Thursday, May 05, 2011

Packers draft wrap-up: Rounds 4-7 (part 2)

As we continue our tortoise-like review of the Green Bay Packers' 2011 draft selections, we are now able to start getting into those later-round picks which some speculate GM Ted Thompson (and, in this time of lockout, all general managers to at least some degree) may have used in lieu of the undrafted free agent signings which would have been occurring in abundance by this time. Since no free agents can be signed until the lockout is lifted, there's no telling when such signings might be happen.

Anyway, let's have a look at the later round 6 and 7 selections for the Packers.

D.J. Smith, OLB, Appalachian State: A small (5'11, 239 lbs) outside linebacker who has good speed (4.75 40-yd. time) and instincts. He led the Southern Conference with 144 tackles, which also ranked fifth nationally in 2010. He finished his career with 525 tackles, the most among all Division I players (FCS or FBS) active last season. He was also selected to The Butkus Award Preseason Watchlist for 2010. Not bad. Smith is obviously a player who likes to be in on the action and has the desire to excel judging by his performance and accolades throughout his college career. That's just the kind of player linebackers coach Kevin Greene loves. Smith could make an immediate impact on special teams.

Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona: This player is a tough one to project. He's 6'5" and 255 lbs., a bit light for a defensive end. Odds are that the Packers move him to outside linebacker. In fact, Elmore kind of figured that out himself before the draft; more on that in a moment. Elmore started 34 games at Arizona in his last three years. Some draft-niks felt that he might actually have more long-term potential than the fellow he worked opposite of at Arizona, Brooks Reed, who was selected at #42 in the 2nd round by the Texans and who some thought the Pack might select at the end of the 1st round. At #197, the Packers don't have much to lose if he doesn't make it. What's intriguing about Elmore is that last season he was the Pac-10's leader with 11 sacks and Arizona's leader with 13 tackles for loss. He earned second-team All-Pac-10 Conference honors in 2010. He's one of those players that might wind up heading to the practice squad. But that might be underestimating him. Elmore wants to play in the NFL. And he was smart enough, as noted earlier, that his only chance would likely be as a linebacker. To that end, Elmore retained the training services of Clay Matthews, Jr. -- that would be father of the Packers' Clay Matthews III -- to help him train prior to the draft. He not only wound up training under a guy that really knows the linebacker position but who also just happened to be training another son, Casey Matthews, at the time. They became a training party of three. Actually, there's a great article about Elmore training with Matthews by Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It's worth your time reading, and you can do so here.

Ryan Taylor, TE, North Carolina: Pretty much typical size for a tight end, 6'4" and 255 lbs., Taylor runs the 40 in 4.74 seconds. Other than coming off a knee injury about the only other info of distinction about Taylor is that he set a school record in 2010 for most receptions by a tight end in a season with 36. So that shows good hands. If he can play special teams well he might just grab a final roster spot. A long shot. But...ya never know.

Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State: Last, but not least, among the Packers' draft selection at #233 in the 7th round, Guy might just be another guy (sorry, to easy to pass that one up). Guy left ASU after his junior year because, in interviews, he said (paraprhasing) he had accomplished and learned all he wanted to there and it was time to move on. Head case? Or just a bit of youthful bluster? Your guess. The one thing that you can't argue with, though, is his size (6'4" and 305 lbs.) He played defensive tackle at ASU but would likely be more ideally suited to the defensive end position for the Packers. Apparenltly scouts -- and the Packers -- see potential for Guy. There is no rush, as the Packers are OK at defensive end right now. If Guy could be developed on the practice squad -- and take coaching -- he might be another of those hidden gems that Thompson and his crew uncover year after year.

Well, Packer fans, that's it. We have finally completed our draft review of all 10 Packers' picks! Woo-hoo!!!

Go Pack Go!!!