Green Bay Packers: 7 Possible Options at Pick No. 29 in the 2017 NFL Draft

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As NFL teams prepare for the 2017 NFL draft, the all-star games (the East-West Shrine Game, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Senior Bowl) have taken place. As did the other bowl games, as some players didn’t get an opportunity to play in an all-star game.

Next on the agenda is the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, which takes place next week, starting on February 28 and lasting until March 6.

We will see prospects either improve or slightly damage their draft stock at the combine, depending on how they do in the various drills.

But no matter what happens at the combine, a prospect can either stand by his performance at the combine or try and improve his numbers at his school’s pro day.

After that comes the actual 2017 NFL draft, which takes place in Philadelphia and will start on April 27 and last through April 29.

And while all that is happening, teams in the NFL will be able to improve their roster makeup by utilizing free agency, which officially starts on March 9. Depending on who the various teams add to their roster, that will have an impact as to who the team adds to their roster via the draft.

Bottom line, we are still very early in the draft process. It’s difficult to judge at this point where a player may be slotted in the draft, especially for teams like the Green Bay Packers, who have the 29th selection of the first round.

For all my draft stories, I’m going to utilize the insight and expertise of NFL scout Chris Landry for each player that I write about.

Okay, here we go. I’m going to give it a shot and write about seven potential prospects that the Packers may be able to select at pick No. 29. You will note that only one of my choices played prominently on the offensive side of the football.

Linebacker T.J. Watt (Wisconsin)

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Height: 6’5″

Weight: 243 pounds

I had the Packers selecting T.J. Watt in my very first mock draft, which I put out last week.

One big reason why the secondary of the Wisconsin Badgers had such an outstanding year in 2016 (except for the second half vs. Penn State in the B1G title game), was the play of the Front 7 of the Badgers.

Nobody was more prevalent in that regard than T.J. Watt. No. 42 had 63 tackles, 15.5 for loss, and 11.5 sacks in 2016, which garnered him second-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honors.

Watt can play outside or inside in the 3-4 scheme used by Dom Capers. I expect Watt to be used on the outside more often than not, just like he was with the Badgers. I expect the Packers to re-sign Nick Perry, who along with a healthier Clay Matthews, will be able to assist Watt in putting pass pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

I also think there is a chance that the Packers will re-sign Julius Peppers, but only at their price, plus Green Bay also likes the upside of Kyler Fackrell, who was a rookie in 2016.

Watt has an exceptional motor and like Perry, plays the run extremely well.

This is what Landry said about Watt recently:

“The more I study him, the more I think Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt can play in any base defense. He can play on the edge in a traditional four man front as well as a standup rusher with drop ability.”

Outside Linebacker Takkarist McKinley (UCLA)

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Height: 6’2″

Weight: 265 pounds

Takkarist McKinley played defensive end at UCLA, but also has the potential to become a 3-4 outside linebacker due to his pass-rushing skills and speed.

McKinley really stepped-up his play in 2016 with the Bruins, as he had 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and six pass breakups. That earned McKinley a first-team All-Pac-12 designation.

McKinley has a fast motor and is relentless from sideline to sideline. A number of his tackles were within two yards or less of line of scrimmage, which tells you about his speed in reacting to the football.

Just like with the selection of Watt, McKinley can become a huge asset for the Packers at outside linebacker.

Ted Thompson has drafted a player out of UCLA in the first round of the draft in two out of the last four years. Thompson selected Datone Jones in 2013 in the first round, plus picked Kenny Clark last year in the first round.

This is what Landry recently said about McKinley:

“UCLA edge rusher Takkarist McKinley is very athletic looking on film and should do well at the combine. Expect him to run in the 4.55 range with a vertical jump around 37 inches. McKinley ran a 10.70-second 100-meter dash in high school. McKinley may have shoulder surgery after the Combine, but the impending procedure isn’t expected to affect his testing.”

Safety/Linebacker Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)

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Height: 6’1″

Weight: 205 pounds

Before he went to Michigan, Jabrill Peppers was the 2013 USA Today High School Defensive Player of the Year while playing in New Jersey. Peppers also won the 100 meters and 200 meters at state in both his junior and senior years in high school.

Peppers went to Michigan to play football because of his admiration of Charles Woodson. In his career as a Wolverine, and like Woodson, Peppers helped the team on defense, special teams and on offense.

In 2014, Peppers had a leg injury which sidelined him after three games. In 2015, Peppers was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was also named first-team All-Big Ten, as he had 5.5 tackles for loss and 10 pass break-ups as a defender, 72 rush yards and two touchdowns on offense and a 27.9 yard kick return average and an 11.4 yard punt return average.

In 2016, Peppers was named first-team All-Big Ten once again, plus was named Big Ten Linebacker of the Year, as he moved around on the Wolverine defense. Peppers had 72 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, four sacks and one interception.

Peppers also rushed for 167 yards and three scores, plus had a punt return for a touchdown (14.8 yard average) and also had a 26 yard average on kickoff returns.

In the NFL, Peppers looks to be a hybrid player on defense, as he has played in the secondary at safety, plus can come up in the box and play the run well at linebacker, plus cover running backs and tight ends in the passing game.

Peppers can play the role that linebacker Joe Thomas now plays for the Packers on passing downs or could be part of the secondary in the nickel and dime looks that the team employs.

This is what Landry said about Peppers recently:

“Michigan LB/S Jabrill Peppers is an intriguing prospect that will ultimately be a will backer in the Deone Buchanon mold, only lacking the frame of Buchanon. Peppers is 6-foot-1, 205 pounds who is built more like a safety but does not have the range and cover skills of a Landon Collins. If he runs and workout well at the Combine as it will show some cover speed that he doesn’t show on tape.”

Cornerback Tre’Davious White (LSU)

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Height: 5’11”

Weight: 191 pounds

Tre’Davious White was a four-year starter at cornerback at LSU, who was named to the SEC All-Freshman team, as he had 55 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, seven passes defended and also had a forced fumble.

In his career at LSU, White had 167 total tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, six interceptions (including one for a touchdown), 34 passes defended, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.

After his senior year, White was named as a first-team Walter Camp All-American and All-SEC selection.

White is also an exceptional punt returner, as he had a punt return for a touchdown for three consecutive seasons from 2014-2016.

The Packers desperately need more talent and depth at cornerback and White would surely help in that area, as well as being a possible option in the punt return game which also needs help.

Landry said this recently about White:

“LSU CB Tre’Davious White might be underrated by some in the scouting circles. While he did regress some last season, his ability to shut down receivers when opponents throw his way is rare and he plays a tough, aggressive style. He has first round skills and would be a steal if he falls into round two.”

Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (USC)

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Height: 5’11”

Weight: 185 pounds

Adoree’ Jackson was a three-year starter at USC at cornerback. Like Peppers did at Michigan, Jackson was a triple-threat on defense, special teams and offense for the Trojans.

On defense in his career at USC, Jackson had 139 total tackles, six tackles for a loss, six interceptions (including one for a touchdown), 28 passes defended, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.

On special teams, Jackson had four kickoff returns for scores, as well as four more in punt returns.

On offense in his career as a Trojan, Jackson had 39 receptions for 628 yards and six touchdowns, as well as rushing for 92 more yards.

Jackson won multiple honors in his career, as he was named a Freshman All-American, Pac-12 Defensive Rookie of the Year and honorable mention All-Pac 12 as a freshman, first-team All-Pac 12 in 2015 and then won the Jim Thorpe Award, as well a being named first-team All-Pac 12 and All-American in 2016.

Thompson has also gone to the well a couple of times to USC in the first round with his selections for the Packers. In 2009, with one of his two first-round selections, Thompson picked Clay Matthews, plus he also selected Nick Perry in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.

Like White would do, Jackson would be an outstanding addition to the cornerback position, plus would become a huge factor in the return game.

Landry said this last month about Jackson:

“The winner of the 2016 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best cornerback, Jackson moonlighted as a receiver and kick returner at USC. Jackson is a twitched-up athlete who reached the qualifiers for the Rio Summer Games in the long jump event. Jackson’s athleticism isn’t in question, but he’ll need to work on his technique. Despite that Thorpe award, Jackson was inconsistent in coverage for a top prospect in 2016. He is built similarly to Adam Jones when he came out of West Virginia.”

Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson)

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Height: 6’1″

Weight: 200 pounds

Cordrea Tankersley has excellent size for a cornerback. At Clemson, he didn’t play much his first two years as a Tiger, but was named third-team All-ACC in 2015, as he had 48 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, five interceptions (including one for a touchdown) and had nine passes defended.

In 2016, Tankersley was named first-team All-ACC and third-team Associated Press All-American, as he had 52 tackles, six tackles for a loss, four picks and 11 passes defended.

Tankersley played a big role on the defense for the Tigers as they won the FBS national championship.

Although Thompson has never selected a player from Clemson in the first round, Ron Wolf did that twice for the Packers, first with Wayne Simmons in 1993 and then with Antuan Edwards in 1999.

Like White and Jackson, Tankersley would be a welcome addition to the cornerback position, plus would add more size.

Before the FBS title game versus Alabama, Landry said this about Tankersley:

“Tankersley likely boosted his stock after coming up with two huge plays in the ACC Championship Game. First, he made a highlight-reel interception by tiptoeing both feet in bounds, then sealed the Tigers’ victory with a diving interception with 1:11 left in the game. It was the first two-interception game of his career. He also broke up another pass and had four tackles.”

Running Back Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)

at California Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Berkeley, California.

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 197 pounds

There are probably three running backs in the 2017 NFL draft who may be selected in the first round. Most experts seem to think Leonard Fournette of LSU and Dalvin Cook of FSU will be the first two running backs off the board.

That may mean that Christian McCaffrey might still be available at pick No. 29 when the Packers select. Although the Packers will be focusing to shore up their defense in round one, especially in the secondary, depending on how the team draft board looks, McCaffrey might be an option.

Why? Right now, only Ty Montgomery is a sure thing to play running back in 2017. Eddie Lacy will be an unrestricted free agent and even if the Packers do re-sign him, which I think they will, it will most likely be on one-year deal to prove his worth to the Packers and the rest of the NFL.

Backup Christine Michael has the size and speed you like and has flashed some nice ability, but has proven to be a liability in terms of knowing his assignments, which has been typical of him throughout his NFL career. Michael will also be an unrestricted free agent.

That’s why a player like McCaffrey might be enticing for the Packers to select in the first round, not to mention that he would be an excellent fit for the team on offense.

In his career at Stanford (the same school that Montgomery came out of), McCaffrey rushed for 3,922 yards (6.2 average) and scored 21 touchdowns. In the passing game, McCaffrey had 99 receptions for 1,206 more yards and had 10 scores.

McCaffrey also returned a punt (11.2 average) for a score, as well as a kickoff (26.2 average) for a score.

In 2015, McCaffrey was a consensus All-American, Heisman Trophy finalist, Associated Press and Pac-12 Player of the Year. In 2016, McCaffrey was named first-team All-Pac-12 and Associated Press second-team All-American honors.

Like Montgomery, McCaffrey would create huge mismatches on passing downs out of the backfield, plus would be another player who could help the return game on special teams. Plus, his quick cut ability is a perfect match for Green Bay’s running offense.

Landry said this recently about McCaffrey:

“Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey is one of the more intriguing players in this April’s NFL Draft. He has been compared to a number of players. He is a bigger and faster than Danny Woodhead. He is not as explosive as a Dion Lewis or Reggie Bush but he is an outstanding runner with great vision, balance and body control. While I don’t see him carrying the load, I do see him catching the ball out of the backfield, lined up as a satellite back and getting the ball in a variety of ways. I see him as a cross between Brian Westbrook and Dion Lewis.”

Honoring a Green Bay Packers Fan: My Father and My Mentor, Norm Fox

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Norm and Sis Fox on their wedding day on July 8, 1950

***Note: This story was originally published two years ago.

I was born in 1957. That year is special in the hearts of sports fans in Wisconsin. In 1957, Lambeau Field (then City Stadium) was built to become the new home of the Green Bay Packers, while the Milwaukee Braves also won the World Series that special year.

I grew up in a great sports era, as the Packers won five NFL titles in seven years (including the first two Super Bowls) under Vince Lombardi from 1961 to 1967. I saw the Packers in person on a number of occasions.

Plus I was able to see great baseball players like Henry Aaron, Eddie Matthews and Warren Spahn of the Braves play many times while they were still in Milwaukee.

My dad, Norman Fox, was always there with me.

My passion for sports came from his talks with me. Dad gave me history lessons about the various sports teams, whether it was about the Packers, the Braves or the Wisconsin Badgers. I was also educated about a number of professional sports teams that no longer existed or had moved from Wisconsin.

Dad loved to tell me stories about the Packers back in the Curly Lambeau days when he was growing up.

Dad would quiz me about my knowledge at the dinner table just about every night at our home in Milwaukee. I’m happy to say that I passed with flying colors. Why? I had a great instructor.

My father and mentor passed away on Monday at age 88. I now have a big void in my life. But the lessons he taught me will always remain with me.

Because of dad, I loved all sports, but especially football.

We were both spoiled by the Packers at an early age. Dad was born in 1926, and the Packers won six NFL titles under Lambeau by his 18th birthday, with the last one coming in 1944. Dad was serving his country in the Pacific then with the Navy in World War II.

While I was enamored with players like Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Jimmy Taylor, Jerry Kramer, Max McGee, Ray Nitschke, Willie Davis, Herb Adderley and so many others in the 1960s, dad made sure I also learned about the Packers of his era.

I was told stories about the great Don Hutson, as well as learning about players like Clarke Hinkle, Cecil Isbell, Johnny (Blood) McNally, Cal Hubbard, Arnie Herber, Mike Michalske and Tony Canadeo.

Dad went to a number of games to see the Packers, both in Milwaukee and Green Bay in those days. In Milwaukee, he would see the Packers play at State Fair Park many times, including the 1939 NFL Championship Game that was played there, as the Packers beat the New York Giants 27-0.

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Cecil Isbell runs with the ball in the 1939 NFL title game at State Fair Park

Dad also parked cars at old Marquette Stadium in Milwaukee when the Packers played there for one season in 1952. After that, he saw the Packers play many times at old County Stadium, where I was often with him.

Dad also traveled to Green Bay to see the Packers play at both old City Stadium and also the new City Stadium, which later was named Lambeau Field in 1965 in honor of the first head coach and one of the founders of the franchise.

Going to training camp is something I really enjoy. I learned that from my dad, although I never came away with a football like he did, nor did I ever see the Chicago Bears train.

The Bears trained at St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin in 1935. Dad and some buddies watched them practice one day. During practice, an errant punt went over the fence and dad scampered to get it.

Dad retrieved the ball and then never stopped running. He was sprinting away from the Bears just like he was a running back for the Packers like Johnny (Blood).

He told me he never ran so fast, as players and coaches for the Bears were yelling at him to come back with the football. But he never did, and he came home with the football that day.

Dad was an amazing athlete. One time, a few years after his football caper with the Bears, he and a couple of friends rode their bikes around Lake Michigan. It took them several days to accomplish this feat, but they did it.

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Norm Fox with his prized football

Throughout the years, dad and I stayed true to the Packers, even in the lean years. Dad and my mom moved to the Tampa, Florida area in 1983 when they retired, but his loyalty to the Packers continued.

I ended up moving to the Sunshine State myself a while after my parents did. I soon met my future wife, Pam. We ended up living in proximity of my parent’s house. Dad and I ended up going to a number of games between the Packers and the Buccaneers at old Tampa Stadium during that time.

We always had a great time. Before, during and after the game. One time we went to a tailgate party which had Ray Nitschke in attendance. Dad really enjoyed seeing No. 66. After a while, it was time to get to the stadium for the game, and I was looking for dad.

I found him near the brat table. He had a brat in each hand, as they had run out of hot dog buns. No matter, those brats were going down!

The Packers became a force again in the NFL starting in 1992, and that continues to this day. Dad really enjoyed the resurgence of the team, as the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI in that era.

He enjoyed watching the Packers when they were quarterbacked by Brett Favre, but he really liked the way the Packers played behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It didn’t hurt that he sort of looked like No. 12 when he was a young man.

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Norm Fox during World War II

Dad was a happy camper when the Packers won Super Bowl XLV behind the play of Rodgers.

After my mom passed away in 2007, I became the primary caregiver for my dad, as he had been dealing with a number of medical issues for many years, including beating colon cancer twice.

I have taken my dad to our summer home on Lake Michigan for the past seven years for three months or so each summer. The place is just an hour or so south of Green Bay, so I was able to get to check out training camp on many occasions.

Over the last seven summers, my bond with my dad became even stronger. I always made sure that he would tell the stories he had told me about the early Packers to my friends when they would come out and visit.

The stories never got old as I would grill some brats and then play some sheepshead with dad and some buddies.

Those memories will always stay with me, as will the reminiscing of spending quality time with my dad as a youngster.

 You see, Norm Fox was not only my father and mentor, but also my friend.

Green Bay Packers: Jerry Kramer and the 1958 NFL Draft Class

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It’s night and day when one compares the current form of the NFL draft with all the glitz and glamour to the NFL draft of 1958. Two completely different animals. The draft of today is now shown live on two cable networks, ESPN and NFL Network.

It all started when ESPN first started showing the draft live in 1980. The draft has become a monster now with various magazines, web sites and programming by entities like ESPN and NFL Network giving their takes on the college prospects and doing ever-changing mock drafts.

The NFL draft first became part of the league in 1936. There have been many variations to how the draft has been developed to the point of where has evolved today.

The last few years, we have seen the draft run on three consecutive days, with the first round on one night, the second and third rounds the next night and then the fourth through seventh rounds held on the third day.

This year, the 2017 NFL draft will take place in Philadelphia and will start on April 27 and last through April 29.

Speaking of the 2017 NFL draft, I did my initial mock draft for the Packers last week.

The NFL journey for Jerry Kramer started on December 2, 1957, when he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 1958 NFL draft.

The draft was much different then, as the NFL staggered the draft on two different dates, with the first part of the draft (Rounds 1-4) being in early December and the last part of the draft (rounds 5-30) being in late January.

Yes, you read that right. There were 30 rounds back then. But on December 2, 1957, Kramer became a Packer, as did three other very talented football players. In the first round, the Packers selected Dan Currie. In the second round, the Packers selected Jim Taylor. In the third round, they selected Ray Nitschke, and in the fourth round Kramer.

All four of those players had excellent careers in the NFL, with two of them (Taylor and Nitschke) getting inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In my opinion, Kramer should also be in Canton and until he is, there will be a credibility issue there.

Currie was All-Pro three times and was selected to one Pro Bowl. A knee injury really hurt the effectiveness of Currie later in his career, both with the Packers and the Los Angeles Rams.

Taylor was named All-Pro six times and to the Pro Bowl five times. Taylor led the team in rushing seven times and led the NFL in rushing in 1962. He probably would have led the league a few more times if not for the presence of the great Jim Brown in his era.

The bruising fullback also had five seasons of 1,000 yards or more, and he gained more than 100 yards in a game 26 times.

Nitschke was the face of the defense in the Vince Lombardi era. He also played in an era that had some excellent middle linebackers like Dick Butkus, Sam Huff, Bill George and Joe Schmidt.

Nitschke was named All-Pro six times and was named to only one Pro Bowl squad for some ridiculous reason. Nitschke was also MVP of the 1962 NFL Championship game against the New York Giants, as he deflected one pass for an interception and recovered two fumbles.

Kramer was first-team All-Pro five times, was also named second-team All-Pro twice and was additionally named to three Pro Bowl teams. No. 64 was also on the All-Decade team of the 1960s. Finally, Kramer was named to the NFL’s 50th Anniversary team. Kramer is the only member of that first team not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Kramer also kicked three fields goals in the windy (40 mph gusts) and chilly conditions at Yankee Stadium in the 1962 NFL Championship game. Those three field goals were the difference in the game, as the Packers beat the Giants 16-7.

Kramer is most famous for his block in the 1967 NFL Championship game, better known as the “Ice Bowl.”

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With 13 seconds remaining in the game and the Packers trailing 17-14 to the Dallas Cowboys, Kramer got great leverage with his block on DT Jethro Pugh, and QB Bart Starr happily followed his right guard into NFL immortality by scoring the winning touchdown on a quarterback sneak.

So, how did Kramer find out he was drafted by the Packers in 1958? “I was in class at the University of Idaho when I was drafted,” Kramer said. “I came out of class and Wayne Walker, who was my classmate and who was also drafted by the Detroit Lions, told me I was drafted by Green Bay.”

In 1958, the GM of the Packers was Verne Lewellen. However, the man who was really responsible about scouting college prospects was Jack Vainisi. Vainisi was a talent scout for the Packers from 1950-1960.

In those 10 years, Vainisi picked six players for the Packers who would eventually be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Vainisi also played a prominent role in bringing Vince Lombardi to the Packers. It was Vainisi who called Lombardi to interview for the head coaching job in Green Bay.

Sadly, Vainisi died of a heart attack in 1960 at the young age of 33, just prior the championship run of the Lombardi-era Packers.

In 1958, there was no such thing as an NFL Scouting Combine. So who did NFL clubs get information on the various college prospects?

“You were sent a questionnaire by teams,” Kramer said. “How big are you? How fast are you? What are your military obligations and so forth. Then, you never really heard back from the teams.”

As Kramer was heading to play in the East-West Shrine game, he was contacted by a Canadian Football League official who told Kramer not to sign until they could talk. Kramer still signed with the Packers, although for a very meager amount by today’s standards.

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“I signed with the Packers for a $250 bonus,” Kramer said. “I spent that money with Walker the weekend of the East-West Shrine game in San Francisco. But actually the $250 turned out not to be a bonus. When I got to Green Bay I found out that the $250 was an advance on the $8,000 contract I had signed.”

The journey to Green Bay was pretty interesting. “I was playing in the College All-Star game in Chicago,” Kramer said. “Up to that point I had never worked out with the Packers or had ever heard from them. Almost zero communications. The Packers sent somebody down from Green Bay to drive us back there from Chicago. There was Taylor, Currie, Nitschke, Dick Christy, Neil Habig and myself from the draft class who got a ride back to Green Bay.”

Once in Green Bay, Kramer almost played himself off the squad. “When we got to Green Bay, the head coach was Scooter McLean,” Kramer said. “I had a very dim view of making the team. John Sandusky, who was my line coach at the College All-Star game, told me I probably wouldn’t make the Packers. John had played the prior year with Green Bay.

“John told me that the Packers had five guards on the roster. He told me I could play in the NFL, but probably not with the Packers. And so I went to training camp and basically played like I was waiting to get traded. Looking over the fence at practice and having a good time.

“Finally Scooter called me to his office one day and asked, ‘What in the hell is the matter with you? One day you look great and then the next day you are looking over the fence and checking the scenery. What the hell is going on?’

“I told Scooter that I was waiting to be traded. Scooter said ‘What?’ I told him what the coach at the All-Star game had told me. Scooter told me that I wasn’t drafted to get traded and that I was going to start the next preseason game against the Washington Redskins. About 10 days later the Packers traded a couple of guards to the New York Giants.

“It finally came down to the final cut between Ken Gray (another rookie) and myself. And the Packers kept me, although Ken later played with the Cardinals and became a Pro Bowl player.”

The 1958 draft class to me is the best draft class ever drafted by the Packers. In fact, NFL Network had the 1958 class of the Packers rated as the fourth-best draft class of all-time.

Yes, the 1958 draft class of the Packers was very, very good. Just imagine how highly rated this class would be when Kramer finally receives the recognition he so richly deserves—an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The draft today is much different than the draft of 1958. That being said, I’m sure Ted Thompson would be absolutely thrilled to draft players of the caliber of the 1958 draft class of the Packers this upcoming April. Thompson actually has had a pretty good track record drafting players overall.

But the draft class of 1958 was the best ever selected by the Packers. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

The Many Pro Football Hall of Fame Endorsements for Jerry Kramer

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Over the past week, a couple of Pro Football Hall of Fame members have spoken out on behalf of wide receiver Terrell Owens and his rightful enshrinement in Canton. One was former Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Lofton, as well as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young.

There is no denying that Owens put up some monster statistics in his career in the NFL, but he has also been labeled a bad teammate, as well as a player who never helped lead his team to a NFL title.

That is probably why there has been push back on his induction the past couple of years.

Compare that to Jerry Kramer. Now it’s hard to compare a position player to a lineman, but Kramer truly was a great player, not only in the regular season, but also under the bright lights of the postseason, when his Packers under head coach Vince Lombardi, won five NFL championships in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls.

Kramer played a leading role in the victories in three of those championship games, which were the 1962, 1965 and 1967 NFL title games.

When Kramer was done playing in the NFL after the 1968 season, he was recognized for his great play, as he was named to the 1960s All-Decade team, plus was also named to the very prestigious NFL 50th anniversary team, as he was the only guard on the first team.

Even with all that, Kramer still awaits his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

And unlike Owens, Kramer was the epitome of being a great teammate.

While Owens has received a few endorsements from current Pro Football Hall of Fame members, Kramer has received several from players he played with and against from his era who now have busts in Canton.

Here are some just some of those testimonials that Kramer has received.

“There is no question in my mind that Jerry Kramer has Hall of Fame credentials. Respect is given grudgingly in the trenches of the NFL and Jerry has earned my respect as we battled eye to eye in the pits on so many long afternoons.

“Jerry Kramer belongs in the Hall of Fame and I hope you will put this process in motion by including his name on the ballot for this coming year.”Merlin Olsen HOF 1982

“Jerry Kramer belongs in the Hall of Fame, and quite frankly, I thought he was already inducted.”Frank Gifford HOF 1977

“Jerry Kramer is a fine man and a great football player. He is the type of player and person I feel strongly should also be numbered among the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame.”Bob Lilly HOF 1980

“Jerry Kramer should have been in the Pro Hall of Fame many years ago.”Doug Atkins HOF 1982

“I support the nomination of Jerry Kramer as an inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jerry Kramer was a great football player and very deserving of this honor.”Alan Page HOF 1988

“When I think about all of the players not in the HOF, the one that mystifies me the most is Jerry Kramer. I don’t understand why he hasn’t, as yet been selected. In an NFL interview, Hall of Fame Vice President Joe Horrigan stated that Jerry accounts for about one-fourth of his mail on a daily basis.

“When you think of the Packers of the 60’s, you remember Lombardi at the blackboard describing the seal of the sweep. Getting that seal was the job of the guards and Jerry was the best at that particular skill. It was his agility and his speed to get out there and make that block that really made the Packer sweep effective.”Bob St. Claire HOF 1990

“It’s difficult for me to understand why Jerry has not been inducted by now. Considering the offensive linemen already enshrined, Jerry should certainly have a place.”Joe Schmidt HOF 1973

“I was truly shocked that Jerry was not a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. I know personally that there was no one better at his position.”Gino Marchetti HOF 1972

“We who played with him in Pro Bowls and against him in our careers, vote 100% for Jerry to join us in the Hall of Fame where he belongs.”John Mackey HOF 1992

“To the Senior Selection Committee: this is to remind you of Jerry Kramer and to put in a good word on his behalf.” – Raymond Berry HOF 1973

“I firmly believe that Jerry Kramer deserves to be in the Hall.” – Mel Renfro HOF 1996

“Jerry Kramer is a Hall of Famer. The Packers would not have been the greatest team in history, if they would not have had Jerry.” – Mike Ditka HOF 1988 

“A lot of folks deserve to be in the Pro Football Hall of fame, none more so than Jerry Kramer.”Chris Hanburger HOF 2011

“You have my vote for Jerry for this upcoming class.”Jim Otto HOF 1980

“He was the best in football when I started playing Professionally, and it was his example that I emulated. He belongs with us so let us make his senior candidacy a reality.” Tom Mack HOF 1999

“I think players that somehow had a big impact on the game deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Jerry belongs there for what he did.” – Dave Wilcox HOF 2000

“I am recommending Jerry Kramer as a candidate for membership in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jerry’s stats and awards speaks volumes. He was a very fine player.”Lem Barney HOF 1992

“I have played against Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers on numerous occasions. I am highly recommending him for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”Chuck Bednarik HOF 1967

“His stats alone do not reveal the respect or dominance Jerry produced as an NFL lineman. Jerry is exactly the representation the HOF embodies.”Tommy McDonald HOF 1998

“Jerry truly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I respectfully request your consideration for a guy who has earned every right to be in Canton.”Willie Davis HOF 1981

“When you think of Hall of Fame guards, very few come to mind. But when I think of great guards, I think of Jerry Kramer.

“When you look at Green Bay’s success in the 1960’s, you can’t mention Vince Lombardi, Ray Nitschke, Bart Starr, Jimmy Taylor, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Jim Ringo, Willie Wood and Forrest Gregg and leave out Jerry Kramer. He is the perfect prototype of right guard.

“Jerry Kramer was on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team at guard and every member of that team is in the Hall except him. That is just unbelievable!

“To conclude my opinion on how the Hall of Fame is keeping Jerry Kramer locked out, I will have to quote Vince Lombardi once more…

“What the hell is going on out here?!”Paul Hornung HOF 1986

vince-and-jerry-iii

You can see all of these testimonials and many more in this great book put together by Randy Simon.

The bottom line is Jerry Kramer was the best of the best in the NFL as a right guard with the Packers in the 1960s.

That is why he was honored and put on the 1960s All-Decade team, as well as the NFL 50th anniversary team.

And that’s also why he has all these great endorsements from his peers who have already made it into Canton.

I’ll leave you with one final endorsement for Kramer. This comes from Jack Youngblood (HOF 2001) of the Los Angeles Rams, who was a teammate of Merlin Olsen, who many consider the best defensive tackle in NFL history (14 Pro Bowls and nine first-team All-Pro honors).

“If any man has been overlooked for induction, Jerry Kramer is the one. My teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen said: ‘Good Lord, he should be in the Hall.’ I couldn’t have said it better.”

Initial 7-Round 2017 NFL Mock Draft for the Green Bay Packers

ted-thompson-at-the-combine

In terms of the 2017 NFL draft, the all-star games (the East-West Shrine Game, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Senior Bowl) have been played. As did the other bowl games which were played, as some players didn’t get an opportunity to play in an all-star game.

Those games gave us a chance to look at a number of prospects for the upcoming draft in April.

The actual 2017 NFL draft will take place in Philadelphia and will start on April 27 and last through April 29. Before then, there are still a couple more steps in which prospects can help themselves in terms of improving their draft stock.

The NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis starts on February 28 and lasts until March 6. After that, we will have the various pro days for the players in the draft to try and impress the scouts, coaches and front office-types who will be in attendance.

I will be doing four mock drafts (including this initial one) before the actual draft.I will focus my mock drafts on the Green Bay Packers. I’ve had a pretty decent track record predicting some of the players that Ted Thompson has actually selected in the draft over the years.

Last year in my final mock draft, I correctly predicted that the Packers would select offensive tackle Kyle Murphy of Stanford in the draft.

In my final mock draft in 2015, like a blind squirrel which finds an acorn, I was right about the Packers selecting both cornerback Quinten Rollins and linebacker Jake Ryan.

Bottom line, I’ve been doing this exercise for over a decade now and it’s been a lot of fun for me and I hope the same holds true for you.

I’ve become a real student of the NFL draft over the years and it’s very nice to have built an association like I’ve established with NFL scout Chris Landry.

Landry is one of the best in the business and his insight and knowledge really help me out, as I look at the prospects that I feel would be good fits for the Packers. I’m also happy to say that I contribute some stories to his fine website on a regular basis.

My latest story on his site was about Jerry Kramer, but I have done a number of stories which have been cataloged on his site over the past several months.

You can be certain that there will be a number of draft stories of mine which will be added over the next number of weeks.

Getting back to the Packers, the team has primarily been built on a draft and develop basis since head coach Mike McCarthy and Thompson joined forces in 2006.

In 11 seasons since that partnership took place, the Packers have had 114-61-1 regular season record, with six NFC North titles, nine playoff appearances, four NFC title game appearances and one Super Bowl win.

It’s rare that Thompson dips his toes into “pure” free agency, when he picks up a veteran NFL player who has had decent success with another team or teams in the NFL. Instead, Thompson depends much more on the draft and signing “street” free agents or undrafted rookie free agents.

But when Thompson has signed a free agent player like Ryan Pickett, or signed players who were recently released by the previous teams like Charles Woodson (Oakland Raiders), Julius Peppers (Chicago Bears) and Jared Cook (St. Louis Rams), the results have been pretty good.

I see Thompson as being more active in free agency this year, but the draft will still be his main focus.

After the release of cornerback Sam Shields and running back James Starks this week, the Packers reportedly will have close to $43 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap. This is based on what the Packers gained by releasing Shields and Starks and a salary cap that’s projected to rise about $13 million this year.

Thompson is truly a scout at heart. The week of the NFC title game when the Packers played the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta, Thompson was here in the Tampa Bay region scouting players at the East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg.

The Monday after the Packers lost to the Falcons in the NFC title game, Thompson was in Mobile, Alabama scouting players at the Senior Bowl.

In the 2017 NFL draft, the Packers have a selection in each of the seven rounds, plus are expected to get a compensatory pick, most likely in the fifth round, according to Over The Cap.

What position will the Packers focus on in the draft and in free agency? Well, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com talked with a trusted source of his with the Packers. Pauline’s source said: “Corners, lots of them.

So, without any further adieu, let’s take a look at the first mock draft. As you will see, I did select a couple of cornerbacks, but not as early as the Packers did in 2015, when they selected Demarious Randall and Rollins with their first two picks in that draft.

My approach to this draft was to improve not only the secondary, but to improve the overall defense, starting with the Front 7.

Round 1: Linebacker T.J. Watt (Wisconsin)

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Height: 6’5″

Weight: 243 pounds

One big reason why the secondary of the Wisconsin Badgers had such an outstanding year in 2016 (except for the second half vs. Penn State in the B1G title game), was the play of the Front 7 of the Badgers.

Nobody was more prevalent in that regard than T.J. Watt. No. 42 had 63 tackles, 15.5 for loss, and 11.5 sacks in 2016, which garnered him second-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honors.

Watt can play outside or inside in the 3-4 scheme used by Dom Capers. I expect Watt to be used on the outside more often than not, just like he was with the Badgers. I expect the Packers to re-sign Nick Perry, who along with a healthier Clay Matthews, will be able to assist Watt in putting pass pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

I also think there is a chance that the Packers will re-sign Julius Peppers, but only at their price, plus Green Bay also likes the upside of Kyler Fackrell, who was a rookie in 2016.

Watt has an exceptional motor and like Perry, plays the run extremely well.

This is what Landry said about Watt after he declared for the 2017 NFL draft:

“The younger brother of J.J. Watt had a terrific 2016 campaign, notching 11.5 sacks and defending the run very well. He can play an array of positions, so his versatility is his real value.”

Round 2: Defensive Lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama)

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Height: 6’3″

Weight: 312 pounds

The Packers played the run better in 2016 better than they did in 2015, especially early in the season. Still, there were times when the run defense of the Packers was just gashed. Letroy Guion was solid in the first part of the season, but at times looked like he was in the witness protection program in the second half of the year.

That’s why it would be prudent to draft someone like Dalvin Tomlinson of Alabama. Tomlinson knows how to play the leverage game in the trenches, as he was a three-time heavyweight wrestling champion in high school.

That serves him well playing on the defensive line, as he is almost impossible to move off the point. As a senior for the Crimson Tide, Tomlinson had  62 tackles, 5.5 tackles for losses and three sacks.

Head coach Nick Saban used Tomlinson on both the inside and outside in the multiple-look defenses that Alabama uses.

The Packers like versatility as well, and Tomlinson would fit in nicely with Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark to form a talented trio for the Pack on the defensive front.

This is what Landry said about Tomlinson at the Senior Bowl:

“Tomlinson surprised me. He plays with great pad level, leverage and quickness. He flashed power and won out during a number of one-on-ones.”

Round 3: Inside Linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. (Northwestern)

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Height: 6’1″

Weight: 245 pounds

Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez have been fairly solid at inside linebacker for the Packers. Ryan improved in his second year with the team in 2016, while Martinez had a great training camp and was having a decent rookie year when he suffered a knee injury that hampered him down the stretch of the 2016 season.

That being said, neither Ryan or Martinez bring that wow-factor taking down an opposing player with a resounding hit. The Packers haven’t had that in an inside linebacker since they had Desmond Bishop lining up at the position.

That’s why the addition of Anthony Walker Jr. of Northwestern is something that the Packers should consider. The former Wildcat certainly has that wow-factor and he most definitely brings a physical presence.

In 2015, Walker had 122 tackles with 16.5 of them for a loss, as he was named a first-team All-Big Ten and third-team AP All-American that season.

In 2016, Walker had 109 tackles with 10 of them for a loss, as he was named second-team All-Big Ten.

Walker played well in 2016, but was exceptional in 2015. Why the difference?  Many scouts believe Walker added too much weight his junior year and is better off playing at around 230 to 235 pounds like he was his sophomore year.

That would also help his coverage skills, which were not bad at Northwestern, as he had 16 passes defensed in his career as a Wildcat.

This is what Landry said about Walker prior to the Pinstripe Bowl:

“LB Anthony Walker Jr. was a returning All-American and played up to that reputation with 98 tackles, including 58 unassisted. The Northwestern junior also collected two sacks, recovered two fumbles and had a team-high 10 tackles for loss. He’s now fourth on the career tackle-for-loss list with 39.5.”

Round 4: Cornerback Fabian Moreau (UCLA)

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Height: 6’0″

Weight: 194 pounds

It goes without question, that the Packers have to improve their play at cornerback by utilizing both free agency and the draft. The course I expect Thompson to follow in free agency, is to sign a player who has recently been cut by his former team due to salary cap reasons.

But in terms of the draft, the Packers are catching a break in 2017, as the cornerback position is one of the deeper ones in this draft. That’s why they can select the best player on their board early in the draft and still get a talented cornerback later on.

Case in point is Fabian Moreau of UCLA. Just prior to the 2015 season, head coach Jim Mora, Jr. said that Moraeu was a first-round talent. Unfortunately for Moreau, he suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot early in the season which ended his year.

But in 2016, Moreau bounced back, as he had 10 pass breakups and two interceptions, as he was named honorable mention All-Pac-12. Before his foot injury, Moreau flashed his talent as a Bruin, as he was second-team All-Pac-12 in 2014, with 53 tackles, three for loss, one interception and eight passes defensed.

In 2013, Moraeu was also named honorable mention All-Pac-12. Similar to Sam Shields, he started out on offense in college, as Moreau was a running back initially, but switched to defense.

This is what Landry said about Moreau at the East-West Shrine game practices:

“UCLA CB Fabian Moreau has excellent size and athleticism and had a solid week in pass coverage. He has quick feet and he’s a fluid athlete. He was very aware in zone coverage. I thought he really helped himself with his performance during the week.”

Round 5: Cornerback Marquez White (Florida State)

marquez-white

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 185 pounds

Like Quinten Rollins did at Miami of Ohio, Marquez White of Florida State was also was a two-sport star, as he played basketball for the Seminoles in 2013-2014 for six games.

White quickly realized that football was his best sport, even though he was primarily a special teams player in 2013 and 2014.

White became a starter in 2015, as he had 25 tackles, two for a loss, one interception, and two pass breakups In 2016, White had two picks and four pass breakups, as he earned honorable mention All-ACC from the league media.

Like Moreau, White has the height one likes at the cornerback position, but does need to bulk up a bit.

This is what Landry said about White at a Senior Bowl practice:

“White held on a little too long in press coverage but otherwise had a stellar day. He showed quick feet, good change of direction and flipped his hips nicely while displaying an understanding of how to use the sideline to his advantage and maintaining tight coverage.”

Round 5 (compensatory): Running Back Joe Williams (Utah)

joe-williams-utah

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 205 pounds

There were a lot of impressive performances during the East-West Shrine game week, but no one impressed me more than running back Joe Williams of Utah. Williams is part of a running back class that is also exceptionally deep in 2017.

That’s why you could still get a quality back like Williams in the fifth round of the upcoming draft. Williams had a phenomenal back half of the 2016 season for the Utes in 2016. This was after a slow start to the season and the thought of retiring from football.

But starting in the seventh game of the season for Utah, when the Utes played Oregon State, Williams went on a run that would have put him in the Heisman discussion had this performance been year round.

In six games to end the season, with opponents like Washington and Colorado on the Pac-12 schedule, Williams rushed for 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns. Then in the the Foster Farms Bowl against Indiana, Williams rushed for 222 yards and another score, plus caught a pass for 56 more yards.

I expect the Packers to re-sign Eddie Lacy to pair with Ty Montgomery at running back. That being said, a talented player like Williams will push for playing time, especially on third down.

This is what Landry said about Williams during the East-West Shrine game practices:

“Utah RB Joe Williams has an outstanding burst and he was a little bit thicker than I anticipated. He is going to be a mismatch in the passing game as he gains more experience. He looks like an ideal change-of-pace back at the next level.”

Round 6: Wide Receiver/Punt Returner Trent Taylor (Louisiana Tech)

trent-taylor

Height: 5’8″

Weight: 177 pounds

One of the biggest issues for the receivers of the Packers over the past couple of years is their ability (or lack thereof) to separate themselves from their defenders. One player who can help them in that regard, as well a being an option in the punt return game is Trent Taylor of Louisiana Tech.

Taylor has been called by some scouts as a poor man’s Wes Welker. Taylor doesn’t have the prototypical size you normally want at wide receiver, but he is extremely quick and effective.

In four years at Louisiana Tech, Taylor had a whopping 327 catches for 4,179 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Taylor was named second-team All-Conference USA selection in 2014 and was first-team All-Conference USA in both 2015 and 2016.

Taylor also returned 58 punts for 482 yards in his time with La Tech.

Taylor would be best used in the slot for the Packers, but no matter where he would line up, he has the quickness to get off his defender in a hurry and make some very nice YAC (yards after catch).

This is what Landry said about Taylor prior to the Senior Bowl:

“Taylor wins with his ability to work in and out of tight areas, as well as find space in zone coverages. Barring too much contact, Taylor is a sure-handed receiver who can be trusted to haul in short catches and bring the ball past the sticks. He has explosive second-step burst after catch, and showed great separation after interior receptions to finish big play opportunities.”

Round 7: Center/Guard Chase Roullier (Wyoming)

chase-roullier-wyoming

Height: 6’4″

Weight: 315 pounds

The Packers will most likely be looking for a center/guard in the 2017 draft, as I don’t expect the Packers to re-sign JC Tretter, plus the Packers want to solidify the depth at guard, even if the team re-signs T.J. Lang, which I expect the team to do.

The team can help themselves in both areas by drafting Chase Roullier of Wyoming. Roullier played both center and guard at Wyoming his freshman year and then moved to left guard for the next two seasons, as he was named honorable mention All-Mountain West in 2014 and second-team All-Mountain West in 2015.

In 2016, Roullier returned to the center position and was named first-team All-Mountain West, protecting quarterback Josh Allen and blocking for star running back Brian Hill.

This is what Landry said about Roullier at the East-West Shrine game practices:

“Chase Roullier, OL, Wyoming is much bigger than I thought from what I saw on tape. He’s handling pass protection really well. And he’s opened some eyes this week.”

Jerry Kramer Talks About Don Chandler

don-chandler-in-super-bowl-ii

Super Bowl LI will be played on Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston. It’s hard to believe this will be the 51st Super Bowl.

The Green Bay Packers played in the first two Super Bowls and have played in five overall.

Guess who the all-time leading scorer for the Packers is in their Super Bowl play over the years? That would be kicker Don Chandler who scored 20 points in Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II.

No. 34 kicked four field goals and eight extra points in those two games and still is the record-holder for points scored by a player on the Packers in team Super Bowl history.

Chandler first came to the Packers in 1965, as Vince Lombardi was trying to improve the kicking situation with the team. Lombardi traded a draft choice to the New York Giants for Chandler, who at that time was both a placekicker and a punter.

Chandler was drafted out of the University of Florida by the G-Men in 1956. He was strictly a punter his first six years with the Giants and then became both a punter and placekicker from 1962 through 1964 with New York.

Chandler played in six NFL title games when he played with the Giants, but only won one championship, which happened in 1956. The offensive coordinator for the Giants in 1956 was none other than Lombardi.

Chandler led the NFL in scoring in 1963 with 105 points. The placekicker for the Packers finished fourth in the league that year with 91 points. That player’s name was Jerry Kramer.

Kramer kicked that year for the Packers for two reasons. One, No. 64 had done a great job kicking for the Pack in 1962 when the regular placekicker hurt his knee. That player was Paul Hornung, who also was the team’s starting halfback.

Kramer hit nine-of-11 field goals in ’62, plus kicked three more against Chandler and the Giants at frigid and very windy (40 mph gusts) Yankee Stadium, when the Packers beat the G-Men 16-7. The 10 points that Kramer scored that day was the difference in the game.

In 1963, Hornung was suspended for gambling. That made Kramer the full-time placekicker, besides being the team’s starting right guard. Kramer had an excellent year for the Packers in ’63, not only in kicking, but by being named to the Pro Bowl for the second time and was also named first-team All-Pro for the third time in his career because of his play on the offensive line.

Kramer did falter a bit with his accuracy late in the ’63 season, so when Hornung came back to the team in 1964, he was once again the placekicker. The “Golden Boy” had a dreadful year that season kicking the ball, as he made only 12-of-38 field goals.

Kramer was not available to help out in the kicking game or in any part of the game, as 1964 was the year when Kramer started having some severe intestinal issues. Those issues cost Kramer almost the entire season, as he was in and out of hospitals during that time. Kramer ended up going through nine medical procedures before his medical situation was resolved.

That was a big reason why Lombardi traded for Chandler in 1965. He needed a kicker and a punter who would be steady for the team, just like Chandler had been for the Giants for the past three years.

It was a different story for Kramer going into the 1965 season with the Packers. No. 64’s career was definitely at the crossroads.

Kramer explained that to me awhile back.

“I reported to camp at around 220 pounds,” Kramer said. “I nine operations that offseason, which involved removing 16 inches of my colon because of a bunch of slivers that were in there for 11 years.

“So when I went to talk with Coach Lombardi about playing, he said, ‘Jerry, we can’t count on you this year. I just want you to go home  and we’ll take care of your salary and your hospital bills.’

“I told Lombardi that I really wanted to play. I knew that I had already missed most of the ’64 season and if I missed the ’65 season, I would probably never get a chance to play again.

“I told Lombardi that I would not go home and that I wanted to play. We went back and forth about this for about 35 or 40 minutes. Finally Lombardi says, ‘Okay, I’m going to put you with the defense.’

“I said, great. I always wanted to play defense anyway.”

Kramer soon found out that his task of getting in football shape would be very difficult.

“We always used to take three laps around the field to start practice. I ran a half of a lap and my lungs seized up. I just couldn’t breathe or get any air.  Don Chandler came up to me and asked, ‘What’s wrong, pal?’

“I told Don that I can’t breathe. Don told me that, ‘Between the two of us, we would do what one of the players does in terms of an exercise. If you can only do a half of a lap, I’ll do the other two and half laps.’

“So Don worked out besides me for the next month and we did just that. If the team did 50 sit ups and I could only do 10, Don would do the other 40. If the team did 50 side-saddle hops and I could only do 15, Don would do the other 35.

“So Don kept me in the game and kept me from being embarrassed. That kept me from feeling like a jerk in front of a bunch of world-class athletes. So by doing that procedure with Don, I gradually was able to do more and after a month I was able to do all of the exercises.

“I gained about 15 pounds.  I knew that the colostomy was reattached, the hernia was fixed and the intestines were okay. It was just going through the reconditioning which was so difficult.

“Without Don, I really doubt that I could have made it through that camp. So all the books, all the Super Bowls and all the great things that happened to me after that was because of my teammate.”

After a few games, Kramer had once again become the starting right guard for the Packers. Chandler, meanwhile, was 17-out-of-26 in field goals and led the team in scoring with 88 points, plus had 42.9 punting average, which included a 90-yard punt.

Chandler, who was also a running back in college with the Gators, also scampered 27 yards on a fake punt run.

It was during the 1965 Western Division Championship Game between the Packers and Baltimore Colts at Lambeau Field when Chandler was part of one of the more controversial plays in NFL history.

The Packers were down 10-7 late in the game when backup quarterback Zeke Bratkowski led the Packers from their own 28 to the Baltimore 15, before Chandler attempted a 22-yard field goal.

Bratkowski was in the game because Bart Starr had injured his ribs trying to tackle linebacker Don Shinnick after he recovered a Bill Anderson fumble on the very first scrimmage play of the game.

Starr tried to tackle Shinnick near the end zone, as the linebacker scored to put the Colts up early 7-0.

On Chandler’s late game-tying field goal, the referees said the kick was good. Meanwhile the Colts were complaining to anyone who would listen that the kick was definitely no good and wide right.

That kick led the NFL to raise the height of the goal posts the following season.

There has been quite a debate on whether that kick was good or not, but one person was sure that it was good. That would be Bratkowski.

“The field goal was good,” Bratkowski told me a few months ago. “The reason I say that is Bart and I were both holders. If he was hurt and couldn’t hold on kicks, I would hold. In practice, the quarterback who wasn’t holding would be under the goal posts catching the kicks, just like in that game.

“But with those short goal posts, unless you were under them, you couldn’t tell if a kick was good or not. And that’s were the officials were when they said the kick was good.”

don-chandlers-game-winner-vs-the-colts-in-65

In overtime, Chandler hit a 25-yard field goal. This time, there was absolutely no doubt about the kick, and the Packers were 13-10 overtime winners.

The next week, the Packers hosted the defending NFL champion Cleveland Browns at Lambeau. Both Chandler and Kramer starred in the game.

Chandler kicked three field goals and two extra points, while Kramer, along with Fuzzy Thurston and the rest of the offensive line, opened huge holes for Hornung (105 yards rushing and a score) and fullback Jim Taylor (96 yards rushing) to run through.

The power sweep was especially effective, as Kramer and  Thurston kept opening big holes for the backs, mowing down defenders so the Packers gained big chunks of yardage on the ground.

Hornung scored the last touchdown of the game on one of those power sweeps. Kramer pulled left and first blocked the middle linebacker and then a cornerback as the “Golden Boy” found the end zone, as the Packers defeated the Browns 23-12 to win the 1965 NFL title.

In 1966, Kramer had an outstanding season, as it was named first-team All-Pro for the fourth time. Chandler struggled a bit with his field goal accuracy, but still led the team in scoring with 77 points.

Chandler also had a 40.9 punting average and once again broke off a long run on a fake punt, when he rambled down the field for 33 yards on that run.

The Packers as a team were exceptional in ’66, as the team went 12-2, with the two losses by a combined four points. The Pack went on to beat the Cowboys 34-27 in the 1966 NFL title game and two weeks later beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Super Bowl I.

Before the 1967 season, the Packers had a couple of major changes to their roster. Taylor played out his option in 1966 and joined the expansion New Orleans Saints in ’67. Plus, Lombardi put Hornung on the expansion list for the Saints to select and sure enough, they selected No. 5.

Hornung ended up retiring before he joined the Saints because of a pinched nerve issue with his shoulder.

There would be changes for Kramer and Chandler as well. Taylor had been Kramer’s roommate since their rookie year in 1958, so that meant he would be getting a new roomy.

The new roommate ended up being Chandler. Chandler also would only have one job to do in ’67 as the placekicker for the team, as Donny Anderson became the punter for the Pack that season.

Kramer talked about being Chandler’s roommate when we spoke recently.

“We clicked right away as friends,” Kramer said. “Don was a sweet man. A kind man. He had a lot of empathy. He was just a really nice man. Don proved that with all the help he gave me in training camp in ’65 when I was coming back from the intestinal issues when I missed most of the ’64 season.

“We became really good friends. We played golf together and had kicking duels. We had lunch together and we would have a kicking contest to see who would buy the chili that day.

“It was really a good relationship. We eventually got into business together when we developed apartments in Tulsa, Don’s hometown. I had an apartment in Tulsa and I was down there a lot.

“I got to know the family and the kids, the whole group. So it became a real strong friendship.”

The 1967 season was a special season for Kramer, Chandler, Lombardi and the entire Green Bay organization.

That was the year that Kramer, with help from author Dick Schaap, wrote Instant Replay.

I wrote about that book in another story I put out last summer. Here is part of what I wrote:

I do it every summer around training camp. I get out the book Instant Replay and read it. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. It’s been a ritual for me. Why? The book is that good.

In 1967, when Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers was 31 years old, he kept a diary of the season. Kramer would recite his thoughts into a tape recorder and then submit those words to Dick Schaap, who edited the words into the final version of Instant Replay.

Little did Kramer know that the 1967 season would be one of the most remarkable in the history of the NFL, culminating with the NFL Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys, better known as the “Ice Bowl.” No. 64 played a key role in the outcome of that game as well, as the Packers won 21-17 in the final seconds of that classic contest.

From training camp, through the Ice Bowl victory, then the win in Super Bowl II, Kramer provides a fascinating perspective about the viciousness of the NFL back then, when the game was truly a mixture of blood, sweat and tears.

Kramer also offers an insightful view of the team’s legendary leader, head coach Vince Lombardi. The 1967 season was Lombardi’s last year as head coach of the Packers as well.

The Packers did something that no other team has ever done in the modern era in the NFL in 1967. That is, winning a third straight NFL title, which included the team’s second straight win in the Super Bowl.

It was an epic season with deep valleys and high mountain tops.

Hornung and Taylor were gone. Starr was injured early in the year. The Packers lost both starting running backs, halfback Elijah Pitts and fullback Jim Grabowski, for the season in the same game.

There were the gut-wrenching last-second losses vs. the Colts and the Los Angeles Rams on the road.

But then there was the uplifting triumph over the Rams in the Western Conference Championship Game at Milwaukee County Stadium, when the Packers throttled the Rams 28-7.

don-chandler-hits-a-field-goal-vs-the-rams-in-67

The following week was the legendary “Ice Bowl” game and a third-straight NFL title.

Two weeks later, the Packers won their second straight Super Bowl game, when Chandler scored 15 points in the 33-14 win by Green Bay over the Oakland Raiders.

Both Kramer and Chandler had great seasons. Kramer was once again named first-team All-Pro, plus was named to the Pro Bowl squad, while Chandler was 19-of-29 in field goals for the Packers and led the team in scoring with 96 points. Chandler was also named to his first Pro Bowl squad.

Chandler retired after that 1967 season, but he left behind a great NFL résumé.

In his 12-year career, Chandler played in nine NFL title games, winning four. Chandler ended up scoring 530 points in his career (261 with the Packers). No. 34 also had a career average of 43.5 yards per punt and punted for 28,678 yards.

Like Kramer, Chandler was also clutch with the way he performed in the postseason. In his entire career with the Giants and Packers, Chandler made 10-of 15 field goals, while in Green Bay alone, he was nine-of-12 in that statistic.

Chandler’s name will be forever linked to another outstanding achievement that Kramer also accomplished. That was being named to the 1960s All-Decade team as the team’s punter, while No. 64 received the same honor at guard.

Also on that team were a number of teammates that Chandler and Kramer had in their careers, the list included split end Del Shofner of the Giants, as well as flanker Boyd Dowler, offensive tackle Forrest Gregg, center Jim Ringo, quarterback Starr, halfback Hornung, fullback Taylor, defensive end Willie Davis, line backer Ray Nitschke, linebacker Dave Robinson, cornerback Herb Adderley and safety Willie Wood of the Packers.

Sadly, Chandler passed away at the age of 76 in 2011.

Bottom line, Chandler was an outstanding player in the kicking game, whether it was as a placekicker or a punter.

But better yet, he had something else going for him as well, as Kramer explained to me.

“Don was the epitome of being a great teammate,” Kramer said. “But he was more than that for me. Don was truly a great friend.”