Thursday, April 28, 2005

It was a hell of a draft for the Packers. It was widely reported that Ted Thompson was
hired to replace Mike Sherman as General Manager, but based on the results from the 2005
NFL draft, it appears that Thompson was never hired, and indeed Sherman still runs the
Packers' draft. Here is the official Mike Sherman Draft Checklist: draft an obscure DB
with your second pick that no one has ever heard of? Check. (2005 DB Nick Collins; 2004
CB Joey Thomas); draft a WR from Texas A&M? Check. (2005 WR Terrence Murphy; 2002 WR Robert Ferguson); draft a player in the 1st round that no one projected that you would
draft? Check. (2005 QB Aaron Rodgers; 2004 CB Ahmad Carroll; 2003 LB Nick Barnett; 2002 WR Javon Walker).

After years of speculation about the Packers drafting the QB of the future, the Packers finally pulled the trigger and drafted a first round QB with Rodgers. Rodgers is exactly the player the Packers should be drafting in the late first round; a projected top 5 pick who fell to #24. Why Rodgers fell to #24 is a very good question. Rodgers's arm strength was questioned, but just two weeks before the draft, it would have surprised no one if Rodgers was the first overall pick. Rodgers lack of arm strength should have been widely known before then. He wasn't a clear top 5 talent in a draft that was not top heavy and his signing bonus demands probably scared off Miami and Tampa Bay, plus it didn't hurt Miami and Tampa Bay that elite running backs were available at their picks either. There is no explaination why Arizona shouldn't have considered him at pick #8. Rodgers completed a high percentage of his passes in college, at just over 63% for his career, which translates to success in the NFL, he will have no pressure to start in his rookie season, and will play in a small media city, all of which should make his transition to
the NFL a lot easier than #1 pick QB Alex Smith. Unfortunately the last time the Packers drafted a QB in the first round, they drafted California QB Rich Campbell in 1981. If you have blocked out the horrid Rich Campbell era with his absolutely dead-no arm strength-arm, then your life is fuller. There is a lot to like about Rodgers long term, but it does nothing to help Favre get one more Super Bowl chance in his career. In some ways, Favre brought this on himself by getting closer to retiring this offseason then ever before in his career and giving the Packers a reason to draft a QB. On the other hand, the Packers most glaring needs in the draft were a top safety and top linebacker, neither of which was available at pick #24, and arguably not available at any spot in the draft. This was the best pick for the Packers.

Who is DB Nick Collins from Bethune-Cookman? Even Chris Berman seemed uncertain when Collins's name was called. Collins is big (for a DB) and fast, which seems ideal in a free safety. Although the Packers could have probably traded down and drafted Collins later. One of the few sites I saw that projected Collins,, projected the small school Collins in the 5th round, but in another article (I can't remember the site) reported that Collins's expected to be drafted in the 2nd round, so maybe he knew something most observers didn't. reported some talk that Collins will start in the very near future, but that seems highly unlikely. Thomas was drafted from small Montana State in 2004, and he didn't seem ready to play even a part-time role until late in 2004. The pick reminds me a lot of the man Collins intends to replace, FS Darren Sharper, who was a 2nd round pick and converted from CB to FS. It took Sharper a couple of seasons to figure it all out. It should take Collins a similar length of time too. The 2nd round selection used on Collins came from New Orleans from the CB Mike McKenzie trade, so in a way, Collins is replacing both Sharper and McKenzie. That is a lot to ask for a rookie from a I-AA school who might be starting during Favre's last season.

It might seem like WR Terrence Murphy was a luxury 2nd round pick when the Packers had so many needs on defense, but he wasn't. ranked as one of the top 35 players and a second round selection. Murphy is one of Texas A&M's all time great WR and might have been a 1st round selection in another season that wasn't so deep with talented wide receivers. The reason the Packers badly needed Murphy was because they have no depth at wide receiver. WR Javon Walker was one of the top 5 WR in the NFL last season, WR Donald Driver was one of the top 5 number 2 WRs in the NFL, and WR Antonio Chatman turned himself into a competant number 3 or 4 WR. WR Robert Ferguson has the talent but hasn't put it all together, and by this point he might never do it. Behind them was nothing but practice squad talent like WR Kelvin Kight. The lack of depth was at its worst during the playoff loss, when Ferguson was out, Walker got hurt during the game, and Favre had to teach his new 3rd WR (I can't even remember his name) how to run routes during the playoff game. In the receivers defense, he had only been with the Packers about 10 days by that time, but the depth was a big problem. Hopefully the problem is solved with Murphy.

2nd day picks. Who knows about these guys? Ted Thompson channelled a bit of Bill Walsh and Ron Wolf to trade down, grab some more late round picks, and maybe catch some magic. Looking over the drafts Seattle had from 2000-2004, the only name that caught my eye was starting LB Isaiah Kacyvenski, but it is arguably whether he should start at all in Seattle. Plus, it is really hard to draft on day 2. Bill Belichick will always be highly regarding for drafting QB Tom Brady on the 2nd day of the draft, but New England hasn't exactly lit it up on day 2 over the last couple of seasons since then, although CB Asante Samuel and C Dan Koppen have turned out as excellent picks from 2003. After all the problems the Packers had early in 2004 at nose tackle, it wouldn't have hurt if the Packers had drafted a big defensive lineman in the late rounds. Wisconsin's DT Anttaj Hawthorne was a 2nd round talent who slid to the 6th round because he got caught smoking marijuana, but the Packers passed on Hawthorne in the 5th round to select Oklahoma CB Michael Hawkins, a longshot to make it on a team with so many young and raw cornerbacks like the Packers have on the roster, and a questionable selection considering Oklahoma's secondary was scorched during the latter part of their 2004 season. In some ways it was very appropriate that Hawthorne was busted for pot and ended up in Oakland, playing alongside DT Warren Sapp, who famously slid down to #12 overall after he was caught smoking pot before the draft.

Would it have killed the Packers to draft a linebacker either? This wasn't the draft for linebackers, but even linebacker starved New England managed to find someone they liked in 5th round. It forced the Packers to resign 2004 starter LB Hannibal Navies, who should not be starting in 2005 either, to provide some depth.

It was a draft that should have excited no one; although drafting a quarterback is always exciting, announcing the end of the Brett Favre era should not excite anyone. It isn't a draft that will help much in 2005, which isn't exciting either. Although Chicago and Detroit had questionable drafts; selecting quality players at positions where they already had quality players, instead of looking at what they need, Minnesota seemed to do very well, and maybe pulled away from the Packers in 2005. Minnesota has a great team on paper, but Mike Tice was frustrated last season that such a good defense, on paper, played so poorly. They still have to put it all together too.

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