GREEN BAY – It’s a draft that might be remembered for Jake Ryan, the Michigan linebacker that caused an entire fan base to drop to its collective knees and exclaim, “Hosanna!”
“He said maybe they’ll get off my back now,” Eliot Wolf said of General Manager Ted Thompson’s reaction to the selection of Ryan with the Packers’ first pick of the third day of the draft.
With that, Packers fans got their man. Their obsession for an inside linebacker was addressed.
Or will this be a draft that’ll be remembered for what Head Coach Mike McCarthy got in the fifth round, which is to say the young quarterback he’s wanted to mold and sculpt into the coach’s image of what a quarterback should be?
“I’ve always viewed the position that way. I still think football players are football players and I feel even stronger about that at the quarterback position. If you see something you can develop, and there’s definitely a ton there with Brett Hundley, that excites me,” McCarthy said of the selection.
Hundley will battle Scott Tolzien for the backup job to Aaron Rodgers. Mostly, Hundley will spend his time learning how to play the position the McCarthy way, just as Rodgers did for the first three years of his career. That turned out pretty well.
Four years down the road, we will remember this draft for Hundley?
“The first thing I look for is the things you can’t teach. The ability to play beyond the designed play … he has a ton of that. There’s just a lot there to work with,” McCarthy said.
Ryan and Hundley, third-day picks each, would seem to be the headliners in an otherwise no-name draft.
What else did the Packers get in this draft?
Well, they quickly and fully addressed a pressing need at cornerback. When you take one with each of your first two picks, you better have solved that need or you’ll regret the attempt. Hey, we’re talking about the first two rounds here.
In the third round they got the kickoff returner they desperately need, or needed.
“We will be better on kickoff return and Ty (Montgomery) will definitely help us improve,” McCarthy said.
Is that a big-letters promise?
Then, in round six, the Packers capped their eight-man draft class with a blocking specialist fullback, a smallish defensive lineman who just makes plays, and a tight end who was on the John Mackey Award watch list in a program that was folded at the end of last season.
Is there a theme to this draft class?
“The theme is the same every year, best player available. You take good football players. We always stay true to taking the best football player,” McCarthy said.
Here’s another theme: Other than for Hundley, they all play special teams.
“I think every one of these guys helps us on special teams,” said McCarthy, who’ll be a new presence in the special teams rooms this year, and that is a big-letters promise.
McCarthy capped the draft with a spirited press conference. He opined on several topics, including the plan for using Clay Matthews in 2015.
“Clay is an outside linebacker. He’s a premium pass rusher. That’s his position,” McCarthy said, before expanding his comments to include, “Clay’s going to both meetings. He’s getting ready to play wherever he needs to play.”
That should cover it.
“The d-line room might be the best we’ve had,” McCarthy volunteered.
And then: “We need to start the season better; 2-2 isn’t going to cut it this year,” he said.
McCarthy’s mood was in full midseason flower. You would’ve thought it was a game week.
“It’s time to throw the measurables out the window,” he said in response to a question about short cornerbacks playing against tall receivers. “It’s time to go play football. Our division opponents will not dictate the way we build our football team.”
What’s with the beard, the coach was asked?
It’s a new look for him. Much about the Packers might bear a new look this season.
Additional draft coverage - Day 3