According to NFL scout Chris Landry, the Green Bay Packers did quite well for themselves on the first two days of the 2016 NFL draft. I wrote an article about that on Saturday before Day 3 of the draft.
I had a chance to talk with legendary guard Jerry Kramer of the Packers a couple of hours before the draft began on the final day of the draft. Kramer was in Green Bay, along with former Packers great Dave Robinson, to announce the selections that the team made in the 4th and 5th rounds of the draft in Vince Lombardi’s “office” in the Packers Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field.
Kramer asked me if I had any insight about what the Packers might do on Day 3. The first thing I told Jerry was that I expected the Packers to select an inside linebacker. I also said that I thought the Packers would add one more offensive lineman and one more defensive lineman.
I said that football games are won in the trenches more times than not. Nobody knows this better than No. 64. After all, Kramer was part of five NFL championship teams in Green Bay, plus was named as the only guard on the NFL’s 50th anniversary first-team.
In the 1967 NFL Championship Game (better known as the “Ice Bowl”) versus the Dallas Cowboys at frigid Lambeau Field, Kramer made the most famous block in the history of the NFL.
It all came down to 13 seconds to go with no timeouts at the 1-yard line of the Cowboys. The Packers could have kicked a field goal at that point to tie the game at 17-17.
But coach Lombardi decided to go for the win. If the Packers run the ball and are stopped short of the end zone, the game is over.
Bart Starr called a 31-wedge play in the huddle, which calls for the fullback to get the ball. However, Starr decided to keep the ball after conferring with Lombardi on the sideline about the play.
Starr thought it would be better to try to get into the end zone himself due to the slippery and icy conditions near the goal line. He followed Kramer’s classic block on Jethro Pugh and found a hole behind No. 64 to score the winning touchdown.
Kramer was also a huge part of the signature play of the Lombardi Packers. The play was the power sweep. The opposing defenses knew the play was coming, but there was little they could do about it.
Kramer, along with Fuzzy Thurston and later Gale Gillingham, would pull either left or right and create gaping holes for the running backs, as they would venture out in the open field and knock over linebackers and defensive backs.
A lot of the games that the Packers won in those days were won because of the stellar play at the line of scrimmage, by both the offensive and defensive lines of the Packers.
That is also why defensive end Willie Davis, defensive tackle Henry Jordan, center Jim Ringo and offensive tackle Forrest Gregg are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There is absolutely no question that Kramer deserves to have a place in Canton besides his teammates.
It’s true that players like Starr, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Wood and Robinson received most of the headlines on those great Green Bay teams, but it was the play inside the trenches which created the opportunities for a lot of those big moments.
Back to the draft. It was somewhat coincidental that the first player who the Packers drafted in Round 4 was inside linebacker Blake Martinez of Stanford. Kramer did a splendid job in announcing the 131st pick of the draft, which was a compensatory pick for Green Bay.
Martinez was certainly the best option the Packers had in selecting an inside linebacker at that point of the draft, especially after Joe Schobert of Wisconsin and Joshua Perry of Ohio State had been picked earlier in the 4th round.
The 6’2″, 237-pound Martinez had been a two-year starter for the Cardinal. In those two years, Martinez had 243 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, 12 passes defended and had five picks.
In 2014, Martinez was named honorable mention in the Pac-12 at linebacker, while in 2015 was named first-team All-Pac-12.
Landry said this about Martinez in part of his scouting report on the former Stanford star:
Quick reacting and instinctive, he finds the ball. Physical at the point of attack. Good hand use, able to stack at the point. Good ability to shed blocks. Solid tackler. Reads pass well, gets depth with his drops. Keeps good position, has good receiver awareness.
Martinez ran a 4.71 in the 40-yard dash as the NFL Scouting Combine, but he improved that mark to 4.67 at his pro day.
With the second compensatory pick the Packers had in Round 4, the 137th pick of the draft, Green Bay selected defensive end Dean Lowry of Northwestern. Kramer also announced that pick for the Packers.
The 6’6″, 296-pound Lowry had a very solid career for the Wildcats as a three-year starter. In his career at Northwestern, Lowry had 134 tackles, 31.5 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks, 21 passes deflected, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Lowry has the prototypical size desired to play defensive end in the 3-4 defensive scheme that the Packers utilize. Lowry was also named second-team All-Big Ten in 2015.
At the combine, Lowry ran a 4.87 40-yard dash, plus had 30 reps in the bench press drill.
This is part of the scouting report Landry did on Lowry:
Very good height with the frame to get to 295+. High motor. Quick to key and diagnose. Has strength and power at the point. Good hand use, can shed. Takes good pursuit angles. Flashes as a pass rusher. Top competitor. Might not have the best natural tools, but he gives you everything he has. He is instinctive and technique-sound. Is best suited to play defensive end in a three-man front.
In the 5th round, the Packers selected wide receiver/kick returner Trevor Davis of California with the 163rd pick of the draft. Robinson announced the selection.
The 6’1″, 189-pound Davis really opened some eyes due to his great performance at the combine.
At the combine, Davis ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash (third-best among receivers), plus leaped an outstanding 38.5 inches in the vertical jump. Davis also did an outstanding job in all of the drills, especially catching and tracking the football.
When the Packers worked out Davis themselves, he was timed in the mid-4.3 range in the 40.
Davis originally played at Hawaii in 2011 and 2012 and had 45 catches for 601 yards. He then transferred to Cal and redshirted in the 2013 season.
In 23 games including 11 starts with the Bears in 2014 and 2015, Davis had 1,071 yards receiving and seven touchdowns on 64 catches. He also had 1,110 return yards on 45 kick returns. He also returned punts as well, as he had 115 yards on 14 returns.
The Packers are always looking for more big play options, especially if the player can help quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense.
“Any time you can get a weapon in the fifth round, you have to try and do that,” said Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf. “He was still sitting there on the board and we were fortunate enough to pick him.”
Wolf also talked about how the Packers may utilize Davis offensively.
“He ran a lot of bubble screens there for Cal and took some pretty big hits in there. And pretty good after the catch as well,” said Wolf. “A lot of the guys we’ve had in the past have been returners in college and those guys are always better at the YAC, and that’s something that we look for.”
In the sixth round, with the 200th selection in the draft, the Packers picked offensive tackle Kyle Murphy of Stanford. I had the Packers selecting Murphy in my final mock draft, but I had the team taking him earlier in the draft.
The 6’6″, 305-pound Murphy started at both left and right tackle for the Cardinal. He was named first team All-Pac-12 in 2015 at left tackle and second team All-Pac-12 in 2014 at right tackle.
Landry had Murphy ranked at No. 97 on his horizontal draft board, but the former Stanford star lasted until to pick No. 200. That’s what I call excellent value. This is what Landry said about Murphy in his scouting report:
A former five-star recruit, Murphy was named to the All- Pac-12 first team in 2015. He was a third-team All American. He is a solid football player who does everything very well. He had 34 career starts at Stanford, including all 27 his junior and senior seasons. He can get off the ball quickly, has explosiveness on contact, gets movement with run blocks and gets and keeps good position in pass protection. He plays with a natural bend and can anchor. Murphy is athletic enough to pull and play in space. He just needs to get a little bigger and stronger.
Bottom line, it sure appears that Ted Thompson and company did another fine job on Day 3 of the 2016 NFL draft in adding some talent to the team that Mike McCarthy and his staff will coach in 2016 and beyond.