Green Bay Packers: 2018 NFL Mock Draft 3.0 with a Trade

Brian Gutekunst in the GB draft room

The 2018 NFL draft is now less than two weeks away. It starts on April 26 and will last through April 28. This year the location is AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Up to this point, the draft process has already taken us through the bowl games, plus the all-star games (the East-West Shrine Game, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Senior Bowl) and finally the NFL Scouting Combine.

The pro days have taken place as well, and currently NFL teams are scheduling personal visits with various prospects.

As I mentioned in my previous mock draft, general manager Brian Gutekunst of the Packers has been a bit busy in the free agency process, both in adding players to the team (Jimmy Graham, Muhammad Wilkerson and Tramon Williams) and in releasing a big name (Jordy Nelson).

And earlier this week, the Packers also re-signed veteran cornerback Davon House.

Before the free agency period began, Gutekunst made a trade with general manager John Dorsey of the Cleveland Browns. In that trade, the Packers moved cornerback Damarious Randall to the Browns for quarterback DeShone Kizer.

In addition to the players being traded, the teams swapped picks in both the fourth and fifth rounds, which means that the Packers will have the first pick in both the fourth and fifth rounds of the upcoming draft.

I’m sure part of the reason Gutekunst and Dorsey made that trade, was the comfort level each has with one another, as both worked together for 13 years in the Green Bay scouting department.

In addition to that, Eliot Wolf, who is now assistant general manager of the Browns, and Alonzo Highsmith, who is now vice president of the Browns, also spent many years together with Gutekunst in the scouting department of the Packers.

In a recent piece about the Packers and Browns possibly doing more business during the draft, I surmised that another trade between the two teams might be forthcoming. And in this mock draft, I am going to use one of the scenarios that mentioned in that article.

In this scenario, I have the Packers trading up to get the first pick of the second round from the Browns, which would be the 33rd pick of the draft. To do that, the Packers would trade their own second round pick (No. 45), plus their first fourth round pick (No. 101), plus would have to also trade their two compensatory picks in the fifth round (No.’s 172 & 174).

The trade will still leave the Packers with nine picks in the draft, including at least one in each round, but now Green Bay would be able to get two of the top 33 players in the 2018 NFL draft.

As per usual, I am using the expertise of NFL scout Chris Landry to help guide me through the draft process, as I will be utilizing his horizontal draft board (best players regardless of position) and his various positional draft boards.

I will do one final mock draft the week of the actual draft. But without further adieu, here is my mock draft 3.0.

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

Marcus Davenport II

Height: 6’6″

Weight: 264 pounds

The Packers would have to feel very fortunate if Marcus Davenport of UTSA is still on the board with pick No. 14 of the first round. On his horizontal draft board (best overall players), Landry ranks Davenport at No. 7.

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

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 Josh Jackson (Iowa)

Josh Jackson

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 192 pounds

The Packers would be also be absolutely thrilled if Josh Jackson of Iowa is still on the board at pick No. 33. That has a chance to happen because Landry has Jackson rated at No. 30 on his horizontal draft board and the No. 3 CB behind Denzel Ward and Mike Hughes.

In 2017, Jackson had a breakout year with the Hawkeyes, as he had 66 total tackles, eight interceptions (two for touchdowns vs. Wisconsin), 27 passes defensed and one forced fumble.

Because of that performance, Jackson earned first-team AP All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honors.

Jackson did not help himself at the NFL Scouting Combine with his workout (4.56 in the 40, a leap of 38 inches in the vertical jump and 4.03 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle), but he improved each of those numbers at the Iowa pro day.

There Jackson ran a 4.52  in the 40, had a 40 inch vertical jump and ran the 20-yard shuttle in 3.95 seconds.

The Packers added some veteran depth at CB this offseason by bringing back Williams and also be re-signing House. The Packers love the upside of second-year corner Kevin King, who flashed last year as a rookie before a shoulder injury ended his season. After that, there are a lot of questions about the other young CBs on the Packers.

That is why it is imperative to draft at least two cornerbacks in this draft, including one who can be a starter on Day 1. Jackson is that type of player.

This is the scouting report Landry gives on Jackson:

Versatile cover guy with good size. Experienced playing lots of coverages. Like his movement skills turning out of press and excels in zone coverage. Quick seeing routes and has outstanding ball skills. Gets low in pedal, can play up or off and good in run support. He will need to get stronger and I worry about his deep speed but I see him as an early starter.

Round 3: Wide Receiver Dante Pettis (Washington)

Dante Pettis

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.

I only have the Packers selecting one WR in this draft, as I envision that the Packers are going to utilize Ty Montgomery primarily at that position in 2018 and beyond. We shall see.

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

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. 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. 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 at the scouting combine:

Alabama CB Tony Brown’s official forty time at the NFL Combine was 4.35. Brown ran one of the fastest 40 times among all defensive backs. This isn’t surprising as Brown was a high-school 100-meter state champion. A really good tackler, Brown will make an immediate impact on special teams.

Round 5: Tight End Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin)

Troy Fumagalli

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.

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 6: Center/Guard Sean Welsh (Iowa)

Sean Welsh

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 300 pounds

Landry has Sean Welsh of Iowa rated No. 107 on his horizontal draft board and No. 7 on his offensive guard draft board. Some scouts have Welsh rated in a similar area, while others have him rated much lower.

The Packers need someone who can help out at guard and also as a backup center. Welsh can do both and perhaps more, as he proved at Iowa.

Welsh was a four-year starter at Iowa, as he started 48 games in his collegiate career. He started 23 games at right guard, six at right tackle and 19 at left guard. Welsh also worked out a center for the Hawkeyes.

As a senior, Welsh was named second-team All-Big Ten, while he was named third-team All-Big Ten as a junior and Honorable mention All-Big Ten as a sophomore.

This is the scouting report Landry gave on Welsh:

He is heavy-legged and lacks the brute power to overwhelm defenders, but he can mask some of those deficiencies with his savvy blocking style and toughness. Overall, Welsh is best in a phone booth where he can tie up rushers and his positional flexibility boosts his NFL grade, projecting as a back-up guard or center.

Round 6 (compensatory): Linebacker Leon Jacobs (Wisconsin)

Leon Jacobs

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 230 pounds

Landry has linebacker Leon Jacobs of Wisconsin rated No. 26 on his linebacker draft board, which means fifth to sixth round value.

Jacobs had a strong 2017 season for the Badgers, as he played outside linebacker after the departure of both T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel in the 2017 NFL draft. Jacobs also played some inside linebacker in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

In 2017, Jacobs had 60 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, three passes defensed, two fumble recoveries (one for a TD) and one forced fumble.

Jacobs was given Honorable Mention designation by both the coaches and the media for his performance in 2017.

At the combine, Jacobs turned a lot of heads, as he ran a 4.48 in the 40.

Here is Landry’s scouting report of Jacobs:

A one-year starter at Wisconsin, Jacobs blossomed as a senior outside linebacker in Wisconsin’s 3-4 base scheme, standing up and rushing off the edge. After bouncing between positions at inside linebacker and fullback as an underclassman, he found a home at outside linebacker in 2017, taking over for the departed T.J. Watt. With his hoops background, Jacobs is a balanced athlete on his feet and competes with a physical edge, relying on leverage, reach and motor as the main recipe for his pass rush. He doesn’t have poor awareness, but he is mentally undeveloped and needs more reps as a rusher, run defender and cover man. Overall, Jacobs is still in the development phase and there are “fit” concerns, but he is an ascending player with the effort and physical attitude to grow into a starting outside pass rush role in a 3-4 or SAM linebacker in a 4-3.

Round 7: Offensive Tackle David Bright (Stanford)

David Bright

Height: 6’5″

Weight: 307 pounds

Landry has David Bright of Stanford rated No. 21 on his offensive tackle draft board and gives him a seventh round or priority free agent value.

In 2016, Bright started 10 of 12 games played, four at left guard and six at right tackle. Then in 2017, Bright started started 14 games (two games at left tackle, one at right guard and 11 at left guard). His performance last season allowed Bright to get second-team All-American honors from The Sporting News and second-team All-Pac-12 notice from league coaches.

The Packers absolutely love versatility with any offensive lineman that they draft or sign as a free agent. Bright certainly adds that component to the offensive line.

This is what Landry has said about Bright:

Stanford T David Bright is smart, tough, hard worker who plays hurt. The 6-foot-5, 307-pounder also presents great positional versatility, increasing his draft value to be taken late.

Round 7 (compensatory): Running Back Phillip Lindsay (Colorado)

Phillip Lindsay

Height: 5’8″

Weight: 190 pounds

Landry has Phillip Lindsay of Colorado rated No. 24 on his running back draft board and gave him a seventh round or a priority free agent value.

In four years in Boulder, Lindsay rushed for 3,775 yards and 36 touchdowns, plus caught 117 passes for 1,084 yards and three more scores. Lindsay also returned kickoffs at times at Colorado.

I was very intrigued at the East-Shrine Game here in nearby St. Petersburg because of four Wisconsin Badgers playing in the game, but one of the other players who really stood out for me in the practices and the game was Lindsay.

At his pro day, Lindsay ran a very impressive 4.39 in the 40, which would have placed him second at the combine among RBs.

The Packers were very happy with the results that they received from two of their rookie running backs (Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones) last season, but one can never have enough talent in the backfield, especially one who can both run and catch the football like Lindsay can.

This is the scouting report Landry gives Lindsay:

A small guy who plays bigger and with good toughness. He will stick his nose in as a pass blocker despite lacking size to be an effective blocker. He is quick to the hole and has good run instincts. As a receiver he can separate and catch ball out of frame. Will need to be an effective returner and receiver in the passing game. I see him as a rotational 3rd down player.

Will the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns Do Business Again During the 2018 NFL Draft?

2018 NFL Scouting Combine

General manager Brian Gutekunst of the Green Bay Packers and general manager John Dorsey of the Cleveland Browns worked together in the scouting department of the Packers for 13 years.

Plus, Eliot Wolf, who is now assistant general manager of the Browns, and Alonzo Highsmith, who is now vice president of the Browns, also spent many years together with Gutekunst in the Green Bay scouting department.

Those associations led to a trade the two teams made in early March, when the Packers dealt cornerback Damarious Randall for quarterback DeShone Kizer of the Browns, plus the teams swapped of picks in both the fourth and fifth rounds of the 2018 NFL draft.

That meant that the Packers will have the first pick in both the fourth and fifth rounds of the upcoming draft.

Could there be another deal made between the two teams during the draft?

I’m thinking that there could be.

The Packers have 12 selections in the draft this year, which includes their own picks in each of the seven rounds of the draft, plus have four compensatory picks (one in the fourth round, two in the fifth round and one in the sixth round), plus have another pick in the seventh round due to a trade.

The Browns only have nine picks in the draft, plus the team doesn’t have a selection in either the third or seventh round. But don’t go feeling sorry for the Browns, as they have the first and fourth selection of the draft in the first round, plus have the first and third selections of the second round of the draft.

It is at the beginning of the second round where I could see the Packers doing a maneuver with the Browns.

To get the third pick of the second round (selection No. 35), the Packers would need to give the Browns their own pick in the second round (selection No. 45), as well as the first pick of the fourth round (selection No. 101) and their second pick of the seventh round (selection No. 239) to make the deal.

Getting up to pick No. 33 of the Browns would cost a bit more, but not much. The Packers would again have to give up their own second round pick (No. 45), plus their first fourth round pick (No. 101), plus would have to also trade their two compensatory picks in the fifth round (No.’s 172 & 174).

The first scenario would still leave the Packers with ten selections overall, while the second would mean that the Packers still have nine picks. The key is that Green Bay would have two selections among the top 33 or 35 players in the draft, plus would still have their third round pick (No. 76) as well.

In both scenarios, Green Bay would also have selections in all rounds of the draft.

The Packers would only want to move up to the top of the second round (No. 33 or No. 35) if a player that they truly want is still on the board. Plus, the Packers would have figured that the player who they desire would most likely be selected before the Packers get a chance to pick at No. 45.

Who that player might be depends on how the draft plays out.

Round 1 takes place on a Thursday night (April 26). Round’s 2 and 3 take place on Friday night (April 27).

I always utilize NFL scout Chris Landry when I do any type of draft story. Landry has put together his own horizontal draft board for the 2018 NFL draft, which encompasses the best players overall, regardless of position.

In my most recent story about who the Packers might select with pick No. 14, I listed the 18 players who Landry gave 1st round value to:

7.4 – 7.0 = Superstar Ability
7.4 = 1st Pick Value

7.0 = Definite Top 5 Pick

RB Saquon Barkley–Penn State
OG Quenton Nelson–Notre Dame

6.9 – 6.5 = Immediate Starter
6.9 = Early 1st Round

DE Bradley Chubb–North Carolina State
S/CB/SLOT Minkah Fitzpatrick–Alabama

6.5 = Mid to Late 1st Round Value

QB Sam Darnold–USC
QB Josh Rosen–UCLA (Character)
DE Marcus Davenport–Texas San Antonio
OLB/DE Tremaine Edmunds–Virginia Tech
WLB/MLB Roquan Smith–Georgia
MLB/ILB Rashaan Evans–Alabama
SS/FS/SLOT Derwin James–Florida State
CB Denzel Ward–Ohio State
CB Mike Hughes–Central Florida
RB Derrius Guice–LSU
RB Ronald Jones III–USC
DT Viota Vea–Washington
DT Daron Payne–Alabama
DT Maurice Hurst–Michigan (Medical)

Okay, let’s say the Packers are fortunate enough to select DE/OLB Marcus Davenport in the first round with pick No. 14. Davenport is who I had Green Bay taking in my second mock draft.

Marcus Davenport III

Marcus Davenport

Now, let’s look at the 24 players who Landry gives an early 2nd round value (6.4) to:

QB Baker Mayfield–Oklahoma (Character)
QB Josh Allen–Wyoming
QB Lamar Jackson–Louisville
DE/OLB Harold Landry–Boston College
DE/OLB Arden Key–LSU (Character)
DE Sam Hubbard–Ohio State
WR Calvin Ridley–Alabama
WR Christian Kirk–Texas A&M
ILB Leighton Vander Esch–Boise State
OLB Lorenzo Carter–Georgia
CB Josh Jackson–Iowa
OT/LT Conner Williams-Texas
OT/RT Mike McGlinchey–Notre Dame
OT/LT Kolton Miller–UCLA
DT Taven Bryan–Florida
DT Harrison Phillips–Stanford
SS Ronnie Harrison–Alabama
CB Jaire Alexander–Louisville
OC James Daniels–Iowa
OC Billy Price–Ohio State (Medical)
RB Sony Michel–Georgia
TE Hayden Hurst–South Carolina
OG Isaiah Wynn–Georgia
OG Will Hernandez–UTEP

From that list, I believe there is a very good possibility that the first three names in that group would have been selected in the first round. Plus, I’m sure there are others in this list who will certainly selected as well. That still leaves a number of prospects who could possibly still be on the board at the start of the second round.

Just imagine if any of these players were still on the board at the start of the second round:

  • Landry
  • Key
  • Ridley
  • Kirk
  • Vander Esch
  • Carter
  • Jackson
  • Williams
  • McGlinchey
  • Harrison
  • Alexander
  • Wynn
  • Hernandez

While the Packers would certainly be intrigued by the offensive players in the group above, it is the defense of the team which needs to become dominant again. Similar to the 2009 NFL draft when then general manager Ted Thompson drafted defensive lineman B.J. Raji with pick No. 9 in the draft and then traded-up to select linebacker Clay Matthews with pick No. 26 in the first round.

The year before that draft, the Packers were ranked 20th in the NFL in total defense. But by selecting Raji and Matthews, along with changing defensive coordinators (from Bob Sanders to Dom Capers), the Packers improved to second in the NFL in total defense in 2009.

And in 2010, when the Packers ended up winning Super Bowl XLV, the Packers were ranked fifth in total defense.

The Packers have an opportunity to create that same type of dynamic change to their defense, which was ranked 22nd in total defense in 2017. Plus, just like in 2009, the team has changed defensive coordinators, as Capers was fired and replaced by Mike Pettine.

By adding the likes of a Landry, Key, Vander Esch, Carter, Jackson, Harrison or Alexander to pair along with a talent like Davenport, that would give a dynamic change to the defense of the Packers in 2018. Similar to what occurred in 2009.

Every player listed above would enhance the Green Bay defense.

If Landry, Key or Carter were still available at the top of the second round, they could be paired with Davenport as bookends at outside linebacker.

Matthews can still bring it at OLB, as can Nick Perry, but Matthews might be better suited to play inside linebacker now, while Perry continues to have his share of injuries. The backups at OLB (Kyler Fackrell and Vince Biegel) have yet to show that they can be a force in rushing the passer in the NFL.

Both Fackrell and Biegel showed that they had pass-rush ability in college, but have yet to show that same effectiveness in the NFL. That being said, Fackrell definitely showed some improvement in 2017 with his play, while Biegel missed half of his rookie 2017 season with a broken foot.

Leighton Vander Esch

No. 38 Leighton Vander Esch

Vander Esch would also be an outstanding add-on for the Packers. He could be paired with Blake Martinez at inside linebacker. Like Martinez, Vander Esch would be a tackling machine. In 2017, Vander Esch had 141 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, five passed defended, had two interceptions and forced four fumbles for Boise State.

Jackson, Harrison and Alexander would all be a big addition to the beleaguered secondary of the Packers. The team desperately needs to add talent and depth to the cornerback position. Jackson and Alexander certainly belong in that category. Harrison would be able to replace Morgan Burnett (left via free agency) at safety and join fellow former Alabama star Ha Ha Clinton-Dix there.

Bottom line, since Gutekunst became general manager, the team has been more aggressive in free agency by adding the likes of tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and cornerback Tramon Williams.

Gutekunst also made a very difficult decision when he released one of the more popular players on the Packers, wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

Plus, Gutekunst made the trade with Cleveland and Dorsey before free agency began. The trade was made because of the comfort level that Gutekunst and Dorsey have with each other.

That comfort level could lead to another trade in the 2018 NFL draft. The Packers need to stay aggressive in their approach to improve a team (especially the defense) who was in the NFC title game just two years ago, while the Browns need to add as many assets as possible to a team which went 0-16 in 2017.

The trade I envision could do just that. The Packers would be able to get two great players among the top 33 or 35 prospects in the 2018 NFL draft, while the Browns would be able to add two to three more prospects in the draft.

To me, it’s a win-win for both teams.

Green Bay Packers: QB DeShone Kizer Could Be a Diamond in the Rough

DeShone Kizer

QB DeShone Kizer of the Cleveland Browns looks downfield, as LB Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers applies pressure during their 2017 game, won by the Packers 27-21 in overtime.

New general manager Brian Gutekunst of the Green Bay Packers was pretty busy the past few days, as he and the team first hosted free agent defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson on Wednesday and Thursday last week.

On Friday, Gutekunst then made a trade with a former associate of his with the Packers, general manager John Dorsey of the Browns, as the Packers traded cornerback Damarious Randall for quarterback DeShone Kizer, plus a swap of picks in both the fourth and fifth rounds.

The trade means that the Packers will have the first pick in both the fourth and fifth rounds of the 2018 NFL draft and that the Packers will most likely not select a quarterback in the draft.

In terms of Wilkerson, the former New York Jet is still making a tour of other NFL teams, but has not made a decision yet on where he will play. The Packers have the advantage of having Mike Pettine as their new defensive coordinator, as it was Pettine who was Wilkerson’s first defensive coordinator with the Jets.

Pettine pushed hard for the Jets to select Wilkerson in the 2011 NFL draft, as the Jets selected him with the 30th pick of Round 1.

While Pettine was his coordinator in 2011 and 2012, the Jets were ranked fifth and eighth in total defense in the NFL, while Wilkerson put up good numbers as well, as he had 118 total tackles, eight sacks, one safety, six passes defensed and four forced fumbles.

Time will tell if Wilkerson will end up as a Packer, but according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the visit by Wilkerson to Green Bay went very well.

In terms of the trade to acquire Kizer, the Packers decided that they have seen enough of Randall’s inconsistent play and also his behavior with the coaching staff.

Case in point, in Week 4 last season versus the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field, Randall was benched because of his play and then later was told to head to the locker room because of a heated argument on the sideline with a coach.

After that game, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, a number of veteran players on the Packers told head coach Mike McCarthy to release Randall. But the coaching staff stood by Randall and kept him on the team

Randall was drafted by the Packers in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft with the 30th pick of that round. Randall had an up and down three-year career with the Packers. At times, he looked very good, but he also struggled with injuries, plus had a number of blown coverage assignments during his time in Green Bay.

Bottom line, Gutekunst and Packers saw a diamond in the rough with Kizer and shipped the enigmatic Randall to the Browns, where he gets to reunite with a couple of people in the Browns front office who were in that same capacity with the Packers when Randall was drafted by the Packers. I’m talking about Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith.

With the addition of Kizer to the Packers, the future of Brett Hundley with the Packers is now in doubt. At the NFL scouting combine, McCarthy did not mince his words when talking about the play of No. 7 in 2017 and the way he was coached.  “Brett Hundley wasn’t ready for what he needed to be ready for,” McCarthy said.  “That’s something that we have to learn from, and that stings.”

It’s also important to note that McCarthy did not keep quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt after the season.

At the time of the 2017 NFL draft, the Packers reportedly had Hundley on the trading block and nearly moved him at one point according to Demovsky. Part of the article says this:

The Packers dangled their backup quarterback on the trade market and came close to making a deal on the second day of the draft. Now it appears they’ll likely hang on to him for another year, but expect them to move him before he enters the final year of his contract in 2018. They believe they can get much more in return than the fifth-round pick they invested in him in 2015.

That might not be the case after the way Hundley struggled at times during the 2017 season in relief of an injured Aaron Rodgers. Hundley was 3-6 as a starter and he threw nine touchdown passes versus 12 interceptions for 1,853 yards. His passer rating was just 70.9.

Hundley was also sacked 29 times, as he had trouble 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 due to his passing deficiencies.

The Packers expected much more from their third-year QB.

That is also why it has been rumored that Hundley was almost traded recently to the Tennessee Titans according SB Nation- Music City Miracles, via a tweet by my friend Jersey Al, who has some excellent sources.

My guess is the Packers will end up moving Hundley now that Kizer is aboard. The Packers have been high on Kizer since the 2017 NFL draft when the Browns selected him in the second round with the 52nd pick of the draft.

The Packers were considering selecting Kizer themselves with the 33rd pick of the draft, but instead picked cornerback Kevin King. According to Pro Football Rumors, via a tweet by Ian Rapoport, the National Insider for NFL Network and NFL.com, the Packers were definitely considering Kizer with the 33rd pick.

In college at Notre Dame for two seasons, Kizer threw 47 touchdown passes versus just 19 picks for 5,805 yards. Kizer also rushed for 997 yards and 18 more scores.

NFL scout Chris Landry liked what he saw of Kizer prior to the 2017 NFL draft. In fact, on Landry’s horizontal draft board, which ranks players regardless of their position, Landry ranked Kizer 29th on his board. He gave Kizer a mark of 6.4, which means a potential starter and an early second round grade.

at Notre Dame Stadium on September 24, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana.

DeShone Kizer

This is what he said about Kizer in his scouting report:

Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer measured in at the NFL Combine at 6-foot-4 1/4-inch and 233 pounds.

His hands are 9 7/8-inchs and may have the most upside of any in the draft but perhaps also the lowest floor. He is built like Carson Palmer but in big moments has performed like Jay Cutler.

Kizer posted a passer rating of 154.7 when using play action in 2016. That play-action passer rating of 154.7 was tops in the country. However, that mark takes a terrifying drop to 85.5 — 62nd in the country, when Kizer was not involved in play action. Legitimate questions as to his pro-readiness have emerged during the draft process, including those of accuracy on the outside and mental makeup. He hasn’t played well under pressure and while the physical tools are all present, his issues are between the ears. The natural instincts for the position and pure arm talent are there if he can land in the right system with the right coach.

He has slow eyes while deciphering the defense. Kizer has all of the traits evaluators look for and played with poise and composure, but the inconsistencies stood out. He is a tick late on a number of decisions when working off his primary read. That plus inaccuracy on outside throws that should be made at the pro level should incite pause for an NFL evaluator.

Kizer is a two-year starter who had a career passer rating of 98.6. He cranks the ball through the tight windows. He’ll stand tall in the pocket. When he’s under pressure he doesn’t move in the pocket as well as you would like.

I see the athleticism and arm talent, but I wonder if he can take hard coaching. Things went downhill in a hurry at Notre Dame.

I think you have to go back and look at the 2015 tape to fully appreciate him. He can make all of the throws and he’s athletic. Plus, he has won some big games during his time there. I know it got a little sideways for him (in 2016), but he can play. I believe he is one of the top three in this class. Kizer is a big, athletic passer with arm talent and movement skills but has played a lot of bad football with the game on the line in the fourth quarter this year. Like all QB’s it is how he is trained in the league and his work ethic and coachability that will determine his success or failure.

There is no doubt that Landry saw a lot of very good attributes while scouting Kizer. Qualities like his size, his big arm and his excellent mobility.  But Landry also saw some flaws that need to be corrected.

In 2017, as rookie quarterback with the 0-16 Browns, Kizer started 15 games and threw 11 touchdown passes versus 22 picks (led the NFL) for 2,894 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of just 60.5, plus Kizer only completed 53.6 percent of his passes.

While that was a tough rookie campaign for Kizer, it’s important to note that left tackle Joe Thomas played in only seven games last season. That’s a big hole to fill from Kizer’s blindside, especially when that player has gone to 10 Pro Bowls and has been named All-Pro six times like Thomas has.

This is what Landry said about the recent trade with Randall going to the Browns and Kizer coming to the Packers:

The Packers acquired DeShone Kizer from the Browns in exchange for CB Damarious Randall.

The deal also includes a pick swap. With Tyrod Taylor coming in and an early-round rookie likely to follow, the writing was on the wall for Kizer in Cleveland. That said, this move is likely a blessing for the 2017 second-round pick, who will get a chance to develop behind one of the best quarterbacks in the game. Despite his rocky rookie season, the book is not closed on Kizer as a starting quarterback. With Kizer on board, the Packers could look to move on from Brett Hundley, who was overmatched as a starter last season.

I certainly agree with Landry on that assessment of his. The book is not closed on Kizer as a NFL quarterback and also that the Packers will indeed try to move Hundley via a trade. If that happens, I could also see the Packers bringing in an experienced free agent NFL quarterback, perhaps someone like Matt Moore of the Miami Dolphins, who played under Joe Philbin (now offensive coordinator for the Packers) for couple of years when he was head coach for Miami.

It’s important to have a steady NFL veteran in the wings if Rodgers is unfortunately hurt again. Similar to what Matt Flynn did back in 2013 when Rodgers was hurt.

Still, it’s also very important that the coaches get Kizer ready to play. That means hours of film study in the Green Bay quarterback school, which will now be led by new quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti Jr., formerly of the New York Giants coaching staff.

Cignetti not only has to teach Kizer how to prepare as a NFL quarterback, but he also has to earn the trust of Rodgers, who was not a happy camper when the Packers did not bring back Van Pelt as quarterbacks coach.

McCarthy and Philbin have to be part of this teaching process as well. Plus, Rodgers needs to lend support and also his knowledge to Kizer, which is something he has always done for his backups when he was not playing due to injury throughout his NFL career.

Bottom line, Kizer has all the tools to be a very good NFL quarterback. At first glance, looking at his stats in Cleveland, the addition of the former Fighting Irish star doesn’t look too appealing.

Nor did the acquisition of a quarterback named Brett Favre in 1992 for a first round draft pick look too promising. After all, Favre had thrown two interceptions in just four attempts as a rookie for the Atlanta Falcons back in 1991. Favre registered a passer rating of 0.0.

But then general manager Ron Wolf saw enough of Favre’s quarterback play at Southern Mississippi to make the trade.

Brian Gutekunst II

Brian Gutekunst

Apparently Gutekunst saw much of the same of Kizer with his overall play at Notre Dame and with some of the bright moments of his play with the Browns in 2017.

Now I’m not saying Kizer will have a Pro Football Hall of Fame career like Favre had, but he certainly has the attributes to be a fine NFL QB.

Based on the 2017 NFL draft scouting report of Landry, one of the best of the best in the scouting business, Kizer has all the ability in the world to be an effective quarterback in the NFL. For that to happen, as Landry also said, Kizer needs to be trained well, have a strong work ethic and be coachable.

That all should happen in Green Bay, with the coaching staff (McCarthy, Philbin & Cignetti), plus learning from and watching Rodgers.

Time will tell if Kizer is indeed a diamond in the rough for the Packers, but the athletic ability is definitely there for that possibility to occur.

A Scout’s Take on the Hiring of GM Brian Gutekunst by the Green Bay Packers

Brian Gutekunst as GM

Brian Gutekunst

Last week I had the opportunity to talk with NFL scout Chris Landry to get his take about who the Green Bay Packers were possibly going to hire to become their new general manager and new defensive coordinator.

Landry told me that the Packers were most likely going to hire from within to replace Ted Thompson (now senior advisor to football operations), and if they did, Brian Gutekunst would be the best choice.  Well, that’s exactly what the Packers did, as they hired Gutekunst.

Besides saying Gutekunst would be the best candidate for GM, Landry also though that the Packers would look to someone like Vic Fangio to be their next defensive coordinator after head coach Mike McCarthy fired Dom Capers from that role.

The Packers definitely were interested in Fangio, but he decided to remain with the Chicago Bears as their defensive coordinator, after agreeing to a new three -year deal on Friday. The Packers instead went with Mike Pettine as their new defensive coordinator earlier this week.

More on Pettine and other coaching changes later in the story.

Back to Gutekunst now. I had another conversation with Landy this past Wednesday on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show to get his take on the hiring of Gutekunst and the other changes made in the front office.

“I think they are significant,” Landry said, speaking of the changes made. “Brian Gutekunst is the new GM. Definitely the right move if they were going to promote from within. But they have lost some key guys. Obviously Eliot Wolf is going to Cleveland now to be with John Dorsey.

“I think Eliot is a good guy, and I think he’ll do a nice job for them. I think that was expected, once you make a decision to promote from within. When you have two or three guys [competing]. Guys like [Alonzo] Highsmith, who I think is a bigger loss than Wolf, because he’s a better evaluator of talent. Wolf is a little bit more organized and he’s probably going to be a bigger asset to John Dorsey in Cleveland.

“Listen, there are changes. There always is. I will say something which is unique and different and I’m not sure how it’s going to work out, but now you are going to have the head coach and GM both reporting to the President [Mark Murphy]. I’m just not sure about that. He [Murphy] thinks it was necessary. Mark Murphy thought there were some communication issues.

“I think you correct that by having a GM who does a better job of communicating. I’m very curious to see how that’s going to work out. I think that’s a little bit of a cop-out. I think it’s another way of saying Mike McCarthy won’t look with the same view of Brian Gutekunst, who is a younger guy, he won’t look at him with the same type of respect that he had for Ted Thompson.

“So, here’s what we are going to do. Mike, you can report to me. Brian can report to me. And I’ll just be the guy the kind of President who won’t have to worry about egos. I think that move had more to do with Mike McCarthy and potentially massaging his ego.”

In 12 years as head coach of the Packers, McCarthy has a 121-70-1 regular season record and has a 10-8 postseason record. The Packers have won six NFC North titles and have gone to the postseason nine times under McCarthy, which includes four NFC title game appearances and a win in Super Bowl XLV.

Speaking of McCarthy, he has made a number of changes on his coaching staff. Let’s get back to Pettine to start with.

This looks to be an excellent hire, just like it would have been had he brought on Fangio. Pettine’s track record as a defensive coordinator with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills was certainly outstanding.

From 2009 through 2012, the Jets ranked 1st, 3rd, 5th and 8th in overall defense. In 2013, when he ran the Bills defense, Buffalo finished 10th in total defense.

Pettine worked under Rex Ryan, who himself was a defensive coordinator before he became a head coach with the Jets and Bills.

The Ryan-Pettine  defensive system is pressure-based. Both the 3-4 and the 4-3 defense will be used, which means players must understand each concept.

Ryan thinks the Packers hit a home run when they hired Pettine, according to this article by Rob Demovsky of ESPN.

“He’ll be the best coordinator in the league; that’s how good he is,” Ryan said. “I think the big thing is, the fan base ought to be super excited about him because this is a good get. There’s other names out there or whatever, but this is the best coach out there that they could’ve got.”

Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine II

Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine

After being very successful under Ryan as a defensive coordinator, Pettine was hired to be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Pettine had a 10-22 record with the Browns in 2014 and 2015, but was then fired along with GM Ray Farmer after the 2015 season.

That seems to a be a broken record with the Browns under owner Jimmy Haslam, as the team has made multiple head coaching and front office changes since Haslam became the owner in 2012.

That 10-22 record of Pettine doesn’t look so bad today, as the 2017 version of the Browns went 0-16.

Besides interviewing Pettine, McCarthy also interviewed three in-house candidates, associate head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss, secondary/safeties coach Darren Perry and secondary/cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. for the defensive coordinator job.

McCarthy decided to go with Pettine, but has been able to keep Whitt, who now will serve as the passing game coordinator. There is no word yet on whether Moss or Perry will or won’t return to the Packers.

The Packers also hired Patrick Graham to the defensive coaching staff on Thursday. Graham, who is 38, has worked under Ben McAdoo with the New York Giants and Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots . Graham has coached both the defensive line and linebackers.

These additions were made after McCarthy had fired defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, assistant linebackers coach Scott McCurley and defensive quality control coach Tim McGarigle.

Also, defensive front assistant coach Jerry Montgomery left to become the defensive line coach at Texas A&M.

On the offensive side of the ball, there has also been changes. Edgar Bennett was removed from his post as offensive coordinator. There is still no word whether Bennett will remain on the coaching staff.

Replacing Bennett will be be former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who spent three-plus seasons (24-28) as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins and the last two seasons as the offensive line coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

While Philbin was the offensive coordinator of the Packers from 2007 through 2011, Green Bay never finished outside the top 10 in terms of total offense in the NFL.

Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt (contract not renewed) has been replaced by Frank Cignetti, who has spent the past two years as QB coach of the Giants under McAdoo.

Wide receivers coach Luke Getsy left the Packers to become the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State and he was replaced by Jim Hostler, who had that same role with the Colts. Hostler also worked under McCarthy in 2005, when both were with the San Francisco 49ers, as McCarthy was offensive coordinator and Hostler was QB coach.

Bottom line, there are still a lot of moving parts going on within the front office and the coaching staff of the Packers.

In terms of replacing both Wolf and Highsmith, Gutekunst will likely promote director of college scouting Jon-Eric Sullivan and director of pro personnel John Wojciechowski to be his top assistants.

The Packers were able to keep Russ Ball in the organization after he also interviewed for the GM job along with Wolf, as the Packers promoted him to executive vice president/director of football operations.

I would expect that all the coaching staff and front office changes will completed by next week heading into the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida.

A Scout’s Take on Who the Packers Might Name as Their New GM and New DC

Mark Murphy and Mike McCarthy

It’s been a crazy week for the Green Bay Packers after they finished their 2017 NFL season by losing 35-11 to the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Ford Field. The loss put the record of the Packers at 7-9.

It wasn’t the only loss suffered by the team.

We learned on Monday that head coach Mike McCarthy fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers Sunday night. We also learned that two of the defensive assistants to Capers were also given the pink slip. They would be defensive line coach Mike Trgovac and assistant linebackers coach Scott McCurley.

If that news wasn’t enough for Packer Nation to absorb, it was also learned that Executive Vice President, General Manager & Director of Football Operations Ted Thompson would transition to a new role as senior advisor to football operations.

That of course means that Mark Murphy, President & CEO of the Packers, will be hiring a new general manager.

Murphy talked to the media on Tuesday and talked about how the process will work.

“This is an attractive job and we’re going to have a lot of strong candidates across the league,” Murphy said. “I’m confident that we’ll be able to put the right person in place to help us win championships.”

The front office of the Packers has three candidates who might end up with the job. That would be V.P. of football administration/player finance Russ Ball, Director of Football Operations Eliot Wolf and Director of Player Personnel Brian Gutekunst.

In fact, the Packers have already scheduled interviews with Ball, Wolf and Gutekunst.

Brian Gutekunst

Brian Gutekunst

The Packers would have most likely interviewed another member of their front office for the GM job, but Senior Personnel Executive Alonzo Highsmith left the organization to join former Packers executive John Dorsey in Cleveland and he’s now the Browns Vice President of Football Operations.

It is also believed that the Packers will also look outside the organization as they look for a new GM. It has been reported that the Packers will also interview former Bills GM Doug Whaley.

Murphy told the media that Jed Hughes, a consultant from Korn Ferry, will assist him in the search for a new GM, although the ultimate decision will be his.

One of the other things that Murphy told the media was that the head coaching job of McCarthy’s was safe.

“You know Mike is our man,” Murphy said. “He is our coach and we have all the confidence in the world in Mike that we’re going to have great success moving forward.”

It was later learned that McCarthy was given a contract extension last season which will run through 2019.

On Wednesday, McCarthy made some more moves regarding his coaching staff, this time on offense. McCarthy removed Edgar Bennett from his role as offensive coordinator, while quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt did not have his contract renewed.

There is a slight chance Bennett might remain on the staff, after receivers coach Luke Getsy left to become offensive coordinator at Mississippi State. Bennett had been the receivers coach for the Packers from 2011 though 2014. In all, Bennett has been on the Green Bay coaching staff since 2005, when Mike Sherman was the head coach.

Two former assistant coaches for the Packers under McCarthy may be returning when it’s all said and done. One possibility might be Joe Philbin, who was Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line coach last season,  and who also worked under McCarthy from 2006 through 2011 and was offensive coordinator in five of those years.

Plus, another name to keep an eye on is former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, who was on McCarthy’s staff in Green Bay from 2006-13, including coaching quarterbacks for two of those years.

There is definitely a lot of moving parts going on within the Green Bay organization, as well as key additions to both the coaching staff and perhaps at general manager from the outside as well.

It’s been awhile since the Green Bay Packers had this much attention in terms of prominent hiring opportunities within their organization.

The Packers haven’t hired a new general manager since 2005, when former Packers’ President  Bob Harlan hired Thompson. Plus, McCarthy hasn’t hired a new defensive coordinator since 2009, when he hired Capers to replace Bob Sanders, who McCarthy had fired.

With all this news going on, I wanted to get the opinion of one of the best in the business, NFL scout Chris Landry. I had an opportunity to talk with Landry on Wednesday on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show about the vacancies that the Packers have both at general manager and at defensive coordinator.

Landry has an unique perspective in all of this, as he has known Thompson since both were members of the Houston Oilers’ organization back in the 1980s, when Landry was a scout with the Oilers and Thompson was backup linebacker with Houston.

Landry first talked about the job opening at general manager.

“I think they probably promote from within at GM,” Landry said. “I think there would be a consideration of looking at a guy like [Reggie] McKenzie. I don’t think [John] Schneider would come. But they probably would consider that.

“They tend to want to go in-line with their philosophy closely tied to Ron Wolf. Ted was part of that. So, I think that’s probably where they go. Probably promote from within. But we’ll see there.  [Brian] Gutekunst is probably the best guy. I’m not as big a fan as other people are on Eliot Wolf. It’s his last name.

Eliot and Ron Wolf

“I think there are some good candidates. It’s a really good job. I would look outside maybe a little bit more than they will.”

One name that Landry did not mention who is within the organization of the Packers is Ball. Yesterday, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote a piece which says that the next GM of the Packers will probably be Ball.

I talked about Ball earlier in the summer of 2017 with Landry, when we were chatting about who may be the possible successor to Thompson and this is was his response about Ball:

“He’s [Ball] an administrator, just like Andrew [Brandt],” Landry said. “Andrew was not a football guy. Russ is not a football guy. He’s an administrator.”

That sort of tells you that Landry does not believe the Packers should hire Ball as their next general manager.

After Landry talked about the GM possibilities, he turned his attention to who the next defensive coordinator might be.

“I think Vic Vangio is the type of guy that there are looking for at the defensive coordinator spot,” Landry said. “I know I talked to the Packers yesterday morning at length about Dave Aranda, who is a bright, young defensive coordinator at LSU. I think he would be a good fit.

“But I think somebody like Vic Fangio would make some sense. It’s certainly more in line with what I think Mike McCarthy will go with.”

Wisconsin fans will note that Aranda was the defensive coordinator for the Badgers from 2013 through 2015 and he helped put together one of the top defenses in college football. Aranda also interviewed with the Packers in 2015 for a coaching job under Capers.

But things come and go quickly when it comes to pursuing coaches and it was announced that Aranda has received a boost in salary ($2.5 million in each of the next four seasons) at LSU. Aranda was making $1.8 million in 2017. Besides some interest from the Packers perhaps, Texas A&M was also trying to pry Aranda away from LSU.

In terms of Fangio, he interviewed for the head coaching job of the Chicago Bears, where he has been the defensive coordinator under John Fox the past three seasons.

It is believed that the Bears will be looking for an offensive-minded head coach, but one never knows.

Vic Fangio

Vic Fangio

The 59-year old Fangio has a solid reputation as a defensive coordinator, as he did a great job in that position with the San Francisco 49ers under head coach Jim Harbaugh from 2011 through 2014. The 49ers were always in the top five in defense under Fangio.

In 2011, the Niners were fourth in total defense, in 2012, they were third, in 2013, they were fifth and in 2014, they were fifth again.

With da Bears, Fangio took the defense to the top ten this year, as Chicago finished tenth in total defense, after finishing 14th in 2015 and 15th in 2016.

Fangio runs the 3-4 defense that the Packers employ, plus has been a defensive coordinator under Capers twice, once in Carolina with the Panthers and once in Houston with the Texans.

Time will tell what the Packers will do at filling their openings at GM and defensive coordinator, but Fangio certainly appears to be a great fit for the defense and Gutekunst is probably the best choice for being the next GM, at least according to Landry.

A Scout’s Take on Who Might Be the Next GM for the Green Bay Packers

Wolf-Schneider-Dorsey(1)

A couple of weeks ago, an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Michael Cohen speculated that Russ Ball, the vice president of football administration/player finance of the Green Bay Packers, could possibly be the next general manager of the team after Ted Thompson decides to move on.

Thompson, who turned 64 in January, is signed through the 2018 season in his current duties as executive vice president, general manager & director of football operations for the Packers.

Ball, who is 57, has been with the Packers since 2008 and his primary duties are negotiating player contracts and managing the salary cap. Before coming to Green Bay, Ball previously spent time with the New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL.

Although I believe Ball is very good at what he does, my guess is the next general manager of the Packers will have a similar background as Thompson has had. Which means having a scouting background.

I wanted to see if my thoughts had merit, which is why I wanted to talk with NFL scout Chris Landry about this situation. I had an opportunity to talk with Landry earlier this week on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show.

I started my discussion with Landry by mentioning the GM speculation about Ball, and that he also had taken over his current position with the Packers from Andrew Brandt.  Plus I also brought up three names who I believe would be better candidates as GM for the Pack.

One name is Eliot Wolf, who is currently director of football operations for the Packers and has spent . Eliot is the son of Ron Wolf, who served as the GM of the Packers from 1992 through 2000.

Wolf, who is still only 35, has now been part of 25 consecutive drafts for Green Bay, either under his dad or in scouting capacity with the Packers. Wolf has also been at 26 consecutive NFL Scouting Combines.

After being pro personnel assistant with the Packers from 2004-2008, Wolf was then promoted to assistant director of pro personnel for three years, before he was promoted to assistant director of player personnel in 2011. He then was named director of pro personnel in 2012, a position he held until his most recent promotion of director of football operations, which was in March of 2016.

Another name to consider is John Schneider, who is currently the general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. Schneider (a Green Bay native) started his scouting career with the Packers in 1993 under Ron Wolf and spent 12 years total with Green Bay in a number of capacities, including being director of football operations for the Packers in 2008 and 2009.

Another person who would have to be under consideration is John Dorsey, who is currently the general manager with the Kansas City Chiefs. Like Schneider, Dorsey also started his scouting career in Green Bay in 1991 under Ron Wolf and spent 20 years in the Green Bay organization all told, which also included being the director of football operations.

Dorsey also spent six years in Green Bay as a player.

Landry first talked about Ball.

“He’s [Ball] an administrator, just like Andrew [Brandt],” Landry said. “Andrew was not a football guy. Russ is not a football guy. He’s an administrator.”

Landry than talked about Wolf, Schneider and Dorsey.

“As far as where the Packers will go to replace Ted [Thompson], when Ted steps aside, to me, there’s a big difference between an Eliot Wolf and a John Schneider or John Dorsey, guys who have done it,” Landry said. “Eliot, we know his dad’s name, I think that’s awfully risky to put a kid like that type of a role. I don’t think he’s ready for that. But I don’t know what they are going to do or what Ted is going to do.

“I do think that people might say that John Schneider wouldn’t leave Seattle, I don’t know that he would or wouldn’t, but Pete Carroll makes the final decisions for personnel in Seattle. And if John had total control in Green Bay, he might want to do that or he might not.

“The same thing with John Dorsey in Kansas City, in which he answers essentially to Andy Reid. That could be a factor in them taking it [the Green Bay GM job]. We’ll just have to wait and see. John Schneider grew up in Green Bay and went to high school there, while Dorsey obviously had a background working there.

“I can’t really add any insight as to who [the next GM will be]. It can be very political there and Russ very well might get it [the GM job]. It wouldn’t be the move I would suggest.”

This all may be a moot point after the 2018 season, if Thompson decides to continue his role as GM and signs another extension with the Packers.

How the Packers do on the field over the next couple of seasons will most likely play a big role in that decision.

No matter what, I believe the next GM of the Packers will have a history in the scouting profession.

The Stamp of Ron Wolf on the NFL

Ron Wolf

In 2015, Ron Wolf, along with Bill Polian, became the second and third general managers ever to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The first general manager to get that honor was Jim Finks. All three made it to Canton because of the masterful way they could evaluate talent.

Wolf started out his career in the NFL under Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders at the age of 25 in 1963, first as a scout and then as a key member of the front office of the Raiders. Wolf helped Oakland select a number of very talented players in the draft during that time, including Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Ken Stabler and Jack Tatum. Each of those players had key roles for the Raiders as Oakland won Super Bowl XI in 1976.

Wolf left Oakland in 1975, moving across the country to Florida to head football operations for the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wolf drafted players like Lee Roy Selmon, Doug Williams and Ricky Bell—three players who helped lead the Bucs to the NFC title game in 1979.

Wolf was not around to see the success of the Bucs come to fruition, as he resigned from the Bucs in 1978 and returned to work with his mentor Davis. Wolf stayed on with the Raiders until 1990. Once again, Wolf was able to bring in some more talent to the team, adding players such as Marcus Allen, Howie Long and Matt Millen, as the Raiders ended up winning two more Super Bowl titles in that time frame.

Wolf then spent a year with the New York Jets front office before he was hired by Bob Harlan to run the front office in Green Bay. Wolf’s first move was to fire then head coach Lindy Infante and then hire Mike Holmgren as his new head coach.

Wolf also brought on a guy named Ted Thompson to help out in the scouting department for the Packers. One of Thompson’s first jobs was to review tape of a player the Packers were thinking about possibly acquiring via a trade. Thompson looked at tape of the player and gave his endorsement.

The player’s name was Brett Favre. Wolf obviously made the trade, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Wolf used the draft to build the Packers during his time in Green Bay, but he also used trades and free agency fairly often to get excellent talent as well. The Favre trade was certainly huge, but Wolf was also able to get nice talent in the trade market—acquiring players such as Keith Jackson, Eugene Robinson and Ahman Green—over the years.

Wolf also signed arguably the best free agent in NFL history when he signed Reggie White in 1993. Wolf used free agency quite extensively, and he also signed players such as Mike Prior, Sean Jones, Don Beebe, Santana Dotson, Desmond Howard and Andre Rison.

Wolf oversaw 10 drafts with the Packers, and although he hit on some pretty good talent in early rounds—Wayne Simmons, Aaron Taylor, Craig Newsome, Darren Sharper, Vonnie Holliday, Bubba Franks and Chad Clifton are examples—it was Wolf’s expertise in the mid-to-late rounds that brought a boatload of talent to the team.

Robert Brooks, Edgar Bennett, Mark Chmura, Earl Dotson, Dorsey Levens, William Henderson, Brian Williams, Antonio Freeman, Adam Timmerman, Tyrone Williams, Keith McKenzie, Mike McKenzie, Donald Driver, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Mark Tauscher are prime examples of his drafting prowess in those rounds.

All of this led to one of the greatest periods in the history of the Packers. Between 1992 and 2000, the Packers had a 92-52 record (a .639 winning percentage), won three NFC Central titles, had seven straight winning seasons, six straight playoff appearances, appeared in three consecutive NFC Championship Games (winning two of them) and were featured in two consecutive Super Bowls—winning Super Bowl XXXI.

Holmgren and Wolf

The Packers were also 60-12 at home (a .833 winning percentage) during that time.

Compare that to the period before Wolf arrived in Green Bay. From 1983-1991, the Packers were 57-85-1 (a .402 winning percentage). That includes no division titles or playoff appearances. The Packers were also 31-40-1 at home (a .438 winning percentage).

Besides all the wins that came because of Wolf’s skills in the front office, Wolf hired a number of key members to his staff, who later went on to more prominent roles.

One was Thompson, who has been the general manager of the Packers since 2005. Since Thompson hired Mike McCarthy in 2006, the team has gone 104-55-1 during that time in the regular season, plus has won five NFC North titles, made eight playoff appearances (including seven straight times currently) and also won Super Bowl XLV.

Like Thompson, Wolf also hired John Dorsey in 1992. Dorsey is currently the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. In 1993, Wolf hired John Schneider. Schneider is currently the general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. Schneider and his Hawks won Super Bowl XLVIII.

In 1994, Wolf hired both Scott McCloughan and Reggie McKenzie. McCloughan is currently the general manager of the Washington Redskins, while McKenzie is general manager of the Oakland Raiders.

And in the not too distant future, another Wolf might be making a name for himself in the NFL. That would be Eliot Wolf, Ron’s son.

The younger Wolf is now the director of football operations for the Packers after getting another promotion back in March. That promotion was the fourth for Eliot and his new position has the same title that Schneider, Dorsey and McKenzie held in Green Bay before they became NFL general managers.

When Eliot first joined the Packers in 2004 at age 22, he worked in the same department Thompson did when he was first hired. But even before then, Eliot had accumulated quite a resume.

Eliot first started working with his dad Ron unofficially at age 10, watching film. He then started working the NFL draft and has now been part of 24 consecutive drafts for the Packers. Eliot has also been to 24 consecutive NFL Scouting Combines.

In addition to that, Eliot had nine NFL scouting internships—five with the Packers, three with the Atlanta Falcons and one with the Seattle Seahawks.

Eliot basically grew up in Green Bay, as he was nine years old when his dad joined the Packers. Eliot graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay before going to Miami (Fla.) for college, where he graduated in just three-and-a-half years.

Eliot and Ron Wolf

Time will tell whether Eliot Wolf will become the next general manager for the Packers at some point, or whether that assignment will take place somewhere else.

If Eliot is anything like his father Ron, then he will go one to have a magnificent front office career in the NFL.

Yes, Ron Wolf had the innate ability to scout and acquire outstanding talent. Wolf also made excellent hires, both in the front office and also to the coaching staff of his teams for the most part.

After Holmgren left the Packers and joined the Seahawks, Wolf hired Ray Rhodes to replace him. After watching the Packers finish 8-8 under Rhodes in 1999, Wolf quickly realized that he erred in that particular hire and Mike Sherman was then hired as the new head coach in Green Bay.

Sherman didn’t take the Packers to another Super Bowl, but his teams were 57-39 during his tenure in Green Bay, which included three divisional titles and four playoff appearances.

Bottom line, Wolf brought a winning culture to every team he worked for. And winning is the name of the game in the NFL.

Which is why Ron Wolf has a bust in Canton.

A Scout’s Take on the Status of Mike Neal

Mike Neal

It’s now getting into late May and Mike Neal is still looking to see who his employer will be for the 2016 season in the NFL. Neal is an unrestricted free agent who has put together a pretty solid resume the past three years as a player with the Green Bay Packers.

In those three years, Neal has played in every game in each of those seasons and has averaged 39 tackles and 4.5 sacks per season as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defensive scheme the Packers utilize.

Neal started out his career in Green Bay in 2010 as a defensive end, as he was 6’3″, 294-pounds coming out of Purdue, when the Packers drafted him in the second round that year.

The former Boilermaker showed flashes of being pretty solid on the defensive line for the Packers, but due to injuries to his shoulder and his knee, only played in nine games in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Neal was able to play in 11 games in 2012 as a defensive end and had 4.5 sacks that season. However, Neal missed the first four games of that season due to violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

But from 2013 through the 2015 seasons, Neal dropped some weight (down to 262 pounds) and moved out to outside linebacker. No. 96 has always been solid versus the run and occasionally puts pressure on the opposing quarterback.

Plus, he left behind the injury-plagued start of his career and became a player who would consistently be there for the team each and every game.

Still, the Packers looked at other options during free agency and the draft. First the team re-signed outside linebacker Nick Perry to a one-year deal and then also drafted outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell of Utah State in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft.

Adding to that, on the weekend of the draft, director of player personnel Eliot Wolf said this about Neal’s situation:

“I think it’s a priority,” Wolf said talking about adding to the defense. “Obviously with B.J. (Raji) retiring, we lost some guys up front, and Mike Neal’s moved on so it just looks like something that we addressed as need, and we’ve been able to fill it so far. Couple more picks to go.”

Later on, general manager Ted Thompson backtracked a bit talking about what Wolf had said about Neal.

“I wouldn’t characterize it like that,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of different things that can happen during the course of an off-season that would change things. So I wouldn’t be strong enough to say that.”

If the Packers have indeed moved on without Neal at outside linebacker, Green Bay still has solid depth at the position. This includes Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Perry, Jayrone Elliott, Lerentee McCray and Fackrell.

Mike Neal III

Neal recently spoke with Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding his uncertain future  in a recent story.

Neal will not hold any grudges against the Packers if they do not bring him back.

“I’m not here to throw anyone under the bus,” Neal said. “I love Green Bay. They’ve started my life off great, so how can you ever be mad at that? You know what I’m saying? You can never be mad at that. That’s just a business, that’s what they choose to do. I’m in a good place. I couldn’t be in a better place.”

Neal has visited the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, but left both places without a contract. One reason perhaps was because Neal was named in an Al Jazeera report which accused a number of players of PED use.

Neal was asked if that situation has affected his free agency status.

“I think it influenced it heavily, heavily, heavily, heavily, heavily,” Neal said. “And that’s just from meeting with other teams and hearing what other teams have to say. You have to take everything into account. If you don’t, then you’re kind of cheating yourself out of the whole ordeal.

“I think that when you look at it, out of all the people that they had reported that are playing in the NFL, who was the only one that was a free agent? It was me. You know what I’m saying? You don’t see guys getting cut or anything like that because they’ve already signed a contract.

“I was the only one hitting the free-agent market out of that group of guys. I think that that affected it because most teams wonder what is the league’s position on everything. To be quite honest with you, I would never even know. Never once have I been contacted by the NFL about anything, about what’s going on. Not once.”

Mike Neal II

Knowing that Neal lives in the Tampa area in the offseason and also that the Tampa Bay Bucs are looking to add some depth along the defensive Front 7, I wanted to talk to NFL scout Chris Landry about the current situation with Neal.

I was able to talk with Landry on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig show on Wednesday. As I asked Landry about Neal, I mentioned that he was solid versus the run and that to me, Neal was more a 4-3 defensive lineman, as opposed to a 3-4 outside linebacker. I also mentioned that the Bucs have a need for some quality depth on their defensive front.

“I think he’s a really good run-defender,” Landry said. “High motor. I think he’s a good player. I agree with you. I think he’s a good rotational guy. He doesn’t give you a lot in the pass rush, which hurts him.

“But I definitely think he’s got a place in the league. If the Bucs aren’t interested, he’ll find a home. They have certainly done some things to improve their defensive front in Green Bay, so he may get caught out in the wash.”

A Scout’s Take on the NFL Draft Preparation for the Packers and Other Teams

Ted Thompson 2016 Combine

Last week, the Green Bay Packers completed their 12th NFL draft with Ted Thompson running things in the front office.

I did a couple of stories on the aftermath of the 2016 NFL draft for the Packers. First I did a piece on the first three picks by the Green Bay in the draft, and then I also wrote an article about recapping Day 3 of the draft for the Packers.

In 2005, when Thompson was given full authority over football operations by then Packers CEO Bob Harlan, Thompson started his drafting tenure with a bang, as he selected quarterback Aaron Rodgers with the 24th pick of the 2005 NFL draft.

Rodgers has certainly made that selection look very good, as he has become the highest-rated passer in NFL history, along with winning two NFL MVP awards, as well as being MVP of Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, there have been some other very good picks by Thompson and his scouting staff. There have also been a few picks that haven’t worked out to well. First round selections like defensive tackle Justin Harrell in 2007 and offensive tackle Derek Sherrod in 2011 come to mind.

But all in all, Thompson and his staff have done a very good job supplementing the roster of the Packers through the draft. In fact, the Packers are the poster child of the NFL in terms of being a draft-and-develop team.

Since the hiring of head coach Mike McCarthy, which occurred in 2006, the Packers have gone 104-55-1 during the regular season (.653 winning percentage) and have won five NFC North titles. The Packers have also been to the postseason eight times in McCarthy’s ten years in Green Bay, which includes seven straight times now.

The Packers have been 8-7 in the postseason under McCarthy, which includes three appearances in the NFC Championship Game, as well as a victory in Super Bowl XLV.

As one looks at the current roster of the Packers, there are 43 players on it who have been drafted by Green Bay. That is almost unheard of in the NFL for the most part.

Scouting college prospects is a lengthy routine. The Packers have 16 people in their scouting department. Some scouts focus on NFL players on other teams, while others focus strictly on college prospects.

Just prior to the 2016 NFL draft, Thompson talked about what it’s like to have a meeting with the various scouts on the team.

“It’s good. It’s not always comfortable because there are disagreements where people, rightfully so, think differently. They’re paid to do so. They’re encouraged by everybody, myself included, to make sure their voices are heard. … You still want to have the passion and energy to stand on the table and say, ‘This is what we need to do, and this is the reason we need to do it,’ Thompson said.

Thompson learned the ropes on scouting from Ron Wolf, when he was brought into the Green Bay organization 1992. Ironically, Ron’s son Eliot, is now the is director of football operations under Thompson with the Packers.

Eliot and Ron Wolf

I wanted to get an in-depth look at how this scouting process works in terms of looking at college prospects.

To me, there is nobody who could shed better information on how this evaluation method works than NFL scout Chris Landry.

Landry is one of the best in the business, as he served as both a pro and college scout for the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans, while also serving as the Coordinator of their Scouting department.

Landry was also selected to serve as the Coordinator of the NFL Scouting Combine in 1993 where he oversaw the selection and operation process of the top draft prospects.

Chris began his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns working on the coaching staff as well as in both pro personnel and college scouting.

Landry began his coaching career as a student assistant at LSU in the mid 1980’s, working his way up to a full time position before being hired by Bill Belichick and the Browns in 1992.

Currently, Landry operates his own coaching and scouting consulting business serving both NFL organizations and college football programs.

Anyway, I had a chance to talk with Landry this past Wednesday on 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show. I wanted his take on how this whole process works in terms of NFL teams scouting college prospects.

“Here’s how it works,” Landry said. “The first meetings in December are different than the meetings you have in the spring. Here’s why. Most teams now have 10 scouts and they break it down into regions. So your area scout will report on a player. We have what we call a cross-checker.

“We’ll take the west coast guy or the midwest guy and we’ll cross them at the midpoint of the season. So you have two eyes on every player that you have a grade on that you have deemed draftable. You start out with a list by either Blesto or National and you go into every school accordingly and you do all your work on that.

“Then you have regional scout, a national scout or a college scouting director, or in case like in Green Bay, Ted Thompson is out on the road a lot. So he will have a scouting report on the top 100 or so players. So you have a number of people and you’ll individually read their reports and put them up on the board.

“That’s when the coaches become involved, as they go to the all-star games and the combine. When you have the spring meetings, you’ve already set your board pretty much. What you are doing is updating any information. The coaches give their reports, as this is the first time they have had a chance to evaluate the players.

“You will also, after everyone had read the reports at the meetings, you will put up tape. You have what is called a profile tape for 40 to 50 players, with cutups of the player, so everyone can see and get a visual. Somebody that is outside the area (of the player) will get to see them.

“Basically it’s a way to make sure you have everyone up on the board. Once you set your board up, if you have a discrepancy about a player, like the coaches like him a lot more than this guy, then what you do is take all those guys and take game film and as a staff you look at them and you hash it out. Like what are you seeing that I’m not seeing.

“That’s ultimately in a short quick way in a long process that you get your draft board set. Then you determine how you put your board together and where you put the value on the players.”

Bottom line, with the Packers under Thompson, drafting a player is the most important aspect of building the roster of the team.

Because of some excellent insight from Landry, you can see how this long and drawn-out process unfolds for the Packers and other teams in the NFL.

Recapping Day 3 of the 2016 NFL Draft for the Green Bay Packers

Jerry announcing the pick

According to NFL scout Chris Landry, the Green Bay Packers did quite well for themselves on the first two days of the 2016 NFL draft. I wrote an article about that on Saturday before Day 3 of the draft.

I had a chance to talk with legendary guard Jerry Kramer of the Packers a couple of hours before the draft began on the final day of the draft. Kramer was in Green Bay, along with former Packers great Dave Robinson, to announce the selections that the team made in the 4th and 5th rounds of the draft in Vince Lombardi’s “office” in the Packers Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field.

Kramer asked me if I had any insight about what the Packers might do on Day 3. The first thing I told Jerry was that I expected the Packers to select an inside linebacker. I also said that I thought the Packers would add one more offensive lineman and one more defensive lineman.

I said that football games are won in the trenches more times than not. Nobody knows this better than No. 64. After all, Kramer was part of five NFL championship teams in Green Bay, plus was named as the only guard on the NFL’s 50th anniversary first-team.

In the 1967 NFL Championship Game (better known as the “Ice Bowl”) versus the Dallas Cowboys at frigid Lambeau Field, Kramer made the most famous block in the history of the NFL.

It all came down to 13 seconds to go with no timeouts at the 1-yard line of the Cowboys. The Packers could have kicked a field goal at that point to tie the game at 17-17.

But coach Lombardi decided to go for the win. If the Packers run the ball and are stopped short of the end zone, the game is over.

Bart Starr called a 31-wedge play in the huddle, which calls for the fullback to get the ball. However, Starr decided to keep the ball after conferring with Lombardi on the sideline about the play.

Starr thought it would be better to try to get into the end zone himself due to the slippery and icy conditions near the goal line. He followed Kramer’s classic block on Jethro Pugh and found a hole behind No. 64 to score the winning touchdown.

Kramer was also a huge part of the signature play of the Lombardi Packers. The play was the power sweep. The opposing defenses knew the play was coming, but there was little they could do about it.

Kramer, along with Fuzzy Thurston and later Gale Gillingham, would pull either left or right and create gaping holes for the running backs, as they would venture out in the open field and knock over linebackers and defensive backs.

A lot of the games that the Packers won in those days were won because of the stellar play at the line of scrimmage, by both the offensive and defensive lines of the Packers.

That is also why defensive end Willie Davis, defensive tackle Henry Jordan, center Jim Ringo and offensive tackle Forrest Gregg are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There is absolutely no question that Kramer deserves to have a place in Canton besides his teammates.

It’s true that players like Starr, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Wood and Robinson received most of the headlines on those great Green Bay teams, but it was the play inside the trenches which created the opportunities for a lot of those big moments.

Back to the draft. It was somewhat coincidental that the first player who the Packers drafted in Round 4 was inside linebacker Blake Martinez of Stanford. Kramer did a splendid job in announcing the 131st pick of the draft, which was a compensatory pick for Green Bay.

Blake Martinez

Blake Martinez of Stanford

Martinez was certainly the best option the Packers had in selecting an inside linebacker at that point of the draft, especially after Joe Schobert of Wisconsin and Joshua Perry of Ohio State had been picked earlier in the 4th round.

The 6’2″, 237-pound Martinez had been a two-year starter for the Cardinal. In those two years, Martinez had 243 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, 12 passes defended and had five picks.

In 2014, Martinez was named honorable mention in the Pac-12 at linebacker, while in 2015 was named first-team All-Pac-12.

Landry said this about Martinez in part of his scouting report on the former Stanford star:

Quick reacting and instinctive, he finds the ball. Physical at the point of attack. Good hand use, able to stack at the point. Good ability to shed blocks. Solid tackler. Reads pass well, gets depth with his drops. Keeps good position, has good receiver awareness.

Martinez ran a 4.71 in the 40-yard dash as the NFL Scouting Combine, but he improved that mark to 4.67 at his pro day.

With the second compensatory pick the Packers had in Round 4, the 137th pick of the draft, Green Bay selected defensive end Dean Lowry of Northwestern. Kramer also announced that pick for the Packers.

The 6’6″, 296-pound Lowry had a very solid career for the Wildcats as a three-year starter. In his career at Northwestern, Lowry had 134 tackles, 31.5 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks, 21 passes deflected, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

Dean Lowry

Dean Lowry of Northwestern

Lowry has the prototypical size desired to play defensive end in the 3-4 defensive scheme that the Packers utilize. Lowry was also named second-team All-Big Ten in 2015.

At the combine, Lowry ran a 4.87 40-yard dash, plus had 30 reps in the bench press drill.

This is part of the scouting report Landry did on Lowry:

Very good height with the frame to get to 295+. High motor. Quick to key and diagnose. Has strength and power at the point. Good hand use, can shed. Takes good pursuit angles. Flashes as a pass rusher. Top competitor. Might not have the best natural tools, but he gives you everything he has. He is instinctive and technique-sound. Is best suited to play defensive end in a three-man front.

In the 5th round, the Packers selected wide receiver/kick returner Trevor Davis of California with the 163rd pick of the draft. Robinson announced the selection.

The 6’1″, 189-pound Davis really opened some eyes due to his great performance at the combine.

Trevor Davis

Trevor Davis of Cal

At the combine, Davis ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash (third-best among receivers), plus leaped an outstanding 38.5 inches in the vertical jump. Davis also did an outstanding job in all of the drills, especially catching and tracking the football.

When the Packers worked out Davis themselves, he was timed in the mid-4.3 range in the 40.

Davis originally played at Hawaii in 2011 and 2012 and had 45 catches for 601 yards. He then transferred to Cal and redshirted in the 2013 season.

In 23 games including 11 starts with the Bears in 2014 and 2015, Davis had 1,071 yards receiving and seven touchdowns on 64 catches. He also had 1,110 return yards on 45 kick returns. He also returned punts as well, as he had 115 yards on 14 returns.

The Packers are always looking for more big play options, especially if the player can help quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense.

“Any time you can get a weapon in the fifth round, you have to try and do that,” said Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf. “He was still sitting there on the board and we were fortunate enough to pick him.”

Wolf also talked about how the Packers may utilize Davis offensively.

“He ran a lot of bubble screens there for Cal and took some pretty big hits in there. And pretty good after the catch as well,” said Wolf. “A lot of the guys we’ve had in the past have been returners in college and those guys are always better at the YAC, and that’s something that we look for.”

In the sixth round, with the 200th selection in the draft, the Packers picked offensive tackle Kyle Murphy of Stanford. I had the Packers selecting Murphy in my final mock draft, but I had the team taking him earlier in the draft.

Kyle Murphy

Kyle Murphy of Stanford

The 6’6″, 305-pound Murphy started at both left and right tackle for the Cardinal. He was named first team All-Pac-12 in 2015 at left tackle and second team All-Pac-12 in 2014 at right tackle.

Landry had Murphy ranked at No. 97 on his horizontal draft board, but the former Stanford star lasted until to pick No. 200. That’s what I call excellent value. This is what Landry said about Murphy in his scouting report:

A former five-star recruit, Murphy was named to the All- Pac-12 first team in 2015. He was a third-team All American. He is a solid football player who does everything very well. He had 34 career starts at Stanford, including all 27 his junior and senior seasons. He can get off the ball quickly, has explosiveness on contact, gets movement with run blocks and gets and keeps good position in pass protection. He plays with a natural bend and can anchor. Murphy is athletic enough to pull and play in space. He just needs to get a little bigger and stronger.

Bottom line, it sure appears that Ted Thompson and company did another fine job on Day 3 of the 2016 NFL draft in adding some talent to the team that Mike McCarthy and his staff will coach in 2016 and beyond.