Before I get to the draft portion of this article, I want to let all of you know how much I enjoyed my first season at Acme Packing Company. I know that there's this perception that every year the Packers don't win a Super Bowl is a year less for our MVP quarterback to capture his second ring. And, yes, at age 31, Rodgers isn't going to get much better than he is at this point in his career. But if you're going to call this season a 'failure', then you've also got to remember that most of Joe Montana's seasons were failures, too. Tom Brady hasn't 'succeeded' very much in the last decade, and neither has Peyton Manning.
I know that it's hard for Packers fans (including myself) to think about the 2014 season this way, especially with the collapse so fresh in our minds and hearts, but consider the excitement of watching the league's highest-scoring offense each week, the years that Rodgers, Nelson and Cobb had, Eddie Lacy developing as a receiver, a truly excellent offensive line for the first time in years, Clay Matthews becoming an effective inside linebacker, and Ted Thompson's most promising draft class in a while. In the end, I'll look back on this season fondly. Now to
Radio City Music Hall Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University.
Not too much, really. There's this Aaron Rodgers guy, Scott Tolzien impressed me in the preseason, and the team clearly likes Matt Flynn as a backup option, what with his experience as a starter and familiarity with the system.
The Packers see Brett Hundley sitting on the board at the end of the third round and are enamored by the size/arm strength/speed combination that the UCLA passer presents. Ted Thompson picks him up with the reasoning that Mike McCarthy's vaunted "QB School" will allow the team to trade Hundley for a higher pick down the line.
Green Bay waits until midway through Day Three to pick up the University of South Alabama's Brandon Bridge. Consider Bridge a poor man's Colin Kaepernick (or Brett Hundley); he's taller, slightly heavier and a bit slower. Yes, his mechanics are iffy at best, and he's a loose cannon, but his physical ability is comparable to that of pretty much anyone currently playing the position in the league. It's a low-risk, high-reward option.
The Packers sit tight at the quarterback position, perhaps picking up an undrafted free agent such as Ole Miss' Bo Wallace or Alabama's Blake Sims as a camp arm.
Unclear. There's really no doubt that Eddie Lacy is one of the league's premier young running backs and (knock on wood) will be an integral, effective part of the Packers' offense for a long time to come. His violent running style, though, in combination with his asthma, makes having a capable Plan B a 'must'. Mike McCarthy's offense didn't exactly feature all three running backs in equal measure this past season, and there's little reason to believe that will change. However, seeing that James Starks regressed from his excellent 2013 campaign and DuJuan Harris is something of a question mark, it might make sense to bring in another running back.
When the Packers are on the clock at the end of the second round, Georgia's Todd Gurley remains on the board. If not for his ACL tear, Gurley would likely hear his name called on Thursday night. Similarly to how the San Francisco 49ers attempted to develop Marcus Lattimore, Green Bay hopes to develop a rehabbed Gurley into the most electric change-of-pace back in the league, or perhaps even form a two-headed running back monster in the long term.
If the Packers really want to electrify their offense, Tevin Coleman is a name worth keeping an eye on. The Indiana product could be available at the end of the third round, per Drafttek, and as per Rotoworld, he's a cross between DeMarco Murray and Darren McFadden (here's to his career mirroring that of the former.) Coleman didn't get too many chances in the receiving game at IU, but he's got the skill set to contribute in the passing game in the NFL.
A late-round flier on Cameron Artis-Payne from Auburn might be warranted. He wouldn't add a new dimension to the running game - he's a poor man's Eddie Lacy, in essence - but for a team that expects to compete into February, another bruising back certainly doesn't hurt (well, doesn't hurt the Packers, anyway). I'd add that I was particularly impressed by his nice little performance at the Senior Bowl.
This depends entirely on Randall Cobb. My guess (and the consensus) is that he'll be back next season - with the cap space that Green Bay has, there should be more than enough room to re-sign Cobb and Bulaga (more on that later), while making some smaller moves. If he goes, this becomes a potential key need. If he stays, well, it's not a need anymore. (The following three options are based off the assumption that Cobb re-ups his contract with Green Bay.)
The Packers are enamored by MSU's Tony Lippett and pick him in the second round. At 6'3" and one of college football's rare two-way players, Lippett's understanding of the receiver position and his fluidity could make him the league's next big, physical cornerback. And if that doesn't work out, he could be a very viable NFL receiver as well.
Houston's Deontay Greenberry is a fascinating size-speed guy who could be available early on Day Three. He topped 1,000 years in his sophomore year but regressed in 2014, although he was key to Houston's miraculous bowl-game comeback. Greenberry will certainly face a learning curve in the NFL, and sitting behind two seasoned pros and an up-and-comer is a great situation for him - and in the long run, the team.
There are some guys worth tracking here. My personal favorite is Georgia Tech's Darren Waller, who looks more like a receiving tight end than a wideout - and the Packers might use him in that capacity. UNLV's DeVante Davis isn't flashy, but he's got great size (6'3") and good enough speed. Kenny Bell of Nebraska is the Chris Borland of wideouts; he's got average speed and size, and didn't play on a team that passed very much, but his willingness to block, toughness and reliability could keep him in the league long after some of the more athletic prospects have received their last paycheck.
Present. Green Bay picked up Richard Rodgers in last year's draft, a move that I didn't particularly like initially. By the end of the year, Rodgers II had proven himself as a pass-blocker and was a reliable, if not spectacular, option in the receiving game. Andrew Quarless has had great moments in recent years, but they are too often overshadowed by boneheaded drops and other mental errors. What the Packers could really use is an athletic tight end who can work the seam and force defenses to divert attention from the wideouts and the run game. Green Bay wouldn't be doomed if it didn't pick up someone at the position, but the team could take its offense to another level.
Green Bay trades up in the second round to select former Golden Gopher Maxx Williams. Williams, like Jermichael Finley, is entering the draft after his redshirt sophomore campaign. Unlike Finley, though, Williams is the consensus top player at his position in a rather weak class. Minnesota's QB play wasn't exactly stellar, and in an offense centered around the likes of David Cobb, Williams developed into an effective blocker to go along with his speed and athleticism. Rotoworld sees him as the next Jason Witten. Wouldn't that be nice?
In the third round, FSU's Nick O'Leary could prove very appealing. He's got plenty of experience in big games, great hands, and a knack for getting open. And although he's undersized, O'Leary is a tough player, one who could end up being a very similar player to Dallas Clark.
In the early phases of Day Three (or late Day Two), The U's Clive Walford could be a viable option (Jeremy Shockey, Vernon Davis and Jimmy Graham, anyone?) Walford is an ex-basketball player who's strong and can make a variety of catches. The knock on Walford is his lack of burner speed, but the game tape I've seen shows that he can get open down the seam, and he looked good at senior practices. And with a healthy Aaron Rodgers, it's not as if Green Bay needs its receivers to do much more than give their quarterback a shot at completing the pass. My one concern with Walford, though, would be that he's not all that different from Richard Rodgers.
Thoughts? Leave them in the comments section below.