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Saturday, May 01, 2004
2004 Green Bay Packers Draft & Review
The Green Bay Packers went into the draft with some needs. I know Mike Sherman said he was looking for DL help and depth for the secondary. Just what happened, and what could have happened, and why all the trades are questions that I believe mark the tone for their draft.
Before the draft, Mike Sherman said he was unsure if they would select a QB in this draft and I believe many thought yeah sure. Most experts in this funny business had Green Bay for sure taking J P Losman or if they passed on Losman, they surely would not pass on talented leader Matt Schaub.
Another issue that was certainly on the mind of Sherman for this draft was the Mike McKenzie issue. Trade him or let him walk away. Make draft selections based on McKenzie not being with the team.
So what happened? I have a few sources that informed me that the Packers had 3 players they were seriously interested in and had them slotted for each round. Ahmad Batman Carroll CB (Arkansas) was their round 1 choice and they were very pleased to see him there when they selected. Were there trade talks going on at 24 / 25 pick time of the draft involving the Packers? I am sure there were especially with Steven Jackson RB on the board. The fact that other deals were made by teams who were slated to pick in round 2 who moved up into the lower portion of round 1 just fortifies my belief that Green Bay could have traded down. I have to believe that there were constant talks going on. I believe that it would have taken a huge package for Sherman to move out of this selection. He likes the Batman.
Okay, Green Bay did well in staying put. They got their corner and can now move on. I believe, from what I have pieced together, the Packers were set to draft a player at a position where they are in pretty good condition. Sort of the situation where you have a player so good that you cannot pass on him. I believe the Packers were very excited over the chance to get a player they had on their first round board. Dontarrious Thomas LB (Auburn) I believe Mike Sherman had his sights on and was disappointed he went off the board. No problem, they turned their attention to another player only to see that player be taken off as well. At this point, I believe the Packers decided to move down and out of round 2.
By moving down they faced the fact they were not going to fill a need at DE with a top 60 player. But there were a few corners and DT’s still on the board and the Packers had acknowledged before the draft that they felt there were some good CB’s and DT’s to be found on day 1. They were right.
They traded pick 55 and received pick 70 thus giving up 15 vital spots. Would it work out or would it go towards Sherman being hung in effigy. As each pick went by I saw a few nice players go off the board and I started to think Sherman might have dropped down too far. But, I was told that they actually selected 2 players they had ranked as 2nd round talent level. I know I did, as I had both Joey Thomas and Donnell Washington as round 2.
It was at this point that I was upset over the selection of Washington because I wanted a different player. The Green Bay Packers wanted Washington. Who knows who is right? The point is the Packers selected Washington and I now become a fan of Washington.
I have to believe that Mike Sherman was very happy that Randy Starks was selected and he moved quickly to get the big man on the board. He had taken 2 corners when it was seen by most that only 1 was needed. He had to get some DL help. He did.
So round 3 was a wrap and I got off the chat room to get my day 1 report ready and suddenly the bell went off. Green Bay had made a trade and moved into round 3 at pick 87. Wow! I believe most of us thought for sure we had just traded up for Matt Schaub. I know I was almost 98% certain. Since word had spread that the deal for Couch had turned south again. Giving up our 4th rounder and a 5th it had to be for the QB. I was really getting ready to change my report to a B+ grade.
There were 2 other players that I thought might be of interest. I knew they had wanted D. Thomas LB real bad in round 2 and sitting there was Keyaron Fox, a quality lb in his own. There was also Darion Scott DE. Scott was considered a late 2nd rounder by many internet draft sites and was showing up in many national mocks as a pick for Green Bay in round 3. So, I was certain it was either Matt Schaub QB, Keyaron Fox LB, or Darion Scott DE. I was about ready to give the Green Bay Packers a great grade of B+ for the work they had done.
When the announcement that they had selected B J Sanders P I will admit that I was disappointed. I was hyped for Schaub or Scott and not for a punter. I knew they had interest in a couple of punters but thought for sure it would be round 4 for Sanders or round 6 for Donnie Jones.
For the record I would have selected Keith Smith CB and Darion Scott DE instead of Joey Thomas and Donnell Washington. And, instead of B J Sanders, I would have selected Matt Schaub QB. Time will tell. Keith Smith might not be as talented as Thomas but he is more consistent and ready.
Okay I was disappointed somewhat but not enough to go after Mike Sherman. With time to read more about these players and to listen to reports on them I am convinced we got good value. Maybe not great value, but we got value. Thus my day 1 grade of a B for getting perceived value. Getting 2 2nd round level players in round 3 is working your board well.
There are 3 questions that press upon me from this draft.
1) The fact that we passed on DE in round (3) three times and again in round 6 is this an indication that Sherman is working on another plan for a DE. Does he have a veteran in mind or will he move a player over from his roster (Kenny Peterson). Or will he acquire a DE from a trade?
2) It is a fact that they passed on QB Matt Schaub, a QB they did like. Does this mean Tim Couch will be acquired very soon? I read it somewhere that the Packers had Couch ranked just ahead of Losman and Schuab.
3) The fact that we selected 2 corners very early indicates that we are trading or have traded Mike McKenzie? Right before the draft started there were rumors on the radio that Green Bay and another team had worked out an agreement whereby a team will select a player in the draft that the Packers like. Contingent upon that team to work out a contract with McKenzie, the trade would be announced at a later date. Of course if the team cannot work out a deal they keep the player they selected. Of course finding a team that could do that and could use the same player that Green Bay liked is hard but not impossible
Who can say that this might not have been done? Some teams in round 2 and early 3 made some weird selections for their needs and some of them fit the profile of what the Packers were looking for. This could be interesting.
An observation from this draft that I would like to propose is the Green Bay under the direction of Mike Sherman is focused on speed and more speed in his 3 drafts. In 2002 we drafted Javon Walker for his explosiveness. In 2003 Nick Barnett was added because he had that suddenness to his game and was very quick for a LB. In this draft we see Ahamd Carroll added over the higher regarded Chris Gamble. Batman Carroll brings extreme speed and super quickness. Even his second selection, Joey Thomas, brings speed as well as good height to the corner slot.
A final observation: every player selected by the Green Bay Packers have speed but they also have a suddenness to their game. That is something that very few players have and Green Bay was fortunate to find 5 players that displays suddenness to their game. This is important to note. You cannot coach that suddenness and quickness. You can only improve on what a player has. This was more a key to what they did, than the production numbers or the athleticism of players they by-passed.
Round 1 Pick 25: CB Ahamd Batman Carroll 5-10 194 Arkansas : Very good athlete with tremendous quickness, speed, body control and change-of-direction agility - Can plant and redirect in a hurry, displaying that instant burst needed to suddenly close on the ball- has outstanding back pedal speed and superb closing speed. Generally makes very good reads and makes plays on the ball in the short area due to his ability to read the receiver's moves. Where I see Batman this year: he has superior speed over any of our primary corners on the team and he will be used. As Mike Sherman said he will find time for his #1 choice. I believe Carroll’s speed is a defining edge and his suddenness cannot be duplicated with McKenzie or Harris. Almost immediately plays the nickel because of his ability to read receivers and his wonderful quickness. This is a solid selection and while Gamble might have had more upside Carroll is one fine player. Worthy of selection as I had him as a 30 to 36 area so taking him at 25 did not constitute a reach. SUPER GRADE OF A-
Round 3 Pick 70: CB Joey Thomas 6-0.4 196 Montana State: Started 39 of 42 games at MSU, recording 122 tackles (84 solos) with two sacks for minus-12 yards, seven stops for losses of 23 yards, 11 interceptions for 45 yards in returns, 41 pass deflections, a blocked kick, nine kickoff returns for 154 yards (17.1 avg) and a 9-yard gain on a rushing attempt. Joey is a lock down receiver as he has the amazing ability to shut down the opponent’s best receiver using his outstanding speed and quickness. He stays close to receivers, especially vs. double moves, locking on to his assignment and refusing to allow any cushion. Very smooth transition with very good hip rotation. Has that suddenness that many top corners do not have which allows him to close quickly or recover when beaten early? A physical tackler who is good helping out on the run. I believe Joey Thomas will make an excellent edge corner and will excel in McKenzie’s slot. He needs a lot of work of refinement of his skills and will need a little time to learn better technique but this is a player who was worthy to be selected with pick 55 so the Packers gambled that he would be there at 70 and worked their draft well. SUPER GRADE OF B+
Round 3 Pick 72: DT Donnell Washington 6-5 327 Clemson: Started 26 of 38 games during his career, registering 155 tackles (96 solos) with nine sacks for minus-52 yards, 23 stops for losses of 86 yards, 52 quarterback pressures and two pass deflections while participating in 1,653 plays. A dominating run stuffer with enough quickness and power to get inside and cause problems for the QB. Can break down and stuff the running backs when working in space. Good wrap-up tackler who is very effective collapsing the pocket as he utilizes his speed to immediately penetrate the gaps. More effective working in the 3-technique, as he can sink his hips, keep his pad level low and provide a heavy anchor coming over the guard's head … Easily defeats blockers across their face, using powerful rip and swim moves to escape. How I see Donnell in a Packer uniform. He will push Cletidus Hunt for his spot soon. A very good 3 technique DT with pass rush moves and enough lateral slide to make plays on the edge. Good use of hands and long arms will give him much more of an advantage. This guy could become a monster or he could slide into mediocrity. He needs to learn to not give up on plays and work until the whistle blows. Especially if his initial move does not work. Many of the scouts and draft publications had him as a solid round 2 player, which I did as well. The fact that Mike Sherman made a move to grab him should be noted. This was a player that was not going to last much longer. GRADE OF B
Round 3 Pick 87: Punter B J Sanders Ohio State: Okay at first glance the response is what in the heck is Sherman doing? A punter? When the trade was announced and the content of the deal included 2 picks (early 4th and our 5th) I thought for sure we had traded to get Matt Schaub QB. A very good QB prospect. There was also a hint that maybe Keyaron Fox LB might be the player targeted. But Mike Sherman made this deal to get the punter B J Sanders. He is a 2 step left footed punter that gets very good hang time. A solid inside the 20 punter with good directional effort. He does have strong leg explosion and is very athletic for a punter. Now for the analysis for Green Bay. Sanders almost automatically count as a starter and does represent an upgrade over what we have and might be an upgrade over what we had the last few years. Was he worth a pick in round 3. Well if he starts and does what he does best then yes he was. Could the Packers have saved a 5th round choice and selected him in round 4? Not sure. Reports that as many as 3 teams were interested in him and that 1 team was trying to get into round 3 late to select him suggests no. Still when I see Matt Schaub on the board it hurts. But the main focus is Sanders will start whereas Shaub would be stuck on the roster as the #3 QB in development. GRADE OF C+ (because a punter in round 3 is kinda early but might have been necessary)
At this point I was really hoping we would hear a deal had been made for McKenzie if it is to be made. I was looking at the draft board and saw some strange picks by AFC teams and the thought came to me that maybe they had made a choice for the Packers. A pick that would be sent to Green Bay after that team had negotiated with McKenzie.
I also saw many good players with 3rd round grades still on the board and I was wishing the Packers would make a deal of their 6th round in this draft and a 4th rounder in 2005 for a 2004 5th rounder and a 2005 6th rounder.
A lot of talent that I am sure the packers could have found room for but Sherman sat around doing nothing much as the web cam showed no activity. I believe Sherman thinks he had such a great draft last year that some of those players will make notice this year. I believe this is a fatal belief and it might come back to haunt him come next December. I believe there were a few players with round 3 talent of this draft that he should have made a move for. Clearly it was not for no partner to trade with as he had shown with 3 deals already and would make another one.
There were more than a handful of players I believe could help but three of them really interested me. A deal for the early part of round 5 would have secured one of them. Jeb Terry OG (who can deep snap as well, which will come on handy as we weed our roster down to 53). Also Dave Ball DE a solid power DE with enough tenacity to get pressure on the QB. A blue-collar worker that I believe will make a mark in the NFL. The 3rd player is a player that I feel is a round 2 talent. A solid fundamental player with excellent tackling skills and good speed. Rod Davis LB So. Miss. – I cannot believe he fell that far. It will be interesting to track these 3 players this season.
Round 6 pick 179: DT Corey Williams 6-3 313 Arkansas State: a talented player with some speed and quickness, especially quick off the snap. Corey has good balance and plays with leverage. He has good leg drive and with his upper strength he blasts off the line with good power. He also has enough lateral slide to make plays outside the tackles. He started 34 of 43 games with 136 tackles, 14 ½ sacks and 27 ½ TFL – Has had nagging injuries (ankle, leg and knee) that has limited his development. Also limited his quickness and he became mostly a stationary player. He has the ability and only needs to stay healthy to become a player in the NFL – A worthwhile gamble as he did carry a late 4th to 5th round grade by most publications. Will he make the team? Not sure, but he does have enough ability to become a player. Strong and quick with the ability to stop the run.
Round 7 pick: C Scott Wells 6-1.3 302 Tennessee: as with every player the packers drafted Scott has that suddenness to his game. Quick after the snap, he is a decisive player. He has good knee bend to anchor, sustain and finish as a drive blocker. He has excellent change of direction ability and good lateral movement, which allows him to lend help to his OG’s. I believe Scott was the 3rd best Center in this draft and was worthy to be selected by round 4 or early 5th. Scott is good enough to be an effective Center in the NFL. Probably never be a Pro Bowl center but he could anchor a solid OL on a Super Bowl team. GRADE: B-
So in conclusion could the Packers have done better in this draft? Yes, they might have done a little better by making a small sacrifice in 2005 by trading a pick for an early 5th rounder for a player such as Rod Davis or Jeb Terry. But, they did not make that trade so we have to look at just what they did.
Round 1: they got their speed corner
Round 2: traded out but still got one of their players. I believe from all accounts they wanted Dontarious Thomas the outstanding OLB from Auburn. Still they got one of their players in the tall shut down corner Joey Thomas who will develop into a solid edge corner for the Packers. I believe he was on their short list.
Round 3: they got not only a corner (Thomas) they also picked a DT Washington who carries a solid round 2 grade so they received solid value in this round as well. Washington could be very good.
Round 3: they also drafted a punter in this round and at first, you might say they wasted the pick and could have drafted Matt Ware or Matt Schaub or DE Damion Scott. This will be what makes the final grade for Mike Sherman with this draft. If Sanders makes the team and punts well for the Packers especially in December then this draft will be a success.
They got 4 players who will make the team and who will contribute. This is what you hope for with every draft is 4 players. The Packers may also have made a steal in round 7 with Scott Wells the C. And you never know about Corey Williams as he could become a solid depth DT but a 6th rounder is only about a 35/65 chance to make a team when you have a roster with as many returning players like the Packers have
Round 1: A-
Round 3: B+
Round 3: B
Round 3: C+
Round 6: C +
Round 7: B-
Total Early Value Grade: B
This was a pretty decent draft for Mike Sherman. Even with the selection of a punter in round 3. Maybe some trepidation over the fact that their second selection is more of a developmental project than a finished product and their 3rd selection is a very talented player but one that needs some maturity and needs to finish plays.
ROOKIE FREE AGENTS: these are the players that I believe fit the Packers and would make a good rookie FA signing. While most of these would probably not make the roster initially, I believe a few can.
Jared Lorenzen QB Kentucky
Scott McBrien QB Maryland
Scott Rislov QB San Jose State
Fred Russell RB Iowa
Jason Wright RB Northwestern
Kenny Farley WR Oregon State
Thomas Hill TE Kansas State
Ben Utecht TE Minnesota
Keith Willis TE Virginia Tech
Dave Pearson C Michigan
A J Ricker C Missouri
Lamar Bryant OG Maryland
Andrew Shull DE Kansas State
Darrell Campbell DT Notre Dame
Jordan Carstens DT Iowa State
Maurice Jones LB So Florida
Lewis Moore ILB Pittsburgh
Rich Scanlon ILB Syracuse
John Leake OLB Clemson
Greg Richmond OLB Oklahoma State
Brett Hudson SS Arizona State
Arnold Parker SS Utah
Randy Jordan CB Kansas State