The draft is over, the undrafted free agents have been contacted and, for the record, I was 100 percent accurate with how I saw the Green Bay Packers draft picks unfold.
For those who do not remember, I predicted that the Packers would draft college kids who played football. True to my predictions, every single pick the Packers made was someone from a college who played football (and many of you have questioned my $20 million dollar signing bonus!).
Take that, Mel Kiper!
Now that we have had some time to decompress and I have had time to read as much as I can about the picks that Ted Thompson made, I figured it was time I added my scholarly insight.
In general I think TT had a very good draft in general terms. Never one to dip into the free agency pool, Ted always looks to retool and revamp through the draft and he did exactly that. Trading back to get more picks and then moving up to address needs, he did it all.
One thought that consistently stayed with me the entire draft was what all those fans who were clamoring for free agents as the solution to the team’s problems. Be it running back or a guy for one of the lines, we heard how Thompson failed the team. Now, being totally biased and impartial, those comments annoyed me for one simple reason: Why should we spend money on someone who another team does not want and who may only be a short-term solution to a long-term problem? Address the issue for the long-term.
Ted clearly put the skeptics in place (again, from my biased point of view) and clearly demonstrates why it is so important to have a good general manager at the helm and not Jerry Jones.
With the first pick, the Green Bay Packers selected Datone Jones (or as I have already heard him refered to as Dat-One). Well let’s just hope he is that one – the one guy that can step in and solidify the defense. He brings to the table what the Packers have been lacking – a tough, large presence. At 283 pounds and six feet four inches tall, he will be the Pack’s biggest lineman. Now the only question is will his size and physical conditioning equate to success. Only time will tell.
Jones, however, has said many of the right things, with the most important being that he wants to “carry himself” in the footsteps of Reggie White. If he pans out to be half the player that Reggie was, then Ted made a great first pick.
Ted then took the bull by the horns and with his second and fifth picks (second fourth round selection) chooses two of the top running backs in the nation. Eddie Lacy out of Alabama and Johnathan Franklin from UCLA.
This is significant for two reasons. One, Thompson, no matter what he says, clearly drafted based on the needs of the team with these two picks. Secondly, he clearly recognized that the pieces that were in place, were not significant enough to establish a dominant run game that would take the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers (who, if you did not hear, is now the wealthiest NFL player of all time) to have to do everything and also allow the passing game to open up since the offense would no longer be one-dimensional. Opponents will now have to respect our running game, now let’s just hope the O-line can create lanes for these guys to run.
In looking at Lacy and Franklin, what impresses me the most is that both of these guys are tagged as powerful runners. Lacy can smash the ball up the middle, whereas Franklin is more of an elusive runner who has the ability to make you miss. Both runners have the power and speed to break it open. In fact, Lacy has been compared to Jerome Bettis in his style of running.
The only knock against Lacy is injury issues. First hamstrings and secondly a fused toe. Though it may lead to questions down the road, neither injury seemed to affect his productivity last year when he rushed for 1,322 yards. Personally, knowing that these issues exist, clearly allows the medical staff to take preventative measures to ensure they do not become recurring problems.
Most of the pundits point out that with Franklin, he has not shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and has had a history of fumbles. However, he only had one fumble all of last season while rushing for 1,734 yards with 13 touchdowns.
Enough with the downside. Seriously, look at what we have gone from – James Starks, Alex Green, Cedric Benson and DuJuan Harris – to Lacy and Franklin. Then just for the fun of it, you can also throw in Randall Cobb. Add that to our receiving corps, coupled with Rodgers, I personally see an offense that is going to be very entertaining and explosive. No longer will defenses be able to key in on the pass. The threat to run and run hard and often is there and we all know that will open up the passing game ( I wonder if Greg Jennings is having any second thoughts?).
As the draft rolled on, Ted and company also took steps to address other needs both on the offense and defense. So many others have taken the time to hash out those players that at this point there is nothing constructive that I can add to any discussion.
What is important though is to again realize that while many in Packers Nation were clamoring for action during the free agency period, Thompson was true to himself. He decided that it was better to take as many bodies as possible to find what is needed than take a chance on a pricey free agent.
The 2013 draft looks good on paper and I truly believe that this may be one of Thompson’s finest drafts, but I do not think you assign a grade to it until you see how the players pan out. Give it a few years and then we can honestly assess what was done the last three days and if it was worthy of an “A.”
With the draft over, I am now excited for the season to start moving ahead. Rookie orientation is coming up and then Organized Team Activities. There is a lot happening up in Green Bay and with our Wisconsin summer already over (two nice days), I am ready for some football!
GO PACK GO and IN TED WE TRUST!