How do you go from Super Bowl Champs and a dominant regular season record to one and done in the playoffs? Easy, you have an abysmal defensive unit.
How do you fix that unit? Add talent at each level and that is just what the Packers did in this draft, but did they add the right talent? Will that talent fit in their schemes? How soon can they come in and help? Let’s take a look at the 2012 Green Bay Packers Draft Grade, starting with a possible defensive rookie of the year.
That’s right; Nick Perry is one of the early, obviously very early, front runners for the defensive rookie of the year.
Perry is a freakish athlete, with a natural ability to attack the passer. He does a great job of attacking the corner and uses his speed to get to the quarterback.
Shows a smooth transition into zone coverage and should have no problem dropping into coverage at the next level.
One of the biggest questions for Perry is if he can make the transition from a defensive end to that stand up 34 linebacker.
He has the athleticism, but he can struggle to hold the edge against the run, sometimes getting to far up field and not holding the edge like he should.
Perfect fit in an attacking 34, but he may be just a pass rusher this season, as he adjusts to the every down aspect of the defense.
The player that will have more of an every down impact this year, and that may just be my thinking is Jerel Worthy. Most pundits had a first round grade on Worthy, and yet there he was in round two at pick 51.
Worthy is a player with elite size and speed, an explosive first step and the ability to penetrate and be a disruptive in the backfield. He can also get to the passer from his interior lineman position, even though he will most likely be lining up as a defensive end for the Packers.
Motor tends to run a little hot and cold, and despite his size and strength, can get manhandled at the point of attack some times.
Again, another guy who looks like he can be a great starter for the Packers, may take a little time to get used to the 34 end position, but is quick enough to make plays, and continue to improve on his potential.
My favorite pick of this draft for the Packers was easily their second pick in round 2, and that was Casey Hayward.
Hayward is a ball hawk, plain and simple ending the season with five interceptions, 54 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and nine passes broken up.
Hayward has adequate size and may start out as a slot corner, but his high level ball skills will allow him to fit into a starting role in the Packers system.
More importantly Hayward is very good against the run, and does a great job in coming up to the line of scrimmage and tackling.
He may lack ideal hip turn, and seem to cheat in breaks in order to make up for that, but he has a natural flow to his coverage skills that allows him to make a play on the ball when thrown, and never be out of position.
In the fourth round we saw the Packers continue to add defensive weapons, this time with Mike Daniels.
Daniels is an undersized, explosive up field player who has great athletic ability, but lacks the strength to be an every down contributor.
Is better used on passing plays where he can use his quickness and speed in order to wreak havoc.
Wait, we are five picks in, we are still in round 4 and the Packers have only selected defensive players? That’s right; the Packers continue to show you just how awful their defense was last year, by selecting hard hitting safety Jerron McMillian.
I was a little perplexed by this pick just because McMillian lacks the ceiling of some of the other safeties. He is a high level athlete, who can hit, is light on his feet, and should become a special team’s ace quickly.
He doesn’t have a good feel for coverage in the passing game, and as a result looks a little stiff in his change of direction, and I wonder if he can pick up the coverage part of the game, or if he is going to be limited as a back up and special teamer.
Back to the draft board, and back to the defensive side of the ball in round 5, with Terrell Manning, a smallish outside linebacker prospect.
This was another interesting pick, as Manning seems to fit more into a 43 lineup, as opposed to the 34 defense the Packers run.
He has good athleticism, attacks the play downhill and with a reckless abandon, and looks to be a good prospect to drop into coverage.
Is too small to be an every down player right now, as he gets enveloped by offensive lineman, and lacks elite level speed to get by his blockers.
Looks to be another special teamer and back up player, but if he bulks up has good, natural instincts to be an every down player.
Finally in round seven the Packers addressed their gaping offensive holes of… um; well they drafted some good long term prospects. First there was Andrew Datko, an interesting prospect, who would have gone much higher before he was beset by injuries. Needs to get some time to progress, but he went to a place that allows him to be in pass pro most of the time, and is someone that can come in, learn and eventually compete for a starting job if put in the right position.
Last the Packers took another developmental QB prospect in B.J. Coleman.
He has good arm strength, who understands the game of football. Will come in and engulf himself in the system and learn everything he can, for as long as he is with the team.
Lacks the needed footwork and athleticism to be more than a back up right now, and has to become more accurate of a passer.
Overall: You have to love exactly what the Packers did in this draft, as they had a gaping hole on all levels of the defense, and needed to address it, and they did.
Perry, Worthy and Hayward are all guys that will start, or compete for a starting position in their rookie seasons, and will be a part of the hopefully resurgent Packers defense.
The picks in the later rounds were interesting, but they addressed the defense all over the field and did it without reaching.
I actually like the Datko pick at the end of the draft, because I think if he is healthy, and that is a big if, he can develop into a starting caliber tackle in this league.
When you put it all together, the Packers are leaning on a great draft, but the fact they were able to get two first round talents, and my personal favorite cornerback prospect, I will go ahead and say it; the Packers had a Great draft.