Saturday, April 30, 2016

We're baaaaaccckkkk! And so's the NFL Draft.

Hello, again, Packer fans! After our extended hiatus -- brought about by the Packers' heartbreaking loss to the Cardinals (per my last post) -- we're back. Hope you've been keeping abreast of all the Pack's goings-on on our Amazing 2nd Page, which is a real-time compendium (look it up!) of Packers news, NFL news, and more from around the globe. It's a really good, quick, overview of everything (or most everything) you're probably going to want to know. Really.

Anyway, here's a quick Reader's Digest review of just a few things that have transpired during our hiatus...B.J. Raji has unofficially retired, might come back, might not, who knows? Mike Pennel is suspended for the first four games of the 2016 regular season. Jared Cook is a new tight end courtesy of the Rams not resigning him. Jordy Nelson continues to progress ahead of schedule. Aaron Rodgers had a successful knee clean up There's a few other things, of course, but you probably already know them so no need to rehash them now. Let's move along, shall we?

2016 NFL Draft Underway
With the 27th pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft, the Packers chose UCLA NT Kenny Clark. With Raji's "retirement," a big hole existed in the Packers' defensive line. If Raji was back, the Pack would have make another selection. But the team needs a big man to anchor that 3-4 scheme and Clark fits the bill quite well. Read more here.

UCLA NT Kenny Clark is the Packers 2016 1st round draft pick.
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Day Two of the draft saw Packers GM Ted Thompson do something he rarely does: trade up. Sitting with the 57th pick, Thompson obviously felt that the player he wanted would be gone if he waited. So he packaged fourth and seventh round picks in this year's draft to move up to the 48th slot. With that pick, Thompson secured a huge left tackle from Indiana in the person of Jason Spriggs.
Indiana OT Jason Spriggs is the Packers' 2016 2nd round draft pick.
Photo Credit: Sam Tongue/The Elkhart Truth

Spriggs will be able to work behind the Pack's current tackles and could be the heir-apparent should current LT David Bakhtiari decide to walk during next year's free agency period. Anyone who questions why Thompson would trade up to get an offensive tackle should only reflect back on the disaster that was the Packers' offensive line when both Bakhtiari and Bulaga were out last season. Remember? Remember??? Yeah...that's why.

With the team's third round pick, Thompson pulled the trigger on Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell. Just less than two years removed from an ACL tear, Fackrell now finds himself as part of the Pack's outside linebacker crew. At 6'5" and 245 pounds, Fackrell's rehab went well enough that he had the best statistical season of his college career last year: he started all 13 games he played, thus continuing his streak of starting every game in his collegiate career. He finished his senior season with 82 tackles (15 for loss), had 4 sacks, and recovered five fumbles. Not bad. Certainly got the attention of Ted Thompson. And, obviously, the prior ACL injury was not a concern for Thompson and his staff.
Utah State LB Kyler Fackrell is the Packers 2016 NFL draft 3rd round pick.
Photo Credit: Utah State

One can imagine Fackrell will be given opportunities to use his speed rush ability in third down and blitz packages, bookending Clay Matthews.

Fourth Through Seventh Rounds Today
In about an hour from this posting, the final day of the draft will commence. The Packers enter the day with four picks, although you never know what wheeling and dealing Uncle Ted might do. The Packers have the 33rd and 39th picks (both compensatory and not available to trade) in the fourth round, numbers 131 and 137 overall, as well as the 26th pick in the fifth round (163 overall) and the 25th pick in the sixth round (200 overall). Remember that the Pack traded fourth round and seventh round picks to move up in the second round to get Spriggs.

Enjoy the continuing unwrapping of our Christmas-in-April gifts, Packer fans! We'll be back again later this weekend to get caught up on these later rounds.

Go Pack Go!!!