May 19, 2017

Arman Three Pack Analysis: Draft & Offseason Summary

Grade the Packers draft (A-F) and make one surprising prediction about a player or the overall draft pick

Adam: I would give the Packers an A-. Classic Ted Thompson trading out of the first round to acquire the first pick of the second and fourth rounds respectively. This also represented a strategic advantage given that the two picks were the first of day two and three of the draft. Thompson and the Packers have always drafted based on the “best available” philosophy, but in 2017 the stars aligned to acquire a handful of highly regarded talent that also happened to address the Packers most glaring needs. I don’t think fans could have hoped for a better positional breakdown than two defensive backs, one defensive lineman, one linebacker and one running back in just the first four rounds. It was impressive to get a prototype long, rangy cornerback at the top of the second round in Kevin King, which addressed the team’s biggest need, and a hybrid safety/linebacker with Josh Jones later in the round. The Packers, like most teams are in dime or nickel packages 80-90 percent of the time and Josh Jones out of NC State has been getting reps in OTAs with the linebacker groups. All signs point to Dom Capers replicating the personal groupings his 2016 unit was forced to leverage due to injury that featured Morgan Burnett in a free-lance dime linebacker position. In a matchup based league, Josh Jones is the perfect hybrid player who can play the run while having the athleticism to blitz or cover backs and tide ends in the slot in passing situations. I don’t want to overlook the Packs first pick in Kevin King who will be relied upon from the beginning as a physical 6’3’ press corner with fluid hips and 4.4 speed, but I believe Josh Jones will be the biggest impact player for the Packers out of this draft. Both King and Jones address the biggest positions of need and simultaneous fit Capers defense scheme perfectly. For me, Jones has the higher upside from a playmaking standpoint, which is something the defense has fallen short on in recent years. I predict Jones’ physicality and flexibility will earn him significant snaps, increasing the Packers usage of sub packages. My surprising prediction is that Jones is poised for a rookie season with some combination of 10-12 sacks, INTs and forced fumbles.

Shane: I give Ted and Co. a B+. By strategically trading out of the first round, Ted not only scooped up an extra pick that turned into Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel (who I love) but also got his man Kevin King. He is a perennial pro bowl CB in the NFL with gifted speed, athleticism and talent. Exactly what the doctor ordered for a pass defense ranked almost dead-last in the NFL last year. Plus, Ted can’t miss on three CBs in a row, can he?? (see D. Randall and Q. Rollins). Solid pickups in later rounds included a much needed OL prospect, an average-at-best RB (who I am NOT high on) and another big DB. Moral of the story – Ted filled his needs, didn’t overreach for any single pick and bolstered the roster where he needed to. My favorite pick is Biegel and I know it’s unfortunate he broke his foot, which is the result of him playing banged up his senior year. But he’ll be back by training camp and will get snaps both inside and outside throughout the year, helping shore up a shaky LB core from 2016. I think he’s a better overall player than TJ Watt, but again, he played injured most of his senior season minimizing his productivity. I don’t know that he’ll necessarily fill up the stat sheet immediately but I do think he will become a core rotational player who is relied upon much more than anyone would have thought.

Mitch: Moving back and still getting Kevin King was a vintage Ted Thompson move, but once again young, inexperienced DBs will be asked to play a large role in another potential Super Bowl run. I really like the RB out of BYU, Williams. I think he will be able to contribute right away to some extent. Other than these two players, nobody really jumps off the page. Biegel's foot injury now makes his pick seem less fruitful, unless he is able to make a full recovery and get back on the field.

Evaluate the Packers 2017-18 schedule and predict their record, detailing any surprising wins or losses along the way. 

Adam: The first thing that stands out about the 2017-18 schedule is the difficulty of the first seven games in combination with the Packers recent habit of slow starts. Seahawks have an axe to grind from last season, the Falcons Week 2 are opening their brand new stadium coming off their Super Bowl meltdown and then @Dallas, @Minnesota and home to the improved Saints before the bye. Wow! The silver lining is a week 8 bye compared to week 4 last season. McCarthy has been vocal about his preference for a mid to late season bye in previous seasons. The Packer’s won’t have the luxury of a slow start like in years past especially with the need to rely on young talent and early schedule difficulty. In addition, the Pack ends the season with 3 of 4 on the road including the finale against division runner-up Detroit. I believe the cold weather road games along with divisional matchups to end the season sets the Pack up to hit their stride heading into the playoffs.  Prediction: I believe the Packers will go 11-5 and win the NFC North, despite a 3-3 start which isn’t bad considering the early schedule. The highlights will be a 5-1 division record, in addition to key home wins against the Seahawks, Bengals, Saints, Ravens and Bucs.

Shane: The Green Bay Packers better be ready to play immediately out of the gate. An 0-2 start is a real possibility and 0-3 isn’t out of the realm of possibility. But Big Mac will have his boys ready and start that stretch 2-1, only falling to the Falcons in their inaugural game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. I think Green Bay falls to the Cowboys, who exact some playoff revenge and probably drop 1 of the next 3 NFC north games – likely the road game at Minnesota. Steelers and Bucs back-to-back presents a tough little stretch leading into two road games at Cleveland and Carolina , so 2-2 in that stretch would be a win. New Year’s Eve close at Detroit will have playoff implications on the line, which is what the Packers are built for, so I expect a win in that game and another NFC North title at 11-5, besting the Lions who finish 10-4, the Vikings at 8-8 and the Bears at 7-9. It’s a tough schedule early and tough road tests late at Pittsburgh and Carolina that should prime Green Bay for another deep playoff run. The Lions will be on the heels of Green Bay but per usual, that’s as close as they’ll get

Mitch: Once again the NFL has given Green Bay a tumultuous opening few weeks; continuing the heated rift with Seattle will be a fun way to open the season at Lambeau. Opening the new Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Atlanta week two will likely be the toughest test of the season, but will be a good game to gauge early who will have an impact from our draft class. I think Tampa Bay is an interesting home game on December 3. Green Bay has lost three of four meetings with Tampa dating back to '05 including two home losses. I see Green Bay finishing the year 12-4; notably, I see a 6-0 record versus the division with losses coming to ATL, DAL, PIT, CAR (yes, Green Bay will go 8-0 at home for the second time in 4 years).

What is one position the Packers did not address in the offseason that worries you the most? OR one player you wish the Packers would have signed and why?

Adam: Like most die-hard green and gold fans I was caught holding my breath for the blockbuster signing of a defensive cornerstone to solidify our championship contention. Daydreams of Charles Woodson’s free agent signing and even the greatest free agent acquisition in NFL history when the minister of defense took the Lambeau leap of faith. As only Ted can, he underwhelmed by not making free agent headlines. But in Ted we trust as he quietly put together a stable of veteran contributors with more value than an early bird special at Kohl’s. If you take the emotion out of Jared Cook’s incredible last second catch to help beat the Cowboys his injury plagued season and aggressive free agent posture make it easy to prefer the similar production and better availability of Martellus Bennett not to mention the flexibility of Wisconsin native Lance Kendricks. Former Packer DB Davon House, G Jahri Evans and DT Rick Jean Francois highlight a free agent class of tremendous value and production in positional groups lacking depth. Okay, I guess I should answer the question now. The biggest area of concern not aggressively addressed between the draft and free agency would be at running back. With that said, coach McCarthy has expressed confidence in Ty Montgomery’s ability to make the permeant transition and the team also is high on fourth rd. pick Jamaal Williams out of BYU who was a workhorse tailback in college where became BYUs all-time leading rusher. Williams represents another perfect fit for the hard hat, lunch pail culture that McCarthy instills. I can’t think of a better precursor to life in Green Bay than trying to abide by BYU’s honor code…welcome to the promise land Jamaal. It remains to be seen if Williams or one of the other two RBs drafted have what it takes to share time with Ty Montgomery, but it was clear regardless of most fans affinity for the lovably large Lacy the offense was simply better without him.

Shane: I think Ted should have added a veteran RB on a low-cost, low-guarantee one-year deal. He had plenty of options – most notably Adrian Peterson and LaGarrette Blount – both were available and affordable fits in the Packers offense. Once again the running game takes a back seat and provides zero threat to a balanced offense that is needed to get over the hump of playing in another Super Bowl. Look at the Packers playoff run of 2010-11 and see the RBs stat line – impactful yards-per-carry to hold defenses in key situations and pick up short yardage first down conversions. The Packers won’t win or even get to the Super Bowl without a more balanced running game and sorry to say, Ty Montgomery and rookie Jamaal Williams are NOT the answer.

Mitch: I am not sure that we left a position unaddressed so-to-speak, but I can't help but be frustrated with the "stand by" approach we used as it relates to the back field. Williams will be a nice, big addition, but when you look at the contracts Adrian Peterson (base of 3.5 million, likely to earn around 10 million over 2 years), LaGaratte Blount (1 year, 2.5 million), and Jamaal Charles (1 yr, 3.75 million) got, it is frustrating to consider. I wasn't as disappointed with staying put defensively and saving money, but I thought we had a real opportunity to create a Super offense if we would have added a veteran, ground-and-pound running back.