Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Packers Set Dates for Practices

Following the completion this last weekend of the 2015 NFL Draft and the subsequent undrafted free agent (UFA) signings, the Green Bay Packers have announced the schedule for the upcoming off-season orientations, OTA workouts, and practices.
    Photo Copyright 2015 PackerFansUnited.com

  • May 8-9 - Rookie orientation for draftees and UFAs and rookie invitee tryouts
  • May 27-29 - Organized Team Activities (May 28 practice open to public)
  • June 2-4 - Organized Team Activities (June 2 practice open to public)
  • June 9-12 - Organized Team Activities (June 10 practice open to public)
  • June 16-18 - Mandatory mini-camp (all practices open to the public)
  • July 29 - All players report
  • July 30 - First day of training camp
  • Aug. 13 - First pre-season game: Packers at New England Patriots
  • Sept. 13 - First 2015 regular season game: Packers at Chicago Bears
Stay tuned to PackerFansUnited.com for ongoing updates and commentary regarding the Packers. For real-time coverage, be sure to check out our Amazing 2nd Page.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Packers 2015 NFL Draft Wrap-up

It's taken a few days for fans of the Green Bay Packers to take in the events of the 2015 NFL Draft, as well as the signings of the undrafted free agents (UFAs) that occurred following the completion of the draft. What do we make of it all? What, if any, surprises were there? How would you grade it? Take our poll in the upper righthand column (below our Welcome message).

To begin, let's review the Packers' picks.

Packers 2015 NFL Draft Selections
  • DB Damarious Randall, Arizona State
  • DB Quinten Rollins, Miami-Ohio
  • WR Ty Montgomery, Stanford
  • LB Jake Ryan, Michigan
  • QB Brett Hundley, UCLA
  • RB Aaron Ripkowski, Oklahoma
  • DL Christian Ringo, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • TE Kennard Backman, Ala.-Birmingham
Packers fifth-round draft pick, UCLA QB Brett Hundley
Photo via Packers.com


Pundits who grade such things seem to have given the Packers a B- to C grade on this draft. Certainly, there were no big names among the selections, other than QB Brett Hundley who some had pegged as second or third round talent. But he was the only player that the Packers moved up in the draft to take. So clearly they saw something there -- in addition to the value of getting a talented QB in the fifth round -- that they liked. Clearly, also, he can be groomed for trade bait in two or three years if that's the way things shake out behind Aaron Rodgers.

Stanford WR Ty Montgomery, with some reportedly questioning his hands as a receiver, apparently drew the Pack's attention as a returner. He could add a big dimension to that part of the Packers special teams game...a dimension which has been seriously lacking the last few years.

While Michigan LB Jake Ryan may not have been a household name in college, he could become one with the Packers. It would seem that if anyone was ever made to play linebacker, it's this guy. He could make an immediate impact in the linebacking corps. And that would be something that everyone would be glad to see...at least if you're a Packers fan, that is.

With the top two picks being defensive backs, Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, obviously the Packers were taking care of the glaring needs in that area of the defense. Yay.

The selection of Oklahoma fullback Aaron Ripkowski raised eyebrows...not because it was a bad pick but because if he pans out he could be the successor -- or perhaps even replacement -- to current FB and fan fave, John Kuhn. While it's unlikely the Pack would keep two fullbacks on the roster, they have done it before. Whether this year is one of those years or not remains to be seen.

Let's not forget the UFAs
The Packers in recent years have done more with undrafted free agents than any other team in the league. There have been more UFA players on the roster and more snaps played by UFAs. Somehow, some way, GM Ted Thompson and his scouting staff find those proverbial diamonds in the rough. Here's what things look like in that regard so far:
  • John Crockett, RB, North Dakota State
  • Raymond Maples, RB, Army
  • Alonzo Harris, RB, Louisiana Lafayette
  • Malcolm Agnew, RB, Southern Illinois
  • Adrian Coxson, WR, Stony Brook
  • Larry Pinkard, WR, Old Dominion
  • Ricky Collins, WR, Texas A&M-Commerce

  • Jimmie Hunt, WR, Missouri

  • Javess Blue, WR, Kentucky

  • Mitchell Henry, TE, Western Kentucky

  • Fabbians Ebbele, OL, Arizona

  • Matt Rotheram, OL, Pittsburgh

  • Marcus Reed, OL, Fayetteville State

  • James Castleman, OL, Oklahoma State

  • Lavon Hooks, DT, Mississippi

  • James Vaughters, OLB, Stanford

  • Jermauria Rasco, OLB, LSU

  • Tavarus Dantzler, ILB, Bethune-Cookman

  • Bernard Blake, CB, Colorado State

  • Ladarius Gunter, DB, Miami (FL)

  • Anthony Wooding, S, Wake Forest
Minicamp Tryout Invites
  • Blake Sims, QB, Alabama
  • Chris Mallott, WR, Southeastern Louisiana
  • Jake Silas, OT, Buffalo
  • Josh Bredl, OT, Colorado State-Pueblo
  • Andy Phillips, OG, Central Michigan
  • Mitch King, TE, Penn
  • Uona Kaveinga, ILB, BYU
  • Skye Povey, DB, BYU
  • JD Rousell, DB, Sacred Heart
The names among the reported UFAs and tryout invitees that seem to garner a mention as strong candidates to potentially make the squad (regular season or practice) are RB John Crockett, WR Jimmie Hunt, OL Matt Rotheram, QB Bernard Blake, and QB Blake Sims. But given oppportunities, who really knows who will make the most of their opportunity to make the Packers? As both Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy have both said in their post-draft interviews, the expectations for the draftees are that they come in and play behind the veterans. The Packers are a deep team where it counts, but they definitely had needs. Whether those needs were met or not in a way which can help elevate the Packers, particularly on defense, we'll have to wait to see. Regarding how we'd grade this draft, we'd give it a "B+" taking all the players noted above into account. How would you grade it? Take our poll in the upper righthand column (right below our Welcome message).

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Packers Add Another Cornerback and Receiver in NFL 2015 Draft Rounds 2 and 3

A bit to the surprise of at least some Green Bay Packers fans (including this one), GM Ted Thompson didn't make a move up in the second round to take one of the better linebackers available in the top-half of the second round of Friday's edition of the 2015 NFL Draft. Instead, Thompson stayed put at number 62 and selected cornerback Quinten Rollins out of Miami of Ohio.

Perhaps more intriguing as regards this pick is that Rollins only has one year of college football experience. Make no mistake: Rollins appears to be an outstanding athlete, although he spent most of his college career playing basketball. In his lone year playing football, he was named 2014 MAC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-MAC. Not bad. But given his lack of experience, Rollins' immediate impact for the Packers might best be on special teams while he learns the ropes. We have to figure Thompson isn't counting on Rollins much as a defender this year but is rather betting on the Packers' ability to "coach him up," as the saying goes for a more prominent role down the road. Here's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sports reporter Tyler Dunne's take on this pick, and the Packers' draft through Day 2.

In the third round, the Packers also made a bit of surprise pick. Again, instead of addressing what seems to many to be obvious needs at linebacker, Thompson selected WR Ty Montgomery from Stanford. With all the receiving talent already on the Packers roster, why would Thompson make this pick? According to reports, the Packers -- and others -- view Montgomery as a top-notch return threat...something the Packers have been lacking for a while. But even more so, they see him being another Randall Cobb, only bigger, someone they can line up anywhere on the field.
Ty Montgomery opened Packers' eyes as a returner.
(Photo copyright Associated Press)

What will Packers do on Day 3?
GM Ted Thompson insists that the Packers' need for inside linebacker help will be addressed. But he also was clear about how he felt about his current situation. According to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "When asked how he felt about a position he cleared of veterans A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore during the off-season, leaving Sam Barrington, Clay Matthews and Carl Bradford to hold the fort, Thompson said 'it's fine.'"

So, there you have it, Packer fans. R-E-L-A-X from the main man himself. "We're going to address that just like we address all other positions and try to make it as strong as we can," Thompson said in the same report noted above.

It should be an interesting final day of the draft. Thompson is a wizard at finding later-round gems. Also, let's not forget the undrafted free agents which will be signed following the completion of the draft. Seems as if Thompson always finds two or three keepers there each season, as well.

We will be live Tweeting during the rounds today, so be sure to follow us at @packfansunited for all those verbal gems. And we will of course be doing a wrap up of the draft following its completion, along with undrafted free agent signing updates. You can also follow Packers coverage from all over via our Amazing 2nd Page.

Go Pack Go!!!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Packers select DB Damarious Randall with 30th Overall Pick in 2015 NFL Draft

After several hours of waiting to see what would happen, fans of the Green Bay Packers finally learned last evening that they have a new defensive back to help fill the holes left by the departures of Tramon Williams and Davon House. With the 30th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Packers chose Arizona State safety Damarious Randall.


While he played safety at Arizona State, Packers GM Ted Thompson said last night that he'd probably play cornerback in the Packers scheme. Although, as Thompson added, because of defensive coordinator Dom Caper's variations, Packers defensive backs play all over the place. In this regard, Randall will probably be well suited to the Packers defense. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr., said he really "loved" this pick for the Packers. Another draft pundit said that Randall was "the best cover guy" in the draft.

Randall plays a bit bigger than his size according to draft reports. He tackles well and has very good closing speed: he ran a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Draft guru Mike Mayock said this before the draft: "Randall is what today's free safety is all about. He is by far the best cover safety in this draft. Randall can play man-to-man; he has cornerback-level cover skills. You give up some physicality, but his coverage ability is where the NFL is going. Remember Jimmie Ward was a first-rounder last year (to the 49ers) with a similar skill set."

In addition, Randall can play special teams and also has spent a little time as a returner. With that kind of speed, and the need to preserve WR Randall Cobb for receiving duties, we can only imagine that Randall will get plenty of opportunities to win a returning role as well as time in the defensive backfield. Imagine having WR/R Jared Abbrederis, who was lost to injury prior to the start of the regular season last year, and Randall back on returns. That could be a dynamic returning duo that would give opponents' special teams fits.

We like this pick although, frankly, it's not one we had on our radar, as our prior post will attest in terms of draft possibilities. Guess that's why we're here writing and Ted Thompson is up in Green Bay making the picks. For the latter, we should all be grateful.

What will days 2 and 3 of the draft bring the Packers way? We have to believe additional depth in the defensive backfield, as well as inside linebacker, tight tend, and perhaps offensive and defensive line depth. Also, it wouldn't shock us if Thompson drafts a quarterback along the way.

It's great to be a Packers fan, isn't it, folks?

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Packers 2015 NFL 1st Round Draft Possibilities

With the 2015 NFL draft now less than a week away -- heck, a week from right now we'll already know the early round picks of the Packers -- we should take a quick look at who some of the mock drafts say the Packers will pick in the first round. It's always fun speculation. But really, does anyone really know the mind of GM Ted Thompson? C'mon. So take this as just an overview of what might happen. And as far as projecting Rounds 2-7...really? Really??? Might as well throw darts at names on the wall. Which, judging by how some teams actually draft, is as good an approach as any, apparently.

The Pack's picks by round: 1st - 30; 2nd - 62; 3rd - 94; 4th - 129; 5 - 166; 6 - 205, 210*, 212*; 7 - 247 (* - compensatory picks, which cannot be dealt).

Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson

Mock Draft Possibilities
A review of a variety of sources has the following players as possible Packers' picks for the early rounds of the draft.

Round 1 - Thursday, April 30Our take...not our pick
What's our take on all these wonderful possibilities? We tend to agree with many of the mocks that acknowledge the Packers' need for inside linebacker help -- especially after the release of A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones -- but think there will be opportunities there for the Packers in the 2nd round. With Tramon Williams and Davon House no longer in the defensive backfield, a good young cornerback is just what the doctor ordered to help bolster that part of the defense. Yes, the Packers need linebacker help and could also use some help on the defensive line, as well, despite the re-signing of B.J. Raji and Letroy Guion. But value at cornerback in the first round should be enough to get Thompson to pull the trigger on one of the aforementioned cornerback prospects.

On the other hand, if Thompson thinks one of those players might still be available a few picks down the road, we can well imagine him trading down for a second round selection, somewhere between 40-50, so he can perhaps pick up an additional pick or two later on. He's done it before. You know he'll do it again. Whether the Packers have a definite selection they really want, or whether they can roll with the flow a bit, we'll have to wait to see.

We'll be back with more in the coming days about the draft. Stay tuned...

Go Pack Go!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What to make of the Packers 2015 schedule?

The Green Bay Packers and their fans learned about the 2015 schedule on Tuesday evening. Actually, bits and pieces started to leak out before the evening NFL announcement, particularly the fact that the game at which the Pack will retire former QB Brett Favre's number will be a Thanksgiving evening game against Da Bears. What could be better? Oh, and that home Thanksgiving game will be the first such game the team has played since 1923. If memory serves, that was just four years after the founding of the Packers and just two years after the team joined the fledgling National Football League (then called the American Professional Football Association). Yowza!
Photo of Brett Favre from officialbrettfavre.com

So...there's that. Actually, Favre's number will be officially "retired" at his induction into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 18. The Thanksgiving ceremony will see that number go up inside Lambeau Field. Favre's name and number will go up alongside such legendary names as Bart Starr, Tony Canadeo, Don Hutson, Ray Nitschke and Reggie White. See Favre announce the number retirement on his SQOR page here.

Back to the schedule...upon full release we found the following schedule (you can also always find the Packers 2015 schedule in our "Links" area in the righthand column):

PRESEASON
(WEEK DATE OPPONENT KICKOFF TV)
  • 1 - Thursday, August 13 at New England Patriots 6:30 p.m. state
  • 2 - Sunday, August 23 at Pittsburgh Steelers 7 p.m. state
  • 3 - Saturday, August 29 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Midwest Shrine Game - GOLD PKG.) 7 p.m. state
  • 4 - Thursday, September 3 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (Bishop's Charities Game) 6 p.m. state

REGULAR SEASON
(WEEK DATE OPPONENT KICKOFF TV)
  • 1 - Sunday, September 13 at Chicago Bears 12 p.m. FOX
  • 2 - Sunday, September 20 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 7:30 p.m. NBC
  • 3 - Monday, September 28 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (GOLD PKG.) 7:30 p.m. ESPN
  • 4 - Sunday, October 4 at San Francisco 49ers 3:25 p.m. FOX
  • 5 - Sunday, October 11 ST. LOUIS RAMS *12 p.m. CBS
  • 6 - Sunday, October 18 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS *3:25 p.m. CBS
  • 7 - Sunday, October 25 BYE
  • 8 - Sunday, November 1 at Denver Broncos *7:30 p.m. NBC
  • 9 - Sunday, November 8 at Carolina Panthers *12 p.m. FOX
  • 10 - Sunday, November 15 DETROIT LIONS (GOLD PKG.) *12 p.m. FOX
  • 11 - Sunday, November 22 at Minnesota Vikings *12 p.m. FOX
  • 12 - Thursday, November 26 CHICAGO BEARS (Thanksgiving - BRETT FAVRE NUMBER RETIREMENT CEREMONY) 7:30 p.m. NBC
  • 13 - Thursday, December 3 at Detroit Lions 7:25 p.m. CBS/NFL
  • 14 - Sunday, December 13 DALLAS COWBOYS *3:25 p.m. FOX
  • 15 - Sunday, December 20 at Oakland Raiders *3:05 p.m. FOX
  • 16 - Sunday, December 27 at Arizona Cardinals *3:25 p.m. FOX
  • 17 - Sunday, January 3 MINNESOTA VIKINGS *12 p.m. FOX
* Start time and broadcast may shift due to NFL flexible scheduling ** All times are Central


What's the early take on the schedule?

The ESPN pundits have the Packers winning the NFC North Division with an 11-5 record. They have the ViQueens coming in second at 9-7, the Lions being their middling selves at 8-8 and Da Bears bringing up the rear at 7-9. To the last we can only say (in best Seinfeld voice), that's a shame. If you want to see what ESPN's Packers reporter, Rob Demovsky, predicts game-by-game, you can do so here.

For yours truly, it's far too soon to make the game-by-game picks. And actually, regular readers of this blog will know we don't make game-by-game picks anyway, at least prior to the start of the season; we do make weekly game picks during the regular season. Instead, just prior to the start of the season -- after we've had a look at the team in preseason, know who is on the roster, what the injury status is, etc. -- we make our season win-loss prediction by breaking the season up into quarters. It's just an easier way for this prognosticator to look at the season as a whole. And we've typically been pretty darn close in our season projections. So come back in early September for that post. OK, if you'd care to, please stop back in more often, before then, because we'll have a lot more coming in the days, weeks and months ahead. In fact, next up will be commentary on the upcoming NFL Draft. Lots of fun in store. Stick with us.

Go Pack Go!!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

2015 Draft Coming Soon

The headline states the obvious, doesn't it, Packer fans? The 2015 NFL Draft -- being held in Chicago this year -- will soon be upon us. With the departure of key players in the defensive backfield and others in the linebacking corps, what will GM Ted Thompson do? And with only Scott Tolzein as the backup to QB Aaron Rodgers, will Thompson draft a capable backup for the first time in ages?

Stay tuned. We'll have more about the draft as it approaches, including, perhaps, a compilation of possible first round pick possibilities. Because once past the first round...hey, you might as well throw darts at balloons to make your mock draft picks. We aren't going to go that route. We have better things to do with our time and we're pretty certain you do, as well.

In the meantime, you can always check out real-time news and updates about the Packers by visiting our Amazing 2nd Page!. It really is...amazing! Really.