Defense wins Rings

Turns out playing man coverage against Carolina’s below-average receivers and making Cam pass to beat you is the game plan to beat the Panthers.  Pretty easy to see just by watching Newton try to throw to guys that aren’t streaking wide open down field…but enough about teams that accomplished  their goals and on to our team that continues to fail.

The NFL Draft is quickly approaching and for most of you my guess is you couldn’t care less.  For others it’s really the only next step in the NFL calendar (although I do enjoy watching the NFL combine which may be a sickness).

Ted Thompson’s philosophy of building through the draft, then developing those players.  I believe is the best system to consistently contend in the NFL, and the other major sports as well.  However, I don’t like the idea of drafting for need as you’re likely to pass up a better football player for one in need.  Let’s take a look at some potential focus areas for the Packers and some players that are projected to be taken in around where the Packers are slated to draft.

We all know the offense was a joke this year (remember the 9 consecutive punts versus Detroit, at HOME? I’ll never forget) but from what we’re led to believe this is a defensive-heavy draft and it would suit Green Bay to come away with plenty of defensive help to develop.  Since winning the Super Bowl the Packers haven’t finished in the top 10 in Total Defense, the highest finish was 11th in 2012 – the year Dom Capers made Kaepernick resemble Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl.  Yes the Packers’ D was playing well this year but still finished 15th in the league.  Sad that we consider that playing well.

As I covered in last week’s post there are a few guys that may not be returning but sadly it seems Julius Peppers will be.  Either way, Outside Linebacker is a huge need and Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame) could be available due to a torn up knee in the Bowl Game v Ohio St. last month.  Smith was projected as a top 10, maybe even a top 5, talent in this draft until the injury.  He may not be available to play all year but Ted may not be able to pass up that type of talent should he drop to the Packers at 27.  Another potential fit could be from Smith’s opponent in that bowl game, Darron Lee from Ohio St.  Lee is listed as an OLB but his size and style could be perfect for ILB (6’1” 235lbs).  Here’s the scouting report from Dane Brugler, cbssports.com:

Lee is a fantastic athlete with long arms and aggressive hands, but needs to develop his functional strength to consistently stack and shed at the line of scrimmage and keep himself clean. Although he is still young in linebacker years, he is a high character competitor, playing with sky-high confidence and natural football instincts to pick things up quickly. In the mold of Ryan Shazier or Kwon Alexander, Lee is a versatile run-and-hit linebacker with an attacking mind-set that fits today’s NFL.

–Dane Brugler (1/5/16)

Another first round possibilities could be Jarran Reed (DT – Alabama), who put on a show in the National Championship game v. Clemson.  Reed weighs 290+ and showed off his speed in which he beat the running back to the edge and made a tackle for no gain on a sweep.  I’d die if an interior lineman on the Packers did that without the back getting caught in traffic.

Jake Conklin (OT – Michigan St.) is an interesting option.  There are quite a few talented Tackles in this draft, Conklin isn’t the best but don’t be surprised if Ted pulls the trigger should he be on the board at 27.  Bakhtiari’s value was proven this year, not because he played well, but because Barclay proved he doesn’t deserve to be on an active roster.  I’m also not a fan of paying $8M+/yr. for Bakhtiari and that may be what he commands – no thanks.  Plus the Packers are desperate for offensive line depth and will need to address it sooner rather than later.

Lastly, for now, Kenny Clark (DT – UCLA) could be a steal at 27 should he be available.  Paraphrasing from a couple scouts, he’s a stout run-defender that shows the ability to be a 3-down defensive lineman in the NFL.  He was a high school wrestling champ which I like to hear for a couple of reasons 1. Wrestlers rarely have off-field issues/good character guys and 2. That mindset translates extremely well to both OL and DL positions.  It’ll be an interesting draft, one that I think will focus a lot on defense with possibly a pick or two for the OL, RB, and TE – I’ll cover those next time.

Thanks for reading!

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