Below is a sample team preview for the upcoming NFL Draft. I have all 32 ready to go except for an analysis of the 2012 schedule (not released yet) and what the team might be looking for beyond round one of the draft (to be added closer to the draft).
This preview is for the popular Green Bay Packers. I will randomly add other team previews as the days go by, HOWEVER, if any reader of this blog wants to see a preview for a specific team, just LET ME KNOW and I will gladly make it available.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. As always, your comments, questions and/or disagreements are welcome!
Additional Note: The ratings for the 2011 draft are explained as follows:
Numerical: The rank of the player for that position. If there are TWO numbers, the first number is the rank for the general position (OL for example) and the 2nd number the rank for the specific position (OT).
* rating: A rating just below those at the position
NR: Not ranked, meaning I do not think that player is draft worthy.
GREEN BAY: 2011 RECORD 15-1 2010 RECORD 10-6 2009 RECORD 11-5 2008 RECORD 6-10
TEAM OVERVIEW: One year after running the table as a lucky to get in 6th seed the Packers experienced the other end of the spectrum by being bounced out of the playoffs right away. QB Rodgers was elite, but parts of the team let them down. We never felt GB would make the big game despite the 15-1 record but clearly acknowledge that this team is going to enter ’12 as perhaps the favorite in the NFL. Knowing full well that the Packers are not big on free agency, the upcoming draft becomes all that much more important.
KEY STATS: GB has forever been the best at keeping opposing offenses under the magic 60% mark. They allowed 61.2% in ’11 and that was the major issue. The overall D, 2nd in ’09 and 5th in ’10 was LAST in ’11. The Packers allowed nearly 4,800 net passing yards, a new NFL record! GB intercepted 31 passes, but allowed 29 TD passes and an NFL high 411.6 yards per game. For years we’ve been on GB to get younger in the back 7. Will they listen now? Of course lots of good stats came form ’11. Rodgers had a 45-6 ratio. The 3rd down offense was elite. This lightly penalized team (+357) scored 36 per game (#1). The WR corps is elite and deep. The turnover ratio, +41 from ’08-’10 was fantastic at +24 last year. Speaking of listening, GB actually drafted a KR (Cobb) who hit 27.7 and 11.3 on PR’s to clearly upgrade an area that was doormat. They also signed Shaky Smithson (ACE pre-draft wish) and he had the same ability but got hurt. The other negative areas included regressing from 47 defensive sacks down to 29, another 4.7 run D, and mediocre return game defense. Spread-wise, GB is now 29-14 as a December host and 7-0 after a bye, but dropped to 16-6 (0-1) after a MNF SU win, although they did win SU by 9 (at -14).
TOP STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS PRIOR TO THE DRAFT: GB has many areas of strength. Individually, Aaron Rodgers is now an elite QB. Collectively, the amazing pass D% was the top area. For now, WR/TE talent is the new #1 strength. Age in the starting secondary has been a concern of ours for 6 years running, with pass protection a close up 2nd area of concern.
A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: NOTE: The 2012 season schedule has not been released.
Below is what we said for the 2011 First Look.
2011: GB was unable to repeat a +24 turnover ratio. We said last year that if the # dropped to +10 GB loses 49 plus points. That’s where it dropped which is why ’10 was not easy. GB has a + point ratio. Coupled with the return of several healthy former starters they could be even better in ’11. As is the tradition, the SB champ gets to open the season. They host the Saints on 9/8. On 9/25 GB faces the Bears, out for title game revenge. On 10/9, GB travels to Atlanta (SNF), also hoping for playoff revenge. The schedule has an excellent pace to it, with the Packers never facing even two tough or emotional games in a row! You can’t ask for more than that. GB is the 1st team in NFL history to play on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years day! The Packers closed ’10 with a 31 Power #. It has a chance to rise come September.
FREE AGENCY ANALYSIS AND STAFF NOTES: In a stunning development, GB has added 3 free agents, although DE Hargrove and DT Muir are roster fillers more than contributors. Future Hall-of-Fame OC Saturday replaces Scott Wells. As expected, QB Flynn is gone, as is back-up safety Pat Lee.
2011 DRAFT REVIEW: GB did NOT need to draft 10 bodies last year. They traded up for Matthews in ’09 but hate to do that. Maybe things would have been different if they drafted 6, trading up for impact! Only NR LB Smith started in ’11 (3 games). Of course Cobb fit a long time need area. Still, this was a bit of a waste. OF NOTE: We listed NR RB Saine, *WR Gurley, OL Dominguez and return specialist Smithson as their notable undrafted Free agents. All these players made the roster! GB did miss the services of dependable LB Barnett, lost in last year’s free agency.
ROUND/ POSITION OUR
SELECTION PLAYER RATING COMMENTS (NOTE: OL/DL/Secondary may show 2 #’s)
1-32 OT Sherrod 7-6
Played in a college run system and needed his rookie year to develop (5 GP)
2-64 WR Cobb 7
All around player caught 25, averaged 27.7 KR and 11.3 PR
3-96 RB A. Green 15
Has a chance to contribute but must refine his overall game
4-131 CB House *
Saw no action on defense but has enough talent to stick around
5-141 TE DJ Williams 4
Receiver only type is currently caught on a loaded TE roster
6-179 OG Schlauderaff NR Looked lost in practice, then dealt to the NYJ
6-186 LB DJ Smith NR 525 college tackles and 26 as an overachieving rookie
6-197 DE Elmore *
DE that GB tried to convert to OLB but was too slow and became a roster cut
7-218 TE R. Taylor NR Played effectively on special teams as a rookie
7-233 DT Guy *
Rookie season was spent on IR; likely a filler/situational type here at best
2010 DRAFT REVISITED: OT Bulaga could still use some pass protection refinement but he’s a clear starter. DT Neal missed games 1-9 and totaled 3 tackles. He’s been a disappointment, but then again, he was drafted too high (2nd round, ACE * rated). Safety Burnett settled in with 106 tackles and 3 picks. TE Quarless is far too inconsistent and a luxury on this team (3 catches). OG Newhouse adds very nice depth with the ability to be a spot starter. RB Starks played in 13 games, going 578-4.4-1 and adding 29 receptions. He is best used on a rotational basis. DE Wilson had 26 tackles and is a nice fill-in type only.
2012 DRAFT NEEDS: GB needs to improve its pass rush as well as get much younger at CB. We’ve been on them for years about CB so maybe after their awful pass D performance of ’11 they will begin to listen. Safety depth may be an issue if Nick Collins can not come back from serious injury. The run D is never great, so a DE with run stopping ability could be drafted. Offensively, the interior OL should not be ignored and perhaps the right RB could be added to the mix.
RECENT DRAFT HISTORY AND TENDENCIES FOR 2012: From ‘92-‘01 highly regarded GM Ron Wolf had 11 1st round draft choices. Only decent, but not spectacular TE Bubba Franks made a Pro Bowl! Wolf was far better in the trading game (for veterans). The Packers specialized in D or worse grades until ‘06. Grades since then have been average except for that rare ’09 draft where Ted Thompson actually traded UP to get stud LB Matthews. As our readers well know, teams such as GB do not need to stockpile picks and should target impact players in the draft. Unfortunately, GM Thompson does not usually trade up and will trade down in most drafts. We think this draft philosophy is good up to a point, but HATE it for a team just a player or two away from Super status. This Super Bowl was won when Ted traded UP in ’09 to get stud LB Matthews. Ted uses the best player available approach but has hinted this time around that the GB draft may go more for need than usual. Let’s hope so.
DRAFT PICK OVERVIEW: Picks in 1st 3 rounds: 28, 59, 90. Green Bay has a whopping 12 picks in this draft. Is there any way they can use the non-compensatory selections to move UP in the draft. They do not need 12 new faces. The Packers were awarded 4 compensatory selections, picks 132 and 133 in round #4 and picks 241 and 243 in round #7.
ROUND ONE PREVIEW: In most cases it is thought that the Packers will be going after a DE/OLB type, with the consensus being Branch or USC’s Perry. Perry makes more sense to us, but both could be gone by #24. GB has the draft ammunition to move up to take almost anyone on their draft board other than the top 6 guys, but they don’t like to make that kind of move. If they wait and the best DE/OLB fits are gone then the best move is to grab a CB. That might be the way to go anyway.
REST OF THE DRAFT: To be added 72 hours before the draft.