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APC Mailbag: Mike Pettine’s Packers defense, free agency, and the draft

In this mailbag, I answer questions about who the Packers should and should not be looking at on defense both in the draft and free agency, as well as the new coaching regime on defense.

Detroit Lions v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Since their season ended in December, the Packers have locked down a new defensive coordinator and GM. It’ll be hard to gauge what the Packers will do with all the new pieces, but we’re going to try and make our best assessments with these mailbag questions.

Don’t forget to throw your hat in the ring for the next mailbag by checking us out on Facebook or using the hashtag: #AskAPC on Twitter.

Let’s open some mail!

The coaching overhaul for the Packers has been an exciting time, hasn’t it?

An organization that prides itself on consistency and stability stripping down it’s coaching staff feels a little unnerving, but it should be okay.

In the case of Mike Trgovac, Nate makes a good point about that unit becoming a solid one. We’ve seen the emergence of Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark so attributing that partially to Trgovac makes sense.

However, we see this all the time with new regimes and Pettine’s bringing in a new one on defense. Trgovac’s past coaching history doesn’t signal anything to suggest that he and Pettine worked together on a staff so it makes sense that Pettine would want to bring in his own guy for the D-line.

Joe Whitt is staying as the defensive passing game coordinator, but the way Pettine uses his defensive line will probably require a different touch.

Pettine’s defensive scheme is a 3-4 at its core, but a lot of times it looks closer to a 4-3 when initially lining up. The scheme requires the defensive line to be active with both one-gap and two-gap responsibilities and to really control the line of scrimmage for the linebackers that will often have chaotic blitz packages.

I’ve been keeping a running tab of what some mock drafts have for the Packers over the past couple weeks.

There’s been a lot of CB Josh Jackson being mocked at #14 along with OLB/DE Arden Key. Realistically, I think Josh Jackson would be a good fit for a secondary that has too many question marks.

I really like Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, though, and not just because he has an awesome last name.

Roquan Smith is a versatile linebacker who would provide Mike Pettine’s defense with a lot of flexibility in the front seven. While Blake Martinez has turned into a solid player, adding Smith would provide a better coverage linebacker to pair with Martinez; a necessary asset in today’s game with pass-catching running backs.

And Pettine has a pretty good pedigree with inside linebackers.

Pettine, as defensive coordinator for the Bills, can take a lot of credit for Kiko Alonso’s 2013 season when he coached the linebacker to a four-interception, 87-tackle season. Remember when Alonso was valuable enough to secure LeSean McCoy in a trade?

Also, during Pettine’s tenure as defensive coordinator of the Jets from 2009-2012, ILB David Harris amassed six picks, 16.5 sacks and 295 tackles over those four seasons, including a four-interception 2011 campaign.

The caveat is that Roquan Smith is a Top-10 talent and many mocks don’t have him falling past Oakland.

It’d be awesome if the Packers poached another defensive end from a division rival and got Pro Bowl level production out of him (See: Julius Peppers).

Ezekiel Ansah is a rare talent that doesn’t even have a lot of football experience, not playing football until his sophomore year at BYU after walking on. And the track nerd in me loves his 10.91-second 100 meter dash time.

However, I think Packer fans may get frustrated with Ansah. His laundry list of injuries include abdomen, ankle, shoulder, knee, toe, hamstring, and more. In five seasons, Ansah has been hit with the ‘Questionable’ designation 25 times. Add in the additional 6 Doubtful/Out injury designations and out of 87 possible games for Ansah, he’s hurt 36% of the time. It gets even more concerning when you add the old ‘Probable’ designations in there.

If the Packers do pursue Ansah, it would have to be on a team friendly deal, which I don’t see happening given that Ansah put together 12 sacks in 14 games last season. Injury concerns, cost, and switching him to fit a 3-4 defense all add up to passing on Ansah, in my eyes.