Thanks to great coaching and even better work in the front office, the Green Bay Packers are primed to be the NFL’s next dynasty. They boast the best player in the NFL in quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and they have drafted so well in the Ted Thompson/Mike McCarthy era that they are undoubtedly one of the best teams in the NFL this year, looking to next year, and years after that if Rodgers stays healthy.
The way I define a dynasty is a team that has a wide open Super Bowl window for a large number of years. The Packers won the Super Bowl two years ago, and while they lost only one regular season game in 2011, they were the victims of fate in a divisional round matchup against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
With Rodgers at the helm, the Packers have the best of the best. A sure-thing, guaranteed, bona-fide Super Star every single week. He rarely makes mistakes, and he can make plays in a variety of different ways. Green Bay has surrounded him with excellent talent through the draft, and they have built a true winner in “Titletown.”
Here is what the Packers did in the 2012 NFL Draft to revamp their roster:
- Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
- Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
- Casey Heyward, CB, Vanderbilt
- Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa
- Jerron McMillian, S, Maine
- Terrell Manning, LB, North Carolina State
- Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State
- B.J. Coleman, QB, UT Chattanooga
Undrafted Free Agents
Jaymes Brooks, OL, Virginia Tech; Dale Moss, WR, South Dakota State; Don Barclay, OL, West Virginia; Sean Richardson, S, Vanerbilt; Nic Cooper, RB, Winston-Salem State; Dezman Moses, DE, Tulane; Dion Turner, CB, Southern Utah; Marc Tyler, RB, USC; Drew Vanderlin, DE, Michigan Tech; Eric Lair, TE, Minnesota; Tommie Draheim, G, San Diego State; Duane Bennett, RB, Minnesota; Cameron Ford, TE, Wake Forest; Marcus Rivers, WR, Buffalo
Best UDFA Addition: Dale Moss, WR, South Dakota State
Moss is a very good athlete with a ton of upside as a deep sleeper prospect, and he has accepted an invitation to play in the Shrine game. The most impressive aspect of Moss’ game is also potentially one of the things he needs to work on, which is his length. His length is a huge plus because it allows him to make catches away from his body and go up over the top of smaller defensive backs, but he has a very thin lower body which could get exposed against bigger, faster, stronger NFL defensive backs, guys stronger than he faced in his one year of college football. Inexperience will be a factor for Moss, but the talent is certainly there. He played basketball for the Jacks and has great leaping ability, and the fact that he played basketball and adjusted so well so quickly to football is promising. He caught 61 passes for 949 yards and six touchdowns in his only year of college ball, and I think if he is able to run in the low 4.5 range he should be able to easily get into an NFL camp, and if he can run in the 4.4 range, he might even hear his name called in the draft. He will have to work on the nuances of the game, just getting used to playing football and not being the best athlete on the field, but the upside is certainly there.
2012 NFL Draft Review
1. Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
After his Freshmen season many felt Perry would become an elite defensive player. He has been unable to duplicate that success the past two seasons. He has performed well but learning a new system combined with small injuries limited him in his second season. So far in his Junior season he is showing the potential to be a first round pick. I imagine he will dominate off season workouts. Perry as potential as a 43 DE as well as a 34 OLB. He has huge upside but also is perhaps the riskiest pass rusher in this draft.
NFLMocks preseason bio
So far, Nick Perry hasn’t lived up to expectations, but he still has time to prove he is a dominant pass rusher. Perry is a redshirt junior with big goals for the 2011 season. 15. Nick Perry wants to get more then 15 sacks this year. It sounds like a pipe dream considering he had just 4 last year, but do not underestimate him. Perry is unique specimen. He stands at 6 ft 3, 250 pounds and runs a 4.6 40 yard dash. He collected 9 sacks his freshman year, but was hampered by a lingering high ankle sprain in 2010. Perry’s unique blend of size and athleticism makes him a player to watch for this year. He could be the breakout player of the year if he is able to stay healthy. He’s a very quick player who uses his hands well. He has a ton of potential.
This was a really good pickup by the Packers. It gives them a pair of USC bookends at the hybrid linebacker position, and two flat out great athletes who can fly around the field. He is an incredible athlete for his size, and if he can make the most of Clay Matthews getting double-teamed, he could be one of the leading candidates for rookie of the year. He was USC’s defensive lineman of the year last year with 9.5 sacks, and I think he can make an immediate impact. This was a very solid selection by the Packers who really needed help on the defensive front, especially in the pass rush department.
2. Jerel Worthy, DL, Michigan State
Big defensive tackle prospect who is already being regarded as one of the top defensive players in the class of 2012. Big body in the middle who is very athletic and can make plays in the backfield. Stats do not jump off the screen, but he is a guy who commands a double team on every single play, and he is very disruptive. In two years, he has 77 tackles, eight sacks, and 13 tackles for loss. Very explosive player who is an excellent athlete with great quickness. In college, you are always looking for guys to “break out” and Worthy is definitely a candidate to do just that. Probably an ideal fit to play in a four man front in the NFL, and it’s possible that he could be a top ten pick if he comes out this year. Needs to work on using his upper body strength and arms to disengage from blocks instead of simply sparring with the offensive lineman that takes him on. He has the physical tools, but needs to use his hands better against powerful offensive linemen, which could attribute to his lack of elite level statistics despite his raw ability. Has top ten potential, but right now, needs more time.
Worthy dropped to the second round for the Packers, and it was a complete steal in my opinion. Many were projecting him as a top ten pick before the season started, and by seasons-end, he was still being projected as a first round pick by most draft outlets. When he fell to the late second round, I was pretty shocked and the Packers were able to capitalize. This was a great move by them to get such a talented player at that point in the draft, and get a guy who can possibly come in and start right away as a rookie.
3. Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
Mark my words someone will get a steal with this kid. He plays on Vanderbilt so immediately he is over looked. When I watch him I am blown away at how complete of a player he is. He is both a shut down CB who utilizes elite agility, powerful press coverage, and technique. What gets me is how effective against the run he is. Also he is an above average return man. He is the total package who has locked down some of the SEC’s best WR’s. Hayward has really good route recognition skills and ball skills and really plays well when he’s watching the quarterback’s eyes, because of his lack of straight line speed he is probably best suited in a scheme that plays more zone coverage. Second Round is where I see him going to a team such as the Patriots, Bengals, Broncos, Chargers, Cowboys, Lions, or Texans.
One of the top defensive backs in the nation, Hayward continued his excellent play as a junior… Named second team All-SEC DB by both the league coaches and Associated Press writers… Started every game at cornerback, pushing his consecutive starts streak to 24 games… Put together his finest year in Commodore uniform, setting single-season highs in interceptions (6), solo tackles (59), total tackles (70) and passes defended (17)… Ranked first in SEC – and third in NCAA – in passes defended… Interception total ranked second in SEC – and tied for fifth nationally… Posted at least one pass defended in 10 of 12 games and at least three tackles in 11 of 12 games… Had eight tackles, including seven solo stops, to aid victory at Ole Miss… Picked off passes in four consecutive games – LSU, Ole Miss, UConn and Eastern Michigan… Also registered INTs against South Carolina and Tennessee… Also posted nine tackles in Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas and eight solo stops in finale vs. Wake Forest.
I think the Packers got another steal here. They do such a great job of drafting and getting Hayward at the back end of round two was another great move in my opinion. He is a top ten player at his position, and the Packers use a lot of five defensive back sets in their defense where they use Charles Woodson as the rover. This move gives them a ton of flexibility there to move him around wherever they want, and it gives them depth with the loss of Nick Collins. They have done a great job of coaching up young defensive backs Sam Shields and Tramon Williams, so adding Hayward to the mix is a solid move.
4. Mike Daniels, DL, Iowa
Mike Daniels came out of nowhere last season to lead a star-studded Iowa defensive line (three NFL draft picks) in tackles for loss. Perhaps it was the company he was in that helped him along the way, or perhaps he has some skill of his own. My bet is on the latter, and Daniels could really break out in 2011 as a playmaker on the Iowa defensive line. He is a quick twitch lineman who plays with a low center of gravity and has a nose for the ball carrier. His performance will be huge this season for the Hawkeyes.
Daniels, AKA “the Beast” plays like his nickname. He is powerful up front and has the ability to fill gaps and stop the run, but also has the speed and athleticism to rush the passer and make key tackle for loss. Daniels is a second team all Big Ten selection by the coaches and a first team all Big Ten honorable mention by the media. I expect Daniels to be drafted in the middle to late rounds. He has the ability to make a significant impact at the next level but may be over looked if he doesn’t have a good pro day.
PROS: Speed, quickness, makes plays behind the line, tough kid, plays with solid leverage most of the time.
CONS: Not an elite run-stuffer, smaller than most DT prospects, can get pushed around by more powerful linemen
This is another pick that I love for the Packers. Daniels is a playmaker on the defensive line, and despite being undersized slightly, he is a long defender who has good athletic ability and instincts. I think he could take some time to develop, but in the fourth round, this is a phenomenal pick by the Packers, making me and a lot of other fans envious of their draft class already. I would have projected Daniels to go around here, but simply based on his production and the team he is going to, I think this is a phenomenal fit.
5. Jerron McMillian, S, Maine
McMillian is a safety prospect with solid bulk and phenomenal athletic ability. He has incredible speed at 4.35 seconds in the 40 yard dash, and he just flies all around the field. This pick by the Packers is indicative of their questions about the secondary and pass defense. Other than Jerel Worthy, who is a solid pass rusher in his own right, every pick has had to do with upgrading the pass defense to this point. Getting McMillian gives them depth in the secondary and on special teams, but the hope has to be that he can eventually take over for the injured Nick Collins, an All-Pro safety.
6. Terrell Manning, LB, North Carolina State
Manning is a playmaker at the linebacker position who declared after his junior season, and while he obviously made a mistake in terms of his overall stock, he was able to get drafted to a Super Bowl caliber team that has a need at the inside linebacker position for depth. He played outside at NC State, and he is a good athlete who can play in space, but he will play inside in the Packers’ 3-4 alignment. He has the capability of also playing and contributing on special teams early on, and like some young Packers’ linebackers before him, he could see early playing time as a youngster.
7. Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State
Really plus size with long arms…quick feet…plays with good leverage most of the time…athletic and does a good job of mirroring in pass protection…does a good job of cut blocking…gets to the second level well…is considered to be a player with a great work ethic…quick off the snap..intelligent player who understands the angles of blocking…
Not the strongest, though he did get bulkier between 2010 and 2011…a finesse player (that’s not a con in some systems)…Injury history battled injuries in 2010 lost his season in 2011 to injuries…pretty good, but not great range
The injuries are going to be the killer for Datko. Datko also isn’t going to be a good fit for every team. He’s a finesse blocker who moves well and blocks well in space. He mirrors the defender well and plays a smart game. Even though he has continued to add weight from when he enrolled at Florida State (as a three star recruit) he still isn’t the strongest player. He doesn’t have violent hand punch and he’s not going to drive the defenders in the run game. That’s not to say he’s not going to be a good N.F.L. player in a pass heavy offense he could be a really good player and if a team can end up drafting him in the 3rd round, provided he can stay healthy, they could end up with a steal.
Big offensive tackle who started 25 straight games to start his collegiate career, and suffered a couple of nagging injuries in 2010, limiting his development. I think he likely could have come out this year and been a late first or early second round pick had he not had the injuries, but that is just the way the game goes sometimes. Big, strong offensive tackle with a work ethic that coaches love. He should have a long, successful NFL career if he can stay healthy.
The Packers’ first pick on the offensive side of the ball is a good one. They get a solid developmental offensive tackle prospect who is a potential first round talent with some injury concerns. This is a solid late round pick and a good risk-reward situation for the Packers.
8. B.J. Coleman, QB, UT-Chattanooga
Coleman is a developmental quarterback prospect who is a formerly highly touted player in college at Tennessee. I think for the Packers, he provides nice depth and he’s a solid addition to the group. He has a strong arm and good overall size, and made some nice plays at the East-West Shrine game. He showed that when he is healthy, he can make some plays and he is a solid athlete for his size. He needs to be more consistent with his accuracy and I think he will learn a lot by playing under Aaron Rodgers.
Notable Offseason Acquisitions
C Jeff Saturday (Colts)
Notable offseason Losses
S Nick Collins (cut)
OT Chad Clifton (cut)
QB Matt Flynn (Seahawks)
CB Patrick Lee (Raiders)
Projected Depth Chart
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman (R)
RB: James Starks, Alex Green, Brandon Saine, John Kuhn (FB)
WR1: Greg Jennings, James Jones, Dale Moss (R)
WR2: Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Randall Cobb
TE: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams
LT: Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod
LG: T.J. Lang, Evan Dietrich-Smith
C: Jeff Saturday
RG: Josh Sitton, Ray Dominguez
RT: Bryan Bulaga, Andrew Datko (R)
DE: Ryan Pickett, Jerel Worthy (R), Mike Daniels (R)
DT: B.J. Raji, Anthony Hargrove
DE: Jarius Wynn, Mike Neal, Lawrence Guy
OLB: Clay Matthews, Brad Jones
ILB: A.J. Hawk, D.J. Smith
ILB: Desmond Bishop, Terrell Manning (R)
OLB: Nick Perry (R), Erik Walden, Frank Zombo
CB: Charles Woodson, Jarrett Bush, Davon House
CB: Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward (R)
SS: Charlie Peprah, Jerron McMillian (R)
FS: Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings
K: Mason Crosby
P: Tim Masthay
LS: Brett Goode