After every draft all the draft experts, draftniks and fans rush to give their draft grades. I think that is a little presumptive since it takes ab out 3 years to really see how the draft actually turned out. What I decided to do is a Packers draft analysis outlining if the pick made by Ted Thompson. I won’t put a “letter grade” on the pick, rather give my opinion on if the pick was a good pick or a bad pick based on the fit and the player.
The 2011 Green Bay Packers season was one to remember for both the good, the bad and the ugly. The good was their 15-1 regular season record and the high powered offense led by the NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. The bad was the loss to Nick Collins in Week 2, but most notably the bad was the playoff loss to the New York Giants in Lambeau Field. The ugly was the way the defense played all year giving up tons of yards threw the air and having virtually no pass rush all season long while missing way to many tackles.
When Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy looked at their team they saw that a major upgrade was needed on the defensive side of the ball. The loss of defensive end Cullen Jenkins in free agency coupled with Mike Neal, Jenkins replacement, being injured most of the year and playing ineffective, really nullified Clay Matthews III pass rush ability. Teams would focus on stopping Matthews III since no one opposite of him, either defensive end or linebacker, was a threat to put pressure on the quarterback. The loss of Jenkins also effected the run defense since Neal, Jarius Wynn, Howard Green and CJ Wilson didn’t do a good enough job to take on blockers which limited Inside Linebackers Desmond Bishop and AJ Hawk.
So Thompson seemed to say “enough is enough” when it came to this draft. You could say he put a major emphasis on adding a pass rushing outside linebacker, a defensive end that can not only get to the quarterback, but also big enough to stop the run and most importantly, sure tacklers.
Let’s take a look at the Packers 2012 draft class:
#53 Nick Perry- OLB- USC:
The Packers picked USC’s Nick Perry with the 28th pick in round 1. Perry was a 2 year starter for the Trojans after coming in as one of the top recruits in the nation. He red shirted and played behind Kyle Moore his Freshman year. When Lane Kiffin took over for Pete Carroll, that’s Perry had opportunity to shine. His numbers were very solid, Perry produced 103 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, and 21.5 sacks over the course of his career; his best statistical season came in 2011 during his junior year when he made 54 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks. He is a natural pass rusher and is a freak athletically. Perry has a true understanding of what it takes to get to the quarterback, Nick owns the combination of size, strength (35 reps on bench), and athleticism needed to start at the next level. Perry comes off the ball with build-up speed and explosion, however he shows the ability to get up the field before bending down, dipping his shoulder, and beating the tackle to the outside. He’s shown that he can consistently pressure the edge, if not run the arc as a pass rusher, as he owns good range outside to cover ground quickly. The scary part about Perry as a pass rusher is he still has room to improve and Kevin Greene will only help him by adding more moves to his repertoire.
When in position to make the sack, he also does a great job of striking not only the quarterback, but also aiming to jar the ball loose, having forced five fumbles in the past two years. As a pass rusher, he plays with good leverage at the point of attack, displaying the type of flexibility needed to play underneath the opposing blocker. Nick does a very good job of getting his long arms (33 inches) up to obstruct passing lanes when he can’t get to the quarterback, having batted down six passes in the last two seasons. As a run defender, Nick shows the ability to extend out and set the edge, understanding how to play with proper leverage, however he’s still too inconsistent here and will need to develop better strength in his lower body in order to become more effective. He does a much better job of simply shedding the block off the snap and closing down the line quickly to tackle the running back as he’s entering the hole.
But the down side to Perry is he wasn’t asked to play in space a lot while at USC and when he did he didn’t look like was comfortable. Perry also had times where his motor was hot and cold while at USC. That was the biggest knock on him under Carroll, but Perry was also frustrated with lack of playing time under Carroll. Many people around the USC program felt Perry should’ve be starting his redshirt freshman year a head of Moore.
Considering where the Packers were drafting and who was on the board at that time, Perry was an excellent fit. His size/speed and upside were to great to pass up. Dom Capers and Kevin Green will not put Perry in a position to fail, rather they will put Perry in a position to succeed. I believe Perry will start opposite of Matthews III and should be a double digit sack guy early in his career.
#99 Jerel Worthy- DE- Michigan St.:
Thompson moved up in the second round to the 51st position and selected defensive end Jerel Worthy from Michigan St. Most scouts held a first round grade on Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy because of the talent, immense upside, and disruptive style of play that he brought to the table. One of the most talented defensive linemen in this year’s draft, Worthy is an extremely inconsistent player whose motor runs hot and cold, and simply plays when he wants to play. A three-year starter with 38 career starts for the Spartans, Jerel produced 107 tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks throughout his career in East Lansing; the most productive season of his career came in 2010 during his sophomore year when he tallied 40 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and four sacks. Well-built with a very thick frame and great bulk for the position, Worthy has the long arms (33 inches) that you look for in addition to owning great natural strength. When his motor is running strong, Jerel can be as disruptive as any defensive tackle in the country, displaying good quickness off the ball with a violent punch at the point of attack. He has the strength and raw power to physically push the offensive lineman right off the ball and bullrush his way into the backfield. Worthy’s hand use is excellent, doing a great job of fighting off of blockers while displaying a pass rush repertoire that is far more advanced than you’d expect to see from an underclassman.
He offers an impressive swim move to play over the top of smaller defensive linemen while also possessing a rip move needed to split the crease in the line and penetrate the line of scrimmage. After disengaging from the blocker, Jerel locates the ball quickly in the backfield and has proven to be a punishing tackler capable of crashing down on the ball carrier or quarterback and driving them into the ground. When he isn’t able to work his way into the backfield, Worthy does a nice job of getting his hands up to block passing lanes, having batted six passes down at the line of scrimmage in the past three years. In the run game, he does a great job even when still engaged with the offensive lineman to extend one arm out, grab ahold of the runner with his great strength, and drag the ball carrier to the ground before he can accelerate through the hole. Jerel’s short-area explosion is outstanding; he’s displayed the ability to cross the face of the offensive lineman and win the leverage battle at the line of scrimmage. Even when he doesn’t make the play, his disruption in the backfield often breaks up the offensive play and allows for one of his teammates to swarm to the ball.
Jerel was one of the most frustrating players in the country to scout because of the way that he underachieved this season. He took plays off and that turned a lot of scouts off. With the Packers he’ll be playing the 5 technique and looks like a perfect fit to start next to BJ Raji. He can get to the QB and stop the run. The Packers veterans won’t allow or put up with him taking plays off, so I don’t think that will be to much of an issue going forward. I think the Packers got a steal with the Worthy pick.
#29 Casey Hayward- CB- Vanderbilt:
Thompson traded back up into round 2 to nab the corner he was really high on in the second best ball hawk in this draft, Casey Hayward from Vanderbilt. Casey Hayward has the type of instincts and tools needed to translate into a very good starting defensive back in the NFL. A three-year starter for the Commodores with 37 career starts, Hayward offers fantastic experience, having significant playing time against the top wide receivers in the country in the SEC. One of the most productive players in this year’s draft, Casey’s statistics at Vanderbilt were phenomenal, recording 198 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 31 pass breakups, and 15 interceptions throughout his career in Nashville; his most productive season came as a senior in 2011 when he tallied 62 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 10 pass breakups, and seven interceptions (one returned for a touchdown). One of the most instinctive players at the cornerback position in 2011, Casey has rare ball-hawking skills with the type of opportunistic mentality that you simply can’t teach. One statistic that I look closely at with defensive backs is passes defended, which shows how a player reads action in front of him, how instinctive he is to react on what he reads, and how effective he is at making a play on the ball. Any player that produces over 30 passes defended during their career tends to be a player that I have a high opinion of; Casey produced 46 during his career. Owning an ideal frame for the position with a tall, lean frame, Hayward is a natural, fluid athlete with very quick feet as well as the quickness and agility needed to turn and run on a dime; he’s a smooth player in transition who opens up very well and is capable of covering ground very quickly with great range. Casey spent the majority of his time at Vanderbilt playing in zone coverage, dropping back in a Cover-3 or Cover-4 scheme and effectively closing down either a third or a quarter of the field. Whenever the ball was thrown in his direction, he accelerated and closed very quickly, crashing down on the receiver either to intercept the ball, deflect it away, or tackle the receiver low for an open field tackle. Hayward’s ball skills are among the best in this year’s draft, displaying a rare ability to drop back, read the quarterback’s eyes, before seeking out the ball with outstanding anticipation and awareness. Between his fluid ability to turn and run, range to cover ground quickly, and his terrific ball skills and anticipation, I could very easily see him being considered for a move to free safety in the NFL.
When beaten down the field, he’s shown the type of recovery speed needed to catch up to the receiver, although he’s not going to be considered a speedster. In man coverage, he has the skillset to sit back in offman coverage, giving him a chance to read the receiver’s route off the line before anticipating and breaking to compete for a ball. His ability to turn and run with a receiver down the field shows that he should have no problem playing off-man at the next level. In press coverage, something that he rarely did in college, I’d expect to see him struggle, as he’s more of a finesse receiver who tends to play better when open and free from traffic; in addition, he’d need to continue to bulk up, fill out his frame, and get stronger in order to have any chance of being able to effectively jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage. In addition, he’ll need further development in his technique if he wants to improve in man coverage, as there are times when he will stand too tall in his backpedal, which pushes him off balance and doesn’t allow for him to plant and drive on the receiver. As a run defender and as a tackler in the open field, Casey has proven to be a reliable player capable of cutting the runner’s legs out from beneath him, however I’d like to see him make more of an effort to wrap up the ball carrier when attempting to make a tackle; he tends to try to dive and throw his body at the ball carrier’s lower body without wrapping up, which doesn’t always work. Developing as a form tackler will help him at the next level, as he will be asked to make plenty of tackles no matter what position he’s playing. If he could develop more fire and more of a tenacious attitude here, that would certainly help him as well; he simply isn’t a very physical player at this point.
Hayward is the type of player that just is a football player. He makes plays, is smart, instinctive and will be a really good fit in the Packers defensive secondary. He will come in and battle for time with Davon House or even allow the Packers to move Charles Woodson to a Safety spot at times depending on who the are playing and what sub-package Capers wants to use.
#76 MIKE DANIELS- Defensive End- Iowa:
An undersized one-gap penetrator who uses his quickness and explosion off the ball to his advantage, Mike Daniels offers teams a fine
rotational defensive tackle who could make an impact on third downs at the next level. A two-year starter with 21 career starts for the
Hawkeyes, Daniels produced 123 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, and 15.5 sacks throughout his career at Iowa; his most productive season
came during his senior year in 2011 when he tallied 67 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and nine sacks. Mike offers great intangibles and
leadership to the team that drafts him, having been named a team captain for his senior season, and was also a two-time captain in high
school; in addition, he earned the team’s Iron Hawk Award in 2011, and award given to a player who has given his all every play, for
the entire season, and has represented his team and school in an exemplary fashion. Lacking both the height and the bulk to be a
consistent three-down player at the next level, Mike is an athletic defensive tackle who uses his short stature to his advantage, making
it easier for him to get underneath bigger blockers off the ball and win the leverage battle at the line of scrimmage. You can see his
wrestling background with the way that he plays, showing an innate ability to use his shorter stature to consistently gain leverage at
the point of attack. Playing with a very good motor, Daniels offers great agility for the tackle position and will need to be used on a
defense that frequently stunts or uses games up front; he offers the quickness and nimble feet to slant down the line in the run game.
He flows down the line well on plays going away from him, displaying great pursuit with his strong motor.
However, due to his lack of size, Mike can be neutralized by double teams rather easily and will be washed down the line when the bigger offensive linemen swallow him up at the point of attack. He doesn’t have the strength or bulk to consistently hold up in defending the run and is far away from being anything close to an anchor inside. Mike does play with good leverage and technique at the point of attack, showing the ability to bend well with good quickness to play underneath the offensive lineman and penetrate the line of scrimmage. To be effective in the run game at the next level, he would need to be used in a scheme that is predicated on shooting the gaps and penetrating the line of scrimmage. Where he has the skills to make an impact is as a pass rushing tackle on third downs. While he won’t ever be seen bullrushing his way into the backfield, he’s a true one-gap penetrator whose quickness and explosion off the ball are his greatest strengths. He offers active hand use at the point of attack with a better pass rush repertoire than you expect to see from a defensive tackle. Mike makes good use of his swim and rip moves after getting up into the blocker with good leverage. Displaying good anticipation and timing off the ball, Daniels is frequently one of the first off the ball and across the line of scrimmage, making him a very difficult player to block for some of the bigger, more stiff offensive linemen he faced in the Big Ten.
While he doesn’t project as an every-down defensive tackle at the next level, Mike Daniels has the explosion and polished pass rushing skills for the tackle position to be a quality rotational defensive lineman who can be used primarily on third downs to attempt to get after the quarterback with his quickness and agility. In the event of an injury, he could step up as a serviceable starter. With Daniels work-ethic and attitude it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see him having a major impact when he is in the game.
#22 JERRON McMILLIAN- S- Maine:
The last time Ted Thompson drafted a little known Safety from a small school he had a hell of a career before it was derailed by injury. Of course we are talking about Nick Collins. McMillian is a sure tackling Safety that is and plays fast. He has the tools to become a very good Safety and possesses the qualities that Capers looks for in his safeties.
The Packers safety play was sub-par after Collins was lost to injury and McMillian, MD Jennings and Anthony Levine will compete with Charlie Peprah for 3 spots. McMillian could be the starter but that depends on how quickly he picks up the defense. I spoke to a AFC West scout Sunday morning who said that McMillian was on his teams radar and they loved his football IQ, game speed and instincts.
McMillian is a high effort, aggressive, sure tackling, instinctive Safety that has the tools to become a very solid contributor in the Packers defense. He reminds me of a guy I played with named Jaquwan Brackenridge. He played the game the way it was meant to be played, he hit like a ton of bricks, made plays on the ball while it was in the air and was a gym/film rat. Quwan was the best player I played with (and his brother, Tyron, has played 6 years in the NFL and CFL) and McMillian plays A LOT like him. I think this kid is about to surprise a lot of people.
#56 TERRELL MANNING- Inside Linebacker- NC State:
An athletic two-year starter at N.C. State, Terrell Manning offers an intriguing skillset that projects favorably on third downs and
passing situations. Over the course of his career in Raleigh, Manning produced 193 tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, nine pass
breakups, and five interceptions; the best statistical season of his career came during his junior season in 2011 when he tallied 76
tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, five pass breakups, and three interceptions. A natural athlete with fluid athleticism and a lean
frame that has room to grow, Terrell offers the speed and range to cover ground from sideline-to-sideline. An instinctive player who
reads and diagnoses plays quickly, Manning locates the ball well with a great first step when playing downhill in the run game.
Owning a good motor, Terrell pursues well in the run game, doing a fine job of taking proper angles to the perimeter when attempting
to chase down the running back. Although he’s not going to be one to produce a bit hit, Manning wraps up well when in position to do
so and has the closing speed needed to make a shoe string tackle of the ball carrier when he’s coming through the hole. In addition, he
has an instinctive ability to rip the ball away from the runner, having produced eight forced fumbles in the past three seasons for the
Wolfpack. Manning will need to continue to fill out his frame while adding bulk and strength (22 reps on bench) at the next level, as
he can be driven out of the play by bigger linemen when he fails to disengage from the block. He displays the quick feet and fluid
athleticism needed to dart in and out of traffic to evade blockers and play low at the point of attack with good leverage, however he
will need to develop better strength in the upper and lower body in order to be an effective player at stacking and shedding in the NFL.
Although I like the motor that he plays with, Terrell will tend to over-run some plays and needs to work on playing with more
discipline at the next level; he tends to take himself out of a number of plays despite. A natural in zone coverage, Terrell gains great
depth off the snap with his quickness and does a great job of keeping his head on a swivel in coverage. He read’s the quarterback’s
eyes before breaking on the ball to attempt to jar the ball loose from the receiver or cut in front and make an interception. When in
zone, he also does a nice job of attempting to redirect the receiver’s route by giving him enough of a push to knock him off of his path,
but not enough to draw a flag. He offers the athleticism and speed to match up with both running backs out of the backfield and tight
ends in man coverage, although he’s smaller stature could be a disadvantage against some of the bigger tight ends that have entered the league in recent years. One of the more underrated pass rushers in this year’s linebacker class, Terrell finds the open crease in the
offensive line quickly, displaying great acceleration through the hole. While he’ll need to refine his hand use here and develop better
swim and rip moves, he has shown the ability to disengage from a running back’s block and close quickly to sack the quarterback.
Whether it’s up the middle or off the edge, Terrell has proven that he can be an effective pass rusher for his defense.
Although he proved to be durable through the last three years for N.C. State, Terrell missed two games during his junior year after needing surgery to repair a knee injury; he also needed to redshirt during his freshman year in 2008 when he was coming off of knee surgery that ended his high school career early. With the Packers trading up for Manning, Robert Francois may need to worry ab out his current spot on the roster, but down the road (next season) AJ Hawk may need to play a lot better.
#77 ANDREW DATKO- Offensive Tackle- Florida St.:
A polished left tackle prospect whose injury concerns could push down his draft stock if not derail his future pro career entirely,
Andrew Datko enters the NFL with the tools and skillset that you look for at the position, however the surgeries that he has had to
both shoulders could limit what he’s capable of doing at the next level. A four-year starter at Florida State, Datko started 40 games
throughout his injury-plagued career and offers great intangibles with a great football IQ and understanding of the game along with the
strong work ethic that coaches and scouts look for in a player. Owning ideal size with adequate arm length (33 inches) for the position,
Andrew is an underrated athlete with good flexibility who offers the nimble, agile feet to mirror pass rushers out on the edge; he has
little trouble shuffling his feet and has proven to be capable of shifting his weight well to take away cutback lanes from the pass rusher. Quick off the ball, Datko settles back into his pass set quickly displaying good technique with a few minor flaws that need to be tweaked. I would like to see him develop a better arch in his back, as he tends to play with a hunched back, which is something that he needs to correct at the next level; playing with a better arch will give him the opportunity to engage the defender at a lower angle and win the leverage battle at the point of attack. He has a habit of leaning too far forward against pass rusher to attempt to block their angle to the quarterback; while that was fine in college, I’d really like to see him work on correcting this at the next level, as the added speed in the NFL could result in him getting over-extended and giving up a sack. Andrew has a strong upper body who catches the pass rusher coming off the edge and waits patiently in his pass set for the defender to come to him.
While he had a strong enough grip to get the job done in college, I’d like to see Andrew continue to improve his functional strength at the next level. He shows good hand placement with proper technique in his ability to fire his hands inside on the defender and uses his flexibility and wide frame to make it difficult for rushers to get around him on the edge. I’d like to see Datko get stronger in the lower half in order to improve as an anchor in pass protection, as he isn’t yet strong enough to take on and consistently neutralize some of the bigger, stronger ends he’ll face at the next level. He’s not a full-fledged drive blocker in the run game, and while he’s shown enough of an ability to execute down blocks in college, I’d like to see him continue to develop better lower body strength to improve here. In the run game, he uses his quick feet off the ball to his advantage with his ability to engage the defensive lineman off the ball before attempting to properly position the defender away from the hole to wall him off an open up a clear running lane. Having played in Florida State’s zone-blocking offense, he could be an intriguing fit for the Packers blocking scheme.
He’s far from a powerful or explosive blocker, but rather is a finesse lineman who offers enough strength to supplement his great technique and quick feet. With his nimble athleticism, he’s shown throughout his career that he has no trouble pulling down the line or getting to the second level to take out a defender in open space. Durability is going to be the biggest concern with Andrew, as both of his shoulders have been operated on and could be a large reason why he falls in the draft. He had surgery on his left shoulder at the end of his junior year of high school and his junior year at Florida State, and surgery to repair his right shoulder ended his senior season after just four games. If Datko can add some strength and have time to develop, the Packers may have found a steal in round 7.
#9 B.J. COLEMAN- QB- TENNESSEE-CHATTANOOGA:
Over his three years with the Moccasins he threw for a total of 6,871 yards, 52 touchdowns, and 31 interceptions with a 57.3% completion percentage (578-1,008); his best statistical season came during his junior year when he threw for 2,996 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions with a 56.3% completion percentage (215-382). He only was able to start seven games during his senior season in 2011 due to a sprained right shoulder. B.J. brings excellent intangibles to the next level, owning the leadership, work ethic, and passion for the game that I look closely for at the position; he understands the game very well and has a terrific football IQ. Offering ideal size at the position that coaches look for, Coleman is on the radar of NFL scouts for one major reason, and that’s his arm strength. He has a strong enough arm to deliver the ball to all parts of the field, including outside of the numbers, on a consistent basis. His best asset is his ability to drive the ball down the field, having shown the ability to throw it 50+ yards on a rope with ease. His velocity is above average for a college quarterback and is more than fine for the next level. In addition, he’s displayed the ability to put good touch on his throws, however further development will be needed here in order to develop better consistency. Owning good accuracy down the field, B.J. puts the ball in the right position to be caught, although his lack of a great supporting cast with the Moccasins resulted in several drops the past three years.
At UT-Chattanooga, Coleman ran a West Coast-style offense with plenty of play action fakes and quick throws and has experience both under center as well as in shotgun. Although he has some experience going through his reads and progressions, he will certainly need more work here at the next level, as he had a number of pre-determined reads, or throws that were planned before the snap, and will tend to stare down some of his targets. In addition, when in shotgun, the coaches called plenty of catch-and-throw passes, which didn’t do much to help his development. B.J.’s footwork is where I’d like to see it, as he has a feel for sinking his hips into his back leg before stepping forward and driving through his front leg in his throwing delivery; however, I would like to see him exaggerate the sinking of his hips more to get more momentum and torque going into his throws. In his mechanics, he offers a quick delivery, however he throws the ball too mechanically, and I’d like to see him develop a more natural and fluid throwing motion with his position coach at the next level. Coleman has average mobility at best to move about the pocket and must develop a better feel for where the pass rush is coming from. He’s a pure pocket passer who is very comfortable dropping back and reading the field, however he’s not far enough along yet in his ability to sense the rush and escape. When he does manage to get outside the pocket, he has what it takes to get the job done on bootlegs and he’s proven that he can throw the ball accurately on the run. In addition, when given an opportunity to take off with the ball down the field, Coleman has a heady understanding of when to tuck the ball down and run with it, having ran for seven
touchdowns during his career. While he forced some of his throws down the field due to a lack of a great supporting cast, B.J. must
improve both his completion percentage as well as learn to make better decisions with the ball and cut down on the number of
interceptions he throws if he wants to have a chance at having a successful pro career.
B.J. Coleman is a quality small-school developmental quarterback prospect who projects early on as a fine No. 2 or more likely No. 3 quarterback. Coleman has the instincts, understanding of the game, intangibles, and physical tools needed to develop quickly and have a successful pro career. Although he needs a few years of development, I believe that B.J. could compete for a starting job down the road for another team, much like Matt Flynn is doing in Seattle.
All in all I think Ted Thompson’s 2012 draft, on paper, was one of his best to date. While he didn’t add a Center of the future or another Running Back, he focused on what was the biggest needs for the Packers. He took the type of guys that fit the Packers scheme and had the attributes he looks for in players. The pressure is now on Dom Capers and his staff to get Perry, Worthy, Hayward, McMillian and Daniels, up to speed and ready to contribute right away. If they can and the offense plays as well as they did most of last season, we could whiteness something really special.