2019 April : Packers Insider

Draft Post-Game: Oren Burks Must Step Up

April 28, 2019 by  
Filed under News

By Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior editor

~When projected 2nd round inside linebacker Mack Wilson from Alabama was still on the board for Packers’ GM Brian Gutekunst to select on day three of the draft this weekend in Nashville, most Packer fans expected to hear Wilson’s name called.

Gutekunst and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine had other ideas.

Rewind to last year’s draft in Dallas, when on day two, they grabbed Oren Burks from Vanderbilt.

That pick was as much of a surprise as this weekend’s non-pick of Wilson was. None of you had known Burks and there were no mocks from the experts ahead of the draft that had the Packers selecting Burks.

Here we are one year later, and we still don’t know anything about Burks. But the coaches and GM do.

Here’s what they do know, for a fact.

From his combine, Oren Burks:

Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 233 lbs
Arms: 33 3/8”
Hands: 9 1/8”
40 Yard Dash: 4.59
Bench Press: 18
Vertical Jump: 39.5
Broad Jump: 131.0
3 Cone Drill: 6.82 Seconds
20 Yd Shuttle: 4.15 Seconds

Let’s compare those numbers to some of the well-known inside linebackers in today’s NFL.

Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 242 lbs
Arms: 31″
Hands: 9 3/4″
40 Yard Dash: 4.58
Bench Press: 27
Vertical Jump: 38
Broad Jump: 123.0
3 Cone Drill: 6.92 Seconds
20 Yd Shuttle: 4.12 Seconds

Devin White, LSU
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 237 lbs
Arms: 32 1/8″
Hands: 9 3/4″
40 Yard Dash: 4.42
Bench Press: 22
Vertical Jump: 39.5
Broad Jump: 118.0
3 Cone Drill: 7.07 Seconds
20 Yd Shuttle: 4.17 Seconds

Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 242 lbs
Arms: 31″
Hands: 9 3/4″
40 Yard Dash: 4.46
Bench Press: 24
Vertical Jump: 39.5
Broad Jump: 132.0
3 Cone Drill: 7.03 Seconds
20 Yd Shuttle: 4.24 Seconds

We didn’t see too much of number 42 last season. We expected the Packers to make a play for ILB Devin Bush this draft, or at the least, grab Mack Wilson on day two. None of those happened.

That tells me that the team is banking on last year’s day-two pick, Oren Burks, to step into that role and inject that speed into Pettine’s defense.

Green Bay Packers 2019 NFL Draft Recap

April 28, 2019 by  
Filed under News

From Fox Sports

Rashan Gary was already living a dream when he was starring at Michigan.

The pioneering rush specialist will get a chance to take that to a new level in Green Bay. The Packers chose Gary with the 12th overall pick Thursday night, sticking with their recent tradition of focusing on defense first in the NFL draft.

Despite having hired an offensive-oriented head coach in Matt LaFleur and knowing that their two-time NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is nearing the end of his illustrious career, the Packers opted instead to bolster a defense that already received reinforcements during free agency.

General manager Brian Gutekunst said earlier in the week that the veteran free-agent additions on defense gave him more flexibility with his picks, but it didn’t necessarily mean he’d shy away from a defensive player in the first round if someone he liked was there.

Clearly, Gary was that guy, despite some limited production during his three-year college career.

The 6-foot-5, 281-pound Gary was a second-team preseason All-American, but a shoulder injury limited him to nine games and he finished with 44 tackles — including seven for losses — and 3½ sacks last season. He was an All-Big Ten player as a sophomore when he had 66 tackles, including 12 for losses and six sacks.

He began focusing on his future after his injury-stunted season ended with a loss to Ohio State. He declared for the draft, skipping the Wolverines’ bowl game and his senior season.

Gary took the unusual move of forming his own sports agency while still with the Wolverines, proudly serving as founder and CEO. He explained in January that it fulfilled a vision he had as a high school star. Gary, who is from Plainfield, New Jersey, signed with Michigan as the top-rated high school player in the country.

He broke down in tears of joy at home as he learned he was headed to Green Bay. He is expected start out at outside linebacker in Green Bay and move around in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme.

Green Bay had six selections in the first four rounds, including No. 12 and No. 30 in the first round. Gutekunst moved up nine spots to No. 21 and selected safety Darnell Savage out of Maryland, sending the Packers’ original 30th overall pick and two fourth-round selections (No. 114 overall, No. 118) to Seattle to complete the trade.

The 12th overall pick was the Packers’ highest in 10 years since they made defensive tackle B.J. Raji the ninth selection.

Since Rodgers become quarterback, the Packers have now spent their first picks on defense in eight straight drafts. The only offensive player taken in one of the first three rounds in the past three years was tackle Jason Spriggs, the second-round selection in 2016 from Indiana.

Still, Rodgers is 35 entering his 15th season and the Packers have missed the playoffs two straight years, putting more pressure on the star QB and LaFleur to deliver. During last year’s forgettable 6-9-1 season, Green Bay was 15th in the league in points, 12th in yards and a woeful 23rd in third-down conversions. Rodgers was banged-up all year, finishing with 25 touchdown passes, a career low for a season in which he played at least 15 games.

The Packers also lost experienced slot receiver Randall Cobb and many believe the team needs a top tight end even though Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis are back.

During free agency, Gutekunst did sign four potential starters in outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Billy Turner. The defense began to show some promise last season under new coordinator Mike Pettine but still ranked 22nd in points and 18th in yards allowed. Gary should help a team that also watched longtime rush specialist Clay Matthews leave in free agency.

All the rest here

Packers Mock Draft V1

April 13, 2019 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Mock Drafts
Special from www.PackersMockDrafts.com

It is now just 12 days until the draft is finally here.

As you all know, mock drafts are like throwing darts. You may see 1000 mock drafts, and it will be lucky if any of them even have two guys out of 10 right going to the Packers in any round.

With that in mind, PackersMockDrafts.com will try and do one full 7-round mock draft per day until the draft arrives, and let’s see if we can get any picks right. I won’t project any trades, even though you can bet that GM Gutekunst will make at least one draft trade.

As it stands now, here are the Packers slew of picks:

1. Round 1, pick 12
2. Round 1, pick 30
3. Round 2, pick 44
4. Round 3, pick 75
5. Round 4, pick 114
6. Round 4, pick 118
7. Round 5, pick 150
8. Round 6, pick 185
9. Round 6, pick 194
10. Round 7, pick 226

One more thing to keep in mind: Just because you see a player who goes between 10 and 20 in 99% of the many mocks you have seen, does not mean they will go between 10 and 20 in the real draft. There are always a handful of picks where fans and the tv personalities seem shocked that the guy went 20 picks or a round earlier than the mocks and tv analysts had “projected”.

On the flip side, there are also usually guys who are mocked nonstop in the 15-25 range, who slide way into round two or sometimes round three or even later.

So with all that factored in, I will be sure to put some seemingly “reaches” and “way too low, pipe-dreams” in each of my full 7-round mocks.


While I won’t project trades, this is an ideal player to trade down for, grab in the teens or early 20’s, and pick up some extra draft capital.

Dillard had the highest pass protection grade of any starting tackle in the country at 94.0 this past season, per Pro Football Focus grades.

This may not help make the 2019 Packers take a big step forward. But then again, it just might. Bryan Bulaga is in the last year of his contract, and seemingly is on his last legs. This will be his tenth season, and he’s had a myriad of serious injuries to the knees, legs, and elsewhere. I’m not sure how well Dillard can play guard in this new system, but adding a legit talent at tackle is paramount. You don’t want to see Aaron Rodgers’ life relying on Jason Spriggs anymore, and Billy Turner is not a guy you want protecting on the edges either.


Adderly earned a 90.3 overall grade with Delaware a year ago, and his 89.9 2018 coverage grades leads all draft-eligible safeties. He would be a great fit with recently acquired safety Adrian Amos.

He has the Adderley name that fits great in Green Bay. But his play might bring back memories of 2005 second round pick Nick Collins, from Bethune-Cookman. Delaware and Bethune-Cookman aren’t exactly pipelines to the NFL. But Alabama is and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wasn’t the answer. Collins was, until his unfair and unfortunate injury in 2011 week two. Next up is Adderly.


Yes I keep seeing Packer fans mocking Isabella to the Packers with the #75 pick. NFL scouts and GM’s know better. He’s too good to last until mid round-three.

Besides, when you think great Packers wide receivers in the past decade, you think of Davante Adams, Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson. What round were each of them selected in? That’s right, round two.

Per Pro Football Focus:
Isabella was the highest-graded wide receiver in the country, racking up 1,696 yards, including 219 against Georgia.

More on Isabella here: Andy Isabella is much more than a slot receiver, can ‘do it all’

“That’s my goal,” Isabella said. “I love watching the big-play guys like Tyreek Hill, Tavon Auston and Odell Beckham Jr… Guys that can just change the game. And that’s my goal. I want to be that player that can just change the game at any moment.”


From PFF:
Saunders moves like an edge and even played there at times for Western Illinois. He went to the Senior Bowl and had the second-highest win rate among interior players in the one-on-ones.

He impressed me in the game, reminding me of a younger Mike Daniels or even former Viking interior disruptor John Randle.

All quotes from Pro Football Focus

5. Round 4, pick 114 – TE JOSH OLIVER, SAN JOSE STATE

Oliver is one of the most physically imposing tight ends in the draft class. His 16 contested catches led all tight ends in college football.

6. Round 4, pick 118 – EDGE BEN BANOGU, TCU

Still learning the position, TCU’s Banogu earned just a 72.1 overall grade playing edge defender for the Horned Frogs in 2018 but has unparalleled with his ideal size and athleticism.

7. Round 5, pick 150 – RB DARRELL HENDERSON, MEMPHIS

Henderson is a big play waiting to happen. He recorded a class-high 27 runs of 20-plus yards in 2018; no other running back entering the draft had more than 17 such runs.

8. Round 6, pick 185 – LB T.J. EDWARDS, WISCONSIN

Among off-ball linebackers in the 2019 class with 400-plus defensive snaps played this past season, Edwards ranked fifth in overall grade (90.8) and 12th in coverage grade (84.8).

9. Round 6, pick 194 – LB JOE GILES-HARRIS, DUKE

Giles-Harris earned an impressive 91.2 overall grades across his 1,433 defensive snaps in 2017 and 2018 combined, ranking eighth among draft-eligible off-ball linebackers with at least 600 defensive snaps played in the last two seasons.

10. Round 7, pick 226 –

Boyd’s 90.1 run-defense grade ranked second in the 2019 class among qualifiers at his position, and he also earned strong coverage (74.2) and overall grade (76.7).

5 Options at Number 12

April 6, 2019 by  
Filed under News

April 25 cannot get here soon enough for NFL Draft fans

From Brian E. Murphy, Packers Insider senior editor

~ General Manager Brian Gutekunst doesn’t know for sure who will still be available at pick #12 on Thursday night, April 25th. But he has a good idea who will not still be available.

He also must know that none of those first-round quarterbacks will be his selection, regardless of how the first 11 picks play out.

So factoring in those players who you can pretty much cross out, here are my “5 most likely” names that we might hear announced by commissioner Roger Goodell announces the 12th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

DT CHRISTIAN WILKINS, Clemson 6-3¼, 315 lbs

Rated 4th overall on NFL Network Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s Big Board, and 5th overall on ESPN Scouts Inc ratings with a 92 grade, Wilkins might be too good of a value to pass up if he’s still available at #12. He would combine with Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels to give the Packers three fantastic defensive linemen for Mike Pettine to deploy.

You all saw him help Clemson demolish Alabama to win the NCAA National Championship in January. He could have gone pro last year and been a top-ten pick, but he wanted to finish the job with his brothers at Clemson.

Remember, pressure up front into quarterbacks faces, and big bodies gobbling up blockers makes things much easier on the linebackers and defensive backs.

Wilkins also would be great insurance as Daniels could be playing his last season in Green Bay on the final year of his contract.

I could show you all kinds of highlights from the gridiron of this player, but the “passion that he has is what I feel will separate him at the next level.”

From Jeremiah: “Wilkins has solid size (6-foot-3, 315 pounds) for the position, and he’s been a disruptive presence along the Clemson line throughout his career. Against the pass, he has quick feet and hands, which allow him to routinely win early in the down. He’s at his best when slanting and working through the edges of blockers.”

From Scouts Inc: “Wilkins was a three-year starter at Clemson, racking up 243 tackles, 41 tackles for loss and 16 sacks.  He’s scheme versatile and has experience playing inside and outside. He has a quick first step, very quick hands and is a high-motor pass-rusher. He knows how to work the edges of blockers. Wilkins has fast eyes to locate the ball as a run defender and also has great awareness and discipline as a pass-rusher. He has excellent range for a player with his size and chases the run with great effort.
Wilkins fits best as a three-technique in the NFL but he’s a scheme versatile defensive lineman who projects as a three-down starter.”

ILB DEVIN BUSH, Michigan 5-11, 234

Rated tie-10th overall from Scouts Inc (91 grade), and 14th from Jeremiah, Bush is almost identical to the other inside linebacker Devin, White, from LSU. White appears to be a long shot to last until pick #12, because he is from LSU and he is one inch taller than Bush. But Bush might be a better NFL player as those physical differences matter less than between the ears and the heart.

That’s no knock on White as he would be a fantastic pick for the Packers if he were to last that long.

From Jeremiah: “Bush is a little undersized for the position (5-11, 234 pounds), but he makes up for it with instincts, twitch and production. He’s excellent as a zone dropper against the pass — quick to key routes and get a jump on the ball. In man coverage, he has the speed to run with tight ends and running backs.
He is an excellent
blitzer, using a dip/rip move to defeat running backs. Bush really excels in the run game. He is quick to identify, fill and chest up runners. He is also capable of shocking and shedding guards when they work up to the second level. He has a high batting average as a tackler and provides some huge hits. Overall, Bush is a three-down linebacker, and he’ll provide the team that drafts him with a physical presence.

From Scouts Inc: “He has outstanding range versus the run and is a sideline-to-sideline run defender. He has adequate tackling skills and was the alpha dog of Michigan’s defense. Bush is a plug-and-play starter. He is one of the top off-the-ball linebackers in the 2019 class. He’s an every-down player.”

TE T.J. HOCKENSON, Iowa 6-4 3/4, 251

This one is shaky as many mocks have him gone before 12, but those that do not have him gone before 12, usually have him going at 12 to the Packers.

New England feasted on Super Bowls with the possible greatest tight end of our time Rob Gronkowski. Kansas City features today’s best tight end Travis Kelce, and they came one offsides call from beating the Patriots and making it to this year’s Super Bowl. Last year’s Super Bowl was won by the Philadelphia Eagles and they have a great tight end in Zach Ertz. Last season, Ertz broke the all-time NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end.

Tight ends are becoming more important in today’s offenses and that might be part of the reason why the Packers brought back Jimmy Graham, surprising many people.

Ranked 5th overall by Jeremiah, and 7th overall by Scouts Inc, it seems unlikely that big Hock will last until the 12th pick. But NFL GM’s don’t go off of D.J. or Scouts Inc. lists, so there is a chance. Hockenson never put up monster numbers at Iowa.

From Scouts Inc: “Hockenson is the most complete tight end in the 2019 draft class, with an outstanding combination of height, weight, speed and strength. One of a very few two-way TE prospects coming out of college football. He grades out as an impact starter and should be ready to contribute immediately, despite his lack of ideal game experience.”

From Jeremiah: “Hockenson is a fun player to watch. In the passing game, he fights through press coverage and will stair-step defenders (fights through pass coverage and understands how to attack the leverage of defenders) down the field, helping to create some separation on crossers and deep-over routes. He tracks the ball naturally, and his high-point skills are on display in the red zone. He is very physical after the catch and possesses adequate speed. Hockenson is at his best in the run game. He rag-dolls defensive ends and linebackers. He had multiple pancake blocks in every game I studied. Overall, Hockenson is one of the best blocking tight ends I’ve ever evaluated, and he is dependable in the passing game. He’s a Day 1 impact player at the next level.”

Edge MONTEZ SWEAT, Mississippi State 6-5 1/2, 260

We might think that edge won’t be considered with a first round pick now that the team has added the Smiths in free agency. However, both Smiths are very versatile, and Sweat is extremely fast running a 4.41 at the Combine. He gets around the edge even faster than the 2009-2012 Clay Matthews version. However, he won’t be able to just run around the edge against NFL offensive tackles. He will need to get stronger and develop some more moves. I am not totally sold on Sweat, or Florida State’s fast edge Brian Burns.

From Scouts Inc: ”
Sweat is a flexible athlete who gets offensive tackles off balance with his elite speed off the edge. He has a surprisingly powerful upper body and displays very good change-of-direction skills on outside-in pass rush moves. He stood out as one of the top players at the Senior Bowl. He grades out as a future NFL starter but may need to be used as a pass-rush specialist early in his career. “

From Jeremiah, who has Sweat at 10th on his big board: “Sweat is a tall, long and athletic defensive end. As a pass rusher, he relies on a quick get-off and his length to pop/separate before bending around the edge to generate sacks. He doesn’t show much snap/power on contact, but he still finds ways to win. His effort is excellent. He has the agility to drop into the flat in coverage. Overall, Sweat needs to get stronger, but his combination of length, agility and production makes him an easy sell in the draft room.”

Edge RASHAN GARY, Michigan 6-4 3/8, 276

This player is not a guy you see mocked to the Packers yet who is usually available at 12 in most mocks. But I would not be shocked to hear his name called at that spot.

Ranked tie-5th (with Wilkins) from Scouts Inc with a 92 grade, and 9th by Jeremiah, Gary ran a 4.58 forty at the combine, at 277 pounds. That’s not a guy that tight ends want to pass protect against on the edge. With the versatile Smith additions, adding a player like Gary could give Pettine so many options, his defense could give opposing quarterbacks nightmares against that talented front.

From Scouts Inc: “A former No. 1 overall recruit in the country, Gary was a two-year starter at Michigan. He has an explosive first step and excellent suddenness for his size. Gary is capable of converting speed to power as a pass-rusher but is still too raw with his technique and array of moves. He has very good closing burst and his motor runs hot. Gary’s production at Michigan never met his skill level. However, he is a highly-gifted athlete with scheme versatility, which is why he projects as a top-15 pick in the 2019 NFL draft.”

From Jeremiah, and this explains why there is a fair chance he doesn’t go before the Packers selection at #12: “Gary is a freak. He has a unique blend of size, speed, explosiveness and power. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always translate to production. As a pass rusher, he has a dynamic get-off and flashes the power to bull through OTs with only one arm extended. However, he lacks complementary moves and stalls at the top of his rush far too often. Against the run, he destroys TEs on the edge with pure strength and power. However, he will bury his head and fail to locate the football at times. His athleticism is on display in coverage, where I’ve seen him run and mirror slot receivers. I have some concerns about his durability after he missed time with injuries. Overall, Gary is more of an athlete than football player at this time, but the upside is off the charts, and his effort is exceptional.”

There’s certainly a better chance than not that the Packers pick at #12 will be someone other than one of these five players. There’s also a chance the Packers aren’t the team who picks at #12 when all is said and done. Gutekunst could trade down. Or he could trade up.

If he stays put, I would love Ed Oliver to be the pick, but I don’t think there’s a realistic chance he is still there at 12.

Also, despite Bush being my favorite guy on this list, I don’t think the Packers will take him as this GM is the same one who surprised (disappointed) all of Packer Nation last year when he reached up to take inside backer Oren Burks from Vanderbilt. I doubt they are ready to relegate him to an afterthought already. Blame Martinez is one of the best players on defense at inside backer already, although he is in the final year of his rookie contract.

Of these five players, if one of them were to be selected by the Packers, which one would you select?

  • Wilkins, DL
  • Bush, ILB
  • Hockenson, TE
  • Sweat, Edge
  • Gary, Edge

Of these 5 players, which one would you select for the Packers at #12

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