Tag:Packers
Posted on: July 26, 2011 12:49 pm
 

Ten impactful UDFA signings thus far

Over the past 16 hours or so I've watched as veteran NFL reporters all over the country have taken to undrafted free agency with a feeding frenzy to try to capture the excitement that the scouts and fans all feel now that football is back.

As such, we're seeing undrafted free agents from Goofball State that have very limited chance at actually making an NFL roster being celebrated as if they were a team's first round pick. The reality is that many of the players being signed and celebrated today won't last long.

There are plenty of exceptions, however. These are the ten impactful free agent signings as I see them this morning.

NGs Ian Williams/Sealver Siliga -- 49ers: With incumbent starter Aubrayo Franklin likely to leave via free agency, the 49ers had a hole up front. Williams and Siliga were the two best interior run stuffers available in my opinion. In adding both of them, San Francisco helped themselves at this position as much as could be expected at this early point in the process.

WR Dane Sanzenbacher -- Bears: Sanzenbacher wasn't my highest rated WR available in undrafted free agency (Terrance Toliver was -- he reportedly signed with Houston), but he is a perfect fit for a Mike Martz offense due to his sharp route-running, toughness and reliable hands. Sanzenbacher can make this team and he'll do so by becoming one of Jay Cutler's favorite targets.

QB Adam Weber -- Broncos: Signing Weber almost surely means that the Broncos are going to attempt to move veteran Kyle Orton. I know that Weber was being looked at by a number of teams. He doesn't possess the ideal measureables as he's shorter and owns less of an arm than some talents available, but he's a gutty gunslinger who I could see sticking.

DE Brandon Bair -- Chiefs: I've been quite critical of several of the Chiefs' decisions with their 2011 draft class, but I love the signing of Bair as a developmental defensive end for their 3-4 scheme. Physically and mentally tough, he'll fit right in with this club.

TE Mike McNeill -- Colts: Colts fans saw how relatively easy it was for Indianapolis to continue to feature their athletic tight ends even after losing Dallas Clark to injury because Jacob Tamme is a receiver hybrid with good hands and athleticism. McNeill is cut from the same cloth.

RB Graig Cooper -- Eagles: It isn't that I think Cooper is going to wrestle away significant playing time from LeSean McCoy any time soon, but Cooper (when healthy) has shown starting caliber traits. Cooper is one of several nice signings by Philadelphia.

WRs Kerry Taylor/Tori Gurley -- Packers: The Packers are likely to get some competition for the rights to James Jones and love to push their incumbent receivers with young talent. Taylor and Gurley are each talented players who struggled with injury and inconsistency throuhgout their respective careers but could surprise.

LB Jeff Tarpinian -- Patriots: I spoke to several teams in the days preceding the draft that thought Tarpinian could go as high as the fifth round due to the relative lack of talent at linebacker in this class. Injuries pushed him to free agency. The Patriots could get rewarded for this gamble.

DE Pierre Allen -- Seahawks: Allen was viewed as a 4th-5th round pick by NFLDraftScout.com for much of the pre-draft process, but a nagging hamstring injury kept him from running prior to the draft. As such, he slipped into free agency. Seattle has a myriad of needs, but few loom larger than along the defensive line. Allen could be the crown jewel of what appears to be one of the better free agent classes in the league. 

RB John Clay -- Steelers: A perfect schematic fit, the bruising Clay would give the Steelers the interior power runner that they've often featured in Pittsburgh. If he's motivated (and he certainly should be), Clay could add a degree of size and physicality to this running game.

Posted on: April 13, 2011 9:57 am
 

Green Bay Packers draft preview

 

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS

   2010 record:  10-6, second place in NFC North

2011 draft rundown

   Nine total picks -- 32nd overall, 40, 98, 130, 131, 154, 192, 199, 230

Top needs

   Defensive end: The Packers could enter next season without their bookend starters from 2009. Prospective free agent Cullen Jenkins, 30, wants out after not receiving a contract extension - the right-side veteran had a career-high seven sacks despite missing part of last season with a calf injury. Johnny Jolly, who missed the entire Super Bowl-winning season because of a league suspension, is in a Houston jail and may be headed to prison after being arrested March 25 on another drug charge.

   Offensive tackle: This could be the position general manager Ted Thompson targets in the first round for the second straight year. Iowa's Bryan Bulaga, who was pegged as the eventual successor to left tackle Chad Clifton, wound up replacing an injured Mark Tauscher at right tackle. Having two starting tackles of the future, if not the present, in hand is a must.

   Wide receiver: Donald Driver vows to play until he's 40, but the team's fringe No. 2 wideout is descending at age 36 after producing his worst numbers in nine years - 51 catches for 565 yards and four touchdowns. James Jones, if he can rectify his penchant for key drops, would be a worthy successor to pair with Greg Jennings, but Jones may leave as a potential free agent.

   Running back: Ryan Grant and James Starks give Green Bay potentially a dynamic 1-2 punch in the backfield. However, there's no telling what kind of player Grant will be after he missed all but one game last season because of an ankle injury and whether Starks is the real deal following his breakout performance in the playoffs as a rookie. Plus, free agent-to-be Brandon Jackson could bolt.

First-round focus

   32nd overall

   --Trader Ted Thompson has a deft touch on draft day, eagerly trading back when presented the chance based on the confidence he has in the Packers' strong history turning scouting man hours into a draft bounty. It's highly likely Thompson's phone will ring here, and he'll weigh whether to slide back a few picks -- in return for a third-round pick or high fourth-rounder -- depending on who's available with the final Thursday night pick, No. 32 overall. The Packers have only picked 32nd once since 1967, drafting CB Craig Newsome (Arizona State) in 1995. We like the odds of the Packers adding an offensive tackle at some point in the draft, and Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod could be there for the taking. He's similar to Bryan Bulaga, drafted 23rd overall by the Packers last April, in that he's pro-ready and capable of playing the left or right side. Chad Clifton had one of his best seasons in an 11-year career in 2010, but he's celebrating his 35th birthday in two months. Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi was a four-year starter who also makes sense and the Packers were well-represented at his March pro day. 

   Defensive line help, what with Cullen Jenkins scheduled for free agency, Justin Harrell a shuffle-step shy from bust status and Johnny Jolly, currently suspended as a result of year-old drug charges, was arrested again for possession of codeine and out of the picture. Ohio State five-technique end Cameron Heyward and Temple DT Muhammad Wilkerson are good fits. The Packers also find themselves in a good spot to pluck pass-rush help or a wide receiver. 

Five names on the Packers' board:

   --OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA

   --DL Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple

   --DL Phil Taylor, Baylor

   --OLB Justin Houston, Georgia

   --DE/OLB Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh 

--Jeff Reynolds, NFLDraftScout.com Senior Editor

Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Packers
 
Posted on: March 24, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Don't sleep on First Rd DTs after Dareus, Fairley

Many in the media have lauded this year's defensive end class as one of the best in recent years.

While that may be true, I'd argue that the defensive tackle group is not only more talented at the top, it is deeper as well.

Like last year, when attention on the defensive tackles centered around the top two players Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, this crop of run-stuffers is largely described elsewhere as Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley and a bunch of other guys.

Those other guys may not wind up as top ten picks like Dareus and Fairley, but draft fans may wind up surprised by how high the next three defensive tackles could go.

I've spoken to representatives of teams operating out of the 4-3 and 3-4 that see the next three defensive tackles -- Illinois' Corey Liuget , Baylor's Phil Taylo r and Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson -- as all potential Top 20 picks.

To put that in perspective, the last time there were five defensive tackles drafted within the Top 20 was ten years. Teams can only hope this year's crop winds up as good as 2001, when Richard Seymour (No. 6, Marcus Stroud (No. 13) and Casey Hampton (No. 19) began their standout careers. Unfortunately, the first defensive tackle in 2001 -- Gerard Warren -- was the most disappointing of the group, especially considering his high draft selection. Damione Lewis (No. 12) never panned out for the Rams, either.

I've written before about the raving reviews I've heard of Liuget . As a classic penetrating three-technique defensive tackle, he could hear his name called as early as No. 14 to the St. Louis Rams. I'd be surprised to see him get past the trio of Philadelphia, New Orleans and Seattle with picks No. 23-25.

Unlike Liuget, who could play in the 3-4, but projects best inside in a four-man front, Taylor is more scheme versatile. He's the unquestioned top nose guard prospect in this draft at 6-4, 337 pounds, but has the rare athleticism at that size to also split gaps and remain at defensive tackle. Most teams operating out of the 3-4 alignment will tell you that the toughest part of fielding a 3-4 defense is finding a nose guard. That fact could boost Taylor's stock much higher than most believe. The Washington Redskins at No. 10 and Houston Texans at No. 11 could be intrigued by Taylor's ability to immediately improve their interior run defense. I'd be surprised to see Taylor fall out of the first round with the Jets at No. 30 in need of reinforcements behind oft-injured NG Kris Jenkins.

Like Taylor, Wilkerson is scheme-versatile. He's also position-versatile, having starred at defensive tackle at Temple and having the long frame (6-5, 305) and strength (27 reps) to handle the conversion outside as a five-technique defensive end. Wilkerson had the widest wingspan (85 1/4") of all the defensive tackles measured at the Combine and second among all defensive linemen (Oklahoma State DE Ugo Chinasa measured 86 1/8").

That position and scheme versatility, coupled with his impressive production at Temple (70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks) could see Wilkerson drafted as high as the Patriots' No. 17 overall pick. The fact that Wilkerson's production came against questionable competition in the MAC could be enough to push him into the mid or late 20s, but I'd be surprised if the Steelers or Packers with the final two picks of the first round, respectively, didn't pounce on his upside should he fall into their laps, respectively.


Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:31 am
Edited on: December 28, 2010 11:36 am
 

My All-Rookie Team

As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, I was recently asked to fill out my ballot for the All-Rookie Team.

While I reserve the right to change players over the final week of the season (and welcome your review) , this is how I have things now.

Offensive Rookie of the Year : Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year : Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit
Overall Rookie of the Year : Suh

Offense
 
Quarterback: Sam Bradford, Rams: If he can go on the road and beat Seattle to win the NFC West, Bradford may overtake Williams as my Offensive ROY, but I'm not giving it to him just because he's a QB, went No. 1 and played well early. Bradford has faded late this year.

Running back: LaGarrette Blount, Bucs: Free agent leads all NFL rookies with 941 rushing yards while splitting duty.

Running back: Chris Ivory, Saints:
Can't overstate how vital of a role the free agent played with injuries to Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas.

Wide receiver: Mike Williams, Bucs:
Has been dynamic all year long. Leads rookie WRs in grabs (61), yards (924) and TDs (10).

Wide receiver: Dez Bryant, Cowboys:
Only started twice and injury sidelined him early but Dez was dazzling.

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: Second to Williams in receiving TDs as a rookie with nine; which leads the Patriots.

Center: Mike Pouncey, Steelers: Deserves some Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration. A standout here since Day One.

Offensive guard: Mike Iupati, 49ers: A bit inconsistent, but has improved throughout the year and been one of SF's few bright spots.

Offensive guard: Ted Larsen, Bucs: Cut by Pats, signed by Bucs and has started the past 10 consecutive at LG for contending Bucs, giving him the edge over Zane Beadles in Denver.

Offensive tackle: Rodger Saffold, Rams: Overshadowed by Bradford, but has been quietly spectacular at LT this season.

Offensive tackle: Bryan Bulaga, Packers: Has been beaten at times, but versatility is key. Backup at LT, OG early. Has started last 10 at RT.


Defense

Defensive lineman: Carlos Dunlap, Bengals: Situational pass rusher (zero starts) for Bengals, but quietly is 2nd amongst rookies with 8 sacks. 

Defensive lineman: Ndamukong Suh, Lions: Leads all NFL defensive tackles -- not just rookies -- in tackles (60) and sacks (nine).

Defensive lineman: Tyson Alualu, Jaguars: A surprise at No. 10? Yes. A reach? No, considering he's 3rd amongst rookie DTs in tackles, 2nd in sacks.

Defensive lineman: Lamarr Houston, Raiders:
Similar #s, greater consistency, less help around him than Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul.

Linebacker: Pat Angerer, Colts: Quietly leads all rookie linebackers in tackles this season (80).

Linebacker: Daryl Washington, Cardinals: Doesn't have Ro McClain's big name or even quite his stats, but has been more impressive this year.

Linebacker: Koa Misi, Dolphins: Overshadowed by Cameron Wake, but versatility standing out (36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD)

Cornerback: Devin McCourty, Patriots: In a typical year, he'd likely win the Defensive ROY. 81 tackles, 21 PBUs, 6 INTs, 2 FF for AFC's No. 1 seed.

Cornerback: Joe Haden, Browns: Similar numbers as McCourty - 58 tackles, 23 PBUs, 6 INTs, 1 FF.

Safety: Eric Berry, Chiefs: Gets nod over Earl Thomas as he's played better late for contending team. 84 tackles, 13 PBUs, 4 INTs, 1 FF, 1 TD.

Safety: TJ Ward, Browns:
Leads all rookies in tackles (116) and is second only to Suh in intimidation. Big hitter over the middle. 


Specialists

Placekicker: Clint Stitser, Bengals: 7 for 7 in FGs (though he's missed two PATs) since signing as UFA. Weak year for rookie kickers.

Punter: Zolton Mesko, Patriots: Unheralded component of Pats' success. Averaging 43 yards per and has zero blocked, returned for TDs against him.

Kickoff returner: Jacoby Ford, Raiders: Tied with Leon Washington for most kickoff return TDs this season (3).

Punt returner: Marc Mariani, Titans:
Better avg. on KOR than Ford; also dynamic as a punt returner. Has returned TDs both ways.


You can always expect the best coverage of the draft at NFLDraftScout.com.

Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:25 am
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Posted on: September 8, 2010 9:06 pm
 

'Tis the season, so here are my NFL predictions

My CBS collegeagues Clark Judge and Pete Prisco made their NFL predictions here and here .

I thought I'd chime in with my thoughts, as well.

AFC East: Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Bills
AFC North: Ravens, Bengals*, Steelers, Browns
AFC South: Colts, Texans*, Titans, Jaguars
AFC West: Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos

NFC East: Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Redskins
NFC North: Packers, Vikings*, Lions, Bears
NFC South: Saints, Falcons,* Panthers, Buccaneers
NFC West: 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks, Rams

*Wildcard teams

Super Bowl pick: Packers over Ravens

MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers. Most talented combination of QB, skill position and OL. He's a strong, strong favorite in my mind.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings. Favre struggles this time, so Viks are forced to rely on AP (who gets over the fumblitis). 
Defensive Player of the Year: ILB Patrick Willis, 49ers: When Willis leads the league in tackles this time (he did in 2010), fans will notice as the 49ers will run away with the NFC West (and potentially a bye).
Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers. Mathews has talent and Norv Turner is going to give him every opportunity to be a star.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Brandon Graham, Eagles. Perfect fit for this defense. Watch out for Oakland MLB Ro McClain too. Another perfect fit.
Comeback/Breakout Player of the Year: WR Mike Williams, Seahawks. Remember this guy? Pete Carroll does. I've seen it myself . Williams is back.
Stepback Player of the Year: RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants. I considered Favre, but he's too easy of a target with Sidney Rice's injury. Jacobs looked washed up last year and in the preseason. With the Giants giving Ahmad Bradshaw the nod, Jacobs could disappear in 2010.
Team on the Rise: Dolphins. Solid running game, Henne has the arm to keep Brandon Marshall focused, and DC Mike Nolan is among the best in the biz.
Team on the Decline: Bears. Spent their free agent millions on positions of relative strength, rather than their gaping weakness (OL).
Best Free Agent Pickup: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lions. Love this player for this team. Steady vet helps Suh make this D formidable.
Worst Free Agent Pickup: WR Antonio Bryant, Bengals. Considering he's already off the team, how can there be a worse move?
Posted on: March 18, 2010 6:21 pm
 

McCloughan's leave of absence won't break 49ers

In this McDonaldized world of media in which readers demand the who, what, when, where and why a moment after news breaks, speculation has become rampant as to what impact might be felt on the 49ers plans for the 2010 draft after the news general manager Scot McCloughan is taking a personal leave of absence.

The timing, of course, is odd. The draft is little more than a month away and the 49ers own the 13th and 17th overall picks. For a team with young stars in Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Patrick Willis, and Michael Crabtree, they appear capable of taking the next step and winning the NFL West Division. After all, the Cardinals are clearly weaker considering the loss of Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle. The 49ers are coming off of their most competitive season in years, winning five of their six divisional games (including going 2-0 against Arizona) and finished just outside of the playoffs at 8-8.

McCloughan has a very good eye for talent. His ability to read the board and project which players will rise or slide is acknowledged by other teams throughout the league. He'll be missed in the San Francisco draft room, should it come down to that.

However, he's also surrounded himself with a quality staff. Director of Player Personnel Trent Baalke and director of Player Pro Personnel Tom Gamble are widely respected. Baalke was reportedly an early candidate for the Seattle general manager position.

Scot McCloughan's brother, Dave, is the 49ers' Director of College Scouting. He didn't earn this position with his last name. He was a standout safety drafted out of Colorado who spent time with the Seahawks, Packers and Colts before joining his father, Kent McCloughan, as a scout with the Raiders. 

While the perception is that draft boards are fluctuating every day with the improved workouts players are putting forth in Pro Days across the country, in reality, much of the hard work in preparing for the 2010 draft has already been done.

Whether he's the one actually making the pick or not, the 49ers 2010 draft will have Scot McCloughan's fingerprints on it.

Considering that the 49ers appear poised to take control of the NFC West -- largely based on players McCloughan drafted -- that's a good thing.
Posted on: March 30, 2009 2:35 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2009 2:36 pm
 

OT Joel Bell, CB Brian McCain Flying up boards

Each year there are relative unknown players whose eye-popping workouts in February and March force scouts back into the film room. Many times scouts are quick to acknowledge the impressive athleticism of prospects to local media covering the event, but once they review the players on film, realize that the speed, agility and strength shown on the track or weight room doesn't translate onto the field. 

And then, sometimes, there are players whose workouts go well and scouts return to the film room to discover that perhaps they had simply overlooked or undervalued the prospects. Two such players moving up the charts this year are Furman offensive tackle Joel Bell and Utah cornerback Brian McCain.

Bell, a three-time all-conference selection at left tackle, was invited to the Combine and put forth one of the more impressive all-around workouts, earning top-ten marks in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical, broad, 3-cone, and 20-yard shuttle at a shade under 6-7, 315 pounds. His workout was good enough that he didn't need to workout at Furman's Pro Day, though an eye-popping 25 teams still showed up to see him go through positional drills. 

Indianapolis Colts' scout Bob Guarini put Bell through a 20 minute workout while the other team scouts' watched. Besides the Colts, the teams represented were the Eagles, Titans, Saints, Jaguars, Browns, Steelers, Seahawks, Dolphins, Texans, Patriots, Lions, Chiefs, Falcons, Cowboys, Bears, 49ers, Rams, Raiders, Vikings, Bills, Giants, Panthers, Chargers, and the Packers.

Like Bell, Utah's McCain is hardly just a workout wonder, though the workout he put forth at the Ute's Pro Day could technically classify him as one. McCain was clocked in the low 4.3s and the buzz around scouting circles is that he's been timed even faster before. McCain's 20-yard shuttle (3.99) and 3-cone (6.74) drill times would have ranked among the best among the cornerbacks tested in Indianapolis. McCain, however, was not invited to the Combine, despite earning All-Mountain West accolades each of the past three seasons. While fellow defensive Sean Smith has the size scouts covet, McCain is the more athletic of the duo and has the rare speed and agility for man to man coverage. Among the estimated two dozen teams represented at McCain's workout were the Panthers, Lions, Dolphins and Seahawks. Considering the lack of speed shown by this year's cornerback class, some believe McCain could continue to rise as the draft approaches -- perhaps all the way to the 5th round.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com