2011 Draft Rearview Part 4

Rookie D.J. Smith (51), played well near the end of 2011 when he was forced into action because of injuries to the Packers' linebackers. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

This four-part series concludes by showing the correlation between the Packers’ 2011 draft and their strategy for long-term team-building.

The 6th Rounders
Caleb Schlauderaff, OL, Utah
D.J. Smith, LB, Appalachian State
Ricky Elmore, LB, Arizona

This is what Ted Thompson loves: Hoarding late-round picks and taking as many players as possible, hoping that at least one becomes a starter. In the 2011 6th round, Thompson had one bust, one break-even and one big hit.

Ricky Elmore, projected as an OLB, was a complete bust in training camp. His college teammate, Brooks Reed, selected in the second round, and who had fewer sacks in college than Elmore, was a key cog in the Texans’ defense.

Schlauderaff couldn’t beat out Ray Dominguez, an undrafted free agent and was shipped to the Jets in exchange for most likely a 6th round pick this year. Thompson made sure this mistake wasn’t compounded by getting equal compensation for the light-weight guard.

Smith was the surprise of the draft. He stepped in and started when the Packers had both inside linebackers go down. He even played well enough that some people unhappy with A.J. Hawk’s play (and contract numbers) suggest that Smith could be a starter as soon as this season. In the least, Smith offers solid play from a backup and if he does become a starter, this pick will look like one of Thompson’s best in years.

The 7th Rounders
Ryan Taylor, TE, North Carolina
Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State

-between these two, Thompson selected Lawrence Taylor (we wish)

With Taylor, Thomspon finally found a guy who has a passion for special teams – a trait sorely lacking on the 2011 Packers. Taylor brought attitude and feisty play to a squad that previously tried to not be embarrassed on special teams plays. Taylor contributed in small ways on offense. His long-term value is special teams.

A long-term project, Guy spent 2011 on the Packers’ practice squad. He will face a lot of competition to make the 2012 roster.

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Tags: A J Hawk Brooks Reed Caleb Schlauderaff D.J. Smith Lawrence Guy Lawrence Taylor New York Jets Ray Dominguez Ricky Elmore Ryan Tayler Ted Thompson

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