesson passing on Moss in 1998. Baltimore was set to take Bryant at No. 25, so Jerry had to get up to No. 23 or No. 24.
Really, Thompson could have used Dallas and Baltimore against each other and made out like a bandit had he traded down to either the Baltimore No. 26 spot or the Dallas No. 27 spot. The team in between was not going to take Bulaga, so Thompson may have been able to use that strong desire of Jones against him and fleeced a second round pick from Jerry Jones.
At the least, he could have gotten a third or fourth rounder from Jerry because he really wanted Dez Bryant. And Thompson would still have gotten his Bulaga at No. 26 (Baltimroe) or No. 27 (Dallas).
The Packers passed on some serious skill players in 1989 for another LT from the Big Ten, and that guy was a bust while the following three players ended up in the NFL Hall of Game. Bryant has fired up Cowboy Nation and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (a guy who had many more and many worse off-field issues than Bryant has) has given his blessing to Dez and put his old No. 88 jersey on Dez Bryant.
Packer fans remember what old No. 88 Irvin did to them. It didn't matter if Irvin was smoking weed or anything in the offseason. He was beating the Packers in the postseason.
Passing on Dez Bryant might haunt the Packers and their fans for years to come, a la 1989 and 1998 when they let Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders, and Randy Moss slide by in taking Tony Mandarich and Vonnie Holliday because some people believe the NFL is won in the trenches. The fact of the matter is the team with the most and best playmakers decide who wins titles.
No. 56- Charles Brown, LT
He was the most popular pick for the Packers at No. 23 in local and nationwide pre-draft mocks. He appears to be a textbook LT prospect for the zone blocking scheme that the Packers run, and scouts said he was as good a pass blocker as any OT in the draft. He also has the longer arms to play the key left tackle spot, whereas Bulaga has little short stub arms.
This is why so many people had Brown to the Packers at No. 23, but they could and would have had him at No. 56 had they not chickened out on taking the gift on a silver platter known as Dez Bryant.
No. 86- Brandon Ghee, CB
Rated by some as the fourth best cornerback in the draft, Ghee was a common guy in mocks to the Packers, and would provide some coverage that this team was lacking when Josh Bell and Jarrett Bush had to play, which is too often. Ghee has nice size and good instincts.
There are some other options here at CB available too, such as Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, and Perrish Cox, and OLB Everson Griffen was still shockingly available here, only to be selected by the Vikings a short time later. He was a consensus first round pick in many mocks, but fell for some reason or another. Remember, it was Clay Matthews that took his job from him at USC in 2008, which doesn't look so bad now.
No. 122- Eric Norwood or O'Brien Schofield, OLB
This is a toss-up. Norwood is ready to play now, and is a fine player. He would help the team out immediately and would really help on special teams units, which is a serious weakness on this team.
But Schofield would have been the best pick here as he was potentially a first round pick, except for the fact that he tore his ACL this offseason and might miss 2010 all together. Still, he will make the Cardinals a better team after he's healed, and he would have made a phenomenal bookend OLB with Clay Matthews for years, while resting and rehabing in 2010.
It also would have given Brad Jones the year to prove himself. There obviously is no sense of urgency from Ted Thompson at this position because he actually didn't select a single OLB in this draft. So taking a talent like Schofield and letting him redshirt this year would have been no different than not taking any OLBs, and it might have paid huge returns in 2011 and beyond. You can't pass up chances at greatness like this.
No. 154- Larry Asante, S
Since my redo doesn't have Morgan Burnett, the fine safety from Georgia Tech that Thompson traded his third and fourth round picks for, I will use this fifth round pick on Asante, who is a solid prospect and whom many Packer fans had wanted leading up to the draft.
Asante stood out in Mobile, Alabama during the week of Senior Bowl practices, and played well in the game. He has okay, but not premium size and speed. But he's good enough that he would have immediately been the best backup to Atari Bigby that the Packers have had, and he might eventually had beaten Bigby out because Asante is smarter and better in coverage than Bigby is.
Asante also is a good special team guy, which this team sorely needs. He's stronger than Morgan Burnett, although Burnett should be better in coverage.
No. 169- Clifton Geathers, DE
Was rated higher in over 93 percent of all scouting reports and pre-draft mocks, than DE Mike Neal, whom Thompson reached way up for and took in round two. Has good bloodlines as his brother has been a successful NFL player, and Geathers has more heighth and weight than Neal does, although Neal is quicker.
No. 193- Trindon Holliday KR (James Starks)
Starks was a good pick and I should keep it here. But for instant excitement, enter the nations 100-meter track champion Trindon Holliday. While Bryant can return punts with the best of them, Holliday is mister electric returning kicks.
I don't see an value from him in any other department, but as a sixth round pick, he's worth it just for his returning ability. He might not become Josh Cribbs or Devin Hester, but he is faster than both of those guys so watch out.
No. 230- LeGarrette Blount, RB
James Starks was a fine pick by Ted Thompson in round six, but for our purposes, I wanted the electric kick returner in round six, so I am giving the Packers the talented but violent Blount at RB.
He's a battering ram and was probably headed for a late first or second round pick in 2009 had he just not punched the Boise State player after the opening game of the Ducks season and gotten suspended.
If he had played all year there, he probably would have had a 1,500+ yard season and been a top-50 pick. As it was, he fell out of the draft totally. He'd be a fine complement to Ryan Grant and the shifty Brandon Jackson and would be a great short-yardage runner, and that might even allow a roster spot to open up as Thompson wouldn't have to keep three fullbacks again.
Be honest, will the actual 2010 Packer Draftees be better than this one would be in 2010?
With Dez Bryant, Charles Brown, and Schofield being given some time to learn and develop, would this draft be better long-term ?
I'd bet a lot of money that this draft would pay dividends both early and especially long-term. If only...heck, I am just a fan so I can't do any better than our real GM can do right?
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