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2017 NFL Draft Predictions

The 2017 Draft is quickly upon us, starting next Thursday the 27th. There have been many mock drafts in the news, here is my opinions.

The number one overall pick is pretty obvious, defensive end Myles Garrett from Texas A&M. Garrett is a very physical gifted pass rusher that is very explosive out of his stance. Garrett also has amazing balance and body control. The one big issue that the Brown has with drafting Garrett number one overall is Garrett’s injury-prone ankle. Garrett has had multiple ankles injuries that have to keep him from producing his finest play. If Garrett can stay healthy, he will be a force on the defensive front for Cleveland.

The second pick falls to the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers are having quarterback issues, yet again, and Mitch Trubisky would be a possible fix to those issues. Trubisky has good arm strength and the ability to place the ball into tight windows. In addition to having a good throwing arm, Trubisky showed hat he had the ability to gain yards on the ground. One big downside with Mitch Trubisky is that he only started one season at North Carolina, and worked directing small, basic defense. Trubisky might want to sit out the 2017 season and learn the schemes used by NFL teams.

Coming to the Packers 29th overall pick. Ted Thompson is still at the helm of Green Bay’s draft choices, and he is known for stashing draft picks. One should not be surprised if Thompson trades down and possibly out of the first round to gather more picks later on in the draft. Trading down would not be the worst option. This draft class is stacked at both positions that the Packers need, cornerback and running back. The Packers have never really been known to try and take the top guy at whatever position they need. Thompson will always take the best player available, even if that player somewhere we do not need the help.

Starting off at running back, there are two players that I believe Green Bay should go after. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey is a very instinctive running back and makes many people miss in the open field. McCaffrey is a big running back standing at 6’0″ and 205lbs. He would be a very good complementary running back to Ty Montgomery. Like Montgomery, McCaffrey has good hands for a running back so he could be used out of the backfield. McCaffrey is known as a “one-cut” back and likes to work in the open field. However, McCaffrey had an injury-filled Senior year at Stanford, and this could mean that he will stay injury-prone or that he will not get a lot of work during his rookie year. The second running back that the Packers might go after, in the second round, is Texas’s big back, D’Onta Foreman. Foreman is slightly taller than McCraffery, Foreman is 6’1″ and 250lbs. Foreman is very powerful and can take hits while still standing up, but Foreman is still very light on his feet. D’Onta Foreman is reminiscent of Eddie Lacy during his rookie season. During his career at Texas, Foreman rushed for 2,782 yards and 20 touchdowns on 433 carries in only 28 games. There are two downsides with drafting Foreman for any team, his lack of receiving hands, and the tendency to bounce outside. Foreman does not have great receiving out of the backfield. In Foreman’s 28 games at Texas, he only recorded 13 catches for 146 yards. Finally, Foreman is always looking to bounce outside and get into the open field and does not want to run through traffic. The Packers probably won’t draft either of these players with their 29th overall pick, that will probably be on the defensive side of the ball.

There are three major choices for Green Bay on defense — T.J. Watt, Sidney Jones, and Jabrill Peppers. T.J. Watt is my top choice for the Packers 29th pick. Not only is T.J. Watt very similar to his older brother J.J., but he is also a downhill linebacker who can shed blockers very easily. Even though he is only 6’2″ and 245lbs Watt is not afraid of some contact while finding the ball. Sidney Jones would be a great fit for Ted Thompson’s defensive back. Jones is very long and lanky, which is something that Thompson looks for. Jones also has a quick and instinctive style to his play. Jones has powerful had that will help him bump and jostle receivers at the line, and would be a good replacement for Sam Shields. A big issue with Jones is his size. Sidney Jones has a very narrow frame and this might cause him to get outmuscled by bigger, stronger receivers. Finally, Green Bay might draft an all around specialist on defense like Jabrill Peppers from Michigan. Peppers can do almost anything on defense, which is something that Green Bay need right now, and after the loss of Micah Hyde. Peppers is listed as one of the top five athletic players in the entire draft. One major downside for Peppers is that he might need some help develop as a safety in the NFL, however, the Packers could start him as a number two cornerback behind Damarious Randall.

Whatever Ted Thompson and the Packers do with their first draft pick this year, will be the right pick. However interesting.

 

UPDATE: As of April 24th, 2017 at 11:40 am PT – Jabrill Peppers has tested positive for a diluted sample or a failed drug test.

Free Agency Recap

With the first two weeks of the NFL Free Agency season behind us, let’s take a look back on what the Packers have done.

There were a few shocking moves at the beginning of the free agency season. Ted Thompson started out very quiet, like normal, but then drops a bombshell by letting Micah Hyde walk and sign a 5 year deal with Buffalo worth $30.5 million dollars, and letting Jared Cook sign a 2 year deal with Oakland. When asked about letting Micah Hyde walk, Thompson said “Micah is one of my all-time favorites. Sorry it didn’t work out.”

Packer fans were very upset with the departure of Cook, however, Thompson heard all the complaining and finally signed a free agent that will help. Thompson signed former-Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett to a 3 year $21 million dollar contract. To round out the offensive signings are running back Christian Michael, right tackle Don Barclay and tight end Lance Kendricks. Kendricks played at the University of Wisconsin and then behind Jared Cook in St. Louis.

Ted Thompson did not quite tackle the defensive problems that the Packers have been suffering from over the last few year. Thompson couldn’t resign Micah Hyde, Datone Jones or Julius Peppers. Jones was signed to a 1 year $3.75 million dollar contract by NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. Julius Peppers signed a 1 year $3.5 million dollar contract back in Carolina. Ted Thompson did bring back fan favorite cornerback in the form of a 1 year $2.8 million dollar contract for Davon House. House played in Green Bay during the Super Bowl run, then went and played in Jacksonville for the last two years. Thompson added former-Redskins defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois for a 1 year and $3 million dollars. The Packers finally resigned outside linebackers, Jordan Tripp and Jayrone Elliott.

There are still many remaining free agents that Green Bay could target. Some of these include running back LeGarrette Blount, and strong safety T.J. McDonald. Blount carried the ball almost 300 times for 1,161 yards and a career-high 18 touchdown. Blount would help out Ty Montgomery and Christian Michael figure themselves out. With the departure of Hyde, the Packers need a new player that can do something like Hyde did. T.J. McDonald stands 2 inches taller and 20lbs heavier than Hyde. Last year, McDonald combined for 64 tackles, 1 total sack, and a career-high 2 interceptions.

Lastly, Green Bay still has just over $20 million dollars in cap space for the remainder of free agency and the NFL Draft.The 2017 NFL Draft is live from Philadelphia on April 27th through the 29th.

The 2017 NFL Draft is live from Philadelphia’s City Hall on April 27th through the 29th.

 

UPDATE: As of March 29th at 6pm ET, The Green Bay Packers have signed guard Justin McCray. McCray never found a stationary home since joining the NFL in 2014. He spent a year on Tennessee’s practice squad and then spent time in Orlando in the Arena Football League. McCray has yet to make an official NFL regular-season start.

Free Agency

Recent news has come out about two Green Bay Packers free agents, CB Sam Shields and RB James Starks.

Sam Shields suffered his four known concussions in his seven-year NFL career in the season opener against Jacksonville. This was a big issue through the entire season because when Shields went out, the Packers’ secondary lost their number one cornerback. Shields imagessaid during an interview after the NFC Championship game in Atlanta that “each day it’s getting better…some days it’s tough headaches, some days it’s mild, it varies.” In addition to Shields’ concussion, he was arrested in October for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia and spent the rest of the year at his Florida home. Shields spent his entire career in Green Bay, and all the fans support him and hope that he can recover from his concussions. Shields broke the news himself Wednesday morning via an Instagram post where he seemed pretty upset, including hashtags like “#IWasGettingBetter”, “#AtLeastLetMeRetireFromThePack”, “StillMad” and “#ICantPlayWithAnybodyElse”. Green Bay Packer fans around the world wish Sam Shields a healthy recovery and we hope that he will put his health in front of his playing career.

images-1In addition to the news about San Shields being cut, one of the Packers few running backs was also cut, James Starks. Starks was released from Green Bay Tuesday with a non-football injury designation. Starks did not play much in his final year in Green Bay due to suffering both a separated knee and a concussion. Green Bay’s running back situation was already tough with five of the team’s six running backs going into Free Agency, the only running back that is not is Wide Receiver-converted-Running Back, Ty Montgomery.

Green Bay has important people leaving, but there has been some interesting news on people staying, for example, GM Ted Thompson. Since the rumor started that Thompson might step down and let Eliot Wolf take over, nothing has happened. It still seems like Ted Thompson will stay the General Manager, and is still under contract through the 2019 NFL Draft. Ted Thompson has said that he will be more aggressive in the free agent market, so Green Bay is giving him another chance to prove that he can build a team around one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League – Aaron Rodgers.

One of the big Free Agent targets that could help out the Packers is Texans CB A.J. Bouye. Bouye got to play because of some imgresinjuries in the Texans secondary — sounds familiar. The Texans have two solid starting CBs in Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph, so a genuine offer from Thompson could sway Bouye to come north. A few other cornerbacks that Green Bay could also start talks with are former-Packer Tramon Williams and the Jags’ Prince Amukamara. Williams might enjoy leaving a sad Cleveland team, to rejoin his former team on a run for a second Super Bowl ring. Prince Amukamara signed a 1-year/$5.5 million dollar deal with Jacksonville and seeing how nothing came of the Jags season, Amukamara might be seeking a better team to win him a title.

Green Bay Off-Season Moves

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Who is done?

With the rumors of Ted Thompson stepping down as the Green Bay Packers’ General Manager. Ted Thompson has a distinction of the lack of midseason moves. This was broken this year with the signing of both RB Knile Davis from Kansas City and RB Christian Michael from Seattle. Knile Davis returned to Kansas City within two weeks, while Michael has stayed and made a big impact on the Green Bay running game. With the emergence of both Ty Montgomery and Michael, questions have surfaced about Eddie Lacy’s future with the team. With Lacy only carrying the ball of 1,118 yards in the 20 games he has played in since the beginning of the 2015 season, his job stability is wavering. Green Bay currently has six running backs on their 53-man roster, this number will surely decrease during the offseason, with either Lacy, James Starks or Christian Michael released.

Two Packers might retire at the end of the playoff run, both CB Sam Shields and LB Julius Peppers. Shields suffered his fifth concussion in this year’s season opener in Jacksonville. Shields is in the third year of his four-year contract, and at only 28 years old, retirement would be a tough choice. With all of the injuries to the CB position this season, Shields may stay on for his final year and aid the defensive backs solidify. LB Julius Peppers, on the other hand, has looked like he is in the best shape of his career with 15 total tackles and 7.5 sacks during the regular season. However, at 36 years old, and in the final year of his 3-year contract with Green Bay, Peppers might end his NFL career after Green Bay’s postseason. Hopefully, the Packers will be able to resign him to a year or two extension.

Who needs to be resigned?

This off-season Green Bay will have 20 free agents, there are 5 that need to be resigned within the next month. The Packers’ first priority should be TE Jared Cook. Cook finished the season with  30 catches recording 377 yards and 1 touchdown. By themselves, the numbers don’t look so good, however, Cook missed 6 games with an ankle injury. He is the first big vertical threat that Green Bay has had since Jermichael Finely.

Next on the list is defensive back and safety Micah Hyde. Hyde has been a leader on the defensive side of the ball for the last few years. Hyde recorded 58 combined tackles and three interceptions. Hyde played multiple positions during this season because of all the injuries to the Packers’ secondary.

Not only did Green Bay have injuries on the defensive side of the ball, the Packers’ running backs suffered consequential injuries. The new GM should be ready to sign both Christine Michael and Eddie Lacy. Michael was Seattle’s leading rusher until they released him after Week 9. Michael did not play much during the streak, but with the only running back for next season is converted WR Ty Montgomery, resigning or drafting a couple of power backs would not be an issue. Eddie Lacy was on track for a favorable year, recording 360 yards in only 5 games. He is looking slimmer and ready for another breakout year.

What is the Draft Need?

With the NFL draft quickly approaching, each team is starting to think about what positions need the most work during the offseason. In Green Bay, many people cannot deny that the Packer’s  defensive needs to most work. With all of the injuries to the cornerback position, this will most likely be an early pick.ted-thompson-packers-1

Not only does Green Bay need some work in their defense, but the Packers need to fill the soon-to-be-vacated General Manager job. The current GM Ted Thompson will likely be stepping down to join in the draft scouting. Thompson has done an amazing job in finding some of the gems in each draft class.

Teez Tabor, a Junior cornerback from Florida, might be a top choice for the incoming GM to draft with our first round pick. Tabor is a 6’0″ 201lbs cornerback who recorded 33 totals tackles during his junior season at Florida. 

Another possible draft choice is 6’1″ 236lbs inside linebacker from Alabama, Reuben Foster. Foster recorded 60 solo tackles, and 5 sacks during his Senior year. These stats include the College Football Playoff games against Washington and Clemson.

The third draft choice is Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore is a 6’0″ 195lbs Sophomore cornerback from Ohio State. Marshon Lattimore recorded 30 solo tackles and 4 interceptions during this past year. Even though Lattimore is only a sophomore, he played well enough to prove that he could be a reliable backup player for the Packers’ injury-prone position, and in the NFL.

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NOTE: Since writing this blog, there has been no new information abut Ted Thompson stepping down as the GM in Green Bay. Current Director of Football Operations, Eliot Wolf, is the most likely person to take over the position if Thompson does step down.