The first day at the racecourse for the two year old colt bred to be a champion...
The first day in a Ryder cup for your seasoned golfer...
The first draft of a GM who has been nurtured & mentored In readiness to assume the role one day...
Perhaps for our horse, it’s all about the experience, missing the break, taking a good look around and all the better for the run.
For the golfer, it’s a different kind of pressure; the odd wobble is understandable, easing the rookie in gently is so often the captain's plan.
For our intrepid Packers GM, his first time at the head of a war room he has .. well, I’m afraid he has no room for error, no room at all. This is the Green Bay Packers, he has to be pretty darn decent straight out of the traps & if he can’t be good, he had just better be lucky!
When Brian Gutekunst picked up the reigns earlier this offseason from Ted Thompson, not only did he inherit a roster laced with difficult personnel decisions, he also inherited a roster riddled with more holes than you see on your average Cheesehead.
Even after the melee that is “Free agency pre draft “ begins to calm down somewhat, the Packers still arguably have needs at multiple positions.
As the draft fast approaches, one thing is clear: in order for the Packers to compete for supremacy in an ever improving NFC next season, our new GM has to have himself an almighty first day at school, an even better day 2 rounded off by a lucky day 3 filled with pleasant surprises. New Orleans had themselves one last year, Green Bay last had one back in 1995... The results the following year were startlingly similar. We now need another bonanza type draft.
For sure we have hit the board on several occasions, of course Ted Thompson made many inspired picks; 2005 a shining light with the pick of Rodgers standing out. However, the need to outperform all recent efforts is clear if you stack our current talent level up against the likes of the Eagles, Rams and Vikings to name just a few in the NFC alone.
No pressure Brian but we need a home run from your first at bat...!
Looking at the shopping list I think it is fair to say most would agree on the following Packer needs:
Pass rusher ( OLB)
My own particular list is a little bit more selective but is reflective of, in my opinion, a roster lacking a great degree of care love and attention over the last 3 years.
Two cornerbacks, one ready to play a nickel slot role from day 1, one perimeter guy with a high ceiling. Day 1/2/3
A pass-rushing LB to feature high in the rotation. Day 1/2
A coverage/athletic LB who could add further diversity to Pettine's defensive game plan. Day 2
A hybrid DB, James the dream but there are other sleepers further down the board. Day 1/2/3
A starting guard regardless of Jahri Evans' return. Day 2
A versatile offensive lineman who can function at a multitude of spots. Day 2/3.
A WR with speed. I’m taking two shots here as it’s an obvious need in a position of uncertainty. Day 2. Day 3.
A QB that gives us 4 arms going into camp and very possibly ends up as a number 3 once things pan out...Day 3
Running back competition for a room still containing a few questions. Day 3
A TE to compliment Jimmy Graham. Day 3.
We can apply best player philosophies, I’m down with that but ultimately I make that 12 holes we have to at least endeavour to address over the 3 days . Post draft free agent work will also need to be a strength this year.
Now, nobody knows what to expect from our new 'Brain Trust', even allowing for their background and mentors over the years but what I will be all in on in regards to the Packers, is given how the board sits, we will surely sit and marvel as the Packers perform their own version of the 'Draft Jump Around' on a par with anything you see at Camp Randall on a game day Saturday.
All the hype and focus is centred around Round 1 I guess in part because it’s been a long time since the Packers selected so high.My stance has been simple since very early in the process:
At 14, I just love LB Tremaine Edmunds or Derwin James, a physical specimen listed as a safety. I would also be happy to trade up a spot or 2 in order to land either budding pro bowler and we will almost certainly need to do so. If it’s not happening and Fitzpatrick is also off the board, let’s reverse in Round 1 to bring in the likes of Harold Landry if it’s just a couple of spots. Throw Josh Jackson into the mix at the back end of Round 1 together with some extra Round 2 ammunition and we could get rich quick having numerous picks between 22 - 60. Some of the mocks for me are way off with talk of the likes of Calvin Ridley, Mike Hughes or Marcus Davenport. At 14, they should not even be in the conversation, there will be groans of pain from me if we stand pat and ignore the value angle.
A trade back in to Round 1 for a second bite at the cherry, or a more affordable top of Round 2 pick also seems likely to me particularly for someone like Oliver, the CB from Colorado.
In a very lopsided and relatively thin draft class outside of the QB congestion at the top of Round 1, I have highlighted below the players who could be on the radar and who I like the look of in terms of dovetailing with either Pettine's or Philbin's schemes from what we have seen previously. Value is always key and we are all guessing to a large degree on what Brian Gutekunst would ideally want to add at each position group.
Kyle Lauletta , Richmond 6-3 222 day 3
Logan Woodside , Toledo 6-2 210 day 3
Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston 6-3 220 day 3 / FA
Nyheam Hines , NC state, 5-9 197 day 2
Justin Jackson, Northwestern 5-11 200 day 3
Kerryon Johnson, Auburn 5-11 213 day 2
Akrum Wadley, Iowa 5-10 194 day 3
Dallas Goedert, S Dakota state 6-4 255 day 2
Ian Thomas, Indiana 6-3 250 day 3
Mark Andrews, Oklahoma 6-5 253 day 2
Deion Yelder, W Kentucky 6-3 250 day 3
Tony Adams G/C NC state 6-2 315 day 2
Arron Stinnie T/G James Madison 6-5 309 day 3
Chuk Okorafor T W Michigan 6-5 333 day 2/3
Jamil Demby G/T Maine 6-4 319 day 3
Brett Toth T Army 6-6 305 day 3
Dejon Allen C/G Hawaii 6-3 290 day 3
Brian Allen C Michigan State 6-2 305 day 2/3
Tyrell Crosby T Oregon 6-6 310 day 2
Sam Jones G/C Arizona state 6-5 290 day 3
Anthony Miller, Memphis 5-11 190 day 2/3
Michael Gallup ,Colorado state 6-1 195 day 2/3
Deon Cain, Clemson 6-1 210 day 3
Trequan Smith, Central Florida 6-1 205 day 2/3
J mon Moore, Missouri 6-3 205 day 3
Justin Watson ,Penn st 6-2 215 day 3
Dante Pettis, Washington 6-0 186 day 2
Keith Kirkwood, Temple 6-3 221 day 3
DJ Chark, Louisiana State 6-3 187 day 2
Harold Landry, Boston College 6-3 250 day 1
Lorenzo Carter, Georgia 6-6 242 day 2
Hercules Mataafa, Washington state 6-2 255 day 3
Josh Sweat, Florida State 6-5 250 day 2/3
Marquis Haynes,Mississippi 6-3 230 day 3
Darius Leonard, South Carolina State 6-3 236 day 2/3
Oren Burks, Vanderbilt 6-3 226 day 3
Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State 6-4 242 day 1/2
Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech 6-5 236 day 1
Isaiah Oliver, Colorado 6-1 190, day 2
Josh Jackson, Iowa 6-2 192 day 1/2
Holton Hill, Texas 6-3 205 day 3
Donte Jackson, LSU 5-10 173 day 2/3
Duke Dawson, Florida 5-10 208 day 2/3
Dane Cruikshank (S), Arizona 6-1 206 day 3
Isaac Yiadom , Boston 6-1 190 day 3
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama 6-1 203 day 1
Jessie Bates, Wake forest 6-2 200 day 2/3
Terrell Edmunds,Virginia tech 6-2 220 day 3
Derwin James, Florida State 6-3 211 day 1
Kyzer White, West Virginia 6-2 218 day 2/3
Marcel Frazier, DE Missouri 6-5 255 day 2/3
PJ Hall, DT Sam Houston state 6-1 305 day 3
Nathan Shepherd, DE Fort Hays state 6-5 300 day 2/3
Bills Nichols; DT Delaware 6-4 306 day 3
I do believe we will ultimately end up with less than 12 picks as a result of a barrage of trade activity over the 3 days but for now (and just because Steve pesters me senseless *sarcasm font*) below is my mock exercise in a “as is “, a “could be” model with reduced picks and a simulation just for good measure..!
1/ (14) Derwin James S / Harold Landry OLB
2/ (45) Isaiah Oliver CB
3/ (76) Lorenzo Carter OLB
4/ (114) Duke Dawson CB
4/ (133) Michael Gallup WR
5/ (150) Nyheam Hines RB
5/ (172) Nathan Shepherd DE
5/ (174) Jamil Demby G/T
6/ (186) Deion Yelder TE
6/ (207) J'mon Moore WR
7/ (232) Dejon Allen C/G
7/ (239) Logan Woodside QB
1/ Tremaine Edmunds LB/ Minkah Fitzpatrick
2/ Isaiah Oliver CB
2/ Anthony Miller WR
4/ Kyzer White S/ Marquis Haynes OLB
4/ Ian Thomas TE
5/ Tony Adams G/T
5/ Kyle Lauletta QB
6/ PJ Hall DT
7/ Brett Toth T
7/ Keith Kirkwood WR
Mock 1 is a dream as we will surely have to move up 1 or 2 slots to nab James or Edmunds, Nathan Shepherd is rising up boards quickly despite the fact he did his thing at a smaller school so his chances of dropping past day 2 are now slim. Mock 2 loosely based on the likelihood we lose a volume of picks based on moving up during the process, Mock 3 completed on the draft simulator is just good fun and my favourite haul of all..!
One thing is for sure come draft day, you just never know....We just need to keep fingers and toes crossed Mr Gutekunst and his team know just enough!
Follow Andy on Twitter here: @Poolieshrew