Birds Eye View - Packers OTA Observations

An In-person account of players standing out Packers' OTAs. 

Editor's Note: Today's special contributor is the person known as "Draft Hobbyist" here in the CHTV reader community. Draft Hobbyist has attended nearly every public practice this offseason and these are first person observations and thoughts on which players stood out.
 
Now that the 2016 Green Bay Packers Organized Team Activities (OTA's) and Minicamp are in the books, lets take a quick look at what players have done, and allow me to project where I think players now stand:
 
Offensive Line: The Packers added 2nd Round pick Jason Spriggs and 6th Round pick Kyle Murphy. Murphy is still learning the ropes, but Spriggs has flashed a few times. Spriggs has been cross-training at both LT and RT. On one play, he put Clay Matthews right on his butt. On the next play, Spriggs didn't even get a hand on Julius Peppers. That about sums up the up and down that you'd expect out of a young player. Still, I've been quite impressed overall at his ability to be patient, sit straight, and avoid leaning forward. He shows good, quick feet as well. He has had a few false starts that he needs to clean up, though. Spriggs is pushing to show he can be a starter, but he'll likely come up short against the veterans, and he looks to be an excellent backup swing LT and RT. Murphy is attempting to show that he should be on the 53 as potential RT/OG, but he has some proving to do yet.
 
Defensive Line: The Packers added a lot to the DL through the 2016 NFL Draft with 1st Round pick Kenny Clark and 4th Round pick Dean Lowry. Unfortunately, I really don't have too much to say about these players other than they don't look out of place. It's nearly impossible to judge the DL at this point because so much of what they do is dependent on strength and leverage, so we'll have to wait and see when drills get a little closer to live. Clark is a lock to make the 53-man roster, while Lowry probably will, just based on draft position and need.
 
Linebacker: 3rd Round pick Kyler Fackrell (OLB) and 4th Round pick Blake Martinez (ILB) were the two LB additions to the Packer's roster. Martinez has really impressed me. He floats around very well on passing downs, always seeming to fill in front of the receivers at the right times. The main weakness I've seen in the passing game is when the WR's bunch up in trips and he has to figure out which one to cover. He sometimes reacts too slowly and can't get outside quick enough. He has also shown a good ability to take on blocks and fill holes in the running game, to the extent that a player can show these qualities in OTA's and minicamp anyways. Martinez shouldn't be discounted from potentially winning a starting spot.
 
On Fackrell, the thing I like about him is that he tries to do a lot of different things. He's going to have to find his move to rely on, but within his arsenel is a bull rush, spin move, and a shoulder dip around the edge. He especially likes to spin when he's locked up on an OL in an attempt to disengage. He is also very comfortable in coverage for as big as he is. Fackrell is raw, there is no doubt about it, but he's showing very good developmental potential, and he seems to be the perfect body type to replace Julius Peppers after eventual retirement, even if Fackrell never reaches that level.
 
Wide Receiver: The last Green Bay Packers 2016 NFL Draft pick that needs to be mentioned is 5th Round Draft pick Trevor Davis. Young WR'stend to make the team based on Special Teams play, and Davis has not disappointed. I watched him extensively on the jugs and with live punts, and he rarely misses or even double catches the ball. I have him marked as going 28 catches to two non-catches in 30 attempts from either the jugs or a live Punter. He looks natural catch the ball, and he has the range to get to balls other guys don't get to. Davis also has the quickness, speed, and ability to read to find and get to the holes against the coverages.
I have also been impressed with Davis as a Wide Receiver. He has good hands, and consistently gets open. He has also high pointed and fought for the ball successfully a few times, which is nice to see from a smaller WR, although the real physicality hasn't started yet. Davis catches the vast majority of targets going his way, including beating some of the better Cornerbacks on the team. If the Packers keep six WR's, that means there are only two spots for Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis, and Trevor Davis, and the rest of the camp WR's, but don't count Davis out from winning one of those spots just yet.
 
Others: To name a few guys not drafted this year, Jared Cook looks outstanding. He runs good routes, catches the ball with his hands, and he has the size to block. He easily looks like our #1 Tight End at the moment. Richard Rodgers looks to be slimmed down a bit.
 
Punter: Peter Mortell can boom the ball really high in the air. He has shown me that he's going to push Masthay, but he needs to do more to win the spot. I think he needs to show more consistency with length, although he has boomed some good, long kicks, and he needs to speed up his approach, which he does seem to be improving at.
 
My Dark Horse for this year to keep an eye on is Running Back Brandon Burks. He can catch the ball very well. On one play, Rodgers threw the ball high and behind him and he jumped up, contorted his body like a WR would, caught the ball, and landed on his feet. It was truly a spectacular catch, one worth of a Rodgers thumbs up. He has also shown the ability to get small and have some wiggle to juke defenders, and even when the Packers are playing 11-on-11 touch, Burks is still finding a way to avoid tackles while following his blockers. Maybe he can surprise and beat out John Crockett, but even if he doesn't, he should be a strong Practice Squad candidate if he keeps up with this level of play.
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Comments (28)

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NickPerry's picture

June 20, 2016 at 06:17 am

Interesting read, thanks "Contributor" . I've never been to a Packers practice or was able to observe so I appreciate whatever I can read. Like to hear the lower draft choices are looking good, especially Martinez.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

June 20, 2016 at 08:25 am

Same here. I'm envious of even the smallest video clip of other team's practices I see on social media.

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dobber's picture

June 20, 2016 at 09:24 am

It is SOOOO time for fresh information...

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DraftHobbyist's picture

June 20, 2016 at 11:13 am

Did this article fulfill your desire for fresh information?

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MarkinMadison's picture

June 20, 2016 at 11:51 am

Worked for me. I'd love to see you do some more in July if you can.

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LeagueObsrvr's picture

June 20, 2016 at 05:16 pm

I'm happy. I've been looking for some news on how the players looked in these minicamps and now I've found some. Thanks and great job!

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Handsback's picture

June 20, 2016 at 06:47 am

I've liked Burks because of everything that you mentioned....speed, catching the balll, and a very good behind the pads runner. Fackrell needs another year in an NFL weightroom. Look at his arms compared to Janis, who is a WR.

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NickPerry's picture

June 21, 2016 at 05:32 am

Fackrell put up 15 reps (Not great but not horrible) and he has what, 35" arms? Normally the guys that are 6'2" 240lbs are the guys that put up 20 or more. OLB'ers who are 6'4" or 6'5" put up a lower number because of arm length. He does need a year in the weight room but I still think he's strong enough to contribute this year.

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 20, 2016 at 06:47 am

Really well written. This time of year is really hard to judge the OL and DL, and even LB. Those positions are mostly based on contact, so we will learn a lot more about those positions in training camp.

That being said, Martinez really sounds like he is impressing people. His coverage ability is what has really stood out from what I have been hearing. He may not start right away but from the way it sounds he will be contributing right away. Which for a rookie 4th round pick, that is what you ask for.

The player I'm most interested in hearing about this time of year is Trevor Davis. WR's you can gain a lot of info about them. WR's you can see how well they catch the ball, run routes and in Davis' case catch punts.
There has been a lot of talk about whether or not they keep 7 WR's. Rob Demovsky just wrote a 53 man roster prediction this morning.
http://espn.go.com/blog/green-bay-packers/post/_/id/30890/packers-53-man...

In the 53 he projects 6 WR's and 10 OL. Which maybe the way it ends up being. But if Barclay is the 10th best OL, is he worth keeping over Abbrederis or Davis?
Davis I think has a high upside, and Thompson doesn't get rid of players with high upsides. If Davis can show he can return punts effectively, don't be surprised if he not only makes the 53, that he is on the game day active list each week.

Burks was my sleeper pick as well... Don Jackson has received a lot of chatter, but Burks is a player to not sleep on. He has really good speed and could be the true 3rd down change of pace back they have been lacking.

I can't wait till training camp.

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dobber's picture

June 20, 2016 at 09:26 am

"Martinez really sounds like he is impressing people. His coverage ability is what has really stood out from what I have been hearing. He may not start right away but from the way it sounds he will be contributing right away. "

Hearing that he's moving fluidly and has a knack for being in the right spots is particularly encouraging. If, in OTAs, he's already generating a feel for where he needs to be, I find it hard not to see good things for him.

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 20, 2016 at 01:08 pm

yeah, i agree. Some players just have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. It sounds like Martinez might have that.

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Cheesestradamus's picture

June 20, 2016 at 06:57 am

"Draft Hobbyist" Very well written. Thanks for your insight. Burks may be another darling of the fans that makes the team through showing "True Grit"? I like those type of players!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 20, 2016 at 07:28 am

Good to hear that Cook was moving well. Crockett was my 3rd choice of the UDFA running backs last year, though I thought Neal, Harris and Crockett were an outstanding group. Still, Crockett might need to make a jump to stay on the roster.

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 21, 2016 at 07:04 am

I am looking forward to see if Crockett does take a step. He was a highly thought of UDFA. He started the season hurt. If he can come in and show he has the playbook well down well I think he will have a roster spot locked up.

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dobber's picture

June 20, 2016 at 07:32 am

I've been looking forward to the OTA content here. Thanks for the contribution!

Sounds like the rooks are fitting in, which this team needs. A strong camp from Martinez (and, of course, continued strong play) will make this defense better and more flexible (relying less on role players and sub packages).

The guy I can't wait to see in pads is Lowry. I think he's got a strong chance to contribute as a rotational end from the get go.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

June 20, 2016 at 12:06 pm

No, Dobber! Get your own sleeper pick! Lol

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dobber's picture

June 20, 2016 at 12:33 pm

I'll share... :)

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Spock's picture

June 20, 2016 at 09:02 am

"Draft Hobbyist" thanks for the report; I've never been to a OTA or practice and living in Arizona (record heat this last weekend, here's the time of year I miss Wisconsin weather) now, doubt I ever will. I appreciate the assessments of the "underwear league" players. For those interested in our new receivers coach, this is an interesting article at PackersNews.com: http://www.packersnews.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2016/06/19/luke-gets...
Who knew that Luke Getsy was a quarterback throwing a touchdown pass to James Jones! Appreciate anything on CHTV during this 6 week "dead zone". This is the time of year you DON'T want to hear about players in the news because it usually is a bad thing (DUI, stupid stuff, etc.). Hopefully, all will be positive with the Packers going into training camp.

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EdsLaces's picture

June 20, 2016 at 10:01 am

Cook lookin good Rich Rod lookin slimmer I liiiike this.

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Bedrock's picture

June 20, 2016 at 10:26 am

Spriggs wiffing bothers me. I've never played line, so it always amazes me how 300lbs versus 300lbs can go untouched. I guess the silver linings include Peppers still having that ability and Spriggs only needing to be a backup.

I'm not very intrigued by the thoughts of a "3rd down change-of-pace" back. We have those players on the roster already with Cobb and maybe Montgomery.

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MarkinMadison's picture

June 20, 2016 at 11:56 am

Peppers is still going to make guys whiff on occasion. http://m.chicagofootball.com/2015/09/13/kyle-long-gets-wake-up-call-in-f... Not saying its a good thing. Just saying it happens.

I don't like the idea of using Cobb or Montgomery as a third down/change of pace back. Every once in a while as a surprise set is fine, but, developing a true 3rd down back is still a good thing. A dinged up Cobb and a dinged up Montgomery was very bad for the Pack last year. Why invite it with a regular diet of RB plays?

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DrealynWilliams's picture

June 20, 2016 at 12:20 pm

"I don't like the idea of using Cobb or Montgomery as a third down/change of pace back. Every once in a while as a surprise set is fine, but, developing a true 3rd down back is still a good thing. A dinged up Cobb and a dinged up Montgomery was very bad for the Pack last year. Why invite it with a regular diet of RB plays?"

I agree, but also disagree (if that makes any sense). I agree that giving Cobb & Montgomery too many carries would be playing with fire. But how often do we actually use our 3rd RB? Not much at all. Remember when we had Lacy/Starks/Franklin? Using Cobb and or Monty as our 3rd RB(s) could split 15,20 or 25 carries a season. The most carries Cobb received in a season is 13.

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Bedrock's picture

June 20, 2016 at 02:56 pm

My thoughts being, why have a change of pace? I'm pretty confident MN isn't asking for a change of pace back from Peterson. I like both Lacy and Starks as 3rd down guys. Will the "3rd down back" be capable of contributing to the team in other ways? Not worth it if he's a one trick pony, unless that trick is really good. I don't see that happening.

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stockholder's picture

June 20, 2016 at 04:58 pm

I like DAVIS OVER ADAMS ALREADY. Martinez is interesting. The speed to get outside is what we've needed. ( So I hope he gets there. ) Joe Thomas doesn't cut it. I hope they try Fackwell instead. I felt TT should have drafted jatavias Brown(Lb) just to replace Thomas. But he went with davis. I hope martinez, Fackwell and Davis do well.

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LouBen's picture

June 20, 2016 at 07:37 pm

Hey you.....nicely written and easy to follow for us "casual fans". Very positive responses from the regulars on here too. Hope you can contribute again. :D

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Handsback's picture

June 21, 2016 at 07:36 am

Reading the article again and seeing the improvement that has occurred in the defense, Green Bay's sack team may lead the league this year. If they stop the run just a bit better than last year, I can see a huge swing in defensive stats this year.
You have Matthews and Peppers rushing hard, they are relieved by Jones and Elliott, and then you throw in a rookie Fackrell the opponent's OTs will get tired. I think depth more than anything else helped Seattle's defense and SB runs. This year, Green Bay will have that in Spades. If the offense is up to their standard.....teams can't run the ball to get back into games they will have to throw and that may play right into the Packer's new tough defense.
I'm hoping and will know in approx. 8 weeks if I'm right.

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Amanofthenorth's picture

June 21, 2016 at 07:03 pm

Not expressed here, but it must be on all the coaches' minds..
There is a lot of pressure to be good placed upon the 20 year old. If he falters the Packers may have a major leak right up the gut.

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Miisbigsur's picture

June 24, 2016 at 01:30 pm

Thanks for the readout, DraftHobbiest. Did you happen to notice Carl Bradford doing anything noteworthy out there? I know he's probably a lost cause at this point, but I still have a sliver of hope that the guy can put it together.

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