Monday, April 26, 2010

Texas Stadium Imploding

Cool video, submitted by a TriggPack reader, from inside Texas Stadium as it was reduced to a pile of rubble.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

With a Name Like Bulaga He's Gotta Be Good (or at least big)

The 2010 draft is under way, and the first round went down about as expected.  And, as Packer fans, I think we should be happy with the pick.  Certainly O-line, particularly left tackle, was a need, and it seems like we got a top prospect without having to trade up.  As expected, Trent Williams and Russell Okung were off the board early (by the 6th round, in fact), and Anthony Davis went in the 11th.  But no more OTs were selected until the Packers scooped up Bryan Bulaga from Iowa with the 23rd overall pick.

I have to admit, despite my Big 10 loyalty, that I'm a little skeptical of players coming out of that conference.  A.J. Hawk comes to mind as an example of a guy who looked dominant against the lower talent bar of the Big 10, but has only been decent as a pro.  Generally prefer SEC kids.  But Bulaga was widely regarded as a top 15 pick, is named after a whale, and looks like an East German body builder.  So I guess that's all promising.

As Thompson said, "We were a little surprised when Bryan was still available, and we felt like it was a very good value pick for us."  I just hope his neck width is attributable to his workout regimen, not a thyroid the size of an airbag (he had thyroiditis).  With Ndamukong Suh going to the Lions, the importance of getting help at O-line was even more critical.  So I'm glad we got a guy at that position without having to over reach.  (By the way, the Lions also scooped up Jahvid Best, who was still on the board when the Packers picked and I was secretly kind of hoping for just so we could have 2 Cal Bears in the backfield.)

So on to round 2 (in which the Packers have the #24 pick, #56 overall) and round 3 (with pick #22, #86 overall).  The priority now shifts, in my opinion, to defensive backs.  Unfortunately, the pickings are slim.  Eric Berry and Earl Thomas both went early as expected.  Taylor Mays, safety from USC is still available, but I don't know if he's any good.  There was a bit of a run on cornerbacks in the first round, with 5 of them (Joe Haden, Kareem Jackson, Devin McCourty, Kyle Wilson, and Patrick Robinson) selected.  Since that was basically all the CBs I'd ever heard of, I'm not sure whether there's anyone left at that position worthy of a look.

I still look at running back as a possibility, with only Spiller, Matnews and Best picked up so far.  But I think Thompson's most likely next move is an OLB.  With Kampman gone (and not particularly effective while he was there), it's certainly a need.  The JS Online broke down some of the top players at this position who could fit into the Packers' 3-4 scheme -- many of them are still on the board.  So that's my prediction on the next pick.

Draft Day!!!

Hard to believe the NFL draft is already upon us.  I have been saving clips and links to breakdown the Packers draft strategy for months, but the clock has simply run out on my doing anything comprehensive.  So, instead, all I can offer is my quick and simple analysis: O-line and D-backfield.  That simple.

Most of the mock drafts and expert analysts I've read assume that the Packers will try to shore up their league-worst-sacks-allowed offensive line with their first round pick.  The trouble is, will they be able to get someone good at the #23 spot?  The glamor pick is a left tackle, and the best guys in the draft at that position are:
  1. Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
  2. Trent Williams, Oklahoma
  3. Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
  4. Anthony Davis, Rutgers
  5. Charles Brown, USC
Most of the experts think the top 4 are a cut above and will be off the board by the Packers pick.  Leaving us facing the unfortunately named Charlie Brown, the most mocked wannabe cartoon football player of all time.  There's speculation in the blogosphere that Thompson might try to move up in the first round to get more of a franchise guy.  But my guess is that he won't do that -- instead taking a more versatile offensive lineman (a la T.J. Lang) to back up the older guys like Clifton and Tauscher.  Not sure that's worth a first round pick though, so I could see them going a different direction.

Which brings us to the Packers second big need: defensive backfield.  I almost think this is a more acute need than O-line, just because of how exposed they were went they went into nickel/dime last year and the situation with Harris (although I'd probably be looking for safeties first).  Of course, I'd love to see them get a top tier guy like Eric Berry from Tennessee or Earl Thomas from Texas.  Lots of versatility.  If they're there, take 'em.  But hard to imagine them dropping that far.  A name that's been thrown around is USC's Taylor Mays.  I don't know much about any of these guys, but again I think Thompson will go for versatility.  He doesn't necessarily need a first-year starter here -- just someone who won't suck in nickel/dime coverage, and who has the possibility of developing into a starter in a couple years as the veteran guys age out.  If he can compete for Bigby's job, great, but that's not a prerequisite at this position.

They could also go for a cornerback with the first round pick -- some names floated include Rutgers’ Devin McCourty, Florida State’s Patrick Robinson, Alabama’s Kareem Jackson, and Boise State's Kyle Wilson.  With Woodson at age 33 and Harris at 35 (and coming off a knee injury), picking a corner -- and giving him a season or two to develop under these veterans -- could certainly make sense.  I don't know that it matters that much if the guy is a safety or a corner, though, given the need.  I hope they get one of each.

The other position I hear talked about is an outside linebacker.  But I'd be a little disappointed to see Thompson go that direction in the first round.  With Clay Mathews in there and a decent LB corps overall, I see this position as less urgent for the Packers.  Some of the possibilities at this position include Texas’ Sergio Kindle, TCU’s Jerry Hughes and Michigan’s Brandon Graham.  But it seems like there's decent depth at the OLB slot in this year's draft, so if the Packers pick one, I'd rather see them do it in a later round.

Finally, the "sleeper" pick in my opinion could be a running back.  Ryan Grant has been serviceable (and I think in many ways greatly under-appreciated), but the trend in the league is to get a young, versatile back and cut guys who have more than about 5 years on their tires.  I also think, given the needs of the teams ahead of them, there could be some quality RBs on the board that you'd take under a "best player available" philosophy.  One mock draft I looked at had only two RBs going before the Packer's pick at #23 (C.J. Spiller from Clemson at 14th overall, and Ryan Mathews from Fresno State at 20th overall).  If that's true, that leaves some potential stud RBs, including Jonathan Dwyer from Georgia Tech, Jahvid Best from Cal (go Cal!), Charles Scott from LSU and others.  If I were Thompson, I'd give serious thought to any of those guys.

So those are my thoughts.  Last year's draft class was fantastic.  Hope we do as well this year.  This is Thompson's forte, so I look forward to seeing what he does.