Hello fellow, thanks for stopping by.. I've got a story to tell you, it's about a group of phantom warriors- they are known as.. the 2011 draft class!
In all seriousness, there are a number of players that were drafted in 2011 that never saw the field, for various reasons, and so most of us have paid them very little attention when we are discussing the upcoming draft- it's understandable, because if you blinked you might have missed them last year. If you didn't scour the field every preseason game you probably don't know their name or number by heart. If you aren't a fan of scanning the packers bench instead of watching whats happening on the field (I will forgive you if you only did this while our defense was out there eck!) you might not even know they exist, hence the forgotten class (although frequenters of the Open Thread will know of at least one "folk hero" no.. not Claigh)
You could say that the lockout and subsequent tiny off-season really cost these guys the year- even the most successful rookies from our draft (Cobb and....?) were getting by on talent rather then preparation and understanding. So let's all take a JUMP into the forgotten realm of rookies aka the bench (small honorable mention to special teams- BUT GET YOUR *SS BACK TO THE BENCH RIGHT AFTER!! I BETTER NOT SEE YOU TRYING TO SNEAK IN THE HUDDLE AND GET AR-12's AUTOGRAPH!!!)
First, a little recap of the 2011 draft- I will be including CBS/Other Draft Profiles in case anyone cares to learn a bit more about our up and coming Packer stars! (like... what college they even attended! hehe)
Round 1(FIGHT!) Pick 32 - Derek Sherrod LT
Round 2(FIGHT!) Pick 64 - Randall Cobb WR
Round 3(FINISH HIM!) Pick 96 - Alex Green RB
Round 4 Pick 131 (comp) - Davon House CB
Round 5 Pick 141 (trade from DEN for our 4th/129) - DJ Williams TE
Round 6 Pick 218 (trade from MIA) - Ryan Taylor TE
Round 7 Pick 233 Lawrence Guy - I see this Guy (har har) was rated as 17th best DT, NFPost had him as a late second rounder, most places had him as a 3-4th, he ran a 4.91 40 at 309lbs, but he slipped due to interviewing bad at the combine, also has ADD which turned some teams off apparently. My Madden 12 franchise had a high opinion of him too, at the start of training camp as a rookie he was estimated to be a 97 overall :D haha)
UDFAs Tori Gurley, Jamari Lattimore, Vic So'uperman (in the same madden franchise he had an estimated overall of 99 at the start of training camp... :D you know what that means!!!) Ray Dominguez (Hey CBS actually liked him enough to write a small analysis) MD Jennings aka Mr. Rx aka The Doc (any better nicknames or other players who need one, maybe Tori "High Heels" Gurley you know.. cause
she's so tall ;) haha)
So to recap: We had a Superbowl winning roster, with 16 players on IR. The next year we add 10 rookies (all of our draft choices but 2- Elmore and Caleb) including 3 UDFA's (4 once someone went on IR). So that's about a fifth of the team, just thrown to the fire. No rookie camp to get acclimated to a NFL Program environment. No OTA's to breed camaraderie and trust with teammates. Short rushed conditioning program and training camp (which I believe led to some injuries-further setting players back). Alright Alright enough of the bad humor, what is my point in all of this?
We have players who were put in a bad situation at the start of their careers- they just weren't in a position to come in immediately and contribute (I'm talking mostly DEFENSE here). The only defensive rookie who saw some significant time was ILB DJ Smith and I think the consensus is that he filled in admirably and we are all expecting him to continue that into 2012-13 and push incumbent AJ Hawk to perform better. What expectations are there for the other defensive rookies that DIDN'T see the field, but DID sit for a year hopefully learning the system and watching very closely how things AREN'T supposed to be done /smh hail mary..*clears throat* anyways..
House - he battled injuries early and missed most of training camp (I blame the lockout) this ultimately put the nail in his coffin (made from 100% bench pine). The general consensus on him last year was we got a steal with our comp pick and that he was a great press corner who could be our Dime CB and possibly push for time in the Nickel. Obviously it never happened and we ended up with more Jarrett Bush on the field. Now I see many people are saying we need to draft a CB, I've even seen people mention drafting one in the 1st! We essentially have a high-mid draft pick waiting on our roster already. It is imperative that he gets a full off-season in and I have no doubts that he could step in immediately as the 4th CB and push Shields (who really needs a full off-season of work too). I don't think we need to draft a CB any higher than our 4th round comp again, unless he can play some FS also. Star of the forgotten 2011 class.
So'oto - Was a raw prospect, which is why he went undrafted, but showed a lot of potential in the pre-season (real life and madden). Had some injury concerns throughout the regular season and never got an extended opportunity to prove himself (one half against Bears). I don't think Walden is coming back and he should expect to see some more reps on defense. Being a bit of a folk hero around here I know many hope he can contribute to our ROLB dilemma. I think he may have the most raw explosive pass rush of the group, but even with all the struggles last year he was never given a chance to prove it. I don't think he adds enough upside to our ROLB corps that we shouldn't look to draft an OLB early though. Indie guy of the forgotten 2011 class.
Lattimore - same as above, was at the bottom of the depth char for OLB and ILB. Came out of college as a Redshirt Senior and contributed on special teams, if he sticks around next year it will probably be because they liked his ST play. I don't know much about him or WHY HE WAS ON THE ROSTER (ANYONE??). He will need a strong training camp to stick around I think, otherwise I don't see him ever getting any time on defense to even show what he's got. Cookie to anyone who knows this guys name/college/jersey number off the top of their head. Epitome of the forgotten 2011 class.
Guy - Got a concussion early in training camp and was placed on IR. Many people had a high opinion of him before the draft and it's very possible that he could come in next season with a full and productive off-season hoping to see some snaps at DE. The only question is how much of an opportunity he will be given to compete with guys like Muir and Hargrove and any new draft picks coming in. I'm very high on him and I remember a few posters hoping we would grab him when our 7th round pick was rolling around. Let's hope we (and my madden) were right and he develops into a stud. If he can push CJ Wilson/ Jarius Wynn I will be very happy. Hope of the forgotten 2011 class.
Jennings - Boy I have noo idea where to even start. I don't know where he came from or why he was on the roster. He was hurt some in training camp I believe (had the skinniest body, hopefully thats better now) and wasn't given a chance to show anything except on ST's MAYBE? Didn't have enough to push Peprah for any playing time though, even after some real boneheaded moves by he-who-I-will-not-name-again. Again, was kept on the roster over all free agent and practice squad safeties including our own Anthony Levine- so he must have something going for him. The only thing I can say is that I really like his name, but maybe we should look into converting him from a safety to an athletic trainer/physical therapist/brain surgeon. Cool guy of the 2011 forgotten class.
So, if you believe in TT and McCarthy, these guys can ball- with a full off-season we will find out just how much, BUT if each one can prove why two of the greatest football minds believed in them, enough stick with them on the roster all year, and PRODUCE, suddenly our 4 biggest problem positions get a huge boost and we could be looking at an entirely different defense in 2012. Who knows- maybe we (or at least the casual fan who would have no idea if you name-dropped any of these players) will be surprised at what these guys can do and they will one day go down in the Packers Hall of Fame... or maybe we will cut them all in favor of new rookies who don't play a meaningful down all next year.. sike.
Thanks for reading my first ever post, would love to hear any comments~sorry if this is all non-sense, I needed something to do between getting off work at 2am and leaving to go tailgate at the Brewers game at 6am and this is what I decided to do.