Green Bay Packers: Why Bobby Dillon Deserves to be Considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Bobby Dillon

Anyone who has read my work over the years, know that I  was on a crusade to get Jerry Kramer his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now that goal has been accomplished (thanks to the efforts of many), the Green Bay Packers now have 25 individuals who have busts in Canton.

That number is second to only the Chicago Bears, who have 28 individuals who were honored to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Now da Bears have a rich history no doubt, but so do the Packers. In fact, Green Bay has won 13 NFL titles (including four Super Bowls) since they have been in the NFL (1921), while Chicago has won nine NFL championships (including one Super Bowl) since they have been in the NFL (1920).

I believe there are many more deserving individuals of the Packers who merit a bust in Canton and this article is the first of a multi-part series of stories which will chronicle those people.

I told Rick Gosselin (Pro Football Hall of Fame voter and a member of the Seniors Selection Committee) that I would be writing this material yesterday. Gosselin told me to make sure that Ron Kramer, Boyd Dowler and Gale Gillingham were among the players who I would list.

I told Rick that those three will indeed be included in my list of names who deserve consideration for a place in Canton.

But today’s piece is about defensive back Bobby Dillon.

Dillon was drafted in 1952 by the Packers and their phenomenal scout Jack Vainisi. No. 44 was part of a draft class which included quarterback Babe Parilli, wide receiver Billy Howton and defensive tackle Dave “Hawg” Hanner.

Unfortunately for Dillon and his comrades on the Packers, the decade of the 1950s turned out to be the worst decade that Green Bay ever had record-wise. The Packers were 39-79-2 in that decade, which equates to a .331 winning percentage.

Dillon played from 1952 through 1959 and the only year Dillon played with a Green Bay team with a winning record was his last year with the Packers, which also was Vince Lombardi’s first season in what later became “Titletown.”

Even with all the losing going on, Dillon was one of the best players in the NFL during the eight years he played pro football. The former Texas Longhorn intercepted 52 passes in his somewhat short NFL career, which is good enough for being tied for 26th all time.

A number of current members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame also had 52 picks. That list includes Jack Butler, Mel Renfro and Larry Wilson. Those three will most likely be joined soon by another member of the 52 picks club…Champ Bailey.

Dillon made those 52 interceptions in just 94 games, plus he accomplished that with just one eye (lost in a childhood accident).

Bobby Dillon II

Three times Dillon intercepted nine passes in a season. And that was when the NFL season was 12 games.

In his eight-year career, Dillon was named first-team All-Pro four times by AP and was also named to four Pro Bowl squads. Dillon was also named second-team All-Pro by AP in 1956.

But because he played for a losing team, which needed a stock sale in 1950 to stay afloat financially, Dillon was overlooked a number of times in terms of honors.

The same goes for being named to the 1950s All-Decade team at safety. That honor went to Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary and Emlen Tunnell who were obviously great players, but Dillon deserved a spot on that team.

Dillon had more interceptions than both Lary (50) and Christiansen (46), but both played on one of the more successful teams in the NFL of the 1950s, the Detroit Lions.

In an article he wrote about Dillon for Talk of Fame Sports Network about three years ago, Gosselin quotes former Green Bay general manager Ron Wolf talking about Dillon.

“He was a 9.7 sprinter coming out of the University of Texas and would be a corner in today’s game,” Wolf said. “But back then the best athletes were put inside. In order to qualify for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I believe you are talking about the best of the best. Bobby Dillon is one of those from his era. Witness the fact that (safeties) Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary and Emlen Tunnell are in the Hall. Dillon accomplished more than those particular players did in the same era. He was a rare football player, the best defensive back of his time.”

I also had the opportunity to talk with Kramer about Dillon, as they played together on the 1959 team in Green Bay under Lombardi.

“Bobby was exceptionally fast and cat-quick, ” Kramer said. “He had fantastic instincts as well. He could bait a quarterback into throwing his way because of the way he played off a receiver. But then just like that, Bobby would get to the football and either intercept it or bat it away.

Dillon is currently enshrined in the University of Texas Hall of Fame (1996) and the Packers Hall of Fame (1974).

Dillon deserves his rightful placement in one more, the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jerry Kramer: A Weekend for the Ages in Canton

Bob and Jerry at JK's party.

I’m back in Florida now, getting ready for another trip. Soon I will be making my annual summer excursion to Wisconsin. But this past weekend, I had one of the best times of my life in Canton, Ohio, as Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

What made the experience even more special, was that my son Andrew was with me. He agreed with me that the time we spent in Canton was exceptional.

Before we traveled from Tampa to Cleveland on Friday, some things were set in stone. Andrew and I had tickets to the enshrinement ceremony on Saturday night, plus had tickets to the party the Packers would be throwing for Jerry on Saturday afternoon. In addition to that, we had VIP passes to the actual Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum.

But our biggest problem was where to stay. Hotel rooms in Canton were priced at over $300 per night. That would have meant spending close to $1,000 for the three nights we stayed in the area. That was bit too much for my limited budget.

While searching for rooms, I found a motel in Richfield, which is about 40 miles from Canton, that had rooms for $70 a night. So I booked a room for three nights.

Then something extraordinary happened. One of my loyal readers and a huge fan of the Packers, Greg Kloehn, sent me a note and asked me what my plans were for the weekend.

You see, Kloehn is a cardiologist in Canton, who is originally from Brookfield, Wisconsin. When I told him that I was going to be staying at a motel in Richfield, Kloehn said that would not be a good idea, at least on Friday and Saturday night, because of the distance, all the events going on and some other factors like highway construction.

Kloehn then graciously invited my son and myself to stay at his home, which is about five miles from the Hall of Fame. Fortunately, Kloehn has a large home, as he had a number of other guests that weekend, which included his two brothers Tim (and son Ian) and Phil, plus his good friend John Donaldson.

Greg and his wife Lisa, along with their four children (Alyssa, Andrew, Olivia and Anna), were kind beyond belief with their hospitality. On Friday night, Kloehn had a party which reminded me of my college days in Wisconsin, as I had an immediate connection with Greg, his brothers Tim and Phil,  and also John. It felt like I was back at UW-Oshkosh.

That feeling really surfaced when my buddy Jeff Kurszewski (who I went to high school and college with) and his wife Therese joined us at the party after first going to the Gold Jacket dinner, which unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend. Jeff took some great photos though at the event, as that was when Jerry was given his Gold Jacket by his daughter Alicia, after first going through a gauntlet of other Hall of Famers. More on that later.

Greg’s party was just fantastic, with a large assortment of great food (Tim did a great job on the grill) and there were a number of superb possibilities in terms of selecting an adult beverage.

Later in the evening, Jeff and I called our good buddy Kevin Cosgrove, who is currently the defensive coordinator at New Mexico, but who also spent many years at that same position at Wisconsin, including when the Badgers won back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1999 and 2000.

Kevin went to school with Jeff and I at UWO. We talked for at least a half hour and we talked about all the good times that we had at the Big O.

Bottom line, Friday night at Greg’s house was a fantastic start to the weekend in Canton, as we partied until well after 2:00 am.

But that was just a warm up to Saturday, which would end up being an epic day.

After enjoying a late-morning breakfast put together by Lisa, Andrew and I headed out to join Jeff and Therese at Jerry’s party at the beautiful Gervasi Vineyard.

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What a party it was! It was like going to a Hollywood premiere, with celebrities everywhere.

The first person I saw was Jerry’s son Dan. Then I talked with Rick Gosselin, who really helped Jerry get his rightful place in Canton, due to his hard work on the seniors committee, as well as the overall selection committee.

It was then when I had an opportunity to get with Jerry and talk for a little while. It was somewhat short-lived, as Jerry was being approached by anybody and everybody at the party, which was to be expected.

Besides Dan, I also got to see Jerry’s other children…Alicia, Diana, Tony, Matt and Jordan.

In the 2018 Green Bay Packers Yearbook, I wrote the story about Jerry’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Alicia played a prominent role in that article with her unrelenting goal of getting her father his rightful place in Canton.

It was really neat to see Alicia, as we both had worked so hard to get No. 64 a place among the best of the best in the Hall of Fame. I also saw Randy Simon, who also played a big part in helping Jerry’s cause, as he put together a Flipsnack booklet of testimonials from Hall of Fame teammates and opponents.

The list included Paul Hornung, Bart Starr, Willie Davis, Merlin Olsen, Frank Gifford, Chuck Bednarik, Doug Atkins, John Mackey, Raymond Berry, Mel Renfro, Mike Ditka, Bob Lilly, Jim Otto, and Lem Barney, among others.

I also saw Mike Spofford of the Packers, who is the editor of the Packers Yearbook. I thanked him for the opportunity to write the induction piece about Jerry.

There were also a number of former Packers at the party, which included Hornung, Dave Robinson, James Lofton, Frank Winters and Marco Rivera. Plus, Tony Fisher was also there, helping guests as they made their way in and out of the party.

I talked with all of them except the “Golden Boy”, who left the party early.

Mark Murphy, the President and CEO of the Packers, was also in attendance and I talked with him as well.

One of Jerry’s very best friends, Claude Crabb, who is a former NFL player, was also on hand for his buddy’s well-deserved party. I told Claude how much Jerry appreciated him being there for his enshrinement. I could see Claude’s eyes moisten.

Cathy Dworak of the Packers did a fantastic job organizing and putting together this event, with help from Mark Mayfield, who is Jerry’s marketing agent.

There were a number of talented writers besides Gosselin at the party as well. It was great to see and talk to David Maraniss, who wrote one of my favorite books about Vince Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered.

Andy Benoit of SI was also there and we also talked for a bit. I also saw Jeremy Schaap, who was late getting to the party due to a delayed flight. Jeremy and I also chatted. I had written a story about Jeremy’s father Dick a few months earlier.

I was also pleased to meet a number of loyal backers of Jerry’s from Packer Nation, which included Dinger Mueller, Chuck Velek, Dmitriy Solodov, Jef Taylor and Ryan VanAcker.

The party for Jerry was just the beginning of things on that epic Saturday.

The actual enshrinement ceremony was unbelievable. I sat in the club seating area, which allowed free beer and food (which is always a good thing) and sat next to my buddy Jeff Kurszewski and his wife.

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Alicia did a fantastic job presenting her father and then Jerry hit one out of the park with his speech.

“You can, if you will,” is the phrase I’ll never forget from that oratory from Jerry.

After the ceremony, I saw Jerry and his family and friends at the Holiday Inn. I congratulated Jerry on his speech and told him how good he looked in the Gold Jacket. Shortly thereafter, Jerry had to call it a night after a very long day.

Andrew and I then headed to Greg’s for our second sleepover. Greg and company were waiting for us and we all had a nightcap before we hit the hay.

On Sunday, Greg had a ticket for me to use to go with him, John Donaldson and his son Andrew to the Enshrinees’ Roundtable event at the Canton Auditorium.

There were only four members of the Class of 2018 at the event. Ray Lewis, Robert Brazile, Randy Moss and Jerry. And what a performance they put on!

Before they got started, my buddy Jeff, who was sitting near the stage, was talking to Jerry when Kramer asked, “Where’s Bob?” Jeff walked to my table which was a ways away and he had me stand up and wave to Jerry. Jerry did the same and we both gave each other the thumb’s up.

It was a memorable moment for me.

After the the roundtable was over, I was able to meet the President/Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, David Baker. I then rushed out to talk with Jerry for just a minute before he drove away. I could tell he was pretty exhausted from all of the events that he had taken part in the last few days.

Our weekend in Canton wasn’t over. My son Andrew and I then went to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What a glorious place that is. We quickly made it over to where the busts of the Class of 2018 were.

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While I was looking at Jerry’s bust, I gave him a call. People standing around me couldn’t believe I was talking to the man whose bust I was looking at. It was an apropos moment.

The entire Hall was great to go through and I have to say that the Packers Hall of Fame is in the same category in terms of being an upper echelon attraction for pro football fans.

Andrew and I then left for Richfield for our last night in Ohio. We were back in Florida the next day.

A day later, I wanted to check on Jerry. I caught him at his home in Boise sitting in his “Big Chair” having some coffee. Jerry told me that it felt good to get a couple of good night’s sleep in his own bed.

Then Jerry reflected.

“Canton was a fantastic experience. It’s something I’ll never forget,” Kramer said. “It was a validation of my career with the Packers and in the NFL. And with my family there and so many friends and fans, it just made the whole time there so memorable and unforgettable.”

When we talked, Jerry as usual thought of his coach.

Coach Lombardi is the reason that so many players, including myself, are now in Canton.”

Vince and Jerry after Super Bowl II

Jerry then talked about one of the more momentous moments in the days he spent in Canton.

‘At the Gold Jacket dinner, as I was heading to get my Gold Jacket from Alicia, I had a group hug with fellow Hall of Fame guards John Hannah, Joe DeLamielleure and Tom Mack. They told me how much they tried to emulate my play in their careers. There wasn’t a dry eye among us.”

Had Jerry been able to see where I was sitting in the club seat section during his enshrinement speech, he would have seen the same reaction from me.

Green Bay Packers: Heading to Canton for Jerry Kramer’s Enshrinement Ceremony

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Yes, a week from today, I will be witnessing in person Jerry Kramer being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. What a glorious moment that will be.

I won’t be alone, as my son Andrew will be traveling with me, plus Kramer’s family and friends will also be on hand, as well as a huge throng of people from Packer/NFL Nation.

What really makes this event so amazing and unbelievable is that Jerry first became eligible to get into the Hall of Fame 44 years ago.

That was three years after his head coach Vince Lombardi was given a bust in Canton in 1971, a year after he died from colon cancer. Lombardi had led the Packers to five NFL titles in seven years, including wins in the first two Super Bowl games.

Yes, Kramer became finalist in his first year of eligibility in 1974. That made sense, as No. 64 was named the best player ever at the guard position in the first 50 years of the NFL, when the Pro Football Hall of Fame named their NFL 50th anniversary team in 1969.

Add to that, Kramer was also named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1960s.

Kramer was also a five-time AP first-team All-Pro and was named to three Pro Bowl squads. Kramer would have had more honors if not for injuries and medical issues that caused him to miss the better part of two-plus seasons.

Plus, not only was Kramer a great player in the regular season for the Packers, he was outstanding in the postseason as well, as his play stood out in the 1962, 1965 and 1967 NFL title games.

No play epitomizes that more that Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak in the 1967 NFL title game between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys at frigid Lambeau Field. That game will be forever known as the “Ice Bowl.”

Kramer led Starr into the end zone with a classic block on defensive tackle Jethro Pugh of the Cowboys.

Bart's QB sneak behind Jerry

Kramer became a finalist for admission to the Hall of Fame on eight other occasions up until 1987. But while other Packers like Jim Taylor (1976), Forrest Gregg (1977), Bart Starr (1977), Ray Nitschke (1978), Herb Adderley (1980), Willie Davis (1981), Jim Ringo (1981) and Paul Hornung (1986) were all inducted during that time period, Kramer never heard his name called.

10 years passed before Kramer was again a finalist in 1997, but this time as a senior candidate.

In that 10 year period between 1987 and 1997, two more Lombardi-era Packers were inducted into the Hall of Fame, Willie Wood (1989) and Henry Jordan (1995 as a senior).

The timing seemed perfect. The Packers were playing in Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots in New Orleans.

The Packers won that Super Bowl 35-21 over the Pats, but Kramer for some unfathomable reason was not inducted.

Kramer recalled being there in New Orleans with his good friend and co-author Dick Schaap awaiting his induction.

“Yes, we planned on it happening,” Kramer said. “Dick had shirts made. We had a big party the night before. Everything seemed to be in place.”

But alas, it didn’t happen for Kramer in the “Big Easy” that year.

In his book Green Bay Replay, Schaap wrote about how Kramer handled the news about not being inducted in New Orleans at Super Bowl XXXI.

“In the afternoon, Jerry Kramer and Willie Davis, once roommates and still friends, encountered each other on Bourbon Street and embraced,” Schaap wrote. “Willie almost cried for Jerry, who smiled and signed autograph after autograph for Packer fans flooding the sleazy street, outnumbering Patriot fans by a huge margin.”

That describes Jerry perfectly. He has remained stoic through all the disappointments over the years of not being rightfully enshrined in Canton.

And all during that time, which continues to this day, Kramer has been an ambassador for the Packers and the NFL.

But all of the frustration over the years of not being inducted into the Hall of Fame were washed away on February 3 in Minneapolis, when Jerry was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2018.

Kramer talked to me shortly after he experienced the gratification of that momentous occasion, as he was hoping for a knock on his hotel door by the President/Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, David Baker.

“Yeah, that was a pretty incredible time,” Kramer said. “I was starting to go downhill. I had pretty well gotten myself in a positive frame of mind because they told us that he [Baker] was supposed to be at the door between 3:00 and 4:00.

“I had heard that Rick Gosselin had done my presentation early to the selection committee, so I figured that they were going to do the seniors [knock on the door] first. So I’m thinking it’s good if I get a knock on the door at 3:15 or so, we would have a pretty good shot. But if it’s 3:45 or so, not so much.

“So it’s just about 3:30 and we hear that they were delayed and would be a little late. So about twenty minutes to 4:00, we hear a knock at the door. And everyone there, which was my daughter Alicia, my son Matt, my grandson Charlie, my son Tony and his wife Darlene, Chris Olsen (close friend), Chuck Greenberg (former owner of the Texas Rangers) and a couple other folks there, all started cheering. So we go to the door and it’s the maid.

“So she was like a deer in the headlights. She didn’t know what was going on. So after she left, we settled back down. Now it’s 3:45 and I’m really sliding downhill. I’m thinking that I’m not going to make it. That they would be here by now. All of a sudden there is a thunderous knock on the door. Boom, boom, boom.

“And you knew that was him [Baker]. So I said, ‘Who is it?’, being bit of a smart ass and I open the door and David is standing there with a half a dozen photographers and camera people. He gave me a big hug and I gave him a big hug. He’s 6’9” and 400 pounds. And I said, ‘You’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.’

“I was so wanting to see him. We were all praying for Mr. Baker to knock at the door and he was a lovely sight.”

I chronicled that experience and more in an article I wrote which is in the 2018 Green Bay Packers Yearbook. The piece focuses about the great work done by Jerry’s daughter Alicia, which led to her father’s rightful place among the best of the best in Canton.

Meanwhile, Jerry is doing what he always does. Traveling around as an spokesman for the Packers and the NFL. He just spent over a week in Wisconsin, in which he did a function with the Milwaukee Athletic Club, made an appearance at the Charles Woodson golf tournament, did an Associated Bank commercial, had an interview with ESPN, plus was honored by the Packers Hall of Fame, which included the opening of the Jerry Kramer Exhibit there.

Jerry Kramer Exhibit

(Photo: Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wi, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

As I often do, I have talked with Jerry as all of this was going on. Yesterday was one of those occasions, as Kramer was resting at home in his “Big Chair” at his home in Boise for a couple of days before he gets on his travel horse again and heads to Canton.

“It’s still a little surreal,” Kramer said. “You see see yourself doing these things because of the induction. You just shake your head, because it’s just one after another after another. Just one would be a sensational event, but there are like a half-dozen of them going on.

“It’s just mind-boggling and overwhelming. I was holding up pretty good and then I started getting weary yesterday afternoon and was anxious to get home. But I had a real good night’s sleep and I probably need a couple more, but I’ll get re-charged.”

No doubt, as the activities in Canton this upcoming week will be fast and furious for Kramer.

But the journey doesn’t end for Kramer after his enshrinement in Canton. Another moment that Jerry is really looking forward to will occur in Week 2 at Lambeau Field on September 16 when the Packers host the Minnesota Vikings.

“Certainly the Hall of Fame itself in Canton in August and all of that will be nice,” Kramer told me. “But another moment which will be awfully powerful for me is getting my Hall of Fame ring and seeing my name on the façade at Lambeau Field in front of those great fans.”

There Kramer will see his name unveiled alongside the other 24 Packers enshrined in Canton, nearly half of them his own teammates, which also now includes Dave Robinson, who was inducted into the Hall in 2013.

Yes, that will be a truly fantastic occasion.

As will being on hand to see Jerry get his appropriate enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next Saturday.

Ted Moore Belongs in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame

Ted Moore doing a Packers game at MCS

Anyone who is familiar with my writing over the past 16 years covering the Green Bay Packers knows that I was a huge proponent for the rightful induction of Jerry Kramer into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That goes back to my days at Packer Report.

I feel the same way about other former Packers. Players like Bobby Dillon, Boyd Dowler, Ron Kramer, Fuzzy Thurston, Gale Gillingham,  LeRoy Butler and Sterling Sharpe. At the very least, the careers of these players need to be brought into the discussion about being enshrined in Canton.

But that’s another story. This story is about a man who definitely needs to be inducted into another Hall of Fame…the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Just like [Jerry] Kramer (1975), Dowler (1978), [Ron] Kramer (1975), Thurston (1975), Gillingham (1982), Dillon (1974), Butler (2007) and Sharpe (2002) were.

I’m talking about the former radio announcer of the Packers in the Vince Lombardi era, Ted Moore.

I grew up in that era. It was the golden age for Packer Nation, as Lombardi’s Packers won five NFL titles in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls. The team also won an unprecedented three NFL championships in a row, a feat that has never been duplicated in the playoff era of the NFL going back to 1933.

Back in those days, if you watched the Packers on television, you heard and saw Ray Scott do the games on CBS. But if you listened to the games on the radio, you listened to Moore on the Packers radio network. The flagship station for the Packers then and now was WTMJ in Milwaukee.

Back then, all local games were blacked out on television (even if they were sold out). So unless I was able to attend a game in person at Milwaukee County Stadium (which I did on a few occasions), I listened to the rest the Packer games in Milwaukee on the radio. The same held true for anyone who lived in Green Bay for Packer games at City Stadium/Lambeau Field.

Scott was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2001. So were a couple of other legendary Green Bay newspaper reporters who covered the Packers back then, as both Art Daley (1993) and Lee Remmel (1996) have been enshrined as well. So was the team photographer during that time, Vernon Biever (2002).

Basically everyone who covered the Packers during the Lombardi era is in the Packers Hall of Fame. All except Moore.

Ted Moore and Vince Lombardi

Now there have been two Packer radio announcers who have been inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame. They are Russ Winnie (2016) and Jim Irwin (2003).

I expect them to be joined at some point by Moore and current radio play-by-play man, Wayne Larrivee.

I got to know Irwin pretty well at WTMJ in 1980 and 1981 when I worked there, first as an intern and then as a freelance reporter. In fact, I got to know Irwin so well, that he was the No. 1 reference listed on my résumé while I was looking for broadcasting and journalism work out of college.

Now longevity in covering the Packers does play a part in getting into the Hall of Fame for the team. Daley (68 years), Remmel (62 years) and Biever (61 years) each covered the Packers for over six decades.

Scott (10 years), Winnie (17 years) and Irwin (29 years) all covered the team for at least a decade and in Irwin’s case, almost three decades.

Moore spent 12 years broadcasting games for the Packers. And it was he who first hired Irwin.

Like I mentioned in my most recent story, the quarterback sneak by Bart Starr in the 1967 NFL title game between the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, was one of the most iconic plays in NFL history.

And it has to be the greatest play in the history of the Packers. It was Moore who provided the play-by-play on that legendary moment in Green Bay lore.

“Third down and inches to go to pay dirt. 17-14, Cowboys out in front. Starr begins the count and he takes the quarterback sneak and he’s in for the touchdown and the Packers are out in front. The Green Bay Packers are going to be world champions,” Moore yelled out, as the 50,000-plus frozen faithful in the Lambeau Field stands went delirious.

Moore did the radio broadcasts for all six of the NFL championship games that the Packers under Lombardi played in.

There are currently 159 members of the Packers Hall of Fame. That number will go up by two, as Mark Tauscher and Ryan Longwell will get inducted later this summer. Of those 159 members, 26 have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After Moore left the Packers, he broadcast the games in 1970 for the Baltimore Colts. He brought some championship luck to the Colts as well, as the team went on to win Super Bowl V.

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Moore later returned to Milwaukee and spent some time at WEMP and WOKY.

My dad was one of Moore’s loyal listeners during in his time in Wisconsin, as he announced football and basketball games (22 years) for the University of Wisconsin, and also called basketball games for Marquette University one year.

Speaking of fathers and sons, Moore’s son Richard has page on Facebook called Put Ted Moore in The Packer Hall of Fame.

Moore is already in the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but he also certainly deserves to be in the Packers Hall of Fame.

Moore passed away in 2014 at the age of 87, so he never was able to see himself enshrined with the best of the best in the the history of the Packers.

Being inducted in 2019 would be very apropos, as it would be the 50th anniversary of Moore’s final season with the Packers.

Each summer when I come back to Wisconsin, I always try to make a number of trips to Green Bay from our summer home in Cedar Grove, right off of Lake Michigan. I almost always stop in and go through the Packers Hall of Fame in the Lambeau Field Atrium.

The Packers Hall of Fame has been around since 1967, but with the new and improved look of the historical landscape now, it has truly become a must-see stop for not only all Packers fans, but all NFL fans in general.

I look forward to the day when I will see Moore’s name listed among the greats in the Packers Hall of Fame.

One Forgotten Aspect on Bart Starr’s QB Sneak in the ‘Ice Bowl’

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It’s one of the most iconic plays in NFL history. I’m talking about Bart Starr’s legendary quarterback sneak in the 1967 NFL title game, better known as the “Ice Bowl”, as the Green Bay Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in the final seconds of the game.

That touchdown gave the Packers their third straight NFL championship, a feat that has never been duplicated in the playoff era of the NFL dating back to 1933.

Two weeks later, the Packers won their second straight Super Bowl as well, as they defeated the Oakland Raiders 33-14.

But it was Starr’s QB sneak that made all of that possible.

It was most definitely the signature moment in the legacy of Vince Lombardi during his time in Green Bay as head coach and general manager.

That play was set up by one of the most fabulous drives in the history of the Packers.

Here was the situation:

The Packers trailed 17-14 and had not done a thing in the second half offensively. “We had minus-nine yards in 31 plays in the second half at one point,” right guard Jerry Kramer told me.

The Packers got the ball back at their own 32-yard line with just 4:50 remaining in the game. Somehow the Packers were going to have to trudge 68 yards across a truly frozen tundra to win the game.

“I asked Bart about that years later, about what made him think we could go 68 yards and score a touchdown after we had made minus-nine yards on 31 plays prior to that,” Kramer said. “Bart said, ‘Jerry, I came into the huddle and started to say something. Then I looked in your eyes, I looked at Forrest’s eyes and everyone else in the huddle, and I knew I didn’t have to say anything. So all I said was, ‘Let’s go.’

I wrote about that mythical drive in December, just two days before the 50th anniversary of that historical NFL game. Kramer, halfback Donny Anderson and fullback Chuck Mercein shared their thoughts about that improbable trek across the ice.

The play which won the Packers their fifth NFL title in seven years was called earlier in the week when the team was studying the defensive tendencies of the Cowboys. Kramer actually suggested the play to Lombardi.

Bart's Sneak

“Jethro [Pugh] was high, and I actually suggested that play on Thursday when we were studying short-yardage films. I said we could wedge Pugh if we had to. And Coach Lombardi said, ‘What?’ And I said that we can wedge Pugh if we have to. So we ran the film back three or four times, and coach says, ‘That’s right. Put in a wedge on Pugh.’

The do-or-die situation in the game came down to the Packers having just 16 seconds to go with no timeouts at the Dallas 1-yard line.

Starr called a 31 Wedge play in the huddle (the same play discussed on Thursday), which calls for the fullback to get the ball. However, after conferring with Lombardi, Starr decided to keep the ball due to the slippery conditions near the goal line.

Starr followed Kramer’s classic block on Pugh (with help from center Ken Bowman) and No. 15 tumbled happily into the end zone for the winning score and NFL immortality.

But history might have been different had Starr tried to cross the goal line with the football in his right arm and not his left.

I mentioned that scenario to Boyd Dowler when we talked recently and he said, “I didn’t realize that.”

IMAG0500

The reason why that was so important is because Chuck Howley, who was the left outside linebacker of the Cowboys, quickly dove into Starr just as he was about to get into the end zone. Howley tried to rip the football from Starr’s empty right arm. Had Starr carried the football in that arm, who knows what may have occurred?

Starr had fumbled earlier in the game during the second quarter, which led to a George Andrie touchdown after he recovered the fumble by No. 15.

The bottom line is that Starr not only called the right play (31 Wedge) and the right way to score on that play (via his sneak), but also the correct way to handle the ball as he made his way triumphantly into the end zone.

Green Bay Packers: GM Brian Gutekunst is Having a Nice Rookie Year

Brian Gutekunst at OTA

Brian Gutekunst via packers.com.

In his first term as general manager of the Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst is having a pretty good rookie season. Or offseason, depending how you look at it.

The additions that Gutekunst has made to the roster up until now has been quite unlike what we have seen from Ted Thompson over the past 13 years, when he held the same job title.

Let’s take a look at the roster moves that Gutekunst has made since he became GM.

The first acquisition that Gutekunst made was when he traded defensive back Damarious Randall to the Cleveland Browns for quarterback DeShone Kizer. Plus the Packers and Browns swapped picks in the fourth and fifth rounds in the 2018 NFL draft.

The move was made for two reasons. Randall had basically worn out his welcome in Green Bay, both with his inconsistent performances and his attitude. The addition of Kizer says a lot about how the team feels about the overall performance of Brett Hundley in 2017, as he took over for Aaron Rodgers after No. 12 fractured his collarbone in Week 6.

Hundley was 3-6 as a starter and he threw nine touchdown passes compared to 12 interceptions for 1,853 yards. No. 7’s passer rating was just 70.9.

Hundley was also sacked 29 times, as he had difficulty moving around the pocket and going through his reads.

Hundley did run for 270 yards and two scores, but he just couldn’t lead the Packers down the field consistently enough due to his passing deficiencies.

The 6’4″, 235-pound Kizer will push Hundley in 2018 for the backup job behind Rodgers. My money is on Kizer winning that battle.

Just a few days after the trade to pick up Kizer, Gutekunst really got busy. He first released wide receiver Jody Nelson, who was definitely a fan favorite in Green Bay. NFL scout Chris Landry told me that Nelson looked visibly slower in 2017, which was two years removed from a torn ACL in the 2015 preseason.

The release of Nelson cleared $10.2 million in cap space.

After the release of Nelson, the Packers signed tight end Jimmy Graham of the Seattle Seahawks to a three-year contract worth $30 million, with $22 million paid out during the first two years of the deal.

Graham will be a big red zone weapon for Rodgers to utilize, as well as someone who can stretch the seam down the middle of the field. Rodgers has taken advantage of that situation before in the past in Green Bay with other tight ends like Jermichael Finley and Jared Cook.

In his eight-year career in the NFL, Graham has 556 receptions for 6,800 yards and 69 touchdowns.

The 6’7″, 265-pound Graham has also been named to five Pro Bowl squads and was also named first-team All-Pro in 2013 by AP.

Jimmy Graham as a Packer

Jimmy Graham

Shortly after inking Graham to a deal, Gutekunst signed defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, formerly of the New York Jets.

Wilkerson had played the first two years of his career with the Jets under the new defensive coordinator of the Packers, Mike Pettine.

The 6’4″, 315-pound Wilkerson signed a one-year deal worth $5 million, plus $3 million in incentives, according to Tom Pellissero of NFL Network.

In his entire seven-year career with the Jets, Wilkerson had 405 tackles, 44.5 sacks, 28 passes defensed, two interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and one fumble recovery (for a touchdown).

Wilkerson will make the defensive line of the Packers a very formidable force, along with Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark.

Not long after signing Graham and Wilkerson, Gutekunst brought back a former Packer, as he signed cornerback Tramon Williams, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals. Williams also played under Pettine in 2015 with the Cleveland Browns when Pettine was the head coach there.

Williams, along with the re-signing of Davon House, will definitely help in tutoring the young cornerbacks on the Green Bay roster. The youth and depth at the CB position grew even larger because of the 2018 NFL draft of the Packers.

Before the Packers made their first selection in Round 1, the team traded back from pick No. 15 to pick No. 27 with the New Orleans Saints. The trade netted the Packers a first-round pick in 2019 from the Saints.

When the draft was over, the Packers had used their first two selections on cornerbacks (Jaire Alexander and Josh Johnson), drafted a cover linebacker (Oren Burks), added three big and fast wide receivers (J’Mon Moore, Marquez Vlaldes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown), selected an offensive tackle who will most likely play guard (Cole Madison), added some talent to special teams (punter JK Scott and long snapper Hunter Bradley) and added some late help to the pass rush (defensive end James Looney and outside linebacker Kendall Donnerson).

Gutekunst also added a number of undrafted rookie free agents to the roster, some of whom have a real opportunity to make the team. Center Austin Davis of Duke is one such player.

While the Packers certainly addressed a number of needs in the 2018 NFL draft, I thought there were three areas of concern which weren’t focused on.

Those areas were adding depth at the offensive tackle position, adding a run-blocking tight end and adding more help to the pass rush much sooner in the draft.

As it turns out, Gutekunst addressed two of those areas in free agency after the draft, as he added offensive lineman Byron Bell and tight end Marcedes Lewis.

The 6’5″, 320-pound Bell has made 74 starts in his NFL career, as he has played with the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys. Bell, who is 29, has started at both offensive tackle positions, as well as at left guard.

The addition helps specifically at right tackle, as Bryan Bulaga is coming back from his second ACL tear and has been injury prone most of his NFL career. No. 75 has missed 43 games due to injury in his eight years with the Packers.

In addition to that, his backups (Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy) have also had injury issues.

The 6’6″, 267-pound Lewis is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. The Packers had two seam-stretching tight ends in Graham and Lance Kendricks, but neither is known for their blocking abilities. Lewis can block with the best of them and is also a threat in the passing game as well.

Lewis, was the first round selection of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2006 and has caught 375 passes for 4,502 yards and 33 touchdowns. Lewis was also a Pro Bowl selection in 2010.

Marcedes Lewis

Marcedes Lewis

In terms of how the pass rush for the Packers will improve in 2018, I still have concerns, but a recent article by Pete Dougherty of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin eased that matter somewhat.

I was concerned about Green Bay’s lack of a pass rush going into the draft. In 2017, the Packers were ranked 22nd in total defense, plus were only tied for 17th in sacks with 37. That lack of pass-pressure led to Green Bay being ranked 23rd in pass defense in the NFL and 31st in the opposing QB’s passer rating.

The Packers allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw 30 touchdown passes versus just 11 picks for 3,789 yards. That adds up to allowing a ridiculous passer rating of 102.0 for the opposing quarterbacks. Ouch.

Now Green Bay did add some nice talent to the cornerback position in the draft, plus also added a cover linebacker, but if an opposing quarterback has too much time to find an open receiver, he will eventually find one.

That happened far too often to the Packers in 2017.

Which was the primary reason Dom Capers was fired as defensive coordinator and replaced by Mike Pettine.

The track record of Pettine as a defensive coordinator is very good. In five years as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, four with the New York Jets under head coach Rex Ryan and one with the Buffalo Bills, Pettine always coordinated a top 10 defense.

From 2009 though 2012 with the Jets, his defenses were ranked first, third, fifth and eighth in the NFL in total defense, while in 2013 with the Bills, his defense was ranked 10th in that category.

And when the Packers added Wilkerson in free agency to reunite with Pettine, that may have shed some light on where the Packers expect to field an effective pass rush.

Dougherty noted in his story about where the pass rush for the Packers might be coming from, via a quote from Pettine himself.

“People talk about the exterior pass rush,” Pettine said after a recent Packers OTA practice, “but I think the interior pass rush is as important or maybe potentially more important.”

That is what Wilkerson can add with his 44.5 career sacks on the defensive line. Combine that with Mike Daniels (27 career sacks) and Kenny Clark (4.5 sacks in 2017), you might just have a very good inside avenue to disrupt the passing prowess of an opposing quarterback.

The Packers also have enough depth in the defensive line to keep everyone fresh with players like Montravius Adams and Dean Lowry. Plus, the Packers added Looney in the draft and signed two intriguing undrafted rookie defensive line prospects in Tyler Lancaster of Northwestern and Conor Sheehy of Wisconsin.

As Dougherty writes in his story, the defensive scheme that has been put together by Pettine has always relied on inside pass pressure. And that is a big strength of the Packers with Wilkerson, Daniels and Clark.

“If I’m an offense, it’s a lot easier to handle guys off the edges via formation or chipping or doubles,” Pettine said. “Inside, usually somebody’s getting— one guy, maybe two — are getting one-on-ones. Those guys have to win. If you can be dominant inside, I think that just has a ripple effect throughout your defense when you’re speeding up that quarterback’s clock because you have guys winning inside or at least pushing the pocket.”

In Pettine’s four seasons with the Jets (2009-12), he never had an outside rusher with more than eight sacks, but he did got of lot of pressure and sacks from his inside linebackers and defensive linemen.

Based on what Pettine’s defenses has done in the past, it appears that the key is to get as many one-on-ones up the middle as he can.

“It’s paramount that you have guys that can win inside,” Pettine said.

Mike Pettine as a Packer DC

Mike Pettine via packers.com.

But the guys on the outside have to help out as well. Clay Matthews (80 career sacks and 7.5 sacks in 2017) and Nick Perry (30.5 career sacks and 18 sacks the past two seasons) have shown in the past that they can be very good pass rushers. The problem with Matthews and Perry is keeping them on the field, as both have had injury issues throughout their respective careers.

That’s why young outside linebackers like Kyler Fackrell, Vince Biegel and Reggie Gilbert have to step up their game in 2018.

But the bottom line is that Gutekunst has upgraded the team in a number of areas,  both in the draft and also in the liberal use of free agency, bringing in the likes of Graham, Wilkerson, Williams, Bell and Lewis.

The trade to acquire Kizer at quarterback also appears to be an upgrade.

The use of free agency was rare back in the days of Thompson, but when he dipped his pan in the free agency waters, he sometimes found gold, which was the case with both Charles Woodson and Julius Peppers.

Gutekunst was on Thompson’s scouting staff when both of those signings took place and they were obviously a lesson learned. That is not to say all of the free agency signings Gutekunst has made so far in 2018 will yield similar results, but all of the players he has signed have shown talent at times in the past, as four of the free agents he has signed have played in the Pro Bowl.

Add to the fact that the Packers have also made a number of coaching changes under head coach Mike McCarthy, with the biggest one being Pettine as the new defensive coordinator, the Packers appear to be a much better team in 2018, compared to last season.

Gutekunst has definitely aided that effort with the approach he has taken to add more talent to the Green Bay roster.

So far, so good, for the rookie.

Green Bay Packers: Remembering Travis Williams, aka the ‘Roadrunner’

Travis Williams Kickoff Return TD vs. Rams in LA

I was reading a story today by Rick Gosselin of the Talk of Fame Sports Network in which he names his all-time NFL special teams unit.

Now nobody studies NFL special teams units like Gosselin does. Since 1980, Gosselin has studied and ranked all the special teams units in the NFL. That has gone on now for 38 years and his rankings are must-read material.

Back in 1980, Gosselin was covering the Kansas City Chiefs. The special teams coach of the Chiefs then was Frank Gansz. It was by talking with Gansz that Gosselin learned the formula about how to rank special teams units.

Before I read the story on his all-time team, I was wondering if Travis Williams of the Green Bay Packers and later the Los Angeles Rams was on Gosselin’s 53-man unit. It turns out that he wasn’t, as the returners which Gosselin has on his team are certainly worthy of getting that honor.

The three kickoff returners Gosselin has on his team are Gale Sayers, Josh Cribbs and Mel Gray. The three punt returners are Devin Hester, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson and Rick Upchurch.

Everyone of those players were consistently very good at returning kicks throughout their NFL careers, as opposed to Williams, who made a name for himself in 1967, which also happened to be his rookie year in the NFL.

In that season, Williams returned 18 kickoffs for 739 yards, which averages out to 41.1 yards-per-return, which is still a NFL record. No. 23 returned four of those 18 kicks for touchdowns and almost had a fifth against the Chicago Bears.

Travis Wiliams

Williams was never able to replicate that performance again on a consistent basis, but he did score again on returns on two occasions for the Packers in 1969, when he returned a punt for 83 yards and another kickoff for 96 yards.

Also, in 1971 when he was a member of the Rams, Williams returned another kickoff for 105 yards and a touchdown.

Besides flashing outstanding ability as a kick returner, Williams also showed that he could be a game-changer when he played running back.

Never was that more true than in the 1967 Western Conference title game, when the Packers played the Rams at Milwaukee County Stadium. The “Roadrunner” was the star of the game for the Packers.

No. 23 didn’t return a kickoff for a score, but he did rush for two touchdowns and had 88 yards rushing.

Right guard Jerry Kramer talked to me about that first TD run by Williams.

“I remember blocking on Merlin [Olsen] very vividly on one play,” Kramer said. “It’s still crystal clear in my mind. Travis is going outside right on the play. And I’m blocking on Merlin and I’m trying to get outside position on him. And he’s starting to move and I’m chasing him.

“All of a sudden, I see Travis about even with us, but near the sideline and I knew that he was gone.”

Gone he was, as Williams scampered 46 yards for a score.

The 1967 season was a special one for the Packers, as the team won it’s third straight NFL championship under head coach Vince Lombardi. That feat has never been duplicated either. That season was also the last year the Packers were coached by Lombardi.

The Packers also won their second straight Super Bowl that season, which was an outstanding feat based on all the injuries the team had that season.

In 1966, quarterback Bart Starr was the NFL MVP. But for the first part of the 1967 season, Starr was affected by a number of injuries which forced him to miss two games.

In addition to that, when the season started, the Packers no longer had halfback Paul Hornung or fullback Jim Taylor as starters in the backfield. That combination was considered to be the best in the NFL for several seasons.

Hornung was claimed by the expansion New Orleans Saints when Lombardi had put him on the Green Bay expansion list. No. 5 never played with the Saints however, as he was forced to retire due to a neck/shoulder injury.

Taylor did play for the Saints that season, as he played out his option in the 1966 season and signed with the Saints in 1967.

With Hornung and Taylor no longer available, Lombardi made Elijah Pitts his starting halfback and Jim Grabowski his starting fullback. Both were having solid seasons when in Week 8 of the 1967 season against the Baltimore Colts, both Pitts and Grabowski were lost for the season with injuries.

Lombardi then added fullback Chuck Mercein to the team via waivers and Green Bay now had a one-two punch at both halfback and fullback throughout the rest of the 1967 season.

Donny Anderson and Williams shared time at halfback, while Mercein and Ben Wilson shared duties at fullback.

The result? The Packers finished second in the NFL in rushing in 1967.

Travis Williams in the Ice Bowl

When the postseason came around, Lombardi utilized all of his backs, depending on the opponents.

Against the Rams, Lombardi primarily played Williams at halfback and Mercein at fullback. Against the Cowboys in the “Ice Bowl”, Anderson played primarily at halfback, while Mercein received most of the playing time at fullback.

But in Super Bowl II versus the Oakland Raiders, Anderson again was in most of the time at halfback, while Wilson got the start at fullback that game and led the Packers in rushing that day with 65 yards.

In 1967, Williams was part of a rookie class, which included Bob Hyland and Don Horn. I wrote a piece about that class a little over a year ago.

Williams first showed his kickoff return prowess in Week 7 of the 1967 season, when he returned a kick for 93 yards and a score against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis.

At the time of that kickoff return, the Packers were trailing the Cardinals 23-17 in the fourth quarter. The Packers ended up winning that game 31-23.

Two weeks later against the Cleveland Browns at Milwaukee County Stadium, Williams really put himself on the NFL map. Williams returned two kickoffs for touchdowns that day in the first quarter. The first was 87 yards and the second one was 85 yards. If that wasn’t enough, the “Roadrunner” rushed for 43 yards in just four carries in the game.

Williams returned his fourth kickoff return for a touchdown against the Rams in Week 13 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for 104 yards.

As a running back in the 1967 regular season, Williams rushed for 188 yards (5.4 yards-per-carry average) and one score, while he caught five passes for 80 yards (16 yard average) and another score.

In the postseason, Williams rushed for 137 yards (4.6 average) and had two touchdowns (both against the Rams).

As it was, Williams only showed glimpses of what he did in 1967 throughout the rest of his career in Green Bay and in the NFL.

In 1968, Williams only had a 21.4 average in returning kicks (no touchdowns) and only rushed for 63 yards the entire season.

In 1969, Williams appeared to have bounced back in fine fashion, as he had two return touchdowns and also rushed for 536 yards (4.2 average) and four scores. No. 23 also caught 27 passes for 275 yards and three more touchdowns.

But in 1970, Williams again regressed, as he had just 276 yards rushing (3.7 average) and one touchdown, plus caught just 12 passes, one of which was a score.

In 1971, new head coach and general manager Dan Devine traded Williams to the Rams, where the “Roadrunner” had his last season in the NFL because of a knee injury.

Sadly, Williams died at the young age of 45 in 1991 of heart failure after a long illness. Williams had dealt with homelessness, poverty and alcohol for a number of years leading up to his death.

Williams had battled depression due to the deaths of his wife, mother and sister in 1985.

It was a tragic end to the life of Williams, who had been the brightest of lights for the Packers in the glorious season of 1967.

It was in that season when the “Roadrunner” set a kickoff return record which has yet to be broken. That didn’t get Williams on Gosselin’s all-time NFL special teams unit, but I certainly believe that Williams deserves honorable mention for his kick returning skills.

Reviewing the 2018 NFL Draft of the Green Bay Packers

Brian Gutekunst as GM

The 2018 NFL draft for the Green Bay Packers is now over. How would I view the draft for the Pack overall? I have a number of thoughts. In conjunction with my opinion, I’m going to use the scouting insights of NFL scout Chris Landry.

Much like in the 2015 NFL draft which was run by then general manager Ted Thompson, the Packers focused on the cornerback position in the first two rounds. In that regard, I think new general manager Brian Gutekunst did quite well, especially based on the pre-draft scouting report by Landry.

Landry had both Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson rated with a 6.4 grade, which classifies as an early second-round value. Both players were on his horizontal draft board (best players regardless of position). Alexander was ranked No. 37, while Jackson was ranked No. 30. Jackson was ranked third, while Alexander was ranked fourth on Landry’s cornerback draft board.

I had the Packers taking Jackson in the second round in my third mock draft.

Green Bay desperately needed to upgrade the talent and youth at the cornerback position in this draft and they did just that. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has to be happy with these selections.

Later in this article, you will see Landry’s breakdown on the selections of both Alexander and Jackson, as well as all the other selections that the Packers made in the draft.

I also saw that he Packers definitely got bigger and faster at the wide receiver position with the three players they selected. J’Mon Moore of Missouri is 6’3″, weighs 207 pounds and ran a 4.48 in the 40 at his pro day. Marquez Valdes-Scantling of USF is 6’4″, weighs 206 pounds and ran a 4.37 in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine. Equanimeous St. Brown is 6’5″, weighs 214 pounds and ran a 4.48 in the 40 at the combine.

Landry had both Moore and Brown ranked on his horizontal board, which ranks players from first to fourth-round value. Landry has Brown ranked No. 86 and has the former Fighting Irish star graded with a 5.9 mark, which means a third-round value. Landry had Moore ranked No. 129 and has the former Tiger star graded with a 5.5 mark, which means a fourth-round value.

I had the Packers taking Brown in my first mock draft.

Valdes-Scantling was not on Landry’s horizontal board and was graded with a 5.4 mark, which means fifth to sixth-round value.

The Packers had a lot of question marks at wide receiver prior to the draft. For one, the team released Jordy Nelson. Secondly, the best wide receiver on the team, Davante Adams, who the Packers signed to a four-year $58.75 extension in late December, is coming off a season with multiple concussions. Finally, Randall Cobb is is in the final year of his four-year $40 deal, one which he has not exactly lived up to.

Adding Moore, Valdes-Scantling and Brown gives the Packers a lot of options at the wide receiver position, as well as speed and size as I mentioned earlier.

I’m sure quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t unhappy with the selections of these big and talented receivers. Nor was head coach Mike McCarthy.

In the third round the Packers picked linebacker Oren Burks. While I would have preferred adding an edge rusher at that point of the draft, the Packers have been trying to find a cover-linebacker for years now in the pass-happy league that they play in. It appears that Burks can fill that role.

Landry did not have Burks ranked in his horizontal draft board, but did have the former Vandy star graded with a 5.4 mark, which means a fifth to sixth-round value. Obviously the Packers graded Burks differently.

I liked the selection of offensive lineman Cole Madison in Round 5. I had the Packers taking Madison in my second mock draft. Landry had Madison ranked No. 9 on his guard draft board, although Madison played right tackle throughout his career at Washington State. Landry also had Madison ranked No. 158 on his horizontal draft board with a 5.5 grade which means fourth-round value.

And believe it or not, I had no problem with the Packers selecting punter JK Scott of Alabama in Round 5. Landry has Scott ranked as the second-best punter on his specialists board and gave the former Crimson Tide star a 5.4 grade, which means fifth to sixth-round value. It’s not a good omen for current Green Bay punter Justin Vogel that the Packers initially assigned Scott the same No. 8 that Vogel wears.

I also had no problem with two (DE James Looney of Cal and OLB Kendall Donnerson of Southeast Missouri State) of the three players that the Packers picked in Round 7. I do have a problem with one of them, long snapper Hunter Bradley of Mississippi State. More on Bradley in a moment.

Landry gave Looney a 5.4 grade, which means fifth to sixth-round value. Landry did not  have Donnerson listed on his horizontal or linebackers draft board, but as you will see on his evaluation below, he definitely believes Donnerson has some definite upside.

In terms of selecting Bradley, I’m still scratching my head. I can’t recall the Packers ever drafting a long snapper before. Green Bay has drafted players who played different positions and who could also long snap, but never just a long snapper. I saw some players on the draft board at the time Green Bay picked Bradley who could have helped the Packers more in other areas.

The selections of both Scott and Bradley tell me that the Packers are making a concerted effort to improve the special teams units of coach Ron Zook. Both Scott and Bradley would have to really mess up the bed in training camp to not make the team.

Overall, the big problem that I had with this draft with the Packers was not addressing the pass-rushing issues (except for Donnerson in Round 7) that the team has. It’s great to improve the secondary and to draft a cover-linebacker like the Packers did in this draft, but if an opposing quarterback has too much time to pass, he’ll eventually find an open receiver.

Again, just look at last season. The Packers were tied for 17th in the NFL in sacks last season with 37. That is almost 20 sacks behind the NFL leader, the Steelers, who had 56.

The lack of a potent pass rush by the Packers led to the secondary being exposed last season. Green Bay was ranked second-worst in the NFL in opponent’s passer rating, as the season average was 102.0.

Not only that, the Packers also allowed opposing QBs to complete 67.8 percent of their passes. The Pack also allowed 30 touchdown passes and only had 11 picks. The defense also allowed 55 completions of 20 yards or better.

The secondary will be better with Alexander and Jackson, that is for sure. Burks should be a solid cover-LB. But where will the pass rush come from? Yes, the Packers still have Clay Matthews (7.5 sacks in 14 games) and Nick Perry (seven sacks in 12 games) at OLB. Plus, the team added DE Muhammad Wilkerson. And maybe players like Kyler Fackrell and Vince Biegel will become the pass rushers like they were in college at OLB. But all of those players, minus Wilkerson, did not exactly light the world on fire last year with pass pressure for the Packers.

I was also shocked that the Packers did not select one player from Wisconsin. They may have wanted to add a Badger or two, but were unable to due to another team selecting that player before the Packers had a chance to. I do know the Packers were very interested in tight end Troy Fumagalli, who was selected by the Denver Broncos in Round 5.

Finally, Gutekunst put the Packers in a great position in the 2019 NFL draft by acquiring a first round pick from the New Orleans Saints.

Below is Landry’s breakdown of all the selections that the Packers made in the 2018 NFL draft.

Round 1: Cornerback Jaire Alexander (Louisville)

Jaire Alexander II

Green Bay gave up the No. 27, No. 76 and No. 186 picks to move up nine spots. The Packers are also receiving a seventh-rounder (pick No. 248). Alexander (5’10/196) converted from wide receiver and broke out for five interceptions as a sophomore in 2016 before missing all but six games as a junior with a broken hand and recurring knee injuries. Alexander had a 28.6% completion rate and a 19.9 passer rating allowed in 2017, lowest among draft-eligible corners. A twitchy athlete with ballhawking flashes and sticky man-cover skills, Alexander blazed 4.38 in Indy and destroyed agility drills. His lone weakness on tape came in run support, where Alexander needs to improve as a tackler. Long term, Alexander offers high-end No. 2 or low-end No. 1 cornerback upside.

Round 2: Cornerback Josh Jackson (Iowa)

at Camp Randall Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Jackson (6’0/196) dabbled at wideout his first two years as a Hawkeye before breaking out to lead the nation in interceptions (8) and pass breakups (26) as a 2017 redshirt junior cornerback, earning first-team All-American and Big Ten DB of the Year. Jackson had an anemic 32.2 passer rating allowed in 2017. Although Jackson lacks blazing straight-line speed (4.54), he tested as a top-five SPARQ athlete in this cornerback class and offers field-flipping ball skills. Most scouts thought Jackson would be better in zone than man coverage. The Packers just doubled up at the position after taking Jaire Alexander in round one.

Round 3: Linebacker Oren Burks (Vanderbilt)

Oren Burks

Burks (6’3/233) was a four-year starter in the Commodores’ back seven, initially manning safety, moving to “star” (linebacker/safety hybrid) as a junior, and settling in at inside linebacker as a senior, all told recording 15.5 career tackles for loss and five interceptions. Burks’ stock soared at the Combine, testing as a 95th -percentile athlete with 4.59 speed and a quick three-cone time (6.82). Burks once would have been labeled a “tweener,” but the value of his style of play and versatility has grown in a pass-heavier NFL. He’s a sleeper to become a Mark Barron-level defender.

Round 4: Wide Receiver J’Mon Moore Missouri

J'Mon Moore

Moore (6’3/207) was a three-year starter for the Tigers, graduating with a 158/2,477/21 career receiving line at 15.7 yards per catch. Moore had 391 of his 2017 receiving yards on 20-plus-yard catches, third most in the SEC. An 85th-percentile SPARQ athlete with 4.49 (Pro Day) speed and a 38-inch vertical, Moore’s pre-draft concerns were rawness and off-field concerns, but he is every bit an NFL-caliber wide receiver on game tape.

Round 5: Offensive Lineman Cole Madison (Washington State)

Cole Madison II

Madison (6’5/308) made 47 starts at right tackle on the Cougars’ offensive line, earning second-team All-Pac 12 as a senior and ranking fifth among Pac 12 offensive tackles in pass-blocking efficiency rating (97.7). Just a 14th-percentile SPARQ athlete, Madison was a quality college starter who will likely struggle in the pros. He would do well to carve out a Sam Young-like swing tackle career.

Round 5: Punter JK Scott (Alabama)

JK Scott

Scott (6’6/208) punted for the Crimson Tide all four years, graduating at the school’s all-time leader in gross average (45.6). Scott dropped 50% of his 2017 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and doubled as Alabama’s kickoff specialist. Scott showed enough versatility, leg strength, and accuracy in the SEC that he has a shot to become a long-term NFL solution at punter.

Round 6: Wide Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (USF)

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Valdes-Scantling (6’4/206) transferred from NC State to USF for his final two seasons, where he logged a 75/1,294/11 career receiving line and averaged 17.3 yards per reception. Valdes-Scantling padded his resume with a 4.37 forty and 10-foot-4 broad jump in Indy. Valdes-Scantling’s sheer size and speed give him Devery Henderson-like potential, but his ball skills and route running are both well below average on tape. Valdes-Scantling is a one-trick pony, and isn’t great at the one trick.

Round 6: Wide Receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame)

Equanimeous St. Brown II

Brown (6’5/214) turned pro after starting two years for the Irish, logging a 92/1,484/16.1/13 career receiving line, and regressing from 961 yards and nine TDs with DeShone Kizer as a sophomore to 515/4 as a junior in a much worse passing attack. St. Brown blazed 4.48 at the Combine and showed he’s been in the weight room with 20 bench-press reps. A height-weight-speed projection with Jekyll & Hyde game tape, St. Brown offers No. 1 wideout traits with some Dorial Green-Beckham-like moments mixed in. He’s a classic boom-bust pick.

Round 7: Defensive End James Looney (California)

James Looney

Looney was a Shrine game invite and is an upfield disruptor. At Cal he often created instant penetration after jumping the snap, creating plays for loss. Looney then went to the NFL Combine at produced an athletic profile in the 93rd percentile, which is outstanding. Looney finished his collegiate career with seven sacks.

Round 7: Long Snapper Hunter Bradley (Mississippi State)

Hunter Bradley

Bradley is the first snapper of longer than normal snaps to be selected this year. Being a seventh-round pick makes it likely Bradley snaps the snaps longer than other snaps for the Packers this season.

Round 7: Outside Linebacker Kendall Donnerson (Southeast Missouri State)

Kendall Donnerson

Donnerson (6’2/248) was a two-year starter at SEMO, earning first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference as a senior with 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Donnerson put himself on the map with a monster Pro Day workout, running 4.44 with a 40-inch vertical and 7.03 three-cone time. Donnerson is a developmental project, but he offers pass-rush upside based on his H/W/S combo.

 

Green Bay Packers: Reflections on Day 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft and Possibilities on Day 2

Jaire Alexander

For the second year in a row, the Green Bay Packers selected a very good cornerback with nice upside with their first selection in the NFL draft.

Last year, the Packers traded out of Round 1 (pick No. 29) and picked cornerback Kevin King with pick No. 33.

Last night the Packers once again traded down and then up, this time with new general manager Brian Gutekunst running the show for the very first time. Green Bay had pick No. 14 and had a number of excellent prospects to select from, which included safety Derwin James of Florida State, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds of Virginia Tech and edge rusher Marcus Davenport of UTSA.

The Packers opted to trade back with the New Orleans Saints, which put the Packers at pick No. 27. The trade also garnered the Packers a fifth round selection in this draft (pick No. 147), plus a first-round pick from the Saints in the 2019 NFL draft.

Gutekunst showed his aggressiveness by trading back up, as he utilized his long association and friendship with John Schneider of the Seattle Seahawks. The Hawks were desperate to get a pick in either the second or third round, as they did not have one in either of those rounds. So the Packers traded their first round pick (pick No. 27), a third round pick (pick No. 76) and a sixth round pick (pick No. 186) to move up to pick No. 18 in the first round, plus got a seventh round pick (pick No. 248) from the Seahawks as well.

With that pick, the Packers selected cornerback Jaire Alexander of Louisville, who ran a 4.38 in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine. Speaking of scouts, NFL scout Chris Landry had Alexander ranked fourth on his cornerback draft board and gave him the same 6.4 grade that he gave Josh Jackson of Iowa. That 6.4 classification means potential starter and early second round value. Landry had Alexander ranked No. 37 on his horizontal draft board (best players regardless of position).

Here is the scouting report Landry put out on Alexander prior to the draft:

Tough, instinctive long corner with very good overall athletic ability. Quick burst, fluid hips. changes directions easily and can effectively play off or in press. Can mirror, anticipate and has good hands and and ball skills. He needs to improve his run strength. Not a very good wrap tackler and slow to shed blocks. Fast, fluid productive corner who with improved strength, technique and discipline can be an effective corner on the next level. Has played mostly on outside but has the fluidity and quickness to slide down over the slot. His return skills will add to his value.

Watching the draft unfold last night brought me back to last year’s draft. Then I had predicted that the Packers would select outside linebacker T.J. Watt in the first round in my final mock draft. Watt was there for the taking at pick No. 29 for the Packers, but Green Bay traded away that pick to Cleveland and on the very next pick (pick No. 30), the Pittsburgh Steelers picked Watt.

Watt ended up being named to the NFL All-Rookie team as he had seven sacks, seven passes defensed, a pick and a forced fumble.

Last night was a case of deja vu for me. I had predicted that the Packers would select Davenport in the first round in my final mock draft this year. Once again, Davenport was there for the taking. But alas, the Packers traded the pick to the Saints and Davenport was the player who New Orleans selected.

Time will tell if Davenport can have the same impact for the Saints this year as Watt had for the Steelers in 2017.

T.J. Watt as a Steeler

T.J. Watt

Still, the Packers made a very nice addition to their secondary, as director of college scouting Jon-Eric Sullivan of the Packers said to the media last night.

“Jaire is a guy that we targeted all along,” Sullivan said. “We liked him from the outset. He’s a good football player.

“Very few corners, when they play the game when the ball’s in the air, can you feel them close space. He’s one. When you watch him play, you can feel him close space when the ball’s in the air, both playing forward and backward. The kid can run. On top of that, he’s quick and he can change directions and do those things.

“We’re just excited about the skillset as a whole. We think he has the make up to be a high-caliber player.”

That’s all good, but what will the Packers do on Day 2 of the draft? Right now, the Packers only have one selection, which is pick No. 45 in the second round. That pick will be announced by Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Kramer.

It’s also possible that the Packers will try and trade back into the third round, as they have plenty of ammunition to do so, as Green Bay has two fourth round picks and four fifth round picks.

Based on what Gutekunst told the media last night, I think trading back into the third round is a good possibility.

“The way that our board looks now, I would assume we’d move around a little bit,” Gutekunst said. “We have a lot of picks, and there’s areas of the board that we feel really good about, so I would assume that we would.”

So, who will the Packers target tonight? A pass rusher has to be the priority. The good news is that there are still some very good prospects who can help in that regard. In fact, Landry has three of them rated in the top 30 of his horizontal draft board.

Let’s look at those players and the scouting report that Landry has put out on each of them.

No. 23 Harold Landry (Boston College)

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 252

May slip do to his lack of production this past season (due to injury) but I feel someone will get a steal as I feel his plays bigger and stronger than his size which helps him play contain effectively and hold down the point. Love his instincts and patience—doesn’t overpursue and rarely out of position. He can be an 3-4 OLB who can play from a 3 point stance in nickel. Top notch competitor, like his athleticism to play pursuit and close to QB with great bend and flexibility.

I had the Packers taking Landry in the first round in my first mock draft. The former Golden Eagle also ran a 4.64 in the 40 at the combine.

No. 24 Arden Key (LSU)

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 238 pounds

Long, athletic pass rusher with a nice get off and burst to get and close the corner. He has instincts to react to and play the ball. On the down side, he has off field issues that still are a question within the league. He played and prepared poorly last year and doesn’t do good job of keeping his body in shape. He needs to improve his upper body strength as he is slow off blocks. Has the pass rush traits to be the top edge rusher off the board but has moved himself down boards due to his attitude and play. A major trust issue for teams but his talent will get him a shot somewhere.

Landry told me earlier this year that if Key didn’t have the issues which have moved his draft stock down, he would most likely would have been a top 10 pick overall.

No. 29 Lorenzo Carter (Georgia)

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 250 pounds

Long, high motor guy with a narrow frame but plays with good strength and power. Shows good edge rush speed, stays low and knows how to string moves together. Shows good instincts and awareness dropping into coverage. He lacks short area quickness and is more of a build up speed guy due to his length. I don’t like him in coverage. I see him as a 3-4 OLB who is better playing forward than backwards.

Carter ran a 4.5 in the 40 at the combine.

If the Packers can nab any of the three players above in the second round, especially either Landry or Key based on their sack production in college, they would have to be thrilled.

Both Landry and Key had great seasons as juniors in 2016.

Landry had 50 total tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, 16.5 sacks, one interception, four passes defensed and seven forced fumbles. The number of sacks and forced fumbles led the country in those categories.

Key had 55 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles.

Arden Key

Arden Key

There is another pass rusher that the Packers might look at if these three players are gone by the time they pick in Round 2. That player is Ogbonnia Okoronkwo of Oklahoma. In his last two seasons with the Sooners, Okoronkwo had 146 total tackles, 29 tackles for a loss, 17 sacks, two fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles.

Okoronkwo is a little on the short side, as he goes 6’1, 253 pounds, but has been very productive.

Here is Landry’s scouting report on Okoronkwo, who he has rated No. 49 on his horizontal draft board.

Very productive player with a great motor, instincts and strength. He can play Will linebacker in a 4-3 and might also be able to handle the Sam backer position. Shows good pass rush ability with lots of length, plays with strength and is effective in pursuit. He is not comfortable dropping into coverage so I have some concerns about him at linebacker while I don’t see the size allowing him to play down regularly in the league.

Bottom line, the Packers must focus on getting an edge rusher in the second round. A good pass rush will help the secondary problems that the team had last season.

The Packers were tied for 17th in the NFL in sacks last season with 37. That is almost 20 sacks behind the NFL leader, the Steelers, who had 56. The pass rush of the Steelers was certainly helped by the addition of T.J. Watt.

The lack of a potent pass rush by the Packers led to the secondary being exposed last season. Green Bay was ranked second-worst in the NFL in opponent’s passer rating, as the season average was 102.0.

Not only that, the Packers also allowed opposing QBs to complete 67.8 percent of their passes. The Pack also allowed 30 touchdown passes and only had 11 picks. The defense also allowed 55 completions of 20 yards or better.

So, the focus has to be on getting a better pass rush in Round 2.

In Round 3, if the Packers can trade back into it, the Packers will have a number of positional options. They can add a wide receiver. Or an offensive lineman. Or even another cornerback.

But the first focus tonight should be on improving the pass rush for the Packers in 2018.

Final 2018 NFL Mock Draft for the Green Bay Packers

Brian Gutekunst as GM

We are now just one night away from the 2018 NFL draft in Dallas. Every NFL team has it’s draft board set up now.

This is because of all the hard work that the scouts and those in the front office have done, as they have scouted the bowl games, the all-star games (the East-West Shrine Game, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Senior Bowl), the NFL Scouting Combine and finally the pro days.

Plus, each team has tried to utilize free agency to lessen the need at certain positions in the draft.

The Green Bay Packers under new general manager Brian Gutekunst certainly did, as he added players like tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and cornerback Tramon Williams to the team.

The Packers also re-signed cornerback Davon House.

But with the good, comes the bad. The Packers also had to release wide receiver Jordy Nelson, which opens up a need at that position in the draft.

In this, my final mock draft, I am once again using the expertise of NFL scout Chris Landry. As I work through my thought process in selecting players for the Packers, I will utilize Landry’s horizontal draft board (best players regardless of position) and also his various positional draft boards.

Since my association with Landry began several years ago, I have had a decent track record in correctly picking some of the players who the Packers have picked. Yes, getting guidance from a very good NFL scout helps, but sometimes it’s a case of a blind squirrel finding an acorn.

No matter, the Packers have 12 picks in this draft. That includes their own in each of the seven rounds of the draft, plus four compensatory picks (one in fourth round, two in the fifth round and one in the sixth round) and another pick in the seventh round due to a trade with Buffalo.

Plus, because of a trade with the Cleveland Browns to acquire quarterback DeShone Kizer (for cornerback Damarious Randall), the Packers also switched picks with the Browns in the fourth and fifth rounds, which means that the Packers pick first in each round.

On Friday night, the second round pick of the Packers will be announced by Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Kramer.

In my last mock draft, I surmised that another trade might be forthcoming between the Packers and the Browns on draft day. I sincerely believe that is a very good possibility. It may not occur in the manner in which I think it might, but I see John Dorsey having more than one conversation with Gutekunst in the draft to talk about some maneuvering.

And it might not be the Packers trading up in that scenario, but instead trading back.

We shall see.

One of the other things that I see happening is the possibility of adding some former Wisconsin Badgers to the Packers this year.

And I’m not saying that because I’m a homer for the Badgers. It’s because of the relationship between new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine of the Packers and the defensive coordinator of the Badgers, Jim Leonhard.

I wrote about this possibility back in February. I said this in the piece:

Pettine was named head coach of the Browns because of his prowess as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. In five years at that position, four with the New York Jets under head coach Rex Ryan and one with the Buffalo Bills, Pettine always coordinated a top 10 defense.

From 2009 though 2012 with the Jets, his defenses were ranked first, third, fifth and eighth in the NFL in total defense, while in 2013 with the Bills, his defense was ranked 10th in that category.

There was one player who was a constant for Pettine, both as a coordinator and one year as a head coach. That player was safety Jim Leonhard, who is now the defensive coordinator for the Wisconsin Badgers.

Leonhard played under Pettine with the Jets from 2009 through 2011, then again with the Bills in 2013 and then finally with the Browns in 2014, which was Pettine’s first year as head coach.

Leonhard was basically the coach on the field as Pettine put out his defense. Not only that, but Leonhard put out one of the very best defenses in the FBS last season with the Badgers and a number of his former defensive players will be available in this upcoming draft.

Leonhard basically runs the same type of defensive schemes at Wisconsin that Pettine has used with his various teams in the NFL. That is why I believe you will see a Badger or two on the Packers next season. Maybe even more than that, as you will see in the draft below.

Okay, enough of the hot air, it’s time for my final mock draft.

Round 1: Outside Linebacker Marcus Davenport (University of Texas-San Antonio)

Marcus Davenport IV

Height: 6’6″

Weight: 264 pounds

I have had the Packers picking Marcus Davenport of UTSA with pick No. 14 for three consecutive mock drafts now. In my first mock draft, I had the Packers selecting Harold Landry, who is similar to Davenport in a number of ways, but is smaller.

On his horizontal draft board (best overall players), Landry ranks Davenport at No. 7, so if Davenport is still available at No. 14, the Packers would have to feel fortunate.

Landry also has Davenport ranked No. 2 on his defensive end draft board, behind only Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State.

The only way I could see the Packers not taking Davenport if he still was on the board, is if someone like defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama or guard Quenton Nelson of Notre Dame fell to that point of the draft.

In Green Bay, Davenport would be a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end, similar to the role Julius Peppers had when he was a Packer. The Packers desperately need to invigorate their pass rush, which will undoubtedly help the secondary have more success. Davenport would make a big impact in that regard.

In four years at UTSA, Davenport improved over each of those seasons and had 185 total tackles, 37.5 tackles for a loss, 21.5 sacks, eight passes defended, two fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown) and six forced fumbles.

At the Senior Bowl practices, Davenport struggled at times, but he played well in the game itself, with a sack and a scoop-and-score fumble recovery.

At the combine, Davenport put on quite a show, when he ran a 4.58 40, which is remarkable for a man his size.

This is the scouting report Landry put out on Davenport:

Very raw but an explosive and long pass rusher who can play in a two or three point stance. Love his first step quickness and shows an ability to transfer speed to power. At this point is a first move pass rusher only but will technique development should be a force as a pass rusher in the league. I like his effort and play strength against the run but will need to improve his upper body strength for that to translate as well to the NFL level. He will also have to transition to playing more effectively from a 3-point stance as he loses leverage getting too high. I love his length and body frame. Built like a player I drafted years back in Jevon Kearse but long levered like Jadeveon Clowney. Has the quickness to drop but lacks coverage understanding and instincts. Love his edge and closing speed along with his motor. Best edge speed rusher in this draft with lots of upside.

Round 2: Cornerback Anthony Averett (Alabama)

Anthony Averett

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 183 pounds

Landry has Anthony Averett of Alabama listed eighth on his cornerback draft board, but gives him the same grade as Isaiah Oliver of Colorado (fifth), Donte’ Jackson of LSU (sixth) and Carlton Davis of Auburn (seventh).

Averett of started 27 games in his junior and senior seasons with the Crimson Tide. In those two seasons, he had 96 total tackles, seven tackles for a loss, two sacks, one interception, 16 passes defended and two forced fumbles.

In his junior year, Averett was named the team’s defensive MVP in their national semifinal win over Washington (eight tackles, one sack and one forced fumble).

Averett has been part of a very talented and deep Alabama defensive backfield in his years in Tuscaloosa.

One of the things that stands out among a number of the defensive backs at Alabama is the great speed that some of them have. Averett is no different, as he ran a 4.36 in the 40 at the combine.

In high school in New Jersey, Averett won state titles in the 55-meter dash and the high jump.

The Packers need to get faster at cornerback. Not only that, but they need to be more physical when they take on opposing wide receivers and running backs. Averett can help out in both cases.

Here is Landry’s scouting report on Averett:

Excellent coverage technique with speed and agility. He does a nice job in press and nice job in “off”. I like his skill set once he improves his strength. Quick burst out of his pedal combined with good long speed. Effective re-routing receivers off the line of scrimmage and plays the ball well in the air. He is quick to fill vs the run and is an outstanding special teams player.

Round 3: Wide Receiver Dante Pettis (Washington)

Dante Pettis II

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 192 pounds

The Packers would love to see a talent like Dante Pettis of Washington available in the third round when it is their time to pick. Landry has Pettis rated No. 46 on his horizontal draft board and No. 4 on his wide receiver draft boards. Other scouts do not have Pettis rated this high.

Pettis is a multi-talented player, who is not only an excellent receiver, but also a very good punt returner.

In four years as a Husky, Pettis had 163 receptions for 2,256 yards and 24 touchdowns. In addition to that, Pettis returned 90 punts for 1,274 yards and had a whopping nine touchdowns.

During a pro day-style workout, Pettis ran a 4.45 in the 40, had a 36-inch vertical jump, had a 127-inch broad jump and did a 6.72-second run through the three-cone drill.

Pettis comes from a very athletic family, as his father is Gary Pettis, a five-time Gold Glove-winning center fielder, when he played major league baseball.

The Packers need to add another threat at wide receiver after losing Nelson, plus they would be able to add a very dangerous put returner as well.

Here is Landry’s scouting report on Pettis:

Shows explosive acceleration to separate from zone or man. Smooth releasing off line of scrimmage and possesses outstanding run after catch skills. Has elite return skills that will get him on the field early while he learns the nuances of route tree. His hands and catching radius are good, quickness exceptional and plays with good instincts. Lean frame that needs to add bulk and will need to improve his fight for ball in traffic.

Round 4: Cornerback Tony Brown (Alabama)

Tony Brown II

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 198 pounds

Landry has Tony Brown rated at No. 9 on his cornerback draft board and No. 94 on his horizontal draft board, which is essentially a late third-round grade. Other scouts have Brown rated in the same approximate area, while others have Brown rated lower.

When you look at the statistics, Brown of doesn’t stick out to you, sort of like his teammate Averett. One reason was because he was part of a very talented defensive backfield. Plus, he was a part-time starter and who also filled the role of the nickelback.

In his career with the Crimson Tide, Brown had 86 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks, three interceptions (including one in the 2018 CFP National Championship Game), five passes defended and one forced fumble.

But there is a lot more to like about Brown. For one, he is very fast, again just like Averett. Brown ran a 4.35 at the combine, plus he earned first team All-America honors in track and field in the spring of 2015 in the 4×400 meter relay .

Brown is also a stalwart on special teams and is a very good tackler in run support.

Bad tackling and a lack of speed have become issues in the Green Bay secondary, plus it’s always a plus to improve special teams, which is why Brown would be a great value here.

This is what Landry said about Brown in his scouting report:

A one-year starter at Alabama, Brown was featured at the “Star” position on the Alabama depth chart as a nickel defender and the first defensive back off the bench. He lined up primarily inside when the Tide had three cornerbacks on the field, occasionally moving outside, playing both press and zone coverages. Brown has blur speed and adequate size/length to match up with any type of receiver and make plays on special teams coverages. While he has the wheels for a starting cornerback, he often plays out of control and his inefficient lower body mechanics are an issue mid-transition. His poor ball production (eight passes defended, three interceptions) shows on tape, lacking the instincts to turn, locate and make plays on the football downfield. Overall, Brown has the body type and raw speed that belong in the NFL, but he has relied on his natural gifts to get the job done much of his life and needs to buy into honing his technique (and adapting a professional approach) if he has any chance in the NFL.

Round 4 (compensatory): Offensive Tackle Jamarco Jones (Ohio State)

Jamarco Jones

Height: 6’4″

Weight: 299 pounds

Landry has offensive tackle Jamarco Jones of Ohio State ranked No. 125 on his horizontal draft board and No. 12 on his offensive tackle board.

Jones learned behind Taylor Decker his first two years as a Buckeye. Jones still played in 23 games though and was used quite a bit as the sixth offensive lineman for the team.

But once he became a starter, Jones earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as the starting left tackle for the Bucks in 2016.

Then in 2017, Jones was named first-team all-conference honors as a senior, starting all 14 games at left tackle for the Big Ten Champion Buckeyes.

The Packers need to add solid depth at offensive tackle, mostly due to all the injuries the team has had at that position. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga has certainly had his share of injuries (hip, knee and ankle) over the years. When healthy, No. 75 is one of the best right tackles in the NFL, but once again in 2017, the injury curse struck, as Bulaga tore his ACL in Week 5, which cost him the rest of the season.

Bulaga has missed 43 games due to injury in his eight years with the Packers.

The backups to Bulaga and left tackle David Bahktiaria (one of the best in the NFL) didn’t fare much better. Jason Spriggs (knee) and Kyle Murphy (left foot) only played in 10 games combined in 2017 due to injuries.

Here is Landry’s scouting report on Jones:

Athletic feet in pass pro to reset and react to movement…wide base with efficient pace to his slide…rarely beaten by edge speed alone…quick to answer counter moves…looks comfortable at the second level and sustains in space…drops his hips and runs his feet to create movement in the run game…
Ties up defenders, but doesn’t overwhelm anyone…core strength issues at the point of attack…doesn’t have pop in his punch to shock or redirect rushers…long legs, high cut and locked hips…rushers take advantage of his leaning and overeager pass-sets…hard outside shuffle and late to protect vs. inside moves…struggles to retrace his steps…late cutting off the linebacker at the second level…inconsistent angles on reach blocks…hand placement is improved, but he is more novice than expert in this area…defaults to grabbing once rushers gain an inch. Jones isn’t a dominating blocker, but he gets in the way and finds ways to keep his man occupied, projecting as a down-the-road starter once his technique and functional strength improve.

Round 5: Center/Guard Will Clapp (LSU)

Will Clapp II

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 314 pounds

Landry gave Will Clapp of LSU a late fourth-round grade, which mean the Packers would have a nice opportunity to grab him with the first pick of the fifth round.

Clapp is also ranked No. 5 on Landry’s center draft board. The former Tiger can also play guard, which is a big plus. That means he can be the backup center to Corey Linsley in Green Bay, plus can possibly start right away at right guard.

In three years at LSU, Clapp shined at both center and guard. He started all 13 games at center in 2017, which got him first-team All-SEC notice. In 2016, Clapp was named first-team all-conference at left guard in 11 games.  As a redshirt freshman, Clapp started all 12 games (11 at right guard, one at left guard) for the Tigers. The New Orleans native received multiple freshman All-American accolades honors from various outlets.

At the combine, Clapp had 25 reps in the bench press drill.

Living in the Baton Rouge area, Landry knows all about the LSU players. Here is his scouting report on the former Tiger, in which he pulls no punches about Clapp:

Tough, smart kid who’s limited skill set shows up on tape repeatedly. He is a below average athlete lacking upper body strength, limiting his ability at the point of attack. He doesn’t see or feel defensive pressure often losing leverage. He has some versatility but does nothing consistently well. His overall lack of balance and body control limits him.

Even with that somewhat scathing report by Landry, Clapp has earned first-team All-SEC honors for two years in a row at both center and guard. The kid must be doing something right.

Round 5 (compensatory): Tight End Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin)

Troy Fumagalli II

Height: 6’6″

Weight: 248 pounds

Landry has Troy Fumagalli of Wisconsin rated at No. 154 on his horizontal draft board (late fourth round) and No. 6 on his tight end draft board.

In four years as a Badger, Fumagalli had 135 receptions for 1,627 yards and seven touchdowns. After the 2017 season, in which he had 38 receptions for 478 yards and four touchdowns, No. 81 was named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and second-team All-Big Ten by the media. In addition to that, Fumagalli won the Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year award in the Big Ten.

In 2016, Fumagalli was named second-team All-Big Ten, plus was named Cotton Bowl Offensive MVP, as he caught six throws for 83 yards and a touchdown in the 24-16 victory over Western Michigan.

It’s important to note that Fumagalli has only nine fingers, as he lost the index finger on his left hand at birth. Still, Fumagalli estimated that he dropped only one pass per season as a Badger.

Right now, the Packers only have two tight ends on their roster with NFL experience. Graham and Lance Kendricks (another former Badger).

This is Landry’s scouting report on Fumagalli:

Productive player. Like his release and route running skills. Good hands. Adjusts well to ball and will compete in crowd. Works to block and decent RAC skills. Frame needs development. Narrow based as blocker. One speed runner lacking burst and vertical speed. Nifty H back type who needs to develop strength to play effectively as Y. Like his ability in short passing game and as receiver but not an explosive flex player.

Round 5 (compensatory): Wide Receiver Daurice Fountain (Iowa)

Daurice Fountain II

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 210 pounds

Daurice Fountain’s hometown is Madison, Wisconsin, where he went to James Madison Memorial High School, where he was named first-team All-State at wide receiver.

In four seasons at Northern Iowa, Fountain caught 150 passes for 2,077 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Landry said this about Fountain after he was named Offensive MVP in the East-West Shrine Game, as he had three receptions for 61 yards (20.3 average).

Speed was not an issue for Fountain, and neither was catching the ball. Fountain caught the ball very well, except he was doing it at full speed, down the field and running past defenders. I was also impressed by his feistiness and willingness to compete. He leaves Shrine week with a draft grade a full round higher than the one he arrived with in St. Petersburg.

Landry also said this about Fountain in his scouting report:

Good length and leaping skills who can adjust to ball with good ball tracking skills. strong acceleration out of his plant. gains proper route depth. lacks strength–struggles vs jam. Doesn’t know how to properly stem his routes. Although he is far from a finished product, Fountain has an intriguing blend of play speed, body control and quick hands to pluck the ball away from his body. To survive in the NFL, he needs to be more physical to the football and improve his play strength.

Round 6: Linebacker Jack Cichy (Wisconsin)

Jack Cichy II

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 234 pounds

Landry has Jack Cichy of Wisconsin ranked No. 32 on his linebacker draft board and has given him a seventh-round to priority free agent grade.

This grade has everything to do with Cichy’s injury history and not his playing ability.

In 2016, Cichy was playing at a very high level when he suffered a torn pectoral muscle which ended his season. Up until that point, Landry called Cichy the best player on the Badgers that season, even though the Badgers also had a player by the name of T.J. Watt on their defense.

Cichy couldn’t play in 2017 because of a torn ACL.

In 19 games as a sophomore and junior, Cichy had 120 total tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, six passes defended and two forced fumbles.

“Three-Sack Jack” made a name for himself in the 2015 Holiday Bowl, when he had consecutive sacks on three straight plays, as Wisconsin beat USC 23-21.

Cichy can play inside or outside in the 3-4 scheme, but has been more effective inside.

If healthy, Cichy would be an outstanding partner at inside linebacker with Blake Martinez, who had an outstanding 2017 season for the Packers.

Cichy only did the bench press drill (18 reps) at the combine, but looked very good at the Wisconsin pro day, as he ran a 4.19-second 20-yard shuttle, which would have placed him fourth among linebackers at the combine. Plus, Cichy ran 6.88-second three-cone drill, which would have placed him fifth among linebackers.

Although Landry graded Cichy low because of his medical issues, you can see in his scouting report that he feels “Three-Sack Jack” can be special when healthy:

A two-year starter at Wisconsin, Cichy moved from outside to inside linebacker as a sophomore and was a budding star in the Badgers’ 3-4 scheme before two devastating injuries. Over the last two seasons (28 games), Cichy has appeared in only seven games and hasn’t played a snap since October 2016. When healthy, Cichy competes with a quick trigger and shows off his impressive blend of athleticism and smarts. He fits all the stereotypes of a former walk-on with his non-stop hustle and enormous chip on his shoulder and his football character will instantly endear him to NFL teams. Overall, Cichy is a loose athlete with outstanding instincts, toughness and finishing skills to be a starting NFL linebacker, but his draft projection will be reliant on the medical examinations.

Round 6 (compensatory): Running Back Justin Jackson (Northwestern)

Justin Jackson II

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 193 pounds

In four seasons at Northwestern, Jackson rushed for 5,440 yards and 41 touchdowns, plus caught 122 passes for 858 yards and another score.

Jackson was named honorable mention All-Big Ten his freshman year as a Wildcat, plus was named second-team All-Big Ten in his three remaining years at Northwestern.

Jackson also played in the 2018 East-West Shrine Game, where he rushed for 39 yards in just seven carries. Jackson also caught five passes for 17 yards.

Jackson ran a 4.52 in the 40 at the combine, plus did 13 reps on the bench press, jumped 38.5 inches in the vertical jump, leaped 122 inches in the broad jump, ran 6.81 seconds in the 3 cone drill, ran 4.07 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and ran 11.06 in the 60-yard shuttle.

The Packers invigorated their running attack last season, as two rookies (Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones) stood out. The other rookie who was drafted last season, Devante Mays, did not fare well when given limited opportunities (two fumbles).

Ty Montgomery has been too injury prone, both at running back and wide receiver. I see Montgomery being used primarily as a receiver in 2018.

Adding a back like Jackson make sense, because he not only adds to the depth at RB, but also because he is made for the type of offense that the Packers run.

Here is Landry’s scouting report on Jackson:

Lacks the size for a power back and the speed of a smaller back. I do like his run skills—vision, patience, anticipation and short area quickness. He is a very durable player but needs to improve his skills in the passing game. Back end roster guys who can stick due to toughness and run skills but limited athletically to be anything more.

Round 7: Safety Natrell Jamerson (Wisconsin)

Natrell Jamerson III

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 198 pounds

I know what some of you are thinking. Another Badger? But what is there not to like about a player like Natrell Jamerson late in the draft?

Jamerson really helped himself with a solid senior season at Wisconsin, as the safety had 51 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions (one for a touchdown) and 10 passes defended.

Jamerson also has experience at cornerback as well, as he played there as a sophomore and as a junior.

The secondary of the Packers was a mess in 2017. The safeties did not exactly stand out either. Morgan Burnett left via free agency. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix took a definite step back with his play last season and rookie Josh Jones missed way too many assignments. Kentrell Brice has not exactly shined when given the opportunity to play either.

Landry said this about Jamerson after the opening day of practice at the East-West Shrine Game:

Wisconsin safety Natrell Jamerson had an impressive opening day. In the team scrimmage, he flew across the field to track down an interception in front of a receiver and cornerback. It was a very nice play as Jamerson showed speed and an ability to track the ball. Jamerson (6-0, 198) is a versatile athlete who could end up really helping himself this week.

Jamerson was named Defensive MVP of the East-West Shrine Game, as he scooped up a fumble and ran it back 68 yards for a touchdown.

At the combine, Jamerson ran a 4.40 in the 40 and had 25 reps in the bench press.

Here is Landry’s scouting report on Jamerson:

A one-year starter at Wisconsin, Jamerson moved from wideout to cornerback early in 2015 and made a seamless transition to free safety in 2017, handling centerfield duties as the last line of defense. He wasn’t a playmaker who leaped off the film, but he wasn’t out of position either with the speed and want-to for the safety position. Jamerson is comfortable covering slot receivers with the coordinated lower body to stay on top of routes. There are no questions about his weight room strength, but his lack of size shows up on tape vs. both the run and pass. Overall, Jamerson has the secondary versatility to earn a spot at the back-end of a NFL roster, especially with his presence as a gunner on special teams.

Round 7 (compensatory): Outside Linebacker Darius Jackson (Jacksonville State)

Darius Jackson II

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 242 pounds

Landry ranked Darius Jackson of Jacksonville State 35th on his linebacker draft board and like Cichy, gave him a seventh-round to priority free agent value.

No matter the grade, the talent is definitely there. Jackson won the Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year in both 2016 and 2017.

In those two seasons combined, Jackson had 103 tackles, 36 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks.

Jackson only ran a 4.87 40 at the combine. But at his pro day, Jackson was better in almost all of the drills he did at the combine, including the 40, as he ran a 4.76.

Still, Jackson is another player who can certainly rush the passer and if nothing else would be a dynamic addition to special teams.

Here is the scouting report on Jackson by Landry:

A three-year starter at Jacksonville State, Jackson was an ideal fit as the hybrid “Bandit” pass rusher in the Gamecocks versatile front, rushing standing up and with his hand on the ground. He (and his classic neckroll) lived in the opponent’s backfield and is the school’s all-time leader in sacks, tackles for loss and negative yardage, earning OVC Defensive Player of the Year honors his junior and senior seasons. He is a quick player in everything he does, but is more of a face-up rusher than natural bender, which will limit the ways he can attack the pocket in the NFL. Overall, Jackson is a fierce competitor and relies on his relentless energy, but his hand placement and timing are the keys to unlocking his pass rush skills in the NFL – late-round developmental prospect.