Saturday, April 28, 2007


Well, I sort of got my wish, I guess. The Packers drafted defense first, taking defensive lineman Justin Harrell from the University of Tennessee with their first pick, passing on Meachem, Reggie Nelson, and the two first round-ranked Michigan defenders (Hall and Branch).

Harrell seems like a good player. While some of the numskulls on the Worldwide Leader, specifically Steve Young and Keyshawn Johnson (how is this guy on the air?), started moaning about the choice not to take a wide receiver, Thompson repeatedly explained that at the pick, the consensus among him and his staff was that Harrell was best available player. In fact, Thompson thought he was so talented that he was afraid of trading down and potentially missing out on him. You want your GM taking that guy, even if it's a position that you don't view as a "need"

The other guys look interesting. I remember watching our second pick, Brandon Jackson, play against USC and Texas. He looked pretty impressive--fluid, heady, strong runner, with good hands. I don't know if he'll be better than Morency, but it looks like he's more talented than the rest of the backs on our roster. Plus, he comes from Nebraska, where former Raiders coach and Wisconsin assistant Bill Callahan has been running a "West Coast" offense. Hopefully, the transition to the professional ranks will be easier for him than most.

I can't say I know much about James Jones, a wideout from San Jose State (not the author of "From Here to Eternity"). His highlight reels look decent, particularly this end around he reverses for a touchdown. (Click on the little camera icon by his name at Yahoo's draft page.) He was voted his team's MVP, and that can't be a bad thing. I also can't recall watching the safety from Va. Tech, Aaron Rouse, play. He is enormous though, and his 40 time is pretty sick for a guy that big. The synopses I've read seem to paint him as someone who's a great athlete, and good playing downhill, but not good turning and running with backs or receivers. A linebacker conversion project? He has some impressive hits on Yahoo's highlights (at the link above).

All in all, not a bad day. The team generally seems to be taking the players it likes the best at the individual positions. That's what you want them to do. And, we've generally been addressing our problem areas--the offensive skill positions and safety. That's encouraging. It might have been nice had we been able to move up for Jarrett or Sydney Rice in the second round, guys who I think may have a bit more potential than Jones, but I guess they couldn't find a deal they were willing to make. So they traded down.

I also must admit that I'm disappointed over the lack of a Moss deal. I was hoping that when we traded down in the second and picked up an extra 3rd rounder, we'd use it to pry Moss away from the Raiders. Reports had the best offer to the Raiders as only a fourth round draft pick. My hopes picked up further when I heard the Lions dumped Mike Williams and Josh McCown on the Raiders for a draft pick. Maybe a deal will be coming tomorrow, but I'm no longer holding my breath. Ah, well.

What's also interesting is that the Packers seem to be actively misleading the media. It doesn't seem like anyone who was talking to the team's personnel people had any idea that they were considering Harrell. In fact, one Fox Sports reporter openly complained about it, saying he had asked the Packers about their potential interest in Harrell, and they told him that "he wasn't their guy." Huh. Then the JS blog started talking about how the Packers had "targeted" Antonio Pittman. But not only do we pass on him once, in the 2nd round, we pass on him twice in the third. (In fact, Pittman may have been drastically overrated by analysts because no team has drafted him as of yet.) Funny stuff. I guess they're pretty paranoid about confidential information getting to other teams. If they've actually done what it looks like--that is, they purposely told the media false info off the record--the Thompson "administration" is positively Machiavellian. I admire their wiles, but I think the press, especially the local guys, will probably hold it against them. Lets hope it works out on the field.

The other development I've been following is not a positive one--our divisional rivals seem to all have upgraded their offenses. The Lions added the best player in the draft, Calvin Johnson. A Roy Williams/Calvin Johnson tandem is serious trouble, even with Jack Kitna hurling the ball off his back foot. The friggin' Queens got one of the wideouts on my wish list, Sidney Rice, and took the draft's best running back, the breathtaking manchild Adrian Peterson. We'll have to hope their QB stays terrible. The Bears' additions were more modest. I'm personally bearish on the tight end Greg Olsen, as his production on the field has yet to equal his combine numbers, but the Bears also just picked up Garrett Wolfe, the diminutive but insanely fast Northern Illinois running back. A rotation between him and Cedric Benson could be very effective. Not good.

Joe Thomas went fishing on "The Foxy Lady" with his dad and Joe Panos, and got drafted by the Browns. They took him with the third overall pick, making him the third highest Badger ever drafted. Cleveland's a bit grim, (we went to the UW/Bowling Green game there last fall), but the stadium's pretty nice, and I understand some of the suburbs are as well. I honestly hope he and Brady Quinn can turn around the Browns. Give the history of the reborn Browns, their lack of a first round draft pick next year (one that will probably be in the first half of the round), and the fact that they suck on both sides of the ball, it doesn't look good. I have confidence that Joe will at least keep Quinn upright.

Joe has actually been protecting Quinn's blindside already, although Quinn didn't realize it at the time. Specifically, one of Joe's rationales for not going to the draft was that, if the worst case scenario happens, and you start falling, that's the last place you want to be. Imagine, you've busted your ass for free since you were thirteen, you think your big payday is about to come, you get all duded up, and as your dream slowly turns nightmarish you're corralled in a camera-laden "green room" trying to keep your cool on national television as millions of dollars slip through your hands. Quinn might have thought about that, considered Leinart and Rodgers' experiences, and talked to some less biased talent evaluators before making his decision to come to New York. Finally, did anyone notice that when Quinn was finally drafted he was chewing gum the entire time? Am I the only one to find that a little inappropriate? Maybe at that point, he was just like, "Screw it. I want some Dentyne."

No comments: