Draft Grades – 2012

Draft Grades: Green Bay Packers

As good as the Green Bay Packers looked at times in 2011, they had some significant holes to fill this offeason. Ted Thompson elected to stay quiet through most of free agency, but came up big with another strong draft class which should help in their quest for another Super Bowl title.

I was somewhat surprised to see Nick Perry still on the board at No. 28. While he would have benefited from returning to USC for another year, his raw talent is undeniable. Green Bay is the perfect place for Perry, who won’t feel the pressure to perform immediately. He will likely start from day one, but he won’t be the center of attention on a defense featuring Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk. It’s a great place for him to learn and develop, while also providing some immediate help.

Jerel Worthy could be a steal in the 2nd round, but we’ll have to see how the Packers use him. The Packers like oversized, space-eating defensive ends in their 3-4 defense, and Worthy is capable of filling that role. But he’ll need to stay in shape, because he’s just a few big meals away from looking more like a nose tackle.

I also like the selection of Casey Hayward, who could step into a starting role at some point this year. The 2nd round may have been early for Hayward, but the Packers needed to add an instant-impact player in the secondary.

Mike Daniels is more of a traditional 3-4 end, at least compared to Worthy. His upside may be somewhat limited, but he has the potential to provide some depth in the front seven.

Jerron McMillian was a reach in the 4th round. There was very little talent at the strong safety position in this draft and it felt like the Packers reached to add depth at a position of need. It’s an acceptable strategy in some situations, but the Packers got carried away with this one. Due to the lack of depth at the position he should make the final roster, but he’s a purely developmental prospect who offers little immediate value.

Terrell Manning could prove to be one of the great steals of this draft. He’s an explosive sideline-to-sideline linebacker who should excel at inside linebacker in Green Bay. The depth chart is crowded, so he may not see the field much early, but he definitely has a future in the league.

Andrew Datko has battled injuries which contributed to his fall the 7th round, but he’s well worth the risk at this point in the draft. The Packers will likely groom him behind Bryan Bulaga at right tackle.

I’m not as high on B.J. Coleman as some, but I can’t argue with the selection in the 7th round. He clearly has the measurables of an NFL quarterback and will have the opportunity to be brought along slowly in Green Bay. It’s a good situation for Coleman, and a nice opportunity for Green Bay to develop a prospect behind Rodgers.

Overall, this was one of the better draft classes in the league, something which is becoming common for Ted Thompson. Few GMs in the league understand the importance of finding value in the late rounds better than Thompson, who consistently plucks future starters from the scrap heap late in the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012, Packers 1 Comment

Draft Winners: Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers needed to address their defense, and did so in a big way this weekend. The Packers used each of their first five picks on defensive prospects, and added at least three players who will play significant roles in 2012.

Nick Perry

Perry will start from day one in Green Bay.

Nick Perry will immediately step into a starting role opposite Clay Matthews at outside linebackers, while Jerel Worthy and Casey Hayward will be expected to compete for starting jobs with the veterans already in place.

One of my favorite picks for the Packers, however, was 5th-round selection Terrell Manning. I gave Manning a 2nd-round grade and believe he has the skills to be an impact player at inside linebacker in Green Bay. He’s stuck behind A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop for now, but limited depth behind those the veterans should allow for him to make the roster in a reserve role.

Overall, the Packers completed a defensive makeover which should allow them to make another serious run a Super Bowl title.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Packers 1 Comment

Green Bay Packers select Jerel Worthy, Grade A+

This is a perfect pick for the Green Bay Packers. Jerel Worthy would be a nose tackle for some teams, but the Packers like oversized defensive ends, where Worthy will likely play in their 3-4 defense. He actually compares favorably to Ryan Pickett, who has done a nice job in Green Bay over the past few  years.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Packers Comments Off

Green Bay Packers select Nick Perry, Grade A

Nick Perry will be a difference maker from Day One for the Green Bay Packers. He remained on the board until the late 1st round due to questions about his NFL readiness, but he has the upside to be a dominant pass rusher at the next level.

In Green Bay, Perry’s deficiencies will be masked by his supporting cast, which eases the concerns some teams had about throwing him into the fire. I fully expect him to suffer some growing pains as a rookie, but I trust the Packers coaching staff to prepare him and use him in situations which will maximize his strengths. This was a great value pick, and will end up looking like one of the steals of the 1st round in a few years.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Packers Comments Off

Draft Needs: Green Bay Packers

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Green Bay Packers [full archive here].

Season Recap: The Green Bay Packers started the season 13-0 and were the obvious favorites to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Well, the success seemed to get to the player’s heads and the Packers ended up losing their first playoff game. Led by MVP Aaron Rodgers, expect the Packers to enter 2012 with a rather large chip on their shoulder.

Team Needs:
1. Outside Linebacker: After a combined 23.5 sacks in his first two seasons, Clay Matthews managed only 6 in 2011. Green Bay needs a pass rusher opposite Matthews to help take away the double teams he received all season long. Bruce Irvin from West Virginia is an interesting option for Green Bay in round one.

2. Defensive End: Another reason for Matthews’ dip in production was the lack of pressure from the lineman up front. BJ Rajii is set at nose, but Green Bay needs better play from the defensive ends. Devon Still, Kendall Reyes, and Jerel Worthy are options in round one and two.

3. Center: Re-signing Scott Wells would take care of this problem, but if not, the Packers will have to draft a center in the first few rounds.

4. Defensive Backfield: Nick Collins’ absence hurt the Packers and the lack-of-depth showed during the second half of the season. The Packers also need to begin planning for the retirement of Charles Woodson, who is turning 36 this year.

5. Running Back: Ryan Grant is a free agent, leaving young RBs James Stark, Alex Green, and Brandon Saine behind Aaron Rodgers. The Packers should make attempts to resign Grant, or bring in a veteran for camp competition. Knowing the Packers don’t sign free agents, the return of Grant is the more likely scenario.

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Draft Needs - 2012, Packers Comments Off

Why stamina is crucial for nose tackles

It’s not easy to move around when you weigh 330 pounds. The mere fact that some NFL nose tackles are able to take the field every Sunday is a testament to their incredible conditioning.

But even among these elite athletes, there is a tipping point where production diminishes.

In 2012, there were seven defensive linemen listed at 330 pounds or more who started at least 10 games. In an effort to determine just how valuable stamina was to their performance, I attempted to find their collective tipping point.

Using the snap count information from ProFootballFocus.com and their game-by-game grades, I was able to determine that somewhere around 30 snaps (roughly half of a game), these behemoths tend to see a decline in their production.

Cody is effective, but only when the Ravens limit his snaps.

During games in which these linemen played 30 or fewer snaps, they earned a cumulative grade of +7.6 (in 870 total snaps). In games in which they played more than 30 snaps (3,498 total snaps) they earned a cumulative grade of just 5.6.

If you break those numbers down, the players had a +.0016 grade per snap when playing more than 30 per game, and a +.0087 grade per snap when playing 30 or less. Those numbers may seem small, but that’s 445% increase in production, just by limiting their snaps.

The best example of this is Terrence Cody who, at 360 pounds, has struggled with stamina throughout his career.

When playing over 30 snaps, Cody earned a cumulative grade of +0.8 (253 total snaps). When playing 30 or fewer snaps, his grade was -7.8 (291 total snaps).

So how can we use this information?

I believe there are two valuable takeaways from this study.

First, always have a quality backup on hand. Due to their hybird defense, and the prescence of Haloti Ngata, the Ravens were able to limit Cody’s snaps in 10 of the 18 games (including postseason) in which he played in 2011. This made him an effective weapon on defense, even if he wasn’t capable of being a three-down lineman. On the flip side, the Packers used B.J. Raji an average of 55 snaps per game, which led to him having the lowest overall grade of any of the 330+ linemen.

The second takeaway, however, is that not all nose tackles are created equal. Mount Cody clearly struggled when asked to take on a larger role. However, Sione Pouha – PFF’s highest rated defensive tackle in 2012 – still performed at a high level when playing 30+ snaps. Pouha did see a dramatic decline in production (.089 per snap, down to .042 per snap), however, his 30+ snap grade was still well above average and resulted in a cumulative grade of +23.1 in such games.

In terms of the NFL Draft, teams need to look beyond pure talent at this position, and pay close attention to how stamina effects each player’s performance late in games.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Packers, Ravens, Research 2 Comments

2011 Draft Grades: Green Bay Packers

The Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers added very little immediate help, but did a nice job adding depth in the form of players who could develop into starters down the road.

The first such pick was Derek Sherrod, who will likely ride the bench for much of 2011 before stepping in for soon-t0-be 35-year-old Chad Clifton at left tackle. By no means is Sherrod the next Orlando Pace or Jonathan Ogden, but he could be a quality starter for the next 10 years – much like the man he will replace. With Sherrod on the left and Bryan Bulaga on the right, the Packers should have Aaron Rodgers adequately protected for the duration of his career.

Randall Cobb may be the only player in this class to make an immediate impact. Rodgers made the Packers receivers look adequate in 2010, but aside from Greg Jennings they lack any true playmakers. The addition of Cobb should allow offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to get a little more creative with the offense.

Alex Green was a definite reach in the 3rd round. He has about six games of meaningful experience under his belt – and that’s assuming you call playing in the WAC meaningful. He’s a good athlete for his size, but there’s no guarantee that he even makes the 53-man roster with Ryan Grant, James Starks and Brandon Jackson possibly ahead of him on the depth chart.

Davon House fits into the Sherrod category of a player who may see minimal playing time in 2011 but could develop into a starter down the road. At least three corners – Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields – are solidly ahead of him on the depth chart, but a spot will open up in the very near future once Woodson hangs up the cleats.

D.J. Williams was a productive receiver at Arkansas, but I’m not sure how he fits into the NFL. Is he a fullback or is he a tight end? It may take some time before he finds a niche, and it may not be in Green Bay.

Caleb Schauderaff was a four-year starter who can play multiple positions on the line. His upside is very limited, but he could potentially carve out a long career for himself as a versatile backup.

D.J. Smith is tiny for a NFL linebacker, and will be forced to play inside in Green Bay’s 3-4 scheme. Depth really isn’t an issue there, so he may struggle to find a spot on the roster.

I love the selection of Ricky Elmore in the 6th round. I gave him a late 3rd-round grade as a defensive end, but he definitely has the athleticism to shift to linebacker in Green Bay. I wouldn’t rule him out as a potential starter opposite Clay Matthews.

Ryan Taylor is another tight end/fullback ‘tweener. He’s probably best suited to play fullback and could be given an opportunity to win a starting job if John Kuhn isn’t re-signed.

Lawrence Guy is a 3rd-round talent who slipped due to character concerns. He’s a decent athlete for his size and should be a great fit at end in the 3-4 defense. If he stays motivated and plays to his full potential he could be one of the better steals of this draft.

As a whole, the Packers did a nice job mixing value with filling needs. The only glaring omission from this class was an outside linebacker capable of starting opposite Matthews. Elmore could fill that role, but it would have been wise to grab someone before the 6th round. This class may not make a significant impact in 2011, but three years from now it could feature three starters.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2011, Packers Comments Off

Top 10 Draft Day Decision Makers

10. Thomas Dimitroff, Falcons
This Bill Belichick disciple rebuilt the Falcons in one draft, possibly even one draft pick, with Matt Ryan in 2008. What Dimitroff has accomplished in three drafts is impressive, and makes you wonder just how good he could make the Falcons in another three years.
Best 1st-round pick: Matt Ryan (2008)
Best late-round pick: Kroy Biermann (5th round, 2008)
Biggest bust: Peria Jerry (1st round, 2009)

9.  Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
Reinfeldt’s first two 1st-round picks (Micael Griffin, Chris Johnson) have already developed into Pro Bowlers, and Kenny Britt is poised for a breakout year in 2011. Reinfeldt has also started to get production from some late-round picks such as Jason McCourty, Gerald McRath and Alterraun Verner.
Best 1st-round pick: Chris Johnson (2008)
Best late-round pick: Jason McCourty (6th round, 2009)
Biggest bust: Chris Henry (2nd round, 2007)
Read more

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Falcons, Giants, Packers, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Titans 1 Comment

Draft Needs: Green Bay Packers

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Chicago Bears [full archive here].

Season Recap – The Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburg Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl 45 to win their fourth Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers led the 6th seeded Packers past the Eagles, Falcons, Bears, and Steelers- as the Packers became the first NFC 6th seed to win the Super Bowl. The Packers will have a big target on their back in 2011 as they attempt to repeat.

Needs:
1. Outside Linebacker
– Clay Matthews is one of the best pass rushers in the game, but the Packers don’t have much across from him. Green Bay will likely spend a first or second round pick on an OLB. Brooks Reed would fit perfectly across from Clay Matthews- giving the Packers a pair of long-blonde-haired pass rushers. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Draft Needs - 2011, Packers Comments Off

32 reasons why no one in the NFL should want Moss

Cardinals – Need a lot more than one aging receiver to fix their quarterback situation.

Falcons – Why mess up a good thing between Matt Ryan and Roddy White?

Ravens – No room with Boldin, Mason and Housh. Moss would pout, ruin chemistry.

Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick has been pleasantly surprising. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Panthers – Think Moss will be a good soldier on a team competing for the No. 1 pick?

Bears – Lovie and Martz have their hands full already with Jay Cutler in the locker room.

Bengals – T.O.  and Moss in the same locker room? No thanks.

Browns – If Mangini can’t get along with Braylon Edwards, how would Moss fit in?

Cowboys – The last thing they need is another distraction.

Broncos – Do you really think McDaniels will get along with Moss better than Marshall?

Lions – Can you picture Moss accepting role as a No. 2 receiver on a 2-5 team?

Packers – Chemistry on offense seems to be great. Don’t mess it up.

Texans – See above.

Colts – Manning prefers his no-name receivers. And it works just fine for him.

Jaguars – Last place Jags aren’t going anywhere. Don’t waste the money.

Chiefs – Already hold a big lead in a weak division. Why mess with what’s working?

Dolphins – Marshall and Moss is too much ego for any coaching staff to handle.

Vikings – Been there. Done that.

Patriots – Been there. Done that.

Saints – Brees seems to be doing o.k. for himself without an elite receiver.

Giants – Can you picture Moss backing up Nicks and Smith?

Jets – I think they’ve learned their lesson with Braylon Edwards.

Raiders – Been there. Done that.

Eagles – Been there. Done that.

Steelers – After trading Holmes, adding Moss would be a step backwards.

Chargers – Vincent Jackson is back.

49ers – Can you picture Moss being happy in last place in the worst division?

Seahawks – The last thing Mike Williams needs right now is a bad influence.

Rams – Last thing this young, overachieving team needs is a bad influence like Moss.

Bucs – See above.

Titans – Kenny Britt has enough issues to overcome without Moss influencing him.

Redskins – McNabb and T.O. didn’t work. Why would it work with Moss?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bears, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans, Titans, Vikings 1 Comment