Thompson Re-Stocks Roster; Boykin Tosses and TurnsPosted:May 11th, 2014 2:23 pm
Imagine for a moment that you are Jarret Boykin. You're coming off a season where you stepped up and earned the #4 spot on the Packers' wide receiver depth chart. With the free agency exodus of James Jones, you were primed to be the #3 receiver in '14, a virtual starter, with a chance to post big numbers and earn a nice contract in a year or two.
Then, the 2014 draft happened. You slept fine on Thursday night, tossed and turned a bit on Friday night when the Pack spent a second round pick on WR Davante Adams, then spent the night on Saturday night, numbingly clicking the remote, trying to make rounds four through seven disappear as if they'd never happened.
When Ted Thompson spent two more precious draft picks on wide receivers in the later rounds it was a clear statement that he was serious about upgrading Aaron Rodgers' targets, not to mention protecting himself, should new deals for Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson hit a snag.
Boyking awoke on Sunday (if he ever fell asleep) knowing he'd have his work cut out making the team, a far cry from where he stood on Thursday. Competition is a good thing and giving Rodgers some exciting young talent is, too.
Ted's first round pick was so easy all of us could have made it. Few mock drafts had Ha Ha Clinton Dix, the top free safety in the draft, available at #21. But when teams like the Cowboys, Ravens and Bears passed, he fell neatly into Thompson's lap. Barring injury, he will be an opening day starter and will be counted on to give the defense a much needed shot in the arm.
On Friday night, Thompson grabbed the insanely productive Davante Adams, who benefited from Fresno State's wide open pass happy offense--not to mention the talents of QB Derek Carr--to catch 131 passes for 1700 yards, 24 for touchdowns. Adams draws comparisons to Anquan Boldin, a thick, physical receiver with great hands and so-so speed. He has a great vertical, which will allow Rodgers to throw it his way and let him do his thing to come up with the ball. Call him James Jones 2.o, with maybe a little more upside.
With two more picks on Friday and five more on Saturday, you figured Ted's checklist included a tight end, center, inside linebacker and maybe another defensive lineman. He found guys to fill all those spots except at inside linebacker--a surprise, considering the lack of speed and athleticism possessed by the incumbents. Sometimes a draft doesn't fall the way you want as far as a certain position is concerned. When Mosely and Shazier fell off the board in the first round, Thompson addressed safety instead--and obviously had other guys rated higher at other positions when it was his time to pick.
The third round selections, defensive tackle Khiry Thornton and tight end Richard Rodgers were both drafted a bit higher than projected. Thornton looks like a guy who will have a chance to step right in and earn snaps, probably also signaling the end of the road for Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett in Green Bay. With the addition of street free agent Letroy Guion, the team no doubt likes its stable of young defensive linemen.
Many believe the Rodgers pick means the Pack will move on from Jermichael Finley. If he's cleared by the team's medical staff I think they'd bring him back. But I don't think that will happen. Rodgers will come in and compete with Quarless and Bostick. If those three comprise the tight end depth chart, there's a good chance the team will look for a more dynamic tight end in the next year or two. I'm not sure any of them will provide the playmaking potential Finley displayed. Of the three, I give Bostick the best chance--of course I've never seen Rodgers play. I mean, could the Pack really strike gold twice drafting a Rodgers out of Cal?
I like the Pack's fourth round pick, linebacker Carl Bradford. He seems to have high motor and a lot of toughness. The coaches have come out and said he's a pass rushing outside linebacker, but with the depth at that position (CMIII, Peppers, Perry, Neal, Mulombo, etc), they might take a look at him as an inside linebacker. He has the right measurables and could become a nice project there.
Ted's first fifth round pick was a center to compete with JC Tretter, Corey Linsley out of Ohio State. A strong, smart former team captain, Linsley earned instant fans when he announced that he grew up a huge Packer fan, dressed as Brett Favre for Halloween when he was six and owned a cheesehead. His weaknesses: short arms and slow, but he's tough and will provide some competition at a position of need.
With his second pick in the round Ted delighted Badger fans everywhere with the selection of Jared Abbrederis. The underdog receiver who came in as a walk-on and emerged as a playmaker who excelled against some of the Big Ten's best corners. He'll give the team a chance at a solid return guy and is being compared by the national guys to Brandon Stokely and Wes Welker. If his career falls somewhere in between, Bucky believers will rejoice.
Ted closed things out with a cornerback, Demetri Goodson, who for three years was a point guard at Gonzaga. He feels a lot like Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, guys who don't have a ton of experience at corner, but are great athletes with a ton of upside. The final pick, yet another receiver, was Jeff Janus, a Division II star who reminds many of Jordy Nelson and like Adams, was ridiculously productive at Saginaw Valley State. He'll have a chance to make the team, or the practice squad. Lots of upside there.
All in all, a pretty good haul. Four defensive guys and five on offense. And unbelievably, no trades along the way. The takeaway: the Pack may finally have the playmaking safety they've lacked since Nick Collins was forced to retire. And Aaron Rodgers has three new toys and a suddenly very deep wide receiving corps.
What you should remember about Mike McCarthy's post draft comments: he promised the defense would be much improved. "Put that in big letters," he said. Dom Capers, were you listening? If it doesn't happen, the D could be in for a major overhaul next season, beginning at the top.