The Packers have had two defensive backs from the University of Delaware come in for official visits, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. One of them was safety Anthony Walters. “The Colonial Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Walters ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash and bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times,” writes Wilson. With it being a poor year for safeties, it makes sense that the Packers might add depth to the position while going the undrafted route.
Delaware safety Anthony Bratton also made a visit to Green Bay. “The all-conference strong safety ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 and 4.50 seconds at his campus Pro Day workout,” writes Aaron Wilson. Both players sound like they had very successful college careers, which makes sense seeing as Delaware has been a successful FCS program. Their visits may or may mean the Packers will draft or sign these players, but they’re names to keep an eye on.
In other pre-draft news, Packers scout Richmond Williams was at Lamar University in Texas yesterday. “The scouts also watched film of Lamar games from last season and wrote expanded reports on players who appeared to have the most potential to play professionally,” writes Christopher Dabe of the Beaumont Enterprise.
There will be a draft party held at Curly’s Pub in the Lambeau Field Atrium on Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week. “Curly’s Pub at the Lambeau Field Atrium will host the Green Bay Packers’ official 2011 NFL Draft Party, highlighted by an April 28, Thursday night event that will feature appearances by Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, General Manager Ted Thompson, Head Coach Mike McCarthy, along with former Packers place kicker Chris Jacke (1987-96) and tight end Paul Coffman (1978-85),” according to the Packers official website. To be sure, the Packers draft party isn’t what it used to be a couple years ago when thousands of people packed the Atrium. The event at Curly’s is now a more intimate affair.
On the labor front, a group of 70 mid-tier NFL players is looking to be represented in mediation during the NFL antitrust case. “The players who would intervene are considered far lower in the pecking order and perhaps would have more to lose from a protracted standoff,” writes Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal. No players have been named among the 70, but given the sheer number of them, there’s a decent chance a Packer or a couple could be among them.
Reaction to this news comes from Doug Farrar at Yahoo Sports. “The second group of players was solicited more than once by a law firm with ties to the NFL. In fact, the firm in question had to sort out an internal matter that would have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct before proceeding,” writes Farrar. What’s being wondered is if the NFL is manufacturing a divide between NFL players. And as you notice in the picture of the aforementioned article, Packers president Mark Murphy took part in the mediation talks before they broke off on Wednesday.
More reaction, this time to the release of the NFL schedule, comes from Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “The league must believe strongly a settlement is on the horizon,” writes Vandermause. “Otherwise, what is the point of getting fans hyped up about a 2011 schedule that might not be played? Pulling back from the promise of a full schedule will only make fans more angry.” Umm, no. The fans are going to peeved about missed games no matter what. Releasing the full schedule isn’t going to make them any more angry. One could make the argument that if the NFL didn’t release the schedule that they don’t believe the situation will be resolved in time for the scheduled start of the season. Now that would make fans mad.
While examining positions of need on the Packers, wide receiver comes at the top of the list, according to Rob Reischel of PackerInsider at JSOnline.com (subscription required). “Donald Driver is 36 years old,” writes Reischel. “James Jones remains likely to leave in free agency. And Brett Swain showed in Super Bowl XLV he’ll be hard pressed to make the roster again.” Any wide receiver that may be drafted by the Packers that can also show return ability will have a decent chance to make the team.
The special teams are looked at by Rob Demovsky of the Press-Gazette in advance of the Draft. “A dynamic return man is one of the Packers’ biggest needs, but GM Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy have refused to add a returner who also can’t help them on the 45-man roster at another position, be it cornerback, running back or receiver,” writes Demovsky. “If the Packers add any kickers it would be merely for a training camp leg to take some of the workload off [Mason] Crosby and [Tim] Masthay.” Unless, of course, Crosby were to leave in free agency, although that is unexpected.
A Draft preview of the running back position from a Packers perspective comes from Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin. He also touches upon the fullbacks. “The Packers full house of John Kuhn, Korey Hall and Quinn Johnson may not be together much longer,” writes Wilde. “Kuhn and Hall are both free agents-to-be, while Johnson has not done much to inspire significant optimism.” Packers fans may not want to hear it, but this appears to be a deep draft class of fullbacks. Just sayin’.
Meanwhile, the inside linebackers are given attention by Thomas Hobbes of AllGreenBayPackers.com. “I don’t think its financially possible for the Packers to retain all four of their big contract inside linebackers and either someone gets traded or someone will get cut, its just a matter of when and who,” writes Hobbes. “Regardless, young talent would make sense to fill in the gap.” I personally am a fan of Nate Irving of North Carolina State, who looks to be a mid-round draft choice.
An opinion from an NFL scout on the possibility of the Packers drafting defensive lineman Cameron Heyward is gathered by Pete Dougherty of the Press-Gazette. “I think he’ll be there,” said the scout. “I could see (the Packers) liking him, I could see him being a guy (General Manager) Ted Thompson kind of likes. Ohio State, solid. I kind of like him, I think he has something to him, knows how to play the game. He’s not a dominant player, but he could be a nice solid player. When you’re picking down there you’re not necessarily going to get a dominant player.” If I were to create odds of who the Packers might draft, Heyward would be near the top of the list.
Former Packers offensive lineman Norman Masters passed away. “Masters started at left tackle between 1957 and 1959 and was a backup for Bob Skoronski in 1960,” writes Kareem Copeland of the Press-Gazette. “He moved back into the starting lineup for the stretch run of the 1961 championship season when Jerry Kramer was lost to injury. Forrest Gregg slid from right tackle to right guard and Masters took over at right tackle. He went back to being the sixth lineman in 1962.”
News of the new Packers Hall of Fame website comes from John Rehor of the Packers Lounge. On the new members-only area: “This elaborate online system launched in mid-January with 250 pages of content, hundreds of photos, more than 10 videos, trivia and poll questions and more. New content will be added each month with the goal of building a complete digital archive of Packers history — including video, audio, and written stories from fans, coaches, players, and staff.” I’ve had the opportunity to see their new work, including the members-only area, and can recommend it. It’s an ambitious project.
Former Packers first-round draft choice Jamal Reynolds, largely known as one of the biggest busts in Packers draft history, spoke at length with Martin Hendricks for a feature at PackerInsider (subscription required). “Today, the 32-year-old Reynolds lives in Tallahassee,” writes Hendricks. “He owns a rental properties firm and also purchases foreclosed properties to refurbish and sell them.” It’s a lengthy story. Kudos to Reynolds for speaking so frankly given the way his career path as professional football player took.
Total Packers notes that seven Packers made the list of the top 100 players in the NFL by Pete Prisco of CBS Sports. “A good showing by Green Bay, especially considering how the rest of the NFC North fared,” writes Sarah. “The Minnesota Vikings had four players in the top 100 and the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions just two each.” The entire list of 100 players can be viewed here.
Audio of an interview with quarterback Aaron Rodgers speaking about his Madden cover voting loss and the NFL schedule comes from Jason Wilde on Twitter.
A feature on Youngstown State cornerback Brandian Ross who was “brought in” by the Packers is at Packer Report (subscription required).
Alabama running back Mark Ingram is scrutinized from a Packers perspective by Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel.
An article on Cam Newton comes from Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel (sub required).
Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin is given some attention by Packer Update.
Another unfunny satirical column from JSOnline’s Mike Hart is on their Packer Insider section. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I can’t believe they put this behind a paywall.