The NFL offseason is here and, while there still isn’t a new CBA resolution, the draft will go on regardless. The Packers have multiple needs despite being Super Bowl champions, which we will look at later, but for now here’s a quick mock draft for the Packers’ 2011 draft.
1. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA, 6-3, 254 pounds: Ted Thompson usually goes with the best player available in round 1, so it helps that this is also the Packers’ biggest need. Ayers does a little bit of everything with a very athletic frame. He’s great against the run, can drop back into coverage, and would be an excellent speed rusher opposite Clay Matthews.
2. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah, 6-0, 195 pounds: The Packers proved they had depth when Charles Woodson and Sam Shields went down with injuries in Super Bowl XLV, but it’s still a position of need with Woodson’s age and Pat Lee’s/Brandon Underwood’s future in doubt. Burton has great size (which Thompson loves) and plays the run as good as any cornerback in the draft. He would work as the Pack’s dime back until Woodson hangs them up, or moves to safety.
3. Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh, 6-3, 309 pounds:
When Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers came out of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions late in the second quarter, everyone knew the offense would take a hit.
But that big of a hit?
In one of the more boring games of 2010 to date, infected by stagnant offenses run by back-up quarterbacks, the Packers failed to recover from the absence of Rodgers, who left with a concussion, and fell to the Lions 9-3, moving them that much further back in the playoff race.
Quarterback Matt Flynn, who had not thrown a meaningful pass since he took over for Rodgers in Week 4 of his rookie season two years ago, failed to move the ball on offense and finished with a disguising 258 yards of offense. Turnovers and, once again, lack of a ground game killed the offense and limited them to just three points, a far cry from the 25.3 points per game they were averaging coming in.
Flynn actually performed well considering he had no preparation for the game in terms of timing with the first team offense and he actually threw a couple nice balls to convert a couple of third downs, but his inexperience was evident with his lack of pocket presence, miscommunication on a crucial third down, and a terrible interception in the Lions’ endzone that took sure points off the board.
He finished with 177 yards on 15-of-26 pass attempts and also ran for 10 yards, but no one could have expected him to take the Packers on his back and lead them to victory.
Because the rest of the Packers’ offense decided to take the day off.
Even before Rodgers went out with his concussion, the offense was downright awful. Andrew Quarless fumbled inside Lions’ territory on a basic tackle, and Greg Jennings dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass which ended up being an interception for Detroit. Luckily the Lions failed to convert either turnovers into points, thanks to a fantastic performance from the defense, but the play from the Packers’ receivers early was sloppy, at best.
Coming off a devastating loss to the Atlanta Falcons that could have made the its position in the playoffs a whole lot clearer, the Packers rebounded nicely in a 34-16 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Reminiscent of the Vikings game, the Packers’ offense started off slow but exploded over the next three quarters to put the game out of reach. Here are game balls to hand out from Sunday’s victory.
Aaron Rodgers: After a sluggish start to the season, Rodgers has picked things up and has thrown himself into the MVP race. He was excellent on Sunday, going 21-for-30 with 298 yards and three touchdowns. He also scrambled for 39 more yards on the ground and it marked the fifth straight game Rodgers has not thrown an interception. It makes it all that more impressive that Rodgers has put up these numbers with basically no running game, and Sunday’s win can be attributed to his impressive performance.
Greg Jennings: This is getting out of control. Jennings picks up his fourth straight game ball from me, finishing Sunday with six catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. There is no hotter tandem in the NFL right now than Rodgers and Jennings, and he continues to put up big numbers in the absence of Jermichael Finley.
Five members of the Green Bay Packers have been selected for the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, cornerback Charles Woodson, and safety Nick Collins were selected as starters for the NFC, while wide receiver Greg Jennings and left tackle Chad Clifton will come off the bench as reserves.
The Packers also had five alternates selected, including first alternates Aaron Rodgers and cornerback Tramon Williams. Wide receiver Donald Driver, inside linebacker A.J. Hawk, right guard Josh Sitton, and defensive tackle B.J. Raji will also serve as alternates.
Here’s a breakdown of each player and how they earned their spot on the NFC roster.
Clay Matthews (starter): Early in the season Matthews looked like the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year with 11.5 sacks in his first nine games. While that pace has slowed, he still has 12.5 sacks on the season and has played a huge role in the Packers’ late playoff push. He is constantly garnering double teams on passing downs, freeing up lanes for other blitzers and has played well against the run as of late, showing he has more than one dimension in his game. He has forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass for a touchdown on the season as well, making him an easy selection for voters.
Charles Woodson (starter): For those who claim Woodson was voted solely on name recognition, take a closer look. Tramon Williams may be having a better season but Woodson is no slouch. He has recorded 86 tackles, forced five fumbles, intercepted two passes, and returned one for a touchdown on the year and is the emotional leader of a Packers defense that ranks second in points allowed and ninth in yards allowed. His value on the field goes far past numbers, making Woodson’s seventh Pro Bowl bid a worthy one.
Nick Collins (starter):
The Packers saved its best performance of the season for the most important game Sunday night, throttling the Falcons 48-21 for a trip to Chicago for the NFC Championship Game. The offense turned the ball over on its first possession and then didn’t falter again, putting together seven scoring drives and not having to punt. The defense was just as good, settling down after allowing a touchdown drive the first time Matt Ryan and the Falcons touched the ball. Here are the game balls to hand out for the Packers’ enormous win over the Falcons.
Aaron Rodgers: For those critics who were still not convinced Rodgers had what it took to be an elite quarterback, Sunday night should pretty much put all of them to rest. Rodgers dissected the struggling Falcons’ defense all night, going 31-for-36 for 366 yards and three touchdowns (136.8 passer rating). He also ran in for another score from seven yards out to put the Packers up 35-14. Rodgers now has a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 10:1, the best of any quarterback through their first three games ever and is heating up at the perfect time. There’s little debate that Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFC, and he’s one win away from heading to his first Super Bowl. Elite? Yes.