Merely assigning the Packers’ draft a letter grade wasn’t good enough. SI.com draft analyst Tony Pauline gushed compliments and heaped praise for the job Packers GM Ted Thompson did in collecting 10 picks in last weekend’s NFL draft.
“They had one of the best drafts out there. I thought all the way through they did a good job. I don’t know that it addressed needs, but when you’re drafting number 32, I don’t know that you have many needs,” Pauline said.
What did he like the most about the Packers’ draft?
“Value,” Pauline said. “It’s like they were buying hundred-dollar stocks and were only paying 50 dollars for it. Sherrod at the end of round one; he could be a quality starting left tackle in the league, and when you get him at the end of round one, that’s great value.”
Therein lies the greatest compliment that can be paid to Thompson or to any true evaluator and selector of football talent. Anybody can draft for need. Only skilled drafters can match need and value, which is what Thompson did last weekend with discipline in the early rounds and shrewd trade-backs in the late rounds.
The man is a master at his craft and he painted a masterpiece during a three-day exhibit inside his draft room at Lambeau Field.
“When Clifton is ready to retire, you slide Sherrod right in,” Pauline said of the value the Packers acquired with the No. 32 overall pick.
Oh, by the way, if you want an example of the Packers’ acumen for evaluating talent, and this goes directly to College Scouting Director John Dorsey and his scouts, consider this: The Packers’ candidates for their pick at 32, as the first round headed into the final three picks, would seem to have been Muhammad Wilkerson, Cameron Heyward and Derek Sherrod, and that’s exactly how they came off the board. Wilkerson went to the Jets, Heyward to the Steelers and Sherrod to the Packers.
“I see Cobb as a potential replacement,” Pauline said, referring to second-round pick Randall Cobb and the wide receiver position. “He’s a guy that can start in the league.”
Cobb also returns kicks and punts, for which the Packers seem to have immediate need.
“Alex Green has got the size and skill to be a feature runner in the league,” Pauline said of the Packers’ third-round pick. “I just don’t know if he has the toughness. He finishes too many plays by running out of bounds. If he can toughen up carrying the ball, he’ll be a very good player at the next level.”
Green addresses need for depth at running back. He’ll do that this year as James Starks did as a rookie last year. Green’s real value, however, is for what he offers down the road. He’s got big-time size/speed/skill numbers. He’s got major upside.
Of all the Packers’ picks, Pauline might like fourth-round cornerback Davon House the most.
“Terrific future cornerback; guy that can play nickel or dime in the early going and then become a starter later,” Pauline said.
What Pauline likes most about House is that he played for a bad team on a real bad ankle last season. The ankle injury caused House to spend Mondays-Fridays in a boot.
“He played the season at 75 percent,” Pauline said.
Fifth-round tight end D.J. Williams?
“Again, terrific value. If D.J. Williams was taller and heavier, he’s a first-round pick; great athlete, terrific character. His height and weight pushed him deeper into the draft, but he can play,” Pauline said.
“(Caleb) Schlauderaff is a solid guy. Ricky Elmore is a good situational pass-rusher,” Pauline added. “Lawrence Guy (pictured) is probably one of the steals of the draft. He did not do well in the postseason; did not do well at the combine. I heard he was awful at his pro day. He didn’t look in shape at the combine. If he gets his game back on track to where he was in 2009, he can make a roster and be a contributor in the NFL.
“(D.J. Smith) is a very solid, quick, explosive defender. He can go sideline to sideline. He’s a ninth linebacker/special teams guy. He’ll throw his pads into the ball-carrier. Ryan Taylor is a developmental guy,” Pauline said, offering comment on all of Thompson’s 10 picks.
He wasn’t alone in his assessment. The Packers got nothing lower than a B+ grade from any of the prominent draftniks.