Winner: Randall Cobb, WR: The second round draft pick from Kentucky was electric in his first game as a professional, hauling in three passes for 60 yards and returning two kickoffs for 29 yards apiece. Cobb is built in the mold of a young Donald Driver/Percy Harvin and adds a new dimension to the Packers’ offense.
Loser: Pat Lee, CB: The biggest loser of the night was Lee, who was burnt early and often. He looked slow covering both Josh Cribbs and rookie Greg Little, and the outstanding play of fellow cornerback Josh Gordy may have cost Lee a roster spot. He is most likely on the outside looking in after tonight’s performance.
Winner: Morgan Burnett, SS: After missing all but four games in 2010, Burnett returned in a big way. On back-to-back plays in the first quarter, Burnett blew up an inside run on second down and made an open-field tackle on tight end Evan Moore to force a fourth down. His time was limited, but he sure made the most of it.
Loser: Second string offensive line: For the most part the starters on the offensive line were stellar, giving Aaron Rodgers plenty of time to stand in the pocket. But for as good as they were, their backups were just as bad. Marshall Newhouse (see below) looked lost at right tackle and T.J. Lang was just as bad at left tackle. The second group will need work.
Winner: Derek Sherrod, OL:
The new kickoff rules certainly did not matter to rookie Randall Cobb, who returned two kicks in the opening quarter for 29 yards a piece. He showed no hesitation, hit the hole, and spun off a few tacklers to pick up extra yards. Fellow rookie Alex Green, who sat out tonight, is listed as the starting kick returner, but Cobb will give him a run for his money.
It was Frank Zombo, not Erik Walden, who started at right outside linebacker to begin the night.
Mike Neal showed great push and got down the line to make a shoestring tackle on running back Peyton Hillis on the Browns’ first offensive series. He looks small compared to Cullen Jenkins, but he makes his presence known.
Pat Lee and Jarrett Bush were both burnt badly on the Browns’ first possession. Lee failed to get his head around on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Colt McCoy to Josh Cribbs, while Bush bit on a playaction pass that allowed McCoy to pass for a first down.
Ryan Grant is listed as the starting running back in Green Bay, but James Starks looked excellent in his first quarter carries. He runs with North-South power but also has quick feet that allow him to make great cuts. He ran two times for 14 yards in the first quarter. Grant did not rush but caught one pass for five yards.
Make no mistake about it: I am extremely pleased with how the Packers’ 2010 draft went down. They came out of the three-day festivities with a future left tackle, depth on both lines, a potential starting safety, and even more potential threats on an already scary offense. But what’s the fun in agreeing?
By in large, the Packers’ front office knew 1000 times more about the players in the draft than I ever could by reading Mel Kiper’s NFL Draft Preview book or watching Youtube videos, but here’s what I would have done if I was calling the shots on Draft Day.
*Note* Each selection is based on what the Packers actually did leading up to that point. So in round two, I am saying who the Packers should have selected based on taking Bryan Bulaga, etc.
Round 1, pick 23
Who was the pick: Bryan Bulaga, LT, Iowa
Who should have been the pick: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
The Packers had obvious needs entering the 2010 NFL Draft. Safety was not one of them. But that did not stop Ted Thompson from trading up for just the third time in his career to select safety Morgan Burnett, a junior out of Georgia Tech.
Burnett joins a group of players Thompson has traded up for that includes former Packers defensive end Jeremy Thompson and outside linebacker Clay Matthews. Thompson was an end who projected as a project at outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense, but a neck injury forced him to retire earlier last month. Matthews recorded 10 sacks in his rookie campaign last season and projects as the Packers rush linebacker of the future.
Next in line is Burnett, who the Packers moved up to to select in the third round and feel as though they received excellent value. He was projected by most to go in the second round but slipped on day two. With teams in front of the Packers needing help at safety, the Bears included, Green Bay jumped up and got their guy.
Round One: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Bulaga’s stock was all over the board, but Ted Thompson stuck to his draft board and went with who he hopes will be the team’s future left tackle. They could have gone with the instant upgrade at outside linebacker or safety, but instead chose Bulaga. He has excellent size and can play three positions on the line. The Packers say he will have a chance to compete for the starting left tackle position this year.
Round Two: Michael Neal, DE, Purdue