Cory's Corner: Packers Must Channel Jaire Alexander

Jaire Alexander is one of those players that defensive coordinators love. He has a high football IQ, he never stops and he obviously loves the game. 

In short, he’s a football player. 

The Packers pick at 12 and 30 and with those two picks, they can make their defense very dynamic — while also impressing the heck out of second-year defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

From 2005-2017, the Packers didn’t value the middle linebacker position. The best middle linebacker that former general manager Ted Thompson drafted in that span was A.J. Hawk and he only had five solid seasons during his nine-year campaign in Green Bay. 

The middle linebacker was always an afterthought with former defensive coordinator Dom Capers using ‘Nitro’ and ‘NASCAR’ packages, which put different matchups on the field. 

It’s time to change that. This will be Brian Gutekunst’s second draft. Last year was highlighted by the fiery spark plug in Alexander. He brought a constant energy to the defense and the secondary. Now it’s time for Gutekunst to double-down on that pick and infuse some energy in the defensive line and linebacking corps.

Todd McShay’s latest mock is Louisiana State University inside linebacker Devin White to the Packers at 12. That’s not bad, but I don’t think the Packers traded a fourth and a fifth rounder to Carolina last year in order to draft Oren Burks in the third round. Remember, Burks would’ve gotten more playing time if it wasn’t for a nagging shoulder injury. 

Many people, including myself, have been screaming for an edge rushing presence that has been sorely lacking. Nick Perry has only started 20 games the last two years and ironically enough, his only double-digit sack season was the contract year in 2016. As for Clay Matthews, he has started 30 of 32 games the last two years but he cannot get around the edge anymore and is starting to make business decisions when it comes to making tackles.

If University of Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver is around at No. 12, the Packers need to take him. He’s very physical and also instinctual. Many people don’t like Oliver simply because Houston didn’t play in a Power 5 conference. That’s crazy talk. He had 16 ½ tackles for loss in 2017 and 14 ½ this past season — even after missing four games. Oliver has been compared to Aaron Donald by some, which may be a bit of hyperbole, but if you’re in the same conversation as Donald you’re doing something right. 

And then Gutekunst can follow that pick up with University of Michigan middle linebacker Devin Bush at 30. Bush is an excellent athlete that is very instinctual. While White whiffs on numerous open-field plays, Bush plays more like Alexander and plays like a wild man. He had five sacks and six passes broken up this past season playing under Jim Harbaugh.

That will make three dynamic players at each level of the defense. And Oliver, Bush and Alexander will be perfect leaders as the Packers look to the future for sustained success. 

Better yet, it puts Green Bay in the conversation for the NFC title again. Not just because of Aaron Rodgers, but because this would put some pieces around him. The more the Saints kept winning this past season, the more people thought that the Packers wouldn’t get much value at 30. 

That’s dead wrong. This is a defensive-heavy draft. The Packers will have plenty to choose from at both 12 and 30. If they follow the mold of Alexander, this defense and this team will be pretty good for years to come. 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (59)

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Rustyweezee's picture

February 09, 2019 at 06:35 am

Among the problems that the defense showed, and not even just last season, I can't hardly take poor tackling from the Packers anymore. Whether it's personnel or a culture thing, I'd put tackling as a high priority on any defensive draft pick. This fits the channeling Jaire Alexander theme, too.

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CoryJennerjohn's picture

February 09, 2019 at 07:24 am

Exactly. Plain and simple, Alexander just does the little things. He hustles when he’s not even in the play and he’s fired up when his teammates make a play.

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The TKstinator's picture

February 09, 2019 at 10:58 am

Wouldn’t “three dynamic players at each level of the defense” make 9 players total?

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 03:58 pm

Abram the safety from Miss. State is a seek and destroy guy. He's rated rom #1 -#2 Rounds. He can follow WRs, not a stiff like Josh Jones, who in my opinion is a guy that can be move on from.

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The TKstinator's picture

February 10, 2019 at 06:55 am

If GB can draft players at any positions as effective as 23 has been, it’ll be a great draft. Sure we’d all love edge, S, OL, TE, etc but reaching for needs is death in the NFL.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

February 10, 2019 at 10:40 am

"... reaching for needs is death in the NFL."

That's how you wind up with a J. Reynolds in the first round.

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Lphill's picture

February 09, 2019 at 08:10 am

Devin white at 12 and Adderly at 30 greatly improves the defense next season you can still get a tight end and edge rusher , Devin White can’t be passed up if he’s available at 12 . He is the next Willis if not Ray Lewis.

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HankScorpio's picture

February 09, 2019 at 09:02 am

I'm rapidly warming to the idea of drafting Devin White @ 12. He's the kind of 3 down LB with freakish athleticism the Packers have never really had. I bet Pettine would find some very interesting ways to weaponize him.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 09, 2019 at 02:17 pm

White and Adderley would be a very successful first round for us. Both of these players would improve the defense.

I also agree with Guam's point about looking first to FA, because if we could fill a spot or two in FA it changes our draft strategy.

I, personally, think we can get a guard in FA. A veteran who has demonstrated he can survive a season and get in the way of pass rushers for a couple seconds.

I would resign Gilbert for the vet minimum. If I could resign Cobb for $15 million over two years I'd do it. I'd try to get a starting RG vet as a cheap FA fix. We have plenty of money to do all that.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:18 pm

I would offer Cobb 3M per year on a prove it deal loaded with incentive clauses. More than likely he's gone.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 09, 2019 at 02:42 pm

My info on White lists him at 6'0". Is that correct ?

Truth be told, I'd like a little taller guy with a little better wingspan. Everytime I saw that bastard Uhrlacher get his hand on a pass I wished we had a guy like that.

You put White in the middle of our D with Martinez and Clark and those A gaps are going to be tough yardage.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:14 pm

White is projected between # 6-#10 to be picked in the draft. He is dynamic and a player. The Florida ILB is not that far behind and probably will be there in the third.

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fthisJack's picture

February 10, 2019 at 09:00 am

i'm also a fan of White at 12. when was the last time GB had a difference maker in the middle of the defense?

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Jonathan Spader's picture

February 10, 2019 at 11:47 am

When they shifted CM3 to ILB.

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Madfan's picture

February 09, 2019 at 08:12 am

I very much like the idea of this story. Pressure can come from many places, including the interior. These are the type of players the Packers should be drafting. Add a guard and tight end the second day and things look much brighter.

However, to get to the point where a draft like this makes sense, the Packers need to sign a top tier edge rusher and a top tier safety in free agency. And possibly a second tier edge rusher, a second tier safety and a guard as well.

Fill major gaps in free agency and then take best players available in the draft.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 09, 2019 at 02:53 pm

Thumbs up. So: $16M OLB, $9M FS, $7M RG = $32M AAV. First year cap hit at 70% = $22.4M. [$15M left, plus any extra money from cuts.]

I'd love a slot WR such as Beasley or Crowder. $6.5M AAV at 80% or 70% (due to age) = $4.87. $11M left.

If Breeland prices himself out of GB, can we look at Darqueeze Denard? $8M AAV @ 70% = $5.6. $5.4M left.

Wilkerson: $3M @ 100% (1 yr. deal). $2.4M left

We're out of money. We could do 60% instead of 70% plus for cap hits. It won't happen that way, of course. Not sure Saffold can be pried away from LAR, so it might be a cheaper RG. Not sure that signing a cheaper safety isn't a good idea, maybe two of them for less than one Thomas/Collins/Joyner. Hard to say if any of the really big name pass rushers come free. Maybe Houston is a cap casualty and instead of $16M AAV he comes for $10M AAV, or whatever. Hey, now GB has more money!

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:22 pm

Safford looked to be played by Big Bad Bill in the SB. I would look at a guy at the end of his First Contract and an upward bending arc.

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Rossonero's picture

February 09, 2019 at 08:17 am

Anyone on defense who'll bring more swagger is what we badly need.

Our defense plays differently when Jaire Alexander is on the field. Has anyone else noticed that?

He has swagger. I don't care if you're a high draft pick or undrafted. If you can play, then you can play.

Past players who gave us swagger were Reggie White and Charles Woodson. Clay Matthews has also given us some swagger over the years, as Mike Daniels has too.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 09, 2019 at 02:47 pm

Ahmad Carroll had lots of swagger. But he wasn't a good football player. Terrell Buckley had lots of swagger. Remember him?

Alexander is smart. He can cover and tackle and likes to compete. He stayed fairly available his rookie yea. King is also smart and and can cover and tackle, but he hasn't stayed as healthy. I think Jackson is a smart guy who can cover and tackle.

Draft defenders who are smart and can cover and tackle. What position they play isn't as important as that.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:24 pm

T Buck ended up with about 75 INTs in his career and couple rings with Bill.
Packers did not know how to use him, sound familiar?

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Leatherhead's picture

February 09, 2019 at 05:08 pm

Yeah, because Holmgren and Wolf were so stupid...…

Sheeesh. Did you ever see this guy? It was like having Gomer Pyle out there. This guy had an unbelievable ability to just f*** ** things in the most unbelievable way.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:23 pm

Leaders Lead.

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arthurl's picture

February 09, 2019 at 08:57 am

If Oliver is still around at #12, I would take him. Pack should also resign Wilkerson to provide solid depth. Next two selections I'm hoping they go TE, OL depending whose available. They should look to sign a top FA OLB and keep Perry. They also should be looking at FA safety. They also need another RB as Jones isn't durable and Williams is backup talent. Get some more OL talent in the draft.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 09, 2019 at 02:50 pm

Here's the issue on signing Wilkerson: He's older, he's coming off another serious injury, and he's not going to play for the vet minimum.

Right now, under contract, we have Daniels, Lowry, Clark, Adams, and Lancaster. None of them are eligible for the practice squad. So we've got one space on the 53. Daniels and Lowry are both in the final year of their contract.

Personally, I'd rather fill this with a premium pick than with an old and beaten up FA.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:28 pm

Wilkerson had a smashed ankle. I don't believe he will be ready for next season. He is a low-hustle guy. He has his cash. Will he be all in on elevating his game after a three year slouch? Not Likely. Fadol Brown showed promise as a 5 tech in the few games he played. Would keep him.

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fthisJack's picture

February 10, 2019 at 09:12 am

if they get Oliver at 12 there is no need for Wilkerson. you have Adams, Lowry, Lancaster and Brown showed some potential. let him walk.

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CoachJV's picture

February 09, 2019 at 09:10 am

Speculation at drafting is fun for the fans and keeps our minds occupied during the down time... but honestly, we won't even know our true positions of need until after Free Agency starts.

Any FA's we sign will impact the draft and change our positions of need. FA first, then the draft.

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haseo's picture

February 09, 2019 at 09:39 am

Packers NEED to leave the first round with an edge player. Perry is washed up to say the least, and the depth isn’t exactly inspiring. I’m in the camp that Matthews can be effective as an inside backer. Just my thoughts.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 09, 2019 at 02:58 pm

Well, we finished 8th in sacks and 7th in percentage without much in the way of contributions from Matthews or Perry. Why do we need to spend a first round pick on an edge rusher who MIGHT help us finish a little higher?

Perry is still under contract, and if he's healthy for the opener he'll start on one side and Fackrell on the other. Gilbert can be retained for the vet minimum.

We only carry 4 on the gameday roster and 5 on the 53. We were not strong against the run AND we can't put 5 guys in the secondary who can cover and tackle. I think both of those are bigger priorities than getting us another 4 or 5 sacks next year.

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haseo's picture

February 10, 2019 at 12:26 am

I feel ya, but we need an edge rusher who can win one-on-ones against NFL calibers. We don’t possess that, sure we had a LOT of sacks, but Petrine schemed his way to a LOT of those. Can’t always rely on that, ya know?

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fthisJack's picture

February 10, 2019 at 09:21 am

i don't think any of the edge rusher left at #12 would be good value. if one of the top tier any at position guys fall to you....take him....i.e.....Oliver, White, Williams, Williams. otherwise trade down for more draft capitol and get one of these second tier OLB guys anyway.....Polite, Sweat, Burns.

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CAG123's picture

February 09, 2019 at 09:54 am

There’s a good chance the Bucs could cut Gerald McCoy what do you guys think of the Packers bringing him in? Having three guys on the defensive line that are capable of 5 plus sacks each sounds pretty good to me. Could be a really nice low key signing.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 09, 2019 at 03:18 pm

Surely TB would trade him? Age 31. Cap hits of $13M, $12.5M and $12.9M.
His solo tackles were down, and he played DT in a 4-3, but otherwise, he still looks elite. 23 and 21 QB hits in 2017 and 2018 with 6 sacks in each year. That's way more QB hits than Daniels and Clark - Daniels has had 5, 11 and 11 QB hits and Clark's career high in 2018 was 9.

McCoy is an interesting idea. Good players are good players. Not sure that's where we should channel our resources, but it would be fun to have him.

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CAG123's picture

February 09, 2019 at 11:04 pm

There’s been talks of him being a cap casualty

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 10, 2019 at 10:32 am

True. When you mentioned McCoy I googled him and found some local stories agreeing with you that he might be a cap casualty. He is still a very good player. If he's a cap casualty, that's even better.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:31 pm

How about a 4-3 look if Mc Coy came on board. Don't get pigeon -holed into a rigid point of view about scheme. The name of the game is flexibility and getting the Best guys on the field to perform.

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jww061356's picture

February 09, 2019 at 09:55 am

My dream scenario would be to get an EDGE and a Safety and Guard in FA. Then EDGE, Hockenson or Fant @ TE, and Nasir Adderly @ Safety.

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Lare's picture

February 09, 2019 at 10:04 am

After watching the Super Bowl, I have no problem with adding some difference makers with attitude to the defense.

But IMO, if they don't improve the OL this season, it isn't going to make any difference how good the defense is.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:34 pm

Protect your franchise QB. How will the whiteskins deal with the loss of Alex Smith?

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The TKstinator's picture

February 09, 2019 at 11:00 am

If GB lands a generational, transcendant talent at 12 (or 30, etc) I don’t care where he lines up. Difference makers are a rarity.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:36 pm

OK, then....let's say that a franchise QB is available at #12. KInd of like last year, when we passed on Lamar Jackson.

I'm sure you'd agree that QB is by far the most important position on the team, we don't have anything for a backup, and if Rodgers gets hurt then the backup becomes the most important player on the team, yes?

Then there is the matter of Rodgers age, "off year", and growing injury history.

Me, personally....I think the biggest mistake you can make in the draft is to pass over a franchise QB.

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Nick Perry's picture

February 09, 2019 at 11:06 am

I honestly think Gute is going to add FA along the O-Line in FA, at least one or two O-Linemen, perhaps two of the (hopefully) not to pricy edge players like Shaquil Barrett, Preston Smith, (I doubt he'll be too cheap though) Za’Darius Smith, or even Dante Fowler. You sign one or two of those guys and you've upgraded your OLB considerably. I'm really curious to see what the market for Barrett will be. He was behind Chubb and Miller in Denver but was pretty effective when given a chance to play (Sacks, Hurries, QB Hits).

Now if we fixed O-Line and Edge in FA or O-Line just for example for this, the Packers could take Oliver if he fell and would have a pass rush from hell on the interior of the D-Line with Clark, Oliver, and Daniels. Hell even a ROTATION.....Nice

That would set up what I hope happens and that's Hockenson, Fant, or Irv Smith at 30 depending who's there. Waiting for the 44th pick and I think we lose on all 3. I'm also hopeful Gute starts to add some friggen offense to this team. How many years have we been drafting defense, defense, and more defense? I know Rodgers was bad last season for Aaron Rodgers. But he was also handcuffed by lack of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. MVS and EBS both look promising, but as far as established make a play when called upon WR they had one...Adams.

The Packers HAVE to start giving AR some much needed help. A new scheme will help but at the end of the day he'll need weapons. A TE like Hock or Smith would be perfect. Better early than not at all IMO.

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JonnieB12's picture

February 09, 2019 at 01:58 pm

I agree that Gute will add at least one free agent OLB and I think he will also add a safety. If the packers did draft Oliver or White if they fell and then went with a TE at 30, what do you think they do with the second round pick? Stick with offense and draft an O-lineman or maybe a WR if someone like N'Keal Harry is still there? Or do they go back to defense? Interested in your opinion.

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Nick Perry's picture

February 09, 2019 at 02:58 pm

I'd like to see the Packers sign Quinto Spain who played RG for the Titans for MLF last season. The Titans also have another FA Guard named Kevin Pamphile who might be worth a look. Spain was a starter and was actually a pretty decent Guard. Pamphile I have no idea about but Spain would definitely be an upgrade and he'd already be well versed in MLF offense.

The Packers basically have NO ONE at Safety unless they've given up already on Josh Jackson and plan on moving him there. Even still they've got to look at the position like they have no one at either FS or SS and retool completely. If they could add a Safety like Tre Boston for example and add a safety in the 2nd or 3rd round to start next to him like the Rapp, Hooker, Abram, someone like that would be an upgrade.

I guess we'll know in a while what Gutes ideas are. Does he want to use FA and upgrade as many positions as possible with Tier II type players, or will he try and sign 2 maybe 3 Top Tier types. At certain positions like Guard, Safety, and O-Line depth it won't take much to be an upgrade.

IMO one thing is certain...This IS the most important offseason in GB since 2006 and maybe since 1992 when Wolf and Holmgren came in. Again just my opinion. I HATE losing and last year just sucked on so many levels.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:39 pm

In that scenario I would bag one of the #2 round rated players be it Abram at Safety or Bennie Snell at power running back. My bias leans to Snell. He dominated the SEC for three years, not one-year wonders like the 'Bama machine cranks out. These guys are players.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:55 pm

You and I agree on trying to get an offensive lineman in FA.

As a point of reference, I'd say look at Ryan Groy, the old UW guy. He's played in at least 14 games the last 3 years in a row for Buffalo so you know he can survive a season. He's 28 and he'd probably cost just a little over the vet minimum. Add in incentives for being on the gameday roster and we've solved the RG problem for a small amount of money.

You and I disagree on the TE. We have a starting TE, his name is Jimmy Graham, he had one of the statistically best seasons for a Packer TE over the last quarter century and was among the Top 10 TEs in the league in most categories.

The thing is that you only have one ball. Every pass that you throw to the TE is one less touch for Jones and Williams, one less target of Davante Adams, etc.

IMO, the Packers could move the ball and score points just fine even if we played with an OT as the TE. It's been done, trust me. I also think that strategically, the Packers want to run the ball more and keep Rodgers from getting hit as much.....to me, that means a TE who can get people blocked and maybe catch a pass or two. We don't need a first round pick for that.

I don't really see a need to spend a premium pick on the TE spot. Play Graham, Tonyan, and Spriggs and run the ball more. Throw more passes to the backs. Expect that you'll want to give more opportunities to MSV and St. Brown in their second year.

JMO.

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Nick Perry's picture

February 10, 2019 at 01:35 am

When I was looking at FA on Sportac I saw Ryan Gory's nam and for the life of me I couldn't remember where the hell I'd heard his name and it was driving me nuts....Now I remember and he'd be a nice addition as well.

I actually believe Jimmy G will have a decent year next year BUT in this offense MLF likes TE who can block. I'll bet you on thing... The Packers will have plays in the red-zone specifically designed for Graham this year. I read something where the Packers only threw to him 9 times in the red-zone last year...NINE. That was just crazy IMO...What a waste. BUT Graham also looked really slow last season at times and ran pretty sloppy routes for the most part. Can't do much about how fast he is but for that kind of money he should be running GREAT routes.

I've just really started my draft work and am really looking forward to the combine. If Smith, Fant, or Hockenson were to turn into Gronk 2.0 or a TE teams had to actually game plan for I don't care where they draft him. They've screwed around with the position to long IMO Old School...Get er done!

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sam1's picture

February 09, 2019 at 11:30 am

I honestly think no one knows who or what Gute is going to draft/hire FA, just fun to speculate!

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CheesyTex's picture

February 09, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Still hoping Dexter Lawrence (Clemson DT) falls to Packers due to PEDs concern. Dream scenario: He falls to 4th round spot from Washington (HaHa) and the current buzz that Clemson may have "inadvertently" provided no-nos to the 3 suspended players is proven to be accurate.

With Clark and Daniels flanking Lawrence, IMO they'd command enough attention (extra blockers) to allow Pettine's D to be dominant without breaking the bank for a free agent edge.

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JonnieB12's picture

February 09, 2019 at 02:01 pm

That would be awesome if he fell that far. Even with the PED concerns I am not sure if he falls out of even round two honestly...

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:42 pm

They already have Clark and Lancaster to play the Nose.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 09, 2019 at 05:02 pm

Clark is awesome. Lancaster was a UDFA practice squad guy who got elevated after Wilkinson got hurt. He played tough but he was part of the reason that we didn't play the run very well the last half of the season.

We usually play 2-3 linemen at a time, usually activate 5 on gameday and maybe one more on the 53 man roster. Right now, under contract, we have Lowry, Daniels, Clark, Adams, and Lancaster. It's the last year the contract for Daniels and Lowry.

I understand your point, but we absolutely have room for a DT who can get pressure up the middle.

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Christian Roussel's picture

February 09, 2019 at 03:35 pm

I love Devin White. Always tought that Gutekunst traded up to get Arden Key but settled for Oren Burks since the Raiders got Key with the 87th pick.

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fthisJack's picture

February 10, 2019 at 09:34 am

White is my guy also.....we need a difference maker in the middle.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 09, 2019 at 04:58 pm

We get 6 picks in the first 114.

Chicago gets 1
Minnesota gets 3, then one more around 117.
Detroit gets 4.

We could actually engineer a few small trade downs and pick up two more picks in the top 114. Eight bites of the apple while Chicago gets one. That's how you gain on the division leader in the draft.

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fthisJack's picture

February 10, 2019 at 09:32 am

i like the trade down from #12 if nobody has fallen. Gute hit a home run doing it last year and it could happen again this year.

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Colin_C's picture

February 09, 2019 at 11:22 pm

If we land Oliver, I won't even have to watch the rest of the draft because I'll be so happy. Heck, I'd even trade up for him. A lot of the draft pundits are over-thinking where Oliver should go. He's a top 3 talent, and anyone who lands him outside the top 5 is getting a steal. If we miss on Oliver, then Simmons is my next hope.

As for Bush, I wanted to like his tape so badly, but there're some things that really concern me. I think he's going to struggle against even TE's blocking him, and he just didn't make as many "splash plays" as I thought he would. That said, I love his demeanor and play style, plus his coverage ability is really solid against TE's.

I just hope whomever we take at 12 is a difference maker, regardless of position or need.

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fthisJack's picture

February 10, 2019 at 09:31 am

i think White would be a solid pick at #12. Bush at #12 is not good value....might be had at #30.

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fthisJack's picture

February 10, 2019 at 09:28 am

does anyone know what is up with Cole Madison? is he done with football or is it possible he will play this year for the Pack?

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