Green Bay Packers 2012 Draft Team Grades
The 2011 Green Bay Packers showcased an offensive juggernaut–led by MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers–in their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions. The Packers offense scored the second-most points in NFL history (560) on their way to a league-best 15-1 regular season record.
Despite this success, the Packers ultimately fell short of their goal to defend their title, due large in part to the team’s defensive shortcomings. The loss of defensive end Cullen Jenkins in free agency led to a decline in their ability to rush the passer, and the defense as a whole ranked dead last in the league in yards allowed per game.
So in the 2012 NFL Draft, general manager Ted Thompson strayed away from his philosophy to draft the best player available, instead drafting to directly address the team’s needs–evidenced by the first six picks being defensive players.
But how well did Thompson and the rest of the Packers organization do in the draft?
Here are the grades on each draft pick, as well as a collective grade
Round 1 (Pick 28) Nick Perry, LB, USC
Just as the Packers did in the 2009 Draft by picking outside linebacker Clay Matthews in the first round, the team looked once again to USC for the linebacker that will likely play opposite of Matthews. Perry is athletic enough to play both linebacker and defensive end (which he mostly played in college), but with his size and speed, defensive coordinator Dom Capers appears to want him as an outside linebacker.
Round 2 (Pick 51) Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
ESPN’s Mel Kiper calls Worthy a “powerhouse” and he, along with other draft analysts, consider Worthy a steal for the Packers at this pick. Worthy was a standout at Michigan State, and his transition to the pro game should be a smooth one. Early indications point that he should be a solid substitute for B.J. Raji in Capers’ 3-4 scheme, as well as a regular contributor in short-yardage situations.
Round 2 (Pick 62) Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
Hayward’s physicality at the cornerback position will make him a perfect fit in the Packers secondary. Just like Charles Woodson and Co., Hayward is opportunistic, possessing great ball skills and instincts. If Hayward pans out the way the Packers believe he will, Capers could be inclined to move Woodson to safety to fill the void left by Nick Collins.
Round 4 (Pick 132) Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa
Even after drafting Worthy in the second round, Thompson went back to the defensive line, adding even more depth to the tackle position. Daniels has the raw talent and drive to compete with Worthy for the backup job to Raji.
Round 4 (Pick 133) Jerron McMillian, S, Maine
Though the drafting of Hayward could send Woodson to safety, his career is limited to just a couple more seasons, so Thompson made sure to draft an actual safety. McMillian excels at stopping the run, but lacks in pass coverage. The Packers hope that he can learn from the veterans and grow into their long-term answer to replace Collins.
Round 5 (Pick 163) Terrell Manning, LB, NC State
Manning is on a mission to prove his belief that he was the best linebacker in the draft. This competitiveness, mixed with his football talents, could one day make this premonition come true. Though he is not the typical size for a linebacker, and still has much to learn, Manning has the capabilities to make Thompson look like a drafting genius yet again.
Round 7 (Pick 241) Andrew Datko, T, Florida State
Though the Packers have Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod as their starting tackles, the loss of veteran Chad Clifton results in the need for depth at this position. However, Datko definitely needs time to develop before he would be able to truly step in if either of the starters goes down. And speaking of injury, Datko has not been completely healthy in the past either.
Round 7 (Pick 243) B.J. Coleman, QB, Tennessee, Chattanooga
Head coach Mike McCarthy believes you can never have too many talented quarterbacks. Despite not wanting to sign a veteran to backup Rodgers with the loss of Matt Flynn, Coleman can easily develop into a solid backup in a season or two by learning from McCarthy and Rodgers.
Thompson strayed away from his modus operandi in this year’s draft, focusing on filling the Packers holes, primarily present on defense. With getting the right talent at the right positions, Thompson once again showed why he is one of the best in the league come draft time. Only time will tell if that translates into another Super Bowl title though.
Final Grade: A-