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Draft Post-Game: Oren Burks Must Step Up

April 28, 2019 by  
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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  
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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  
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From Brian E Murphy, Packers Mock Drafts
Special from

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, 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

View Results

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Packers should bring in Mad Maxx

March 17, 2019 by  
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From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider Senior Editor

~With the signing of Jake Ryan by the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, Ted Thompson’s total 2015 Draft Class has been lost. Cast away.

Draft and Develop. Remember?

Going back to that 2015 Draft, and I remember it well, the Packers needed an inside linebacker and some help at tight end. They had just used their previous first round pick on Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and it seemed like that spot was solidified.

The Packers were slated to pick at number 30 as they had just come off the heartbreaking NFC Championship Game collapse in Seattle.

Many of the Draft Experts (that is, the folks who get paid to compile data, opinions, projections, talk to NFL personnel, etc.) had the Packers taking one of the many highly-rated inside backers such as UCLA’s Eric Kendricks, Miami’s Denzel Perryman, Clemson’s Stephone Anthony, or Mississippi State’s Benardrick McKinney.

All four of those inside backers went between pick number 31 and 48. Kendricks still anchors the Vikings tough defense and Perryman in the middle for the Chargers still. Anthony and McKinney didn’t pan out.

The other common player who was mocked to the Packers at number 30 was Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams. If I remember correctly, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay each had Williams to the Packers in at least one of their mocks, and a number of people from and CBS Sportsline had Williams to the Packers in others. It made sense.

Well four years later, a lot of players move on. The whole Packers Class of 2015 has, from Damarious Randall to Quinten Rollins, Jake Ryan to Ty Montgomery and Brett Hundley, Aaron Ripkowski, Christian Ringo, and Kennard Backman. All gone.

It wasn’t just the Packers, however, that year.

Three of the top seven picks already changed teams. Dante Fowler, Jr. (3), Amari Cooper (4), and Kevin White (7), and almost half of the rest of that first round.

By the way, new addition Preston Smith was the Redskins pick at number 38. David Johnson went at number 86, Danielle Hunter at 88, Trey Flowers at 101, new additions Za’Darius Smith at 122 and Adrian Amos 142, Stefon Diggs at 147 and Brett Hundley 148.

Anyway, to my guy, Maxx Williams.

Obviously, Williams has not flourished in Baltimore. But I am selling the fact that that offense is not conducive to receiving prominence.

Name a receiver or tight end who has done well there in the past few years. That offense, and passing game in particular, has been awful. Joe Flacco has been let go, and Raven fans aren’t even sad to see him go.

A year ago, another former highly-touted tight end, Eric Ebron, was let go by the team who drafted him as his rookie contract had expired. Ebron, remember, was selected number 10 overall, before Odell Beckham and Aaron Donald, in that 2014 NFL Draft but hadn’t come close to living up to those lofty expectations in Detroit. Even with a former number one overall draft pick at QB in Matthew Stafford. Even with a QB who had thrown for over 5,000 yards one season in his career.

Ebron signed with Indianapolis last off-season, and he promptly showed why he was graded so highly entering the NFL. Ebron led the team and NFL tight ends in touchdowns right away with 13 scores, on 66 catches. He had totaled 11 touchdowns in his four years in Detroit. See how a change of scenery and an upgrade at quarterback can boost a player to more like what scouts had predicted for the player originally?

Maxx Williams is introduced to the media by (left to right) Director of Scouting Joe Horowitz; Head Coach John Harbaugh; General Manager Ozzie Newsome; and Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta. The Ravens selected the tight end from Minnesota with their second round pick at the 2015 NFL draft. (COURTESY PHOTO/WWW.BALTIMORERAVENS.COM)

I believe Williams can be another guy like that. The video above compared him to Greg Olsen, who had left his original team Chicago after his first four years. He went to Carolina afterwards with Cam Newton his whole career, and he put up 37 touchdowns as a Panther, and back-to-back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons from 2014-2016. He was the first tight end in NFL history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

I’m not saying Williams is going to come in and put up a thousand yards. But I do believe he can come in and upgrade the position. He could put up some Mark Chmura type production. Chmura, from 1995-1998, put up consistent numbers and was a threat on third downs and in the red zone.

Again, I know his numbers in Baltimore are nothing to tout. But I believe what I saw of him at the University of Minnesota and what most scouts thought of him entering that 2015 Draft. Trust your eyes, a long-time scout once told me. And remember it.

Williams is still just 24 years old, won’t turn 25 until April 12. He’s barely older than some rookies. The upside is still there. His talent is still clear. He still has the bloodlines.

It won’t cost much, and the potential for a nice find is there. If I’m GM Brian Gutekunst, I am definitely taking a look into Mad Maxx.

Pettine’s Defense Could Be Elite

March 16, 2019 by  
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Forget the crapshoot of the collegiate draft. These young guys already have proven they can play in the NFL at a high level. They will help immediately and not be a ‘cross-your-fingers’ and wait and hope “project” like a Josh Jones, Oren Burks, Jeremy Thompson, Jerel Worthy, Quinten Rollins, etc.

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider Senior Editor

~Out with the old, in with the new.

GM Brian Gutekunst has given defensive coordinator Mike Pettine some tools in free agency that former coordinator Dom Capers could only dream of when he was in charge under then-GM Ted Thompson.

In the Smith Brothers, Za’Darius and Preston, and safety Adrian Amos, Pettine has been given three quality, yet still early in their prime years, defensive starters. Upgrades.

This is a defense that added significant talent last off-season on the back end in top two draft picks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, along with bringing back veteran Tramon Williams. And if 2017 first pick Kevin King ever can stay on the field, there is talent galore on the back end.

The front line is led by emerging star Kenny Clark, along with Mike Daniels. In the middle of it all is Blake Martinez, entering his contract year and coming off another season leading the team in tackles.

Free agency still isn’t over yet and I wouldn’t be surprised if Gutekunst adds another piece or two (Jake Ryan just signed with Jacksonville on Saturday).

The Packers own two first-round draft picks in next month’s NFL Draft, with one of them being the 12th overall pick. So there’s a good chance that Pettine will get another young infusion of talent in the draft.

Adrian Amos, Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith

Sure, there are still some holes to fill on the defense. Personally, I would try very hard to bring back Clay Matthews, who can play both sides outside and can slide into the middle. Versatility is great. Sometimes, loyalty is a good thing too.

Pettine is an outstanding defensive coach who has produced top-ten defenses with less talent than the Packers already have.

Of course, health will be a factor as it always is. But these additions have been durable so far. As long as the Packers training staff doesn’t overwork them and lead them into pulled hamstrings, groins, abs like Geronimo Allison last year, this defense is going to be good and could be great.

What are these new guys going to bring to Green Bay?
Here are some highlights of your new additions so you can see not only what they “can do”, but what they “do do”.

Packers should bring in veteran QB Griffin to backup Rodgers

February 10, 2019 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior editor

~Seven years ago this Spring, four NFL teams fortunes changed with rookie quarterbacks added to guide the future of their franchises.

At the top, with the first two picks, the Colts selected Andrew Luck from Stanford, while the Redskins pinned their hopes on Robert Griffin III from Baylor. Later in the first round, the Dolphins grabbed Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M.

Later in the draft, the Seahawks grabbed Russell Wilson from Wisconsin, mostly with the thought of being the backup to recent free agent addition Matt Flynn.

Packer fans are well aware of what has happened with Russell Wilson and Seattle.
Miami is almost set to give up on Tannehill.
Indianapolis learned immediately how good Luck was. And how bad luck to Luck would doom the Colts in 2016 and 2017.

The Redskins? Griffin, RG3, was sensational right out of the gates for Mike Shanahan’s offense. Matt LaFleur, incidentally, was the QB coach for Griffin that year.

As good as Luck was, and Wilson was, Griffin was the NFL Rookie of the Year. And he was beating the Seahawks handily in that season’s Wildcard game.
Then he hurt his knee.

He’s never been the same, and he’s been relegated to being a backup. Last season he was Joe Flacco’s backup, and then moved to the #3 QB as rookie first round pick Lamar Jackson was handed the keys to the Ravens offense.

Griffin is 28 years old, will turn 29 in the middle of February. He’s seen it all. He’s been on three teams already.

True, part of what made him such a weapon as a rookie was the Michael Vick like running ability Griffin possessed, and he lost most of that as a result of the ACL injury in 2013.

But have you seen Brett Hundley out there running the Packers? Did you see DeShone Kizer last year? His passer rating was 40.5. Griffin’s career passer rating is just south of 90. This is an immediate upgrade.

NFL reacts to Packers officially hiring Matt LaFleur

February 9, 2019 by  
Filed under News


~The Packers have found a new head coach in Matt LaFleur. On Tuesday, the team announced they have hired LaFleur as the 15th head coach in team history and he was introduced to the media on Wednesday. He will take the place of Mike McCarthy who was fired on Dec. 2.

LaFleur spent the 2018 season as the offensive coordinator as the offensive coordinator of the Tennesee Titans. LaFleur has been working wonders with NFL offenses for quite some time. He spent two seasons in Atlanta as the quarterback’s coach, helping Matt Ryan lead the Falcons to an appearance in Super Bowl LI. Ryan was unstoppable during this season as he threw for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns en route to being named league MVP. However, Kyle Shanahan’s departure for San Francisco also affected LaFleur as he headed west to join Sean McVay’s staff.

LaFleur spent 2017 working with Jared Goff in a renaissance season as the Rams ranked first overall in scoring and 10th in total offense. Los Angeles made an appearance in the playoffs but ultimately lost to the Falcons in the wild-card round. LaFleur left the Rams after only one season to join Tennessee as the offensive coordinator. And while this season has been utterly bizarre, the offense has shown flashes of brilliance. Former New England running back Dion Lewis is playing extremely well and has quietly taken Derrick Henry’s job.

Marcus Mariota has found decent success as a passer despite his receivers dropping a major pass at least once every week. Although he has been more successful as a running quarterback. The Titans put a beat down on the Patriots utilizing in multiple ways. Some of his best throws even came on the run. Not many quarterbacks can rival Aaron Rodgers when it comes to throwing on the run, so it’s impossible to see Mariota succeeding in this manner and not picture the Packers quarterback.

So what do NFL fans and experts think of the move? Here’s a look at the reactions of the hire.

Ben Fennell of The Athletic and the NFL Network broke down film of teams that LaFleur has worked for and he noticed a trend that will make fans happy. He said, “Digging thru the film – you can see recurring trends in the scheme Screen game is HUGE. Certainly to the RBs but also getting the ball into your perimeter WR weapons ASAP… Easy yards!

LaFleur is good friends with the Los Angeles Rams head coach as he was the team’s OC in 2017. And when McVay heard the news, he was happy for him. McVay said, “He’s obviously one of my closest friends. So to see that for him, couldn’t be more excited. He’s a great football coach, got a great understanding from offensive football.”

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports mentions how LaFleur got the job. He said, “Matt LaFleur did something very rare this year for an offensive coaching candidate. Instead of being pass-happy to build up his name as an HC candidate, he ran the ball a ton and played more to protect the ball.”

Colin Cowherd of FS1 does not like the move. He said, “Congratulations on hiring somebody who people question whether he has the stature and gravitas to lead a coordinators meeting. Maybe you’ve heard Aaron Rodgers is aging, he ran a Super Bowl-winning coach out of town. Good luck to Matt LaFleur.”

Packers legend LeRoy Butler is very excited about the move. He said, “GREAT HIRE BY THE @packers MATT LaFleur! I’m very excited!!!” Butler was drafted by the Packers in the second round of the 1990 NFL Draft and he spent his entire career in Green Bay. During his time with the Packers, Butler put together a memorable career, recording 889 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 38 interceptions and 13 forced fumbles. Along with helping the Packers win Super Bowl 31, Butler was named to the Pro Bowl four times, was named to the All-Pro First Team four times and he’s a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team. Butler has also been inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.

Robert Griffin III had some great things to say about LaFleur once he heard the news. He said, “Congrats to Matt Lafleur and his family! Great coach, better guy! Griffin knows LaFleur very well as he was the quarterbacks coach with the Redskins and helped Griffin win Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.

Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky sent a message to his former coach. He said, “Congrats to LaFleur. I’ve known the dude for 10+ years now, played for em twice. I love the hiring. Dudes very bright, very creative, knows how to attack defenses, has had great teaching and the biggest thing-he’s gonna coach the HECK out of 12 and challenge him DAILY!”

Peter Schrager of “Good Morning Football” is confident LaFleur can have success in Green Bay. He said, “I’ve been at the same table as him and McVay and Shanahan. He can hang with them – both with the Xs and Os, and with the chop busting. He worked with Vrabel, a Type-A, too. Aaron Rodgers will be intellectually challenged and will love it.”

Albert Beer of Sports Illustrated knows why the Packers went with LaFleur. He said, “Part of the deal for the Packers was finding a coach that could challenge Aaron Rodgers intellectually. I’d say that’s where the fit with Matt LaFleur is.” And let’s hope that Rodgers responds to LaFleur’s challenges.

Dan Graziano of ESPN took a look back at how LaFleur got to where he his now. He said, “LaFleur was Matt Ryan’s QB coach in 2016, Sean McVay’s offensive coordinator in 2017, the Titans’ offensive coordinator this year. Rapid ascent for one of the bright QB minds in the league. Should be a good match with Aaron Rodgers.”

Mike Clay of ESPN took a look back at LaFleur’s experience in the NFL. Here’s a look at LaFleur’s path to Green Bay.

2015-16: Kyle Shanahan’s QB coach
2017: Sean McVay’s OC
2018: Mike Vrabel’s OC
2019: Packers head coach

Will Brinson of CBS Sports noticed a trend when it comes to the Packers head coaches. Here’s a look at who the Packers hired as their head coach the last 25-plus years (except Ray Rhodes).

Matt LaFleur – 39 years old – Titans OC (1 year)
Mike McCarthy – 43 years old – 49ers OC (1 year)
Mike Sherman – 46 years old – Seahawks OC (1 year)
Mike Holmgren – 44 years old – 49ers OC (3 years)

Former NFL QB Trent Dilfer thinks LaFleur is the next Mike McCarthy which is a good thing. “He said, Matt LaFleur is Mike McCarthy before McCarthy stopped grinding. Both smart, creative offensively, great pedigrees and strong leadership traits. Most importantly HE WILL COACH AARON HARD!”

Radio host Grant Paulsen points out that LaFleur coached under two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Shanahan. He said, “With Matt LaFleur landing Packers head coaching job, the 2013 Redskins’ staff looks even more impressive. Mike Shanahan’s offensive staff had Kyle Shanahan as OC, Sean McVay leading TE’s and Matt LaFluer coaching QB’s. All three are HC’s in NFC now.”

Matt Eurich of Chicago Bears on 247Sports points out there are now three head coaches in the NFC North named Matt. Also, LaFleur is the youngest head coach in the division at 39 years old. Here’s a look at the four NFC North head coaches.

Matt Nagy (Bears) – 40
Matt Patricia (Lions) – 44
Matt LaFleur (Packers) – 39
Mike Zimmer (Vikings) 62

It’s time to part ways with McCarthy, and Montgomery

October 28, 2018 by  
Filed under News

By Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior analyst

~Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine turned in a great game Sunday in Los Angeles, almost shutting out the NFL’s best offense for the first half.

Unfortunately, the Packers’ head coach football IQ is not up to par.

I’ve defended Mike McCarthy for a long time. Against many people. But after three atrocious, mental mistakes today costing the Packers a very needed win, I’m done defending this coach.

I must admit, Aaron Rodgers is partly to blame too.

2018 Rams 1

There were three incredibly stupid mental errors today (plus one basic stupid mistake), from the first drive to the last kick return, and they all mattered. It wasn’t as bad as the Meltdown in Seattle in January of 2015, but like that one, many were self-inflicted and many came down to coaching at the top. Brandon Bostick simply shouldn’t have touched the ball on that onside kick. Morgan Burnett shouldn’t have slid down and ignored a possible touchdown on that interception. Rodgers shouldn’t have thrown the two ints as each were mental mistakes.

Well, today Rodgers shouldn’t have taken the sack to end the first drive of the game, which had gotten into field goal range. It was 3rd & 2, at the 37-yard line of the Rams (meaning a 54-yard field goal if you want to try for that). But against a great team like the undefeated Rams, that’s 4-down territory, and you run the ball two times with the red-hot Aaron Jones. He had just run for 28 yards on 3 carries on this opening drive.

But nope, the combination of the geniuses McCarthy and Rodgers dropped back and took a 14 yard loss and walked away with no points. Nothing to show for an opening drive where Jones averaged almost 9 yards a carry.

2018 Rams 2

Towards the end of the first half, up 10-0 with the defense playing like the 1985 Bears, the Rams had to punt yet again, and the punt was a good one. Former Packer Sam Shields downed it at the 1-yard line.

As soon as he downed it, I said we have to either QB sneak it for a yard or two, or throw a quick pass to one of the sides with the best matchup. You absolutely cannot, ever, drop back well into your own end zone and hand the ball off in there, especially against a defensive line with Donald, Suh, and Brockers. That’s common sense. But not for Corky and/or Rodgers. That was a gift of a safety for the Rams and a change in the momentum that had been 100% on the Packers’ side.

Shortly later, with field position and momentum switched, the Rams had a touchdown and the game was 10-8. The defense stopped the 2-point conversion attempt at tying the game. Instead of a possible wire-to-wire almost-easy win like the underdog Bills had at Minnesota a few weeks ago, or the underdog Lions had against the Patriots a few weeks ago, now we had a tight ballgame. This should have been a game the Packers had a 13-0 or 17-0 lead at the half. Instead, it became a nail-biter. One that you knew just one lucky bounce, or one turnover would probably decide it.

Ty Montgomery ultimately proved that thought correct, though, but before that, Rodgers made that simple mental error.
Rodgers wasted a timeout and 45-potential valuable seconds with a careless timeout at just over 5-minutes left on a 3rd & 6. There was no reason to call that timeout as the play was in plenty on time and the players were ready. After the wasted, illogical timeout, Rodgers got sacked immediately by Aaron Donald for a 10-yard loss and a punt coming. A terrible 20-yard punt, by the way. Remember, all this with the Packers clinging to a 27-26 lead. A huge W or L was at stake, in reach.

Thanks to the terrible punt by the rookie Scott, the Rams had an easy field goal and took a 2-point lead. It was a great job by the defense, and they left 2:06 on the clock for Rodgers to get Crosby into game-winning field goal range.

That :06 of time was crucial as it would be like a free timeout, as long as the kick returner took a touchback and didn’t waste the precious 6 seconds. This free timeout would allow the Packers first play to be anything, middle of the field, a surprise run, etc. and not have to worry about getting out of bounds to stop the clock.

But Montgomery didn’t get my memo, and he tried to be a hero and bring the ball out. This was dumb, to begin with, and anyone with a high-football-IQ would have known this. Now someone obviously doesn’t have that. He’s the one who did it, but what did special teams coach Ronald Zook tell him prior to the kickoff? What did McCarthy tell him? We’ll never know.

Like Brandon Bostick in 2015, obviously, the coaches did not think ahead of time and make sure all players knew their dam one job. The Packers could have been at the top of the NFL World back in 2015 had they made sure Bostick knew that his job had to be to just go smash Chris Matthews, his guy, as the other front line guys did to their guy. Jordy Nelson would have caught the ball and put the Packers into the Super Bowl.

Today, perhaps the Packers would have won had Montgomery not brought out the ball from the end zone. Or had Rodgers not gone back 4 yards into the end zone and handed the ball off, giving the Rams a safety and the ball back.

These are mental mistakes, and they have plagued the Packers since the 2011 season. What is the common denominator through all this time?

McCarthy has ridden Aaron Rodgers' coattails longer than Ted Thompson did. His time should be up tonight. Turn the team over to Mike Pettine, and at the end of the year, bring in a young, offensive guru, perhaps from the Chiefs or Rams offensive staff.

McCarthy has ridden Aaron Rodgers’ coattails longer than Ted Thompson did. His time should be up tonight. Turn the team over to Mike Pettine, and at the end of the year, bring in a young, offensive guru, perhaps from the Chiefs or Rams offensive staff.

Packers should bring in Navorro Bowman

August 2, 2018 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Magazine

~New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine already had his work cut out for him.

His middle linebackers consisted of Blake Martinez, and Jake Ryan. Both are better against the run than they are as pass defenders.

jake ryan

But these are the Packers and injuries are always a major factor. This year, they didn’t even get out of July before losing a starting player for the season as Jake Ryan tore his ACL this week. His season is over before preseason even started. He didn’t even make it to the preseason, where Jordy Nelson’s season ended in Pittsburgh three years ago.

So who’s left?

oren burks

Rookie Oren Burks was a surprising third round draft pick, a converted safety, who is being counted on to help cover tight ends and backs. But Pettine isn’t fond of rookies playing the position that he refers to as “the nerve center” of the defense, “tieing the front end with the back end”. Ahmad Brooks is another option who has zero NFL experience. He might be good. He might never make it.

What will Pettine do?

The good thing is he has Brian Gutekunst as his GM, and not Ted Thompson. Thompson is dead set against bringing in NFL veterans. For a while, there were only three Packers on the roster who had any NFL experience with another team. That was John Kuhn, Ryan Pickett, and Charles Woodson.

Thompson would give former defensive coordinator guys like Josh Bell as in-season reinforcements. He’s the one who lost the game at Pittsburgh on the final play in 2009.

If Pettine wants someone brought in who’s done it before in the NFL, he has some player options and he has a new GM who is more willing to make it happen.

Now keep in mind, there are no in-prime Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, Brian Urlacher types out there.

bowman 2

But there are a couple of guys who have been All-Pro caliber in the league in their prime, and might offer the stability with assignments and coverage that is not there with the youngsters. Remember, Blake Martinez could very well get injured too. No Packer fan would be surprised.

If he checks out medically, I would be signing Navorro Bowman tomorrow. He did play last year and played okay for the Raiders, despite coming in about a quarter through the regular season.

You have to wonder why they didn’t bring him back, but a new coach tends to do things like that.
Oakland did take Nelson from the Packers, Edgar Bennett from the Packers, already took Jared Cook, Reggie McKenzie, James Jones, and Charles Woodson back from the Packers.

Perhaps turnabout is fair play. The last time the Packers brought in a guy from Oakland, it was an oft-injured Charles Woodson. That turned out okay.

bowman lynch

Bowman is not as good and has suffered worse injuries. And he’s about a year older than Charles was when Ted Thompson signed him.

But Bowman will also be a  lot cheaper than Woodson was initially.

How was Bowman last year in Oakland?

This from last year’s final weekend of the NFL season, December 30:

“I’m known for my instincts throughout the NFL, and I haven’t been able to really use those instincts in this defense because I don’t really know it,” Bowman said Friday. “I don’t know when I can take those chances, I don’t know who’s backing me up on certain calls.

“If I’m able to come back next year and get a full training camp in and get used to really communicating with everyone out on the field, I’ll be able to do a lot more. But I’m definitely satisfied with how everything went), how (the Raiders) accepted me, and the coaches – how they trusted me going out there and playing as many snaps as I played.”

Released five games into the season by the 49ers, who were no longer using him as an every-down player, Bowman settled in immediately with the Raiders as their middle linebacker. He has played 97.8 percent of the defensive snaps since joining the team and led the Raiders in tackles in eight of his nine games.

bowman raiders

At 29, Bowman, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, has played 106 career games (including the postseason) and suffered two major injuries – a torn ACL in his right knee that caused him to miss the 2014 season and a torn Achilles in 2016.

But he has also brought stability to a key position at which the Raiders have had little in recent years. Teammates and coaches quickly recognized the effect. After his debut against the Chiefs in Week 7, head coach Jack Del Rio (later fired and replaced by Gruden) called Bowman a “settling influence” on the sideline.

Bruce Irvin in December credited Bowman as being a key part of the Raiders’ defensive improvement. “It’s obvious,” Irvin said after the Raiders’ Dec. 3 win over the Giants. “The guy flies around, takes control of the huddle. You see it, you see the difference from when he wasn’t here and how our defense performed to now. He’s a great competitor, he’s a great leader and I’m just happy to have him.”

“I don’t think guys can afford to do that, being on a team like this where we haven’t played well and changes can be made after this year,” Bowman said. “Everybody, including me and the quarterback, the coaches, we have to be preparing the way that you would prepare if you were 8-0. Because changes can be made at any time in this league and the position that we’re in, you don’t want to put any bad film out there or have any bad game.”

This sound like the exact type of player that Pettine would want and the Packers could benefit from.

He’s played in a 3-4 defense as Pettine mostly runs. He’s versatile. He’s seen it all. He just turned 30 in May, which isn’t that old. He was a four-time All-Pro, from 2011-2015. You know him. He was a big reason why they 49ers eliminated the Packers in the 2012 and 2013 season in the playoffs.

One more reason that Bowman is my top pick is that he has never tasted a Super Bowl title, although he came very close when the Baltimore Ravens edged the 49ers after the 2012 season.

bowman sack alex

I like getting hungry veterans. It worked well for the Packers in the Ron Wolf time. Don Beebe had come close. Reggie White had come close. Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Eugene Robinson, Andre Bad Moon Rison, Keith Jackson all were hungry for a Super Bowl.

It didn’t take years for them to learn and adjust to the NFL game speed.

Last year, Bowman was fresh off an Achilles injury and he did’t have training camp and preseason to learn the Raiders defense. If the Packers act quickly, he will have about 10 more weeks than he had last year in Oakland.

Aaron Rodgers should make the phone call right now and welcome Bowman to Austin-Strobel Field tomorrow morning.



Raider Nation wants to keep Bowman:

No.1. Bowman will continue to be a force

Even though he will be 30 years old when next season starts and has suffered a couple of season-ending injuries in his career, Bowman didn’t show signs of slowing down this season even remaining stride-for-stride with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in the open field more than one time.

So far this season, he has 113 tackles (72 solo), one sack, one interception and is the fifteenth-ranked linebacker with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) overall grade of 82.9.

Those numbers are terrific on their face, but at 29 years old with a poor secondary behind him and a weak interior defensive line in front of him — they’re nothing short of incredible.

bowman super bowl 1

No.2. Bowman can mentor young players, be a role model

The Raiders saw an infusion of youth this year, and that should only continue with veterans such as cornerback David Amerson and safety Reggie Nelson likely to be off of the roster before 2018.

Nelson will be 35 years old, looks slow and Amerson has been one of — if not the — worst cornerbacks in the game in 2017.

Bowman is a leader by both example and vocally, and was a key part of a 49ers team that was perennial Super Bowl contender under head coach Jim Harbaugh proving he is the exact type of presence Oakland needs in their locker room as they continue to look to change their culture.


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