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PACKERDRAFT 2011 PACKERS RETOOL FOR ANOTHER RUN

Jerry Gilbert
When your team drafts in the 32d position, a fan has many reasons to be happy. However with that honor goes the reality that at least 31 players will be selected before your team gets to choose. On the other hand, perennial winning squads such as Pittsburgh and New England seem to find top talent at the bottom of each round. This season, Green Bay General Manager seemed right at home drafting for the defending Super Bowl Champions. He spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday adding quality new talent to the Green Bay Packers.

The first round choice was Derek Sherrod OT Mississippi State. Unlike Brian Bulaga, who was selected in the first round last season, Sherrod is a prototypical left tackle who excelled at the position in the SEC for three seasons. At 6-5 320 he has good size and his wingspan is longer than all the tackles drafted ahead of him He did not allow a sack as a senior. The plan will be for him to learn for a season from Chad Clifton, the true pro who currently mans the position. If Sherrod is ready, I would expect him to spell Clifton from time to time to gain experience. On the other hand, should he advance quickly, he could be considered to start at left guard. He might also be considered to play right tackle with Bulaga moving to guard. In the film I've seen, Sherrod can drive defenders into the end zone, push a speedy rusher past the quarterback, and cut block a pursuing lineman. He appears to be an excellent first round selection.



Another offensive lineman was added in the sixth round. One thing I like about this guy is his name. After two days of hearing the names Derek Alex Devon and two DJ's, it was a nice change to hear the name Caleb. With all the, lets face it, uninspired surnames such as Cobb, Green ,House, Smith and Williams, it was energizing to add the name Schlauderaff. Caleb Schlauderaff, 6-4 305 OG Utah will be another competitor for the left guard position. A four-year starter, he made several All American teams. Labeled a consistent player with a nasty disposition, Schlauderaff is the type of above average athlete and great competitor who could be in the league for years.

In the second round, Ted Thompson made a needs pick, but we could make a pretty good case for Randall Cobb being also the best player on the board. At 5-10 191, Cobb runs back both punts and kickoffs. The bonus is that he is a multitalented offensive player who was most of the Kentucky offense last year. They ran him from scrimmage, and used him as a Wildcat quarterback in addition to being the go to pass receiver. He caught 84 passes for over a thousand yards, and 7 touchdowns, ran for 5 more scores and threw three touchdown passes. Cobb will be projected to run back every kick. He will also be an additional type of talent for the multiple formation multiple personnel group offense that is the Hallmark of Packer Coach Mike McCarthy. He is also a candidate to replace Donald Driver in the future.



For his last pick on Friday, Thompson chose Alex Green RB 6-0 225 Hawaii. Green averaged an amazing 8.2 yards per carry last year while amassing 1200 yards and 18 touchdowns. His level of play demanded that the Coach put the ball in his hands in a spread offense that emphasized the passing game. Green is the first thousand-yard rusher for Hawaii since 1992. Players from the Island State do not seem to be a natural fit for the team from the frozen tundra, but Green played high school ball in Oregon and junior college in California. He played in Hawaii and in the spread offense for only two years. He was basically in a standard one back offense in junior college. Many observers considered him to be the top back at the East West Shrine game although he fumbled in the first series of the game. Along with blocking, ball security is the main concern with Green. If he takes to coaching, this running back could contribute as a third down back because he is very experienced as a receiver, and handled poorly thrown balls at the Shrine event. Looking ahead, Ryan Grant will be a free agent in 2012 and Green and James Starks could be the lead running backs. For a more immediate impact, Green has the strength and speed that is valuable on special teams.



As fans began to scream "defense" at their television screens, the Packers used a fourth round pick for a defensive back, Devon House 6-1 200 New Mexico State. House has a nice combination of size and speed and was a starter for 3 seasons. For his career there were 196 tackles, 46 passes broken up and 11 interceptions. House took three of those for six points. Scouts are mixed on this prospect, but some see him as a potential starter in the league. If he quickly learns the Packer defense, House will put pressure on Pat Lee and Brandon Underwood. Either they get better or he will move past them on the depth chart. One way or the other, Dom Capers should be able to find a reliable fourth corner back for his defense. Special teams should also benefit from his size and speed. The main concern is that he played in a second rate conference and has not consistently competed against the best college receivers. He missed one chance to answer that question because an injured ankle kept him out of the Senior Bowl. He was thus left with the Combine and his pro day to impress the NFL. He obviously made a favorable impression on the Green Bay Packers.

Round five produced a tight end and the first DJ. DJ Williams 6-2 245 Arkansas was a three-year starter who won the Mackay Award as the top tight end in the country. Some say he is too short. Before agreeing with them, check out the height of #88 Keith Jackson who was a star for the 1996 Super Bowl Champs and other teams before that. Williams takes pride in blocking and was a very productive receiver. His 49 receptions last season led all receivers for the 10-2 Arkansas offense. With his size and a forty under 4.6, Williams is a natural for special teams. At the same time, the choice of a tight end here surprised many Packer Fans. A big reason for adding this tight end is the Jermichael Finley injury last season. Once he went down, the team had a pass catcher in Andrew Quarles and a blocker in Tom Crabtree. Williams is an all around tight end who could fill in as the main guy. Moreover, the supremely talented Finley will be a free agent in 2012. The addition of Williams provides insurance against either an injury to or a departure by Finley.

It is less obvious why Ted Thompson used a seventh round pick for another tight end, Ryan Taylor 6-3 254 North Carolina. Taylor is not a dominant blocker or superior receiver, but he is pretty good at both.. He will make the final roster only if he is indispensable on special teams. The selection of Taylor is the clearest evidence that Ted Thompson used rounds six and seven to pick the type of player he might have selected as free agents in other years. He selected athletes who might fit in at some position if an opening arises. Taylor began his college career as a linebacker and was leader on special teams. He emerged as a pretty good tight end halfway through his senior season.

In addition to offensive linemen Schlauderaff, the Packers had two other selections in round six, as Ted Thompson added players for training camp who offered something to suggest they could help the team. The other picks are linebackers. D. J. Smith 5-10 239 Appalachian State is an interesting prospect. His career total of 525 tackles is unsurpassed by any player at any level. A majority of his games featured ten or more tackles. He added an interception and a recovered fumble to his conference-leading total of 144 tackles in 2010. His problem is that his is too short and too light to play linebacker in the 3-4. He is obviously a possibility for special teams but will need to bulk up to play inside linebacker. Is there room on the roster for another inside backer? If, as expected, Nick Barnett is traded, a roster spot could be there.

Ricky Elmore 6-4 255 Arizona, a college defensive end, was selected to compete at outside linebacker. A three-year starter at Arizona, Elmore played opposite first round draft choice Brooks Reed and actually led the Pac 10 in sacks. His determination to make the NFL was demonstrated two ways. First, he signed up with Clay's dad Clay Mathews Jr. to teach him how to play outside linebacker. Second he made You Tube videos, which show him jumping out of a swimming pool and also jumping onto the bed of a truck. He has some athletic ability and a successful college career. It would be outstanding if this 6th round pick would be as successful in the NFL as his friend Brooks Reed, the player many misguided experts wanted the Packers to draft in Round 1.

The last pick of the day was drafted after Ryan Taylor. He is Lawrence Guy 6-4 305 Arizona State. A standout in high school Guy was recruited by Oklahoma, Tennessee and Nebraska but stayed home to attend State. He was very effective as a freshman, but his numbers fell off the next two years. It surprised most observers when he left college as a junior. Guy also has a learning disability that could present an issue as he learns the Dom Capers playbook. With his size and a 4.98 forty Guy had too much potential to pass up in round seven. I have a personal interest in this player. The woman, who has made me a better person since she married me many years ago, teaches boys like Lawrence Guy and shows them ways to overcome their issues and learn. I am rooting for him.

This was a draft in two in parts. In rounds one through four, the Green Bay Packers added promising players that we can see making the team and contributing. After that, Ted Thompson became trader Ted and traded down to add additional lower round and cheaper players. While I like them as prospects, they are long shots. However more bodies in camp means more candidates with a chance to break through as Sam Shields and Frank Zombo did last year. Once they start playing football again, the preseason will be very interesting.

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