Mike Neal

2010 Draft Grades: Packers

Ted Thompson has built this Packers team through the draft and he impressed on draft day once again this year.

Having Bryan Bulaga fall to No. 23 was a dream scenario for the Packers. They re-signed Mark Trauscher and Chad Clifton this offseason, but both tackles are over the age of 32 and are noticeably declining. Bulaga could be used in a reserve role this year, or potentially at guard, but his future is definitely at left tackle.

I don’t think the Packers reached for Mike Neal nearly as much as some other draft analysts have suggested. He’s an elite athlete for his size and should be able to make a seamless transition to defensive end in the Packers 3-4 defense. If injuries hadn’t slowed his development, its possible he would have been in the mix to come off the board in the 1st round.

Morgan Burnett is a steal in the 3rd round. His ball skills are on par with Eric Berry’s and he has the size to be effective against the run. He’s probably best suited to play free safety early in his career, but with some work he could be an effective strong safety as well. There isn’t a starting job available for him right now, but he should be a starter down the road.

Andrew Quarless is a solid 5th-round pick. He’ll have to fight to make the roster, with Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee likely to earn the top two spots on the depth chart, but his upside makes him worth the pick. He’s an impressive athlete who just never lived up to expectations at Penn State.

I was surprised the Packers didn’t address their interior offensive line earlier in the draft, but they got lucky when Marshall Newhouse fell to them in the 5th round. He played left tackle at TCU and excelled as a run blocker. His athleticism will be an asset, as will his ability to provide depth at both guard and tackle. While he’s penciled in as a backup, don’t be surprised if he earns a starting job by the end of the season.

James Starks is a low risk-high reward pick in the 6th round. He’s coming off a shoulder injury which caused him to miss the entire 2009 season, but he has the potential to develop into a starter. The key to his career will be his ability to bulk up without losing speed. If he puts in the necessary hard work in the weight room, the Packers could have found themselves one of the gems of the draft.

C.J. Wilson is about as good a prospect as you’ll find in the 7th round. He’s a perfect fit for defensive end in the Packers 3-4 defense. He may have a hard time making the roster, considering their depth at the position, but he was well worth the 7th-round pick.

This was a great draft for the Packers from start to finish. They didn’t make any unnecessary reaches and they landed a good mix of players ready to contribute and guys to develop over the next few years. That is the blueprint for a successful draft and Ted Thompson executed it perfectly.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2010, Packers Comments Off

Senior Bowl Practice Notes: Tuesday

It was an eventful day at the Senior Bowl. A number of players made statements – both good and bad – about their draft stock.

What stood out most to me were the struggles of two small school offensive linemen. Both Mike Iupati and Vladimir Ducasse struggled throughout the day.

Iupati look fairly good when lined up at guard, dominating Purdue DT Mike Neal and Louisiana Tech DT D’Anthony Smith in one-on-one drills. But when he moved out to tackle he really struggled. At one point Cal DT Tyson Alualu bull rushed Iupati and knocked him on his back. Then later in the day in a battle of small-school prospects Arkansas State DE Alex Carrington tossed Iupati to the ground effortlessly. Iupati remains the top guard on my draft board, but he no longer looks like a 1st-round pick in my mind.

Ducasse also struggled and did far more damage to his stock than Iupati. Ducasse didn’t enter with the same hype, but there were those that felt he had a chance to sneak into the 1st round with a strong performance. He certainly has the size for the position, but he’s got a lot of work to do to catch up to the guys who have been playing in the FBS. Ducasse lined up at both guard and tackle and struggled in both positions. His footwork was poor at both positions and he played too upright. Michigan DE Brandon Graham took advantage and breezed past him with minimal effort. After today’s performance he’ll have to work hard to earn even an early 3rd-round grade.

Speaking of Brandon Graham… wow. He looked very impressive today. I don’t think I saw a single lineman get the better of him. There were times when they fought to a stalemate, but Graham was never the loser. He looked great against Ducasse but really stood out against Utah OT Zane Beadles. On consecutive reps he used a simple speed rush and then a spin move to easily get past Beadles. He made a strong case to receive a 1st-round grade.

Another note on Graham, according to Will Spencer of DraftBreakdown.com he was particularly excited to speak to the Ravens. Here are two of Will’s tweets on it… 1st tweet, 2nd tweet.

Alex Carrington was another lineman that looked very good. I already mentioned that he dominated Mike Iupati, but he looked good throughout the day. He’s tall and very athletic and appears to have excellent upper body strength. Its still early – we’ve really only seen him excel in pass rush drills – but he could earn a 2nd-round grade.

A few other quick notes:
- Rutgers CB Devin McCourty struggled when in press coverage today. He just doesn’t seem to have the quick feet or the strength to play near the line of scrimmage. Though he does have the speed to make up mistakes. He also got his hands on a number of passes, showing good leaping ability.

- Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard looked very good. In possibly the best matchup of North squad receivers and corners he burned Cal CB Syd’Quan Thompson.

- Speaking of Thompson, he looked good throughout the day. I am very impressed with his physical play. His physical nature will help ease team’s concerns about his lack of size.

- I was impressed with Clemson WR Jacoby Ford throughout the season, but he didn’t stand out at all today. I really expected him to burn some of these cornerbacks with his sprinter’s speed but it just didn’t happen. Although I will say he has very good hands and adjusts to the ball well. He made a great catch on a pass that was tipped by Devin McCourty.

- Ohio State S Kurt Coleman struggled in pass coverage. His stock definitely has taken a blow this week.

- Virginia S/CB Chris Cook has great size and plays very physical when lined up at cornerback, but I was concerned he wouldn’t have the speed for the position. So far, however, it hasn’t been an issue.

- Notre Dame C Eric Olsen had a terrible day. I felt bad for him watching him get pushed around time after time. He simply couldn’t stop anyone’s bull rush. He weighed in at 310 pounds, so he isn’t undersized. He just doesn’t have the strength to compete.

- Fresno State RB Lonyae Miller looked very poor in blocking drills. He’s a big, physical running back and someone with his size needs to be able to block to earn a roster spot at the next level.

- Oregon RB LeGarrett Blount also had issues blocking. Although from watching his feeble attempts it looked as though he hadn’t even been taught how before. When someone looks that bad, sometimes its not such a bad thing cause it gives you hope that it can easily be fixed with some simple coaching.

- Unfortunately I didn’t catch the South squad practice so no Tebow updates today. I’ll have full reports on both squads tomorrow.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft Comments Off