Monday, April 30, 2007

Playing Catchup (Yet Again)

I admit it. I'm lazy. I'm unproductive. Maybe Mel Kiper can coin me the next Alan Branch and make everyone believe it.

I really can't believe how far he fell. After our season was over, the guy was thought of as a sure-fire top 10 pick (maybe even top 5). Without even playing a game, his stock fell far enough that he slid into the second round. Maybe Gary Danielson started campaigning for Justin Harrell on CBS, I'm not sure.

Regardless, I have to believe that this was another case of GMs being guilty of looking too much at workout numbers and not as much at actual impact on the football field. Branch may not have showed up for the Combine in the best shape of his life, and he's only got himself to blame for that. But for the life of me, I have no idea how anyone got the idea that he takes plays off and doesn't have enough of an impact on the game.

Michigan doesn't have a patient fan-base. People skewered Gabe Watson over taking plays off. Hell, Lloyd Carr benched him several times because of it. Did anyone ever make a peep over Alan Branch? I sure can't remember it if they did.

I'm pretty confident that mgoblog would've caught it during "Upon Further Review" and his +/- stats were as follows: 4, 5, 7, 12 (vs. Wisconsin when PJ Hill was held to nothing), 4, 4, 7, 6, 5, 2 (injured), 3.

He did have 3 games or so games where Brian wrote, "Quieter than normal" "Surprisingly quiet", etc. but even in those games, we still didn't give up anything on the ground. Minnesota cracked 100, but that's about it. Ohio State was the only team that ran the ball with any effectiveness against Michigan this year, and that was as much of a function of horrible safety play as anything else.

If he fell because of his workout/injury question mark, I can understand it. If he fell because of anything on the field....I have to believe a lot of teams made a mistake.

Comments on the Packers Draft:
Frankly, I think draft grades are stupid. People hated the Packers' draft last year and by the end of the season, they had the Dallas Morning News's only A+ grade (Rick Gosselin is a pretty respected draft guy from what I understand) despite a C last April. The media hated their draft in 2000 and it produced four Pro-Bowlers and another solid player in Na'il Diggs. They loved our 2001 draft and the best player to come out of that draft was Robert Ferguson, which should tell you something.

There are few people out there who have seen enough tape of every player in the draft to accurately comment and I'm most definitely not one of them. I can say that apart from Wynn, I haven't seen a whole lot of any player they drafted--and when I did see a guy like Harrell, I obviously didn't know I should be watching him.

That said, after reading profiles, watching video on youtube (greatest thing ever, by the way) and whatnot, I feel pretty good about things.

Harrell is an injury question mark (and a big one at that) but he would've been a top 10 pick if he didn't get hurt his senior season. His increase in reps indicates that his arm is getting healthy. His production was similar to Branch's. And it helps to know that Denver was looking to take him at 21. If he's healthy, they helped their run defense out a lot. He'll help keep guys off of AJ Hawk and Nick Barnett, and he should free up our ends just that much more.

The two running backs are supposed to be good fits in the zone blocking scheme. Jackson scares me a little bit because of his injury history as well--and the fact that he didn't put up great numbers at Nebraska--but the last running back out of Nebraska that we had ended up doing ok.

The pick that's drawing the most venom from Packer fans is grabbing James Jones in the third round. Couldn't tell you a thing about him, except that he's big and it seems like he's got good hands. We needed a WR. I would've loved to have seen this pick moved for Randy Moss, but it seems that he wasn't interested in coming to Green Bay once the Pats indicated their interest was legit.

I do, however, LOVE the pair of players they drafted out of Va Tech. Rouse, the safety, is huge, and he ran extremely fast. They swear he's going to end up playing safety, but he could end up as linebacker as well. The WR, Clowney, has a great looking video. People complained that he got tackled easily, but most of the passes he caught weren't very well thrown. A good pass, he's waltzing into the endzone. He seemed very good at making adjustments to the ball in the air, and he can run.

They also nabbed the best kicker in the draft. Yes he kicks at high-altitude, but he also nailed one from 58 yards out at Miami, I believe. And the offensive lineman, Barbre, is said to be an "ideal" fit for the zone-blocking scheme, and one site called him the "best pure blocker in the draft".

The picks that were really puzzling to me where the two ILBs drafted in the sixth round. The one from Boise St. is supposedly moving to fullback, which explains that one. With Barnett and Hodge in the middle, it seems odd that they drafted another ILB. I thought I heard that they want to move the draftee to the outside.

Overall, I feel good about what they did--and with Thompson's track record drafting, he deserves the right to have his draftees get on the field before he gets roundly criticized the way he has been. It's possible this draft could suck, it's possible he drafted all Pro Bowlers, but it's silly to make a strong opinion either way before these guys even step on the field.

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