Anyone affiliated with the Green Bay Packers knows to expect the unexpected when it comes to Ted Thompson and the NFL Draft. With picks like Aaron Rodgers and Justin Harrell, necessity does not equal priority when it comes to first round draft picks. That being said, 2010 is a very deep class at multiple positions that do not fit the “need” category for the Packers. Here are a few players the Packers could target with the 23rd overall pick.
1. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
In a move that surprised no one, Jermichael Finley was named the starter by Mike McCarthy this offseason. Donald Lee was cut by the team after five seasons in Green Bay, leaving only Spencer Havner available to back up Finley. That’s exactly where Gresham could fit in.
He has almost the exact same build as Finley at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, and would add another dimension to the Packers’ offense. Despite damage to his right knee that cost him the 2009 season, Gresham’s upside has him slotted for the first round. His blocking is less than ideal but both he and Finley play more like wide receivers anyways, meaning his value would not be totally lost.
2. Jahvid Best, RB, California
Rookie Brad Jones was one of the many pleasant surprises on the Packers’ defense last season, but the team will need to address the outside linebacker position this offseason after Aaron Kampman left via free agency.
Jeremy Thompson’s injury concerns make him a risky play next season and Brady Poppinga has failed to transform into the 3-4 outside linebacker the Packers were hoping he would be. Jones performed admirably in place of Kampman and easily outplayed his seventh round draft position, but he isn’t the answer for the future.
2010’s outside linebacker class features three first round talents who could be available when the Packers go on the clock in the first round. Here’s a breakdown of the three linebackers and why the Packers could improve their defense by selecting one of them.
Brandon Graham, 6-foot-2, 270 pounds
Graham isn’t the freak athlete whose numbers will jump off the page, but his relentless attack of the passer and hard work ethic makes him one of the most desirable pass rushers in the class. His 40 yard dash was slow at 4.71 and some wonder whether or not he has the speed to rush from a two-point stance, but his technique is good enough for him to succeed at the next level.
For a team that won 11 games and was an overtime score away from reaching the NFC Divisional Round, the Green Bay Packers have a fair amount of needs they must address in the 2010 NFL Draft. There are the obvious needs at left tackle, right tackle, outside linebacker, and running back.
While it might not be considered a true “need”, strong safety is an area where the Packers could improve if they were to address the position early in the draft. That’s where Southern California’s Taylor Mays comes in.
Round One: Brandon Graham, OLB, Michigan
The Packers have an obvious need at left tackle, but bringing back veterans Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher might be able to hold off that need for a year. With the 23rd pick, most, if not all, of the top tier tackles will already have been taken and Ted Thompson is not one to reach. Graham’s numbers do not fly off the chart which may cause him to slide, and the Packers have shown interest in him. He would be a fantastic addition opposite Clay Matthews and would add another valuable piece to Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense.
What’s up everyone? It’s currently halftime in San Jose as the UTEP Miners lead the Butler Bulldogs 33-27. Seven games have been completed and many are saying the start of the 2010 NCAA Tournament has the best it has ever been. We’ve already seen an overtime game, a double overtime game, a buzzer beater, a two-seed almost go down, and a one-point upset.
As the second half of the game gets under way, here are some random thoughts from the first seven and a half games:
-Murray State has the athleticism and team chemistry to be this year’s George Mason. With 31 wins on the season, they should not be sneaking up on anyone…but they have and they did today.
- Baylor did not look comfortable all game against a very good Sam Houston St. team. Epke Udoh will make one heck of a pro, but Lacedarius Dunn and Tweety Carter will need to play better if Baylor is going to advance past this weekend.
- Luke Harangody’s draft stock went down the toilet with today’s four point performance in a loss to Old Dominion. He has been hurting this Fighting Irish team ever since he came back from injury and his inability to jump will have him playing in Europe.
- Old Dominion is not a very good team at all and will get smoked by Baylor in the second round of the Tournament. I don’t expect it to be within 15 points.
- Jimmer Fredette is absolutely, 100 percent the real deal. With 37 points in BYU’s double overtime victory over Florida, he officially put himself in the national spotlight. Kansas State looked very good in their win over North Texas, but Fredette will not go down in round two without a fight.
- The term “survive and advance” is derived from teams in the NCAA Tournament. Scottie Reynolds looked like garbage and Jay Wright almost gave himself a “minor teaching lesson”, but they won and that’s all they need to do. Do they need to play better against St. Mary’s? Yes.
- Maybe it’s because I am covering them here in San Jose, but Murray State has been the most fun team of the tournament so far. You talk about a team that is happy just to be at the Big Dance, it’s the Racers. I foolishly don’t have them in the Sweet 16, but make no mistake: they’ll be there.
- If Denis Clemente can give that good of an all-around performance in every round, it will be awfully tough to beat the Wildcats before Indianapolis.
- For as good of a season as Richmond had, it’s a shame to see them bounced in the first round. Winning a very good Atlantic 10 conference this year was no easy task, but St. Mary’s had their number today.
- Speaking of St. Mary’s, Omar Samhan is a force to be reckoned with and could be this year’s Patrick O’Bryant. Let’s just hope his NBA career goes better if that’s the case.
- Butler has pulled out in front of UTEP by 5 with just under 15 minutes to play. People doubt Butler because they aren’t high-flyers and are a five seed, but you can’t forget how well-coached they are and how fast they play in transition. They will be a tough out if they can get past the athletic Miners today.
Because of his former work at linebacker, ability to play special teams, as well as catch passes from Aaron Rodgers at tight end, Spencer Havner has inquired the nickname “Duct Tape” from Packers fans across the country. But Havner might have to use some duct tape of his own to fix the predicament he put himself in this past weekend.
The Journal Sentinel is reporting that Havner was arrested early Saturday morning after he crashed his motorcycle under the influence of alcohol. Havner was riding his motorcycle around 2:45 a.m. in his hometown of Nevada City, California, when he made “an unsafe turn and movement, which caused him to lose control of his bike and he was ejected”.
The NCAA tournament tips off Thursday with 16 games and another 16 on Friday. Today we will take a look at the East regional, as well as breaking down the winner, followed by the West, South, and Midwest regionals the rest of the week.
1. Kentucky vs. 16. Eastern Tennessee St.
John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins begin their quest for Indianapolis with an easy round one matchup, going up against the Atlantic Sun Conference winners. Eastern Tennessee St. is in the dance for the second consecutive year, but went just 20-14 this year and have earned a 16 seed against arguably the most talented team in the Tournament. Expect John Wall and co. to roll in the one. Kentucky 94, E. Tenn. St. 63
8. Texas vs. 9. Wake Forest
Talk about a letdown matchup, as two of the coldest teams heading into the tournament meet up in the first round. Texas, once ranked #1 in the country, limps into the Tournament having lost three of their last five. Wake Forest has lost five of their last six and has looked just as bad, if not worse, as Texas. Because the Longhorns have the potential to play better than the potential of Wake Forest, I’ll take them in a close yawner. Texas 74, Wake Forest 71
5. Temple vs. 12. Cornell
Ever since Jay Bilas mentioned that Cornell has the chance to take down Kentucky, this has been the favorite 5 vs. 12 upset in everyone’s brackets. It’s true Cornell is better than usual this season and probably deserved a better seed, but Temple has been outstanding in a competitive A-10 this season, and should not be overlooked. Three of their five losses came from Tournament teams, and their balanced attack will take down Cornell. Temple 69, Cornell 63
4. Wisconsin vs. 13. Wofford
Wofford is like a smaller, less athletic version of the Wisconsin Badgers. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it is when you are playing the Badgers. Bo Ryan will have his squad ready for the first round of the Tournament, and they are officially my sleeper pick to make the Final Four as their road is easier than most and they were generously handed a four seed. Wisconsin, 74, Wofford 59
6. Marquette vs. 11. Washington
In what should be the best matchup of the first round in the East, Marquette will go up against a very talented Washington team. Once ranked in the top ten, Washington has righted the ship and won their last seven games. Led by Quincy Pondexter, the Huskies will be a tough out if they are able to keep the momentum up. On the other end, Marquette knows how to play in close games and is tournament tested. Washington 81, Marquette 78
3. New Mexico vs. 14. Montana
New Mexico is probably the three seed that people know the least about. They have a ton of talent in the frontcourt and despite no one knowing a lot about them, they have quite an impressive resume coming into March. For Montana, Anthony Johnson’s legendary 34-point second half to get his team to the tournament was the highlight of championship week. However, it won’t be enough this time around. New Mexico 75, Montana 66
7. Clemson vs. 10. Missouri
If you are looking for that 7 vs. 10 upset, keep looking. Missouri comes into this contest with a handful of injuries and suffered an embarrassing loss to Nebraska in the Big 12 Tournament. Clemson has the potential to play with the best teams in the nation and, led by Trevor Booker, should advance to round two. Clemson 82, Missouri 66
2. West Virginia vs. 15. Morgan St.
After winning the Big East Tournament, the Mountaineers are poised for a big run in the NCAA’s. Da’Sean Butler has proved to be this year’s go-to guy in the clutch, and while he won’t have to worry about any big shots in his first round matchup, that attribute is sure to come in handy later on in the tournament. West Virginia 90, Morgan St. 55
Who Wins the East Regional and Why? The story in the SEC this season has been the phenomenal play of freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Not forgetting Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Patterson, this Kentucky team has all the makings of a team destined for the Final Four. The real question is whether or not they have enough experience to go far and overcome obstacles.
They have been battle-tested in the SEC, but what they will face in the Tournament will be like nothing they have seen before. It will be important for Patterson to keep his team calm under pressure and to have their heads in the game at all times. If they are able to do that, Mr. Wall should be cutting down the nets in the East regional.
Who Is the Biggest Sleeper? A sleeper in this region has to be the Wisconsin Badgers. The Selection Committee showed them a ton of respect by handing them a No. 4 seed, and now it is their turn to make good on it. With a fairly easy road to the Sweet 16, a Bo Ryan team is the last thing Kentucky wants to see on their road to the Final Four. Trevon Hughes and Jon Leuer could take this Badgers team very far as long as they play under Coach Ryan’s gameplan.
After a booming start to NFL Free Agency around the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers made their own big signings as they begin their quest for an NFC Title in 2010. After re-signing left tackle Chad Clifton last week, the Packers gave extensions to recently franchise tagged nose tackle Ryan Pickett and tendered free safety Nick Collins. The Packers also re-signed right tackle Mark Tauscher in hopes that he can give Green Bay one more solid season as a starter.
As Packers fans know all too well, general manager Ted Thompson loves to stay in-house with his free agent signing, rewarding his own players for playing well rather than going out and finding someone new to learn the system and overpay for.
Two teams in the NFC North wasted no time improving their squads as free agency began at midnight tonight. Unfortunately, one of those teams was not the Green Bay Packers. Rather, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions were busy setting up appointments for top-tier free agents in hopes of improving their 2010 outlook.
The Bears have reportedly set up meetings with defensive end Julius Peppers, running back Chester Taylor, and safety Antrel Rolle. Lovie Smith has already traveled to Charlotte to meet with Peppers and bring him back to Chicago, and a deal is expected to be done in the next day or two.
Outside of Big East Player of the Year Lazar Hayward, there’s no question that junior Jimmy Butler and sophomore Darius Johnson-Odom have been the key’s to Marquette’s surprisingly successful 2010 campaign. But as the regular season comes to a close, it has been Marquette’s OTHER two seniors that have stepped up in the clutch for Marquette as they look ahead to the NCAA Tournament.
When the year started, Marquette featured six newcomers that seemed to get all the headlines with Hayward. Lost in the mix were seniors David Cubillan and Maurice Acker, who were thought of as nothing more than senior leadership and depth off the bench.
However, the two forgotten-about seniors have impacted Marquette’s 20-9 season maybe more than any other guards on the roster.
Cubillan’s time at Marquette has been a true roller coaster. After averaging just over 21 minutes as a freshman, Cubillan had shoulder issues that caused his minutes to decrease over the next two seasons to 17.6 and 9.5 minutes per game respectively. That could be the reason many expected him to be the third player off Marquette’s already thin bench, but “Cooby” quickly taught Marquette fans not to underestimate the power of a senior.
His stats aren’t likely to make Jay Bilas or Andy Katz forget about John Wall, averaging 6.2 points and 2.8 assists per game. But looking deeper to find Cubillan’s real value is where he really stands out, with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.9 in conference play, ranking second in the Big East. Not bad for a defensive specialist/shooting guard averaging over 30 minutes a contest. Speaking of defense, Cubillan has played outstanding defense despite his height disadvantage (he stands just 6’0″ tall).
His career night against Georgetown, in which he scored 18 points on 6-of-6 shooting from downtown, was a key to Marquette’s “signature” win. His plus-minus average also ranks 36th in the Big East, showing his true value on both ends of the court.
As good as Cubillan has been, the Golden Eagles would be nowhere without the fantastic play of point guard Maurice Acker. After leaving the team over the summer, Acker re-joined the squad and became even more important when freshman Junior Cadougan went down with a torn Achilles.
Acker has averaged 8.6 points per game and 3.6 assists per game as the team’s starting point guard, and has had his fair share of big moments in his final season with the Golden Eagles. He poured in a career-high 23 points in a blowout win against Providence and has averaged just 1.1 turnovers in conference play. The only reason Cubillan is second in assist-to-turnover ratio this season (2.9) is because Acker is in front of him at 3.1.
Acker has scored in double figures in Marquette’s last two games, including 15 points in a crucial win over Louisville. Cubillan had one of his best all-around games in a Marquette uniform in their overtime victory over Seton Hall, scoring 16 points, grabbing four rebounds, and handing out three assists. He also had two steals and a block and did not commit a turnover in 45 minutes of play.
They don’t get the headlines, thrown down the crazy dunks, or have the showtime attitudes that one would expect out of starting seniors, but it’s apparent Acker and Cubillan are quickly realizing that their college careers are coming to a close, and they are making the most out of it.
Mike McCarthy announced Tuesday that Daryn Colledge, currently a restricted free-agent, would get a shot at redemption in 2010 at the left guard position. Colledge regressed mightily in 2009 and many questioned whether or not his future was in Green Bay. However, McCarthy’s announcement means the Packers will be putting a tender on Colledge that will allow him to compete for the starting job at left guard next year.
McCarthy made the right decision by promising nothing to Colledge, like he did with new starting tight end Jermichael Finley, instead saying he would have the chance to compete with Jason Spitz for the spot next year.