Packers take Jace Amaro. #KRM
Welcome back ClevTA with today’s pick for the Packers. It’s a good thing he got it in early because we might not be seeing him for awhile..
@art_brosef I took Blixt 33-1 today to win it. I don't know him. Is he good enough to win?
— TA (@ClevTA) April 12, 2014
2014 Off Season Transactions.
In typical Packer fashion, the team did not make many FA acquisitions. However, the one FA splash was a big one, signing Julius Peppers to a 3 yr/$30 million deal. Peppers has had a great career but the end of the line may be coming soon. His 7 sacks were the lowest total since 2007. The one good thing about Peppers is that he is a physical specimen who never gets hurt. In 12 seasons he’s only missed a total of 6 games! For a defense that was ravaged with injuries last year, having a veteran presence like Peppers who can be relied upon for 16 games is nice to have.
The Packers did do a nice job retaining some key free agents including cornerback Sam Shields, nose tackle B.J. Raji, outside linebacker/defensive end Mike Neal, fullback John Kuhn, tight end Andrew Quarless and running back James Starks.
On offense this team essentially lives and dies with Aaron Rodgers. As we saw last season, once he got hurt the normally reliable offense struggled. In 8 games without Rodgers, the Packers averaged 21 ppg and 6.5 yds/attempt passing. With Rodgers the numbers go up substantially, with the Packers scoring 30 ppg and reaching 8.2 yds/attempt. Talk about a case for MVP.
At running back, Eddy Lacy had an outstanding rookie season and will be the cow bell for the next few seasons. Re-signing Starks for depth purposes was a nice move as well. The wideout position is one that continues to be a strength for the Packers with a nice three man set of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarret Boykin. They can use a little bit of depth, though, after losing Greg Jennings and Donald Driver the last two seasons. The offensive line is decent but has never been a strength as they have ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in sack percentage every season since 2008. Finally having a reliable running game should help a little bit but they definitely need help on the left side of the line and at Center. To me the biggest need on this offense lies at the TE position, where Jermichael Finley is not expected back after neck surgery. Andrew Quarless is a solid backup but not a reliable starter in the NFL. The Packers offense went from good to great when Finley exploded onto the scene a couple of years back. Rodgers would love to have that type of player to add to his weapons outside.
Defensively, the Packers really struggled last season, ranking 30th in the NFL by allowing 5.9 yds/play. Both the run defense and pass defense struggled so there are plenty of needs to shore up. Peppers will help the defensive line to go along with Raji and last year’s first round pick Datone Jones. It remains to be seen if Jones ends up being worth that first round pick but he will get his chance this season. Green Bay won’t be drafting any defensive lineman early in my opinion. The linebacker corps is shaky with only Clay Matthews Jr, solidly in place of the 3-4 backers. Nick Perry is the other outside linebacker and showed flashes last season, garnering 4 sacks in 11 games. AJ Hawk is back again at middle linebacker, but his time with the Packers is coming to an end soon. Brad Jones is the other middle backer and has progressively gotten better through the years but is by no means a top level starter. The secondary is weak as well as they went from 8th to 27th in passing yds/attempt from 2012 to 2013. The Packers parted with FS M.D. Jennings and return SS Morgan Burnett after a poor year. Burnett was one of the worst Safeties in 2013 after signing a new five-year, $26.1 million contract. Green Bay is moving Micah Hyde to FS to replace Jennings for now although Hyde is looked at a core special teamer and probably not a viable every-down defensive back. They need help there. At Cornerback, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields return and are a solid core.
1. Jace Amaro- TE Texas Tech- Amaro spent almost 90% of his snaps in the slot and is extremely sure handed, which is exactly what Green Bay loves out of their tight ends. From some of the reports I’ve read, scouts think he can be a complete tight end and should be able to block adequately enough. He shows tremendous agility and when I watched him play he never dropped a pass. Against the top seven defenses Tech faced, he put up 8.5 receptions, 101 yards per game with 4 total touchdowns. He dominated his matchups in the slot especially in short and medium routes and has a Tony Gonzalez feel to him. Amaro did all of this damage with the Tech QB situation in flux as the Red Raiders flip flopped between a walk on and a freshman. He looks to be a perfect replacement for Finley and could be a star with Rodgers throwing him the ball.
2. Jimmy Ward- Safety NIU- Ward did it all for a
fairly weak Northern Illinois defense. He was everywhere in the secondary, covering slot receivers and tight ends. Ward also played in the box effectively and can stuff the run. Many reports I’ve read prefer Ward to Pryor. He was by far the best MAC defender I saw all year outside of Khalil Mack and I think he can be a really nice option for Green Bay here.
CJ Mosley- MLB Alabama- Everything I read talks about what a stud Mosley is and can be in the NFL. To be honest I don’t buy the hype. I understand that middle linebacker is not a spot to rack up sacks but he had 0 in 2013 after racking up a respectable four last season. He was 3rd in the SEC in solo tackles and 4th in tackles overall. But there are two things that are holding me back when it comes to Mosley. For one, his combine results showed a lack of athleticism as compared to other linebackers. He did not run the 40 at the combine but Mosley ranked 12th, 14th, 20th and 21st in the vertical, broad, shuttle and three cone tests amongst linebackers. It’s understood that middle linebackers aren’t going to be as athletic as some of the edge rushers but none of those numbers stand out to me. Other middle linebackers like Trent Murphy, Chris Borland, Jordie Tripp and James Morris beat Mosley in most of the same categories. When you add in Mosley’s 40 yard run at his pro day of 4.69 (mid pt of his range), that still only ranks 10th amongst all LBs. The second issue with Mosley is the Alabama factor. It’s been well-documented before but it needs to be re-visited:
Since Saban has taken over at Bama, there have been seven defenders drafted in round one- Dee Milliner, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont’a Hightower, Marcell Dareus, Rolando McLain, Kareem Jackson. The total number of pro bowls equals one from Dareus and he was only a replacement for Justin Smith.
What’s even more interesting is if you take it back to when Saban coached at LSU, he had two more guys he coached who were first round picks- LaRon Landry and Marcus Spears, and neither have been impactful in the NFL. What you have is a bunch of decent players but no real stars from Saban’s defenses. It is obvious defenders under Saban max out in college and there’s very little to no upside for his players in the pros.
Packers Selection at #21.
I’m going to go with Jace Amaro here. It’s a tough choice between Amaro and Ward but I think the TE depth is really lacking and a good Safety can be had in rounds 2 and 3. Amaro in a Packer offense with Rodgers throwing him the ball is so compelling that he needs to be the pick.
Good work here TA, good luck today.
GrandRapidsRustlers is up tomorrow for the Eagles and the pick is already in.