With the Draft behind us and spring training still awhile away, its now time for all the over analyzing to begin in full swing. Time for the report cards, and player grades.
Not here. I just want to take a quick look at our OLB position, see what we have done, not done, and most importantly, what we could do. So, here goes:
Currently we have Brad Jones as our LOLB, to compliment Clay Matthews, III. It would seem apparent with the lack of drafting, that the Packers management group thinks rather highly of Jones. After all, he did have four sacks over the last 5 games.
But behind them, we are rather limited with players like Brady Popinga and Cyril Obiozor, with the possibility of Brandon Chillar backing up the position. To me, and by no means am I an expert, this is unsatisfactory.
There has been talk of also trying Hawk at the OLB spot, so there may be hope.
After the draft was concluded, there were the interviews with the coach and GM. Ted Thompson was asked point blank about his failure to address the need of OLB:
Q: What are you going to do for pass rush opposite Clay at linebacker?
A: Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga are lined up over there. Brad did pretty good during the limited time that he played there last year, and we're going to work at it. We didn't draft any linebackers this year, but still we're going to be trying to add some stuff to that position, sure.
Later, he was asked again about OLB:
Q: When you say you're still working on outside linebacker, is that rookie free agents or working a trade or a veteran free agent?
A: We're working on it. That's about as far as I can go on that. I'm not suggesting there's going to be some groundbreaking dynamic thing.
I understand everybody's concerned about that position. We don't think it's quite as dire as everybody else does. But it is a position we'd like to add a couple more competitors.
Now we all know Ted is very hush hush, and doesn't ever really give hints into his thoughts. He is a man made of rock when it comes to this, and seems to have the ultimate poker face.
After the draft was concluded, we went out like every other team and signed some undrafted rookies. Frank Zombo out of Central Michigan, Tim Knickey out of Stephen F Austin, and James Russell out of Wake Forest are who we have signed to compete for the OLB spot.
Surely this cannot be the increased competition at the spot that Thompson was referring to. This can't be all he brings in to push Jones, to push a team that many have destined for a Super Bowl sooner rather than later.
So now I go back and read Thompson's words again, and I start to get a sense, a feeling that we are not done, a feeling that Teddy just may shock us all.
I start thinking—probably too much—about who Ted could surprise us with. I go to NFL.com and pull up the list of free agent OLB, well, all LB, but I'm specifically looking at OLB to see who may be available to help us.
There are some interesting names on the list, but one that popped out at me the most. First, here are some of the absolutely free, no restrictions OLB floating around out there: Bertrand Berry, a 12-year pro; Rocky Boiman, an eight-year vet; Keith Bullock, a 10-year warrior; Derreck Burgess, a nine-year vet; and Thomas Davis, a five-year pro.
These guys all played for some decent teams, and most played OLB in a 3-4 defensive set. But while I'm scrolling this list, I couldn't get past one name, and it really popped at me: Elvis Kool Dumervil.
Most would think there is no way McDaniels would trade him. But I ask this: Who thought McDaniels would trade a Pro Bowl QB in Jay Cutler, or a Pro Bowl WR in Brandon Marshall?
McDaniels didn't bring those guys in, and he wants his own guys buying into and running his system. McDaniels didn't bring Dumervil in either—he was drafted by Shanahan.
So to me, it makes perfect sense that McDaniels would trade a player of that calibre. I know I am surely dreaming, but the thought of Matthews and Dumervil lined up pass rushing gives me tingles.
Barring that unlikely move, it would appear all hope may not be lost after all. Because with just the first few recognizable names of UFA on the LB list, I can see that if Ted really wants to bring in other competition, it is there, and more importantly, it is available.
So this is my little prayer in writing: we are not done addressing the OLB spot. And a much deeper prayer for Dumervil in the Packer lineup next year.
As a kid, my grandmother told me, all prayers are answered, its just that sometimes the answer is no. Here's to hoping that mine get answered favorably.