“Well, Tony,” the caller said, “we started this back at the Senior Bowl. Give me your evaluation of the Packers’ draft and we’ll call it a wrap.”
His answer came quickly.
“Tremendous,” Tony Pauline said. “I think the first three picks are tremendous.”
Pauline, SI.com’s draft analyst and a frequent draft contributor to packers.com, correctly predicted on this site last week the Packers would select Perry with the 28th overall pick.
“Perry at the top; they got their pass rusher. It’s a perfect fit. Matthews, being an SC guy, will take him under his wing. He’s a tremendous athlete; he just has to become a full-time football player, learn to become a complete football player,” Pauline added.
As the dust clears and the grades emerge from the three-day draft, the Packers are being assigned high marks from all of the major draft services.
Mel Kiper gave the Packers a “B,” which is the lowest grade by any of the gurus. SI.com came in at “B+” and Sporting News graced Ted Thompson and company with an “A.”
Pauline doesn’t believe in grading drafts but, if he did, he’d almost certainly give the Packers an “A+” for the first three picks. He loves the way Thompson made need and value meet, no small trick since it required Thompson to trade up twice to accomplish the feat.
“I never bought that (Jerel) Worthy was a first-round player, but where they got him is good value. He plays too upright, but when he plays to his potential, he is tough to stop. He has the ability to occupy the blockers, which will allow Perry and Matthews to make plays on the ball. He can two-gap effectively when he plays the defense and plays low,” Pauline said of the Packers’ first of two second-round picks, Worthy, the big defensive lineman from Michigan State.
Thompson wasn’t done in the second round. He used a couple of his extra picks to trade back into the bottom of the second round and select Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward (pictured). It’s a choice Pauline might even like more than the first two.
“Tremendous pick, tremendous pick,” Pauline said of Hayward. “He doesn’t have the flat-out speed, but he has great ball skills and fundamentals; just a real good cornerback.”
“I don’t think so at all,” Pauline said.
In round four, Thompson had two picks. He used his first one on Iowa defensive lineman Mike Daniels, a player that reminds Pauline of another Iowa product, former Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman.
Later in the fourth round, the Packers grabbed Maine safety Jerron McMillian, a name that didn’t fit on everyone’s board where the Packers had him.
“McMillian hits like a ton of bricks,” Pauline said.
Then came North Carolina State linebacker Terrell Manning in the fifth round. He’s a player the Packers had targeted to take earlier in the draft.
“Manning is a good player. He’s more instinctive than people give him credit for. He can go sideline to sideline. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t make the team,” Pauline said.
And then came two seventh-rounders, the first of which caused Pauline to heap more praise on Thompson.
“Datko was a highly rated tackle coming into the year,” he said of Florida State’s Andrew Datko. “He’s had a lot of shoulder issues. If he ever gets healthy, you have a guy that can start on the right side. Terrific value.”
Quarterback B.J. Coleman, the selection of whom ended the draft for the Packers?
“He’s a nice ‘West Coast’ type passer. I don’t know how he would do in the cold and wind of Green Bay, but he might make it as a third quarterback,” Pauline said.
The “experts” would all seem to agree that the Packers improved themselves in this year's draft.