Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers did a phenomenal job evaluating talent and making the right picks to improve one of the worst defenses in the NFL a season ago. Their first six picks in the 2012 NFL Draft were on the defensive side of the ball. These six men will help restore the Packers defense to their former glory from only a couple years ago. Here is the complete analysis of Green Bay’s eight draft selections.
Round 1, Pick 28
Nick Perry, DE, Southern California
2011 Statistics: 55 total tackles (32 solo), 9.5 sacks, three pass deflections, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Green Bay desperately needed a pass rusher to complement Clay Matthews and Perry is the right man for the job. Although he was a defensive end at USC, look for defensive coordinator Dom Capers to mold him into an outside linebacker. Linebackers coach Kevin Greene will work with him every day and teach him how to play the position, just like he did with Matthews. Speaking of Matthews, look for him to mentor Perry and show him the ropes of how to become a dominate pass rusher in the NFL.
The 6’3”, 270-pound Perry is relentless at getting to the quarterback and has a consistent motor similar to Matthews. He also has a phenomenal first step with a quickness that every NFL pass rusher must have. He is capable of dipping his shoulder to get around offensive lineman and can use his upper body strength to plow through blockers. His good hands will be great for moving blockers, as well as, deflecting passes in coverage.
Perry led USC in tackles in 2011 with 55. This is one of his best attributes as he wraps up well and never lets a quarterback escape his grasp. He is an intelligent individual that will not succumb to fakes and is strong enough to bring down any playmaker. Perry has the total package as he benched an incredible 35-rep of 225-pounds and ran a 4.64 40-yard dash at the combine.
At USC he never had to drop into coverage, which is something he will have to learn how to do as all linebackers in Green Bay’s defense must know how to defend the pass. Perry’s arm length was considered a weakness by many scouts but it honestly should not be a factor. Matthews has proven that you do not have to be big with long arms to dominate as an outside linebacker. In fact, Matthews is 6’3” with an arm length of 32 1/4-inches. Meanwhile, Perry is of the same height with an arm length of 33-inches. Green Bay is not as concerned with size as they are with the overall ability to play a position above and beyond everyone else.
It is no secret Green Bay struggled to muster any kind of pass rush which ultimately cost them a second-consecutive trip to the Super Bowl. Perry will make an immediate impact on the Packers and, with Matthews, will form one of the most dangerous pass rushing duos the NFC North has not seen in some time. There is no offense that will be able to contain both of them, especially if Green Bay is able to pick up some interior pass rushers in the draft.
I selected the Packers to take Nick Perry in the Rant Sports 2012 NFL Mock Draft. I knew this was going to be a solid pick and I am ecstatic he fell to the 28th spot. I am excited Green Bay was able to add a valuable piece to the puzzle, but there is much more work to be done.
Round 2, Pick 19 (51)
Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
2011 Statistics: 30 total tackles (19 solo) and 3.5 sacks.
General manager Ted Thompson hit a home run with the Packers second-round selection. Green Bay traded a fourth-round pick to move up eight spots to select Jerel Worthy out of Michigan State. Worthy is a phenomenal defensive tackle with first round talent who is capable of getting to the quarterback and stopping the run.
The Packers addressed the need for an interior pass rush in a big way. Worthy may not put up huge sack numbers, but he is certainly capable of harassing the quarterback on every down. He will consistently plow through the offensive line and force the quarterback outside the pocket which will allow Matthews and Perry to do what they do best. He has a solid first move which allows him to get around big offensive lineman and has the strength to blow blockers off the line. Once in the backfield he will close in on the quarterback or ball carrier with incredible speed for a man who weighs 308-pounds.
As good as Worthy is as a pass rusher his game centers on stopping the run, which is something he excelled at in college. He uses great leverage which makes him difficult to move off the line and holds blockers in their place forcing the ball carrier outside. Worthy was a big part of a solid Michigan State defense that ranked first in the Big Ten Conference in rushing defense (100.5 yards per game), total defense (277.4 yards per game) and sacks (45). Against the Wisconsin Badgers, a team that is considered to have the best offensive line in the country, Worthy constantly broke into the backfield and forced quarterback Russell Wilson to make difficult plays on the run.
Worthy must be successful with his first move otherwise he will get held up at the line of scrimmage. Double teams have the possibility of containing him as he has been known in the past to give up on plays. He will lineup as a defensive end for the Packers, most likely on the left side in front of Matthews. He is capable of playing nose tackle which means he could sub in for B.J. Raji if necessary.
Round 2, Pick 30 (62)
Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
2011 Statistics: 62 total tackles (46 solo), seven interceptions for 107 return yards and a touchdown.
Thompson traded Green Bay’s third- and fifth-round picks to move back into the second round to select defensive back Casey Hayward out of Vanderbilt. Hayward will have a great opportunity to make a name for himself in the Packers secondary. This selection could move Charles Woodson to safety on the majority of downs.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Hayward is a remarkable talent who has the second-best hands out of all the defensive backs in the draft after Morris Claiborne. Since Vanderbilt is in the Southeastern Conference, he matched up against some of the best wide receivers college football has to offer and handled himself well. He had no trouble running with every wide out he faced and is capable of playing all different coverage schemes. He is a physical ball-hawk with an outstanding reaction time and quickness as his 15 interceptions in 37 games proves. Heyward has long arms (30.25-inches) which will allow him to be successful in bump-and-run coverage while also defending passes against taller receivers. He is strong and aggressive enough to hold off blocks and make a play on the ball carrier in running situations.
Heyward has great speed (4.57 40-yard dash) but lacks good acceleration. It is critical he keeps the play in front of him at all times as he struggles to recover after falling behind a wide receiver. Along with this, his inconsistent backpedaling forces him to turn sideways to early which will allow quick wide receivers to break free.
Capers believes Heyward can make a difference for the Packers in the secondary and should be able to contribute immediately, whether it is on special teams or in dime and quarter packages. If he impresses the coaches in training camp and blows away his competition I could see Capers moving Woodson to safety and bring Heyward in on nickel packages. Woodson has lined up at the safety position before for the Packers but it is typically only for a few plays per game, if that.
Round 4, Pick 37 (132)
Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa
2011 Statistics: 65 total tackles (31 solo) and 9.0 sacks.
Green Bay used their first compensation pick and selected Mike Daniels out of Iowa, their second defensive tackle of the draft. Daniels had a solid year for the Hawkeyes but really stepped up his performance his senior year recording more tackles and sacks then the other three seasons combined. The Packers clearly want to establish an ability to pressure the quarterback and have certainly upgraded in a big way by drafting three quality pass rushers.
At 6-foot-1, 291 pounds, Daniels is undersized but should be able to impact the game in a big way by playing defensive end for Green Bay. He is very well coordinated and has a quick first step which allows him to explode into the backfield. He has a relentless motor that keeps him driving on every play and has strong hands which allow him to move past blockers. Unlike Worthy, who has a reputation for giving up on plays, Daniels will always give a 100% effort on every down. He has the strength to bull rush offensive lineman but is more known for working his way in between blockers with his speed.
Daniels will struggle against the larger more elite offensive linemen in the NFL and must use a quick first move to be effective at all times. He needs to improve his tackling skills when attempting to wrap up a ball carrier opposed to just trying to lay a hit. He will have to work on his technique to break away from blockers which means he must improve hand and foot work.
Once again, the Packers drafted an interior defensive lineman who will line up as a defensive end that has the natural ability to apply pressure in the middle. Daniels will be a force on Green Bay’s defensive line, especially lining up beside Raji.
Round 4, Pick 38 (133)
Jerron McMillian, S, Maine
With the Packers recently releasing All-Pro safety Nick Collins, it was only a matter of time before they selected a safety. Jerron McMillian out of Maine is a dynamic football player who is capable of playing the strong or free safety position. He certainly was a surprise pick for some but definitely has the intelligence and skill set to ultimately improve Green Bay’s secondary.
The 5-foot-11, 203-pound McMillian is a strong and physical presence to have at the back end of the defense. He reacts quickly to passes and has the ability to explode in front of receivers to make the necessary play. His high football IQ blew Green Bay’s coaching staff away and is a necessary attribute to have when playing in a complicated defensive scheme such as the one Capers has built. He is a violent hitter and a sure tackler, something the Packers lacked last season. He is relentless in his pursuit and gives a solid effort every time he is on the field.
McMillian is an aggressive safety but sometimes he can be overly aggressive. By doing this he blows assignments which is something the Packers do not tolerate. Also, he is above-average against the run but sometimes he concentrates on that more than the pass. As good as a tackler he is there is definitely room to improve technique and wrap-up ability.
He will be able to compete for a starting position as Green Bay only has three safeties on their depth chart. If he is unable to secure a role on the defense he will have to become an impact player on special teams.
Round 5, Pick 28 (163)
Terrell Manning, OLB, N.C. State
2011 Statistics: 76 total tackles (46 solo), 5.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three interceptions.
The Packers traded their sixth- and two seventh-round picks to move back into the fifth round and select Terrell Manning out of North Carolina State. Manning was Green Bay’s sixth consecutive defensive player taken in the draft as the Packers attempt to solidify a solid pass rush and secondary. Manning has a very impressive statistical stat sheet with numbers in every significant category.
Listed as an outside linebacker, Manning is capable of lining up in several positions along the defensive line. He can line up in a stance or stand up, either way he will explode around the edge and attack the quarterback with good speed. He will dip his shoulder or use his hands and overall strength to get around pass blockers. He is an all-around great athlete who has the natural ability to be a pass rusher but excels at stopping the run. He will hit the ball carrier hard and has great success dislodging the ball.
Manning struggles at defending the pass in coverage and could struggle with bigger offensive lineman. He is great at chipping tight ends to disrupt the route but will struggle staying with them in the open field. As good as he is at rushing along the edge he will have a difficult time keeping fast ball carriers from bouncing outside. He will need to improve wrapping up runners in the open field.
The Packers will look at grooming Manning to be an inside linebacker due to his excellent ability to stop the run. His athleticism will allow him to contribute on special teams, which is where he will have the most opportunities to make plays in his first few seasons in the NFL. He has all the makings to be a classic Ted Thompson pick in the middle of the draft.
Round 7, Pick 34 (241)
Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State
It took all the way to the seventh-round but the Packers eventually took an offensive player. Green Bay selected offensive tackle Andrew Datko from Florida State. Datko suffered a severe shoulder injury but is considered to have third-round talent.
Datko excels at run blocking but struggles in pass protection. He will need to hit the weight room and improve his technique before head coach Mike McCarthy allows him on the field with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Datko has the size to play tackle in the NFL but just needs to strengthen his muscles to be effective. He is quick and light on his feet for a big man and is a very hard worker, something most fans in Green Bay will appreciate.
As I said, Datko struggles pass blocking which has to do with his inability to set a leverage against athletic pass rushers. His overall technique needs to be cleaner in order to be effective. He underwent several surgeries to repair his injured shoulder and missed a majority of the 2011 season. This has to be a concern for the Packers coaching staff, but if he is able to recover successfully then Thompson got another steal in the seventh round.
Round 7, Pick 36 (243)
B.J. Coleman, QB, Chattanooga
2011 Statistics: 137 completions for 1,527 passing yards and nine touchdowns in seven games.
There is no doubt the Packers needed to draft a quarterback at some point in the draft. Considering Green Bay selected quarterback Matt Flynn in the seventh-round of the 2008 NFL Draft Thompson decided to take another shot at it. With their final selection, the Packers chose quarterback B.J. Coleman out of Chattanooga.
It is no secret Green Bay is phenomenal at developing quarterbacks so this is another project for McCarthy’s staff as they attempt to unleash the potential of another gifted signal caller. The 6-foot-3, 232-pound Coleman is a physical quarterback with a strong arm and a quick step-up. He is considered to have above-average velocity on his passes and overall he has good mechanics. He is intelligent and makes good decisions with the ball. Like Rodgers, he is able to move around the pocket and scramble when under pressure.
Just because Coleman makes good decisions throwing the ball does not mean he is successful going through his route progressions. He will keep his eye on his primary target which forces him to lose his secondary receivers in the process. This also affects his sack numbers as he will hold on to the ball longer than he should. He will need to improve his throwing accuracy if he wants to see action in an NFL game.
Overall, Coleman has the potential to be a perfect backup for Rodgers. He will get to learn from the great coaches in Green Bay and he will get to sit behind one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
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