Tuesday, April 27, 2004

This Packers draft was one of the most boring draft by any team in the NFL. That doesn't mean it was a bad draft, but the Packers didn't trade up in the first round, didn't give up future picks for picks in this year's draft, and didn't draft any big name college players in the latter rounds. That leads to a bad draft grade by some pundits.

The Packers were unlikely to have a great draft, because they were always drafting at the bottom of the round, and every player they drafted has a substantial negative attached to them. The only two positions where it was essential to add some depth was cornerback and defensive line. I expected them to draft at least one defensive end, instead drafting two defensive tackles that could play defensive end. It looks like they stayed true to their draft rankings, and drafted the best player available at their picks.

The trading was very peculiar. The Packers traded their 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 7th round picks for two extra 3rd round picks, while trading their own 3rd round pick to move up in the 3rd round and there own 6th round pick to move up in the 6th round. Not a bad strategy; trading a 4th and a 5th round pick to move up into the more lucrative 3rd round, while not giving up any future picks. It all depends on the picks you move up to draft.

Ahmad Carroll. He is really fast. Packers.com reported that he has run as fast as 4.26 in the 40 yard dash. Wow. Fast seems to be the current theme for the Packers. This is the second draft in a row where the Packers have looked first at a player's 40 yard time, and then at all other football abilities. Corey Chavous was on ESPN's draft coverage, he said he worked with Carroll this spring, and said Carroll is very talented, a very hard worker, but needs to work on his footwork. Chris Berman (I believe) said Carroll's best game last year in college was against Eli Manning, however, the best college game of Jamal Reynolds's college career came against Michael Vick, and that was no true indication of his NFL ability. The two downgrades on Carroll are that he is not tall and he needs more practice time. Overall, it sounds like Carroll is unlikely to contribute in 2004. Maybe, if he doesn't hold out and he works hard to learn his position this preseason, then he can contribute in multiple cornerback alignments, but only later in the 2004 season. He sounds like a starter in 2005.

Joey Thomas. Another speedster cornerback with a 4.44 time in the 40 yard dash. Thomas is taller (6'0") than Carroll. If Thomas is taller than Carroll and almost as fast as Carroll, then what the heck is he doing in the 3rd round? Thomas played at Division I-AA Montana State which makes it really hard to evaluate him. He will certainly make the team on his speed alone, he is unlikely to contribute in 2004, but he is a possible starter in 2005.

Donnell Washington. He is a big man with the listed weight similar to Grady Jackson, although its unlikely Jackson is his listed weight of 330, and the height of Cletidus Hunt. He is probably expected to backup Jackson next season at nose tackle, a position at which the Packers desperately needed some depth. Packers.com compared him to Packer defensive lineman James Lee, because Washington and Lee are almost exactly the same height and weight, but Washington started 26 games at Clemson, while Lee never was a full time starter at Oregon State. He has the size and physical ability to start at nose tackle in the NFL, so its all up to Washington to perform.

B.J. Sander. Just a wasted pick. I don't like drafting kickers, because they are too inconsistant and are easily cut after one bad season. It sounds like Sander only had one good season in college, last season with Ohio State, and it sounds like it was his only season as the full time punter. Plus, the Packers wasted picks on Josh Bidwell and Brett Conway in recent years, which should have taught them something. The Packers should have tried to bring someone like Sander in as a free agent, instead of using a top 100 pick to draft him.

Corey Williams. With the departures of Gilbert Brown and Rod Walker, and the eventual departures of Jamal Reynolds and Joe Johnson, the Packers need more depth on the defensive line, so Williams has a good chance to make the team. Larry Smith is the most likely player to backup Hunt, so Williams, Aaron Kampman, Chukie Nwokorie, and Kenny Peterson will probably battle it out in the preseason to start at defensive end opposite KGB. It sounds odd to mention a 6th round rookie as a possible defensive line starter, but the position battle at defensive end should be wide open. I read somewhere that the Packers were talking to free agent Tony Brackens at defensive end, but it appears that Brackens wants too much money, and he is too injury prone to deserve big money. Williams would have probably been drafted higher had he come out in his junior year, because he suffered from numerous injuries in his senior season.

Scott Wells. Wells is the only center on the roster besides Mike Flanagan, Rob Davis is a center in name but he is the long snapper only, so Wells has a good opportunity to make the team. If he can play some guard too, he probably is a lock to make the team. The Packers have done well in recent years with offensive lineman from Tennessee (Chad Clifton) and offensive lineman picked in the 7th round (Mark Tauscher).

Overall, the Packers needed to improve their depth in the defensive backfield and line, and they did both with fast players with good size. Not an exciting draft, but looking ahead to the 2005 season, it made the Packers a better team.

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