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Lambeau Leap of Faith


April 30, 2010 12:19 AM

Packers Draft Analysis

Clearly, after the article on the first round, the Packers received an A+ for drafting Bulaga. Considering who was available, there was no better pick.

But how did they do after the first day and overall? Here is the report card for all subsequent picks:

Mike Neal: D

Neal may well be a good player, and from all accounts is a character guy. He also is a good size (6'3", 294 lbs.) to play defensive end in the 3-4, a position of some need for the Packers because Johnny Jolly faces potential jail and/or suspension time.

However, he has a grade of 6.4 according to NFL.com, lower than 20 of the next 22 picks. Among defensive linemen, nine still available when he was picked had higher rankings, and three of those players--Alex Carrington, Al Woods, and Art Jones--are a similar size (within 15 lbs. and two inches) of Neal and had similar or better athleticism, not deemed to be one of Neal's strengths.

The grades could have been off: Alex Smith was graded above Aaron Rodgers. But what this does say is the Packers could have taken a different player in the second round and gotten Neal in the third round.2750299475_537455dbda.jpg

Morgan Burnett: B+

Burnett was rated a 7.6, higher than most other players drafted after him. He also plays a position the Packers could use some depth in: While the team already has three starting-quality safeties in Nick Collins, Atari Bigby, and Derrick Martin, only Bigby qualifies as a strong safety, and while Collins can play the position should Bigby get hurt, he is not a Pro Bowl-level player closer to the line, and Martin is marginal as a starter. With Bigby suffering a few dings keeping him out of the lineup over the past two seasons, this was a good move.

However, the Packers greater positions of need that could have been addressed mid-way through the third round were cornerback, outside linebacker, and backup running back. Moreover, by giving up a fourth-round pick to move up, the value of the draft pick has to include that loss.

Andrew Quarless: C-

Quarless was ranked higher than the average fifth-round draft-pick, but may have dropped because of off-the-field issues. He also plays a position the Packers are deep in, with Jermichael Finley blossoming into a star, Donald Lee still a solid blocker and decent receiver, and Spencer Havner emerging as a red zone threat. At this point in the draft (second half of the fifth round), you normally take the best player available, but perhaps not when he has character question marks and plays a position you are not in need of filling.

Marshall Newhouse: D

Ted Thompson continues to draft tackles he has to develop, and he will be added to the mix of others who have yet to produce, such as Breno Giacomini and Evan Dietrich-Smith; how many marginal players can the Packers have who do not make an impact before they are simply wasting roster spots and draft choices? While Newhouse has the necessary size to play tackle (6'4", 319 lbs.), he was the lowest-rated tackle on the board--and the last one taken who had a grade. But if the Packers are going to take a tight end even though they do not need him because he is the best player available, they should have done the same here.

James Starks: B+

Starks was out with a knee injury his entire senior season, perhaps contributing to his low grade and availability in the sixth round. He was looked at as a potential third-round talent prior to the injury, and why not take a flier on a guy with that kind of upside if you can get him this late? Plus, he can contribute on special teams, a desperate need for the Packers.

C.J. Wilson: A-

Wilson should not have been available late in the seventh round. At 6'3" and 290 lbs., he has the size to play defensive end in a 3-4. Only five players taken lower were higher-rated, and only one defensive lineman (Doug Worthington). Coming from East Carolina, he is unlikely to provide production right away, but may well find himself a place on the practice squad until he develops enough--probably as soon as 2011--to get in the rotation.


Overall: B-

The Packers got two A's, two B's, a C and two D's, which would average out to a 2.57 grade-point average. They had three pluses to only two minuses therein, and one must give more weight to early rounds than late ones. Thus, on the strength of a great start (first round) and strong finish (sixth and seventh rounds), the Packers get a solid B-.

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