I’m not about to grade the Packers’ draft, but I think the Green Bay Packers did a fantastic, fantastic job adding to their roster this past weekend based upon the opinion that they added some very, very productive players.
While I think that things like 40 times and bench press reps have their value, my personal evaluation of players begins with production and gets my heaviest emphasis.
I don’t care if a guy runs a slow 40 time as along as he somehow, someway find a way to make plays on the football field. How he does it doesn’t matter, just so long as he does it.
Now, I’m not naive enough to be blind to the fact that sometimes even high levels of college-level production doesn’t always equate to the same level of success on the football field.
Fans of Wisconsin sports can look to former Badgers running back Ron Dayne, one of the best players in the history of college football that didn’t pan out in the pros.
Regardless, I still love what the Packers’ draft class of 2011 did on the football field and think they can be quality players in Green Bay. Here’s what I like…
- First round: Derek Sherrod, offensive lineman, Mississippi State––Sherrod was a second-team all-conference selection his junior season and a first-team selection his senior season, in the SEC nontheless, the best conference in America. He was a second-team All-American by the Associated Press in 2010 to boot. Despite reports that run blocking is one of his weaknesses, he helped pave the way for the Bulldogs to average 218.9 rushing yards per game, good for second in the SEC (runner-up to only national champion Auburn) and 15th in the nation. He helped Mississippi State qualify for only their second bowl game in the past decade, a New Year’s Day win over Michigan in the Gator Bowl. And he was a team captain.
- Second round: Randall Cobb, wide receiver/return specialist, Kentucky––Setting the single-season conference record for all-purpose yards says it all. In a conference like the SEC, that is beyond impressive. Cobb led the conference in receptions per game in 2010. And he was also the only player in the nation to be either first or second on his time in passing, rushing and receiving.
- Third round: Alex Green, running back, Hawaii––Led the entire nation (FBS) with 8.2 rushing yards per attempt among players with over 100 rushes. Green had 1,199 yards rushing this past season, which is the second-highest single season total in Hawaii history. He also became the first Hawaii player to top 1,000 rushing yards in a season since 1992. His 38 receptions in just two seasons at Hawaii stand out as impressive.
- Fourth round: Davon House, cornerback, New Mexico State––During his junior season, House led the entire WAC Conference in both interceptions and passes defensed. Then his senior season, he led his team in interceptions, passes defensed and tackles. He was a first-team All-WAC selection both years. House returned three interceptions for touchdowns in his career and set the school record for career interception return yardage.
- Fifth round: D.J. Williams, tight end, Arkansas––Williams was the John Mackey Award winner in 2010 given annually to the player voted as the nation’s best tight end. He led Arkansas with 49 catches in 2010, which is impressive considering their deep receiving corps and how much they spread the ball around. He was a first-team All-SEC selection and a third-team All-American this past season after being a second-team All-SEC pick in 2009.
- Sixth round A: Caleb Schlauderaff, offensive lineman, Utah––During the college football season, there was a statistic that stood out to me. By the end of September, Utah had only allowed a single sack. By the end of October they had only given up three. Should it come as no surprise that they were undefeated until that point. They surrendered 11 sacks the entire season, which was good for 10th in the entire nation, and that includes the service academies that rarely pass. Schlauderaff was a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection, a second-team All-American by Walter Camp and Sports Illustrated and a third-team All-American by the Associated Press.
- Sixth round B: D.J. Smith, inside linebacker, Appalachian State––Smith led the Southern Conference and ranked fifth nationally with 144 tackles. His 525 career tackles were the most among active Division I players in 2010, rank second in his school’s history and fourth in the conference’s history.
- Sixth round C: Elmore might be the prime example of a player whose measurables don’t stack up with his college production. He’s been criticized for barely being able to break 4.9 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but the fact remains he led the Pac-10 Conference in sacks in both his junior (10.0) and senior (11.0) years. For those concerned about his 40 time, it may be worth noting that short-shuttle time of 4.32 seconds ranked second among all defensive lineman at the NFL Combine.
- Seventh round A: Ryan Taylor, tight end, North Carolina: Set the school record at North Carolina for most receptions by a tight end in a single season with 36 for 330 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll be looked at primarily as a special teams player as a person who says he won North Carolina’s special-teams award all four years he was in school.
- Seventh round C: As a three-year starter at Arizona State, he totaled 122 tackles, 23 for a loss and eight sacks.