Monday, November 03, 2014

High Draft Picks Failing to Make Impact in Green Bay

The following is a special guest article...

Historically speaking, few teams have had as much consistent success in the NFL draft as the Green Bay Packers. Dating back to before the tenure of current general manager Ted Thompson, the Packers have consistently selected players who have contributed immensely to the prolonged success of the organization.

That is, up until 2011. In 2009 and 2010 particularly, Thompson hit grand slams by selecting Clay Matthews, Bryan Bulaga, B.J. Raji, Morgan Burnett, T.J. Lang, James Starks, and a slew of other players who remain in productive roles with the team to this day. Since then, however, Thompson’s drafting has been far less dependable.

The downturn began in 2011 with the selection of Derek Sherrod at the back end of the first round. Sherrod was supposed to be the heir-apparent to longtime left tackle Chad Clifton, but three and a half seasons and a gruesome broken leg later, Sherrod’s only impact for the Packers has been negative—epitomized by allowing multiple sacks to Seattle in the 2014 season opener.

The next season found the Packers ranking 22nd in total defense—a horrendous drop-off from their top ranking the season previous. Green Bay sought the services of defenders Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy in the first and second rounds, respectively. Perry’s development has yet to come and he has been replaced for now with veteran Julius Peppers. Worthy is no longer on the team, as the Packers cut their losses by trading him to New England for a low-value draft pick.

The Packers again went defensive in 2013, and selected Datone Jones, who, in two and a half seasons, has only 36 tackles and 5.5 sacks. He, like Perry, has failed to solidify a starting role in Dom Capers’ defense despite it being all but handed to him on draft day.

Until the recent signing of Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews had been the only legitimate pass-rushing threat for Green Bay since Cullen Jenkins’ departure after the 2010 season. Defensive linemen like Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji have been increasingly ineffective in situational roles, while the aforementioned high-profile draftees Perry, Worthy, and Jones have simply busted.

The secondary has been in a constant state of upturn. Casey Hayward, Davon House, Jerron McMillian, M.D. Jennings, and Chris Banjo have all tried to make lasting impacts in Green Bay’s secondary to no avail. The loss of Nick Collins in 2011 is still hurting the backfield of the Packers defense.

In 2014, the Packers—for the third season in a row—drafted a defensive player in the first round, in hopes of getting the defense in balance with the explosive offense. This time the pick was Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who, aside from some egregious missed tackles, has played well in tandem with Micah Hyde this season. He is off to a better start than the three first-rounders before him, but only time will tell.

As many of the excellent selections Ted Thompson made in ’09 and ’10 reach contract years, it is imperative that reliable, young talent continues to flow into the depth chart. But the days of Thompson’s near-perfect drafting are quickly and clearly becoming distant memories.

About The Author:
Ron is the lead editor of FantasyFootballOverdose.Com – prime source of NFL news and rumors. You can follow his NFL updates at this Facebook page.