The Packers will take…

Ahh yes, the NFL Draft is finally here!  A time for all Thompson haters to come out to complain about not picking the sexy prospect, or not drafting for obvious need, and so on and so on.  I’ll clarify again, not sure if it’s needed, I’m a huge fan of Ted Thompson’s philosophy, system, whatever you’d like to call it.  Building through the draft, paying your own guys and rarely paying big money for free agents is how one keeps your team from really ever getting in trouble.  This eliminates many factors that contribute to teams being unable to compete for various reasons.  I’m happy to elaborate, but in the interest of time, and getting to the point let’s move on.

The need for the Packers is on defense, or so it seems.  The last time Green Bay took the field they were outplayed in all 3 phases of the game.  The D couldn’t get a stop, the Offense couldn’t score a point, and one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL missed a 40 yard field goal in a dome.  While many believe the offense will be “tough to stop,” there’s always a need for improvement on each side of the ball.  Hence why drafting the best player available is rarely the wrong decision, that player will eventually help, and help greatly.  If you’re still reading, let’s get on with players the Packers could take (in the 1st round), and why.

TJ Watt – OLB Wisconsin: Of course this seems like a homer pick, however he seems to be the best edge rusher that’ll be available by the time GB picks.  He’s played one season, produced at a high level and likely will only improve.  It’s also impossible to look past the genetics, which have fared well so far at the next level.

Kevin King – CB Washington: mostly unheard of due to playing in the PAC 12/west coast.  However, he’s a big corner (6’3” 200lbs) that can run (4.43 40-yard dash).  The scouts say he’s not as physical as his body shows he should be, however he was a solid defender on a solid defense, which was ranked in the top 4 all season.

Chidobe Awuzie – CB Colorado: like King, Colorado plays in the PAC 12 and they weren’t expected to be nearly as good as they were this year.  However, according to the scouts and pundits (which may mean nothing) he’s a 4-year starter at a big time program, is big (6’0” and 202lbs), fast (4.43), and should be selected in the late 20’s.

Forrest Lamp – G Western Kentucky: this pick would send nearly every Packer fan into a frenzy, he may be the best player available if still on the board.  He’s 6’4” 309lbs, fairly strong (34 reps at 225lbs) and was a Tackle in college.  Thompson doesn’t draft college guards, but tackles in college and some convert to guard.  Reason being is tackles are more athletic than guards, while guards are usually more of a mauler.  If you find a good athlete at tackle that’s strong, that could trend well in the NFL.  I still have high hopes for Jason Spriggs (the Packers moved up in the 2nd round last year to select him), as he’s an incredible athlete that needs to add weight and see the field.  The signing of Jahri Evans yesterday may take Lamp off the board for Green Bay, but I still wouldn’t be shocked if the Packers selected him as he’s very highly thought of by all scouts, teams.

Jabrill Peppers – S Michigan: a pick that would have Packer fans pinching themselves because they can’t believe Ted chose a cool player.  Peppers was productive and dangerous in college, but I’m not sure where he’d play in the NFL.  With the proper coaching he could be a Safety, or act as a linebacker in Nickel and Dime packages (defenses set up to defend the pass).  I wouldn’t hate this pick, but I’d be really interested to see how he’s used and produces.

Christian McCaffery – HB/WR Stanford: after a decorated career at Stanford, he could be a difference-maker as a rookie.  It helps he comes with football genes (his father played WR with the Broncos in the 90’s) and he knows how to play football and what to do with it once in his hands, and more importantly what to do when he isn’t holding it.  Somehow, without working out or playing football McCaffery has shot up draft boards, but if he’s selected by Green Bay he wouldn’t be fitting a need as he’s a similar player to his former teammate, Ty Montgomery, but absolutely fits the bill and phrase of having as many good players isn’t a bad thing.

What will Ted do?  That’s really what everyone is trying to figure out.  My choice?  I’d love for him to find a trade partner and trade back accruing as many 2nd – 4th round picks as possible as it seems this draft is loaded with talent and having the most picks gives one the best shot at obtaining as much talent for the long haul.  Keep in mind the draft isn’t about the year at hand, but the next 3-10 years.  Fans are sick of not “going all in,” but the failure of the last 7 seasons by the Packers is a direct result of not being successful drafting years prior and on-field execution, or lack thereof.

My guess?  Probably King from Washington, Awuzie from Colorado, or Watt from Wisconsin.  Regardless of whom the Packers take, there’s something about the NFL Draft that is exciting and great for true football fans!  Have fun!

Boys of Summer are Back!

Year 2 of the David Stearns era begins!  Or at least the baseball season is!  Few have begged as hard for a rebuild of the Milwaukee Brewers as I have since 2013 and now that we’re in full swing (pun intended) it’s so refreshing!  Unlike my feelings toward the Packers (apathetic), my feelings towards the Brewers and expectations are in line!  With a major rebuild I’ll give 4-5 years before I expect the Window to Open.

Many publications rank the Brewers’ Farm System in the top 3.  That’s exciting and should be the goal of every small-market MLB team.  The Brewers should always be in the top 10, even if trading pieces to gain MLB-talent to “make a run.”  This means drafting well, extremely well as well as ditching old expiring talent for kids to supplement their farm.  The 2017 season will be viewed as important to the rebuild by seeing what some of the young talent can do in the minors and majors (Santana, Arcia, Villar, and more), but also to see how many additional pieces the Brewers trade to acquire young talent to continue their loading of the minor leagues.  Will Braun be traded?  Hopefully to add more kids to the system and continue the strength for years 2019-2025.  That should be the target for the Milwaukee Brewers to compete for the postseason and eventually a World Series.

Last season the Brewers had a pleasant surprise by Jonathan Villar and should continue to expect other young players to “shock” some fans.  This is expected as when acquiring young talent and keeping with the system.  Milwaukee won 73 games last season which is about where many thought they’d fall.  This season the win total isn’t the goal like I implied earlier, but to determine the young talent – who can assist and be a part of this franchise when the Window Opens.  Since I’m a sucker for predictions let’s go!

The National League was dominated by the Chicago Cubs all last season and I don’t expect much to change in 2017.  The San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and Washington Nationals should also compete and have strong teams, but the Cubs were built (similar to the Brewers now) the right way and have the best GM in baseball with deep pockets.  They’re strong and are set to be the class of the MLB for quite some time.

The AL last year had a balance of power, ultimately resulting with the Cleveland Indians representing the American League and holding a 3 games to 1 lead over the Cubs in the World Series.  Cleveland should have another strong team this year, but expect Kansas City to respond to last year’s disappointing season with another good showing.  Boston had a good team last year and with a rededicated Panda, he could add a great bat to a lineup that’s already the envy of the AL.

These are pure guesses, but was close last year saying Cleveland was going to be good and everyone knew the Cubs were poised.  Sadly, as a Brewer fan, the Cubs seem like the well-deserved obvious favorite to win it all again.  Hopefully the Brewers will see the fruits of their labor in a few years as the Cubs are now.

Brewers Record: 77-85
NL Champion: Chicago Cubs
AL Champion: Boston Red Sox
WS Champion: Chicago Cubs

Hello, again.

Apathy: the absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.  A lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

My intent isn’t to depress, however it’s tough to be such a die-hard fan and not be apathetic towards the Packers…or any sports team in this state.  I’m now passed the point of associating blame and just want major change – think Definition of Insanity.

In the last 8 months, the Packers find themselves in a position to replacing 2 All-Pro Guards (Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang).  If you’ve followed along with my previous writing, or have known me for a while, you understand I’m a firm believer of great line play is the key to each side of the ball.  The better the OL the better the offense; the better the DL the better the defense.  The Packers possessed the 5th ranked offensive line and the 9th defensive front 7 in the NFL for the 2016 regular season (source: Pro Football Focus).  The Packers ranked 8th in total offense and 22nd in defense.  That shoots a hole in my theory, however the old adage holds true, if you can run the ball and stop the run it bodes well for your playoff fate.

The Packers used their 1st round pick in 2016 on Kenny Clark, a defensive lineman with solid upside.  He was the youngest player in the draft last year and if he turns out to be a Pro Bowl caliber player, that will help this Packers’ defense, immensely over the next 10 years.  He was graded with a 68.0 by PFF this season and it looks to only rise from there.  I state this with the intent that the Packers have the option to go any route they want in this year’s draft.  However, while many think the secondary was a major issue last year, continuing with a great OL is what will drive the offense’s “success” and improving the defensive front will improve the overall defense and directly help the secondary.  The Falcons tore up the Packers’ defense, but the major difference in that game was Atlanta being able to generate pressure with 4 and the Packers getting none, regardless of how many were brought.  (Stop me if you’ve heard that before).

Stay tuned for the NFL Draft preview…I’ll wait for all the mock drafts and experts to predict whom will go where, and why.  Meanwhile the teams will continue to change until that week.  My stance is still to draft the best player available or trade back to accrue more picks.  I still believe that’s the best system in any sport to build the best team, the key is to not suck at drafting – which much has been left to desire in recent drafts for the Green Bay Packers.

Thanks for reading and expect more consistency from me now that the weather is turning and there will be more action from here on out!

Your favorite apathetic Packer fan.