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Ryan Pickett: In Shape or Overweight?

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Ryan Pickett: In Shape or Overweight?

Packers defensive lineman Ryan Pickett. Photo by Corey Behnke of

Back on Apr. 25, in a column meant to justify why the Packers needed to use the NFL Draft to find reinforcements in the trenches, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointed a metaphorical finger at defensive lineman Ryan Pickett.

"Pickett, 33, and entering his 13th season, is nearing the end," wrote McGinn. "He reported two weeks ago overweight and out of shape."

Nothing in the Journal Sentinel flies under the radar as the most widely circulated newspaper in Wisconsin. And when something comes from the Hall of Fame honored beat writer, it becomes as close to gospel as you can get in Packers Nation.

That's why it's curious when a report published yesterday from Drew Smith of Fox 11 in Green Bay nearly flew in the face of McGinn's earlier commentary.

According to Smith:

Usually, the Green Bay Packer defensive lineman treats the end of the season like school is out, but this offseason he decided to eat a little more healthily.

“It’s good eating,” said Pickett. “Normally in the offseason, when the season is over, I’m like, 'Yes! I’m gonna go get some burgers, do this and that.' This year, I took a different approach. I just want to be healthy, not just for this year, but the rest of my life. I’ve got a lot of folks I need to be around for.”

Pickett was encouraged by his wife, who encouraged him to pay more attention to what he ate in the offseason. As a result, Pickett says he came back to the Packers almost 10 pounds under his listed weight of 338 and almost 20 under his true playing weight.

Of course, this assumes you take Pickett at his word. It wouldn't exactly be in his best interests to admit to being out of shape, but there's no reason to believe he's telling a flat-out lie either.

At 33 years old Pickett is obviously closer to the end of his career than the beginning. But even in his 12th season in the NFL in 2012, there didn't appear to be any drop off in his play. He had 51 tackles last season, the most he's racked up in a single season since 2006.

Pickett never has been a flashy player, the type that racks up a bunch of sacks. But you have to realize that's not been part of his job description. Never has been and never will be.

Instead, Pickett is a two-gapping run stuffer. He's the guy that keeps blockers off the linebackers, and he's among the best in the business at  doing what he does.

In fact, Pickett is the answer to the trivia question, "Who was the last player the Packers used the franchise tag on?" Raise your hand if you remember that. It happened back in 2010, and people tend to forget about it because it didn't take long for Pickett to come to terms on a four-year, nearly $25 million contract extension with the team at the time.

If that's not evidence of how highly regarded Pickett is for doing the dirty work in Green Bay, I don't know what is.

Among Pickett's best qualities are his dependability and his hustle, especially for a man of his size. He's typically missed a handful of games per season, but he did play in and start all 16 games last season.

And it's always been amazing to watch Pickett run after ball carriers sideline to sideline in spite of his size. Weighing over 340 lbs., he doesn't always track them down, but he always gives an honest effort.

Because of these reasons, it's probably not worth being worried that Pickett could possibly be out of shape. In the seven seasons he's played for the Packers, he's never shown any signs of being a conditioning concern by the time the season rolls around, at least to my knowledge.

Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac doesn't appear to be showing any concern.

“Pickett, I think in the five years I’ve been here, I think this is the lightest he’s come in," said Trgovac during an NFL Draft press conference.

McGinn certainly wasn't unjustified about the Packers needing to add help on the defensive line, but it had as much to do with five defensive linemen having expiring contracts following the 2013 season than it did with Pickett specifically.

Pickett is one of those five players who's entering the final year of his deal, but that should only add to his motivation if he hopes to play in the NFL beyond this season.

As a side note, it's interesting to see how the Packers are approaching the offseason in response to the 579 yards of offense Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers put up in their playoff loss last season.

From Smith:

It helps the offseason program includes more conditioning drills than normal, as coach Mike McCarthy wants his team to be better equipped to play the athletic quarterbacks they will see early in their season, with the 49ers and the Redskins their first two games.

That should only help Pickett and the rest of the team stay in shape.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (26) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackerPete's picture

Maybe somebody whould ask McGinn how he comes up with this. He said all 3, Pickett, Raji, and Jolly showed up out of shape. Is it just him guessing, or someone told him? It's probably just my gut feel, but I think McGinn's predictions or statements have been way off lately.

PackerPete's picture

good point.
What I meant was predictions about what the Packers would do. He wrote they would waive Finley, keep Jennings, and several other things that didn't turn out the way he wrote. But again, just my gut feel. I really haven't re-read his articles, and therefore don't know whether I am objective or not. And one always has to assume that a journalist has at least 2 sources for everything he or she is writing, so maybe someone is feeding him misinformation.

ArodMoney's picture

Also he kept harping that the Pack would stay away from guys with injury history in the draft. Then they used their first two picks on a guy who missed a whole year due to injury and another guy with toe fusion surgery. Not very injury averse if you ask me.

DraftHobbyist's picture

That's not exactly accurate. McGinn said that the Packers board would be strongly influenced by injuries, if I remember correctly. The Packers didn't take Lacy at #26 overall, which many media experts predicted. They didn't take him at 2.23, either. They traded down and got him at 2.29.

As for Jones, IMO Jones was clearly the BPA out of positions the Packers needed. Even if they did move him down because of his injury, I still think he was the BPA.

And keep in mind that almost nobody in this draft was free of issues. Either they had injury issues, character issues, they were undersized, etc.

I could be wrong, but I don't think Bakhtiari or Tretter had any injury issues.

ArodMoney's picture

At the end of this video McGinn says:

"They really don't want to take any guys who are medical risks. The slightest medical risk, probably not going to make it this year in Green Bay."

ArodMoney's picture

Also this article,

In the middle:

"What they don't need are players with an injury history.

The entire organization is on a rampage against injuries, and rightly so. They've been decimated by injury in two of the last three years, and it was only because of the collective skill and toughness of players and coaches that the Packers were able to win the Super Bowl after the 2010 season.

Don't expect the Packers to fool around with any players in this draft who are even borderline medical risks. Health was every bit as vital as size and toughness when the Packers assembled their draft board."

So I'm pretty sure what I said was accurate.

Bearsstillsuck's picture

Packer misinformation campaign?

Thomas Hobbes's picture

I'd argue that Pickett is both in shape and out of weight. People aren't physiologically supposed to carry that much weight, especially for 15+ years like Pickett has. I'd look at Mike Golic, he had a body type similar to Pickett but after he retired he lost a ton of weight to the point where he's probably a lot closer to his natural homeostatic weight.

Evan's picture

I do wonder what McGinn's basis for calling him "out of shape" was. Did he specify or elaborate?

"Pickett could be seen getting visibly winded after climbing a small set of stairs..."

bryce's picture

I'm as cynical as they come about players PR reputations, but I don't really see Pickett as the type of guy to lie about that.

gbfpage's picture

Dont buy it Pickett is a consumate pro. Always works hard knows what he needs to do and how to get it done. U dont play 13 seasons otherwise

Lou's picture

Agree, Pickett is a Pro's Pro like Woodson was. What is amazing is that Thompson who impatient Packer fans love to rip about Free Agency was smart enough to sign both of those guys at a reasonable rate when few others were interested in their services. Talk about a return on 2 investments compared to the quick realization that the free agents others signed soon showed why their former teams were not interested any longer. That, his overall draft prowess and still have CAP room while others are up against the wall make him the best in the business - bar none.

MarkinMadison's picture

There is not necessarily a contradiction between losing weight and being out of shape. Two different things.

I'm also not particularly worried about Pickett's conditioning in April. Winded going up a flight of stairs? Fine. As soon as they put a set of stairs in front of the goal line let me know. If he's a pro's pro then he knows how to cycle his body back up for the season. He may be focusing on other things besides cardio (like lifting weights or losing weight) at this time of year.

Pack Morris's picture

McGinn said "overweight and out of shape." Just weird that the reports/comments conflicted.

Morgan Mundane's picture

Well if Raji, whom many Pack fans like but don't understand he had one, in three, good years and was also seriously out of shape and played poorly the first half the season. Now it seems he has a pal.
If I was Pickett I would have ate Orca. Who cares, you got one year left then your done. He doesn't give a crap about the Packers. Sixteen more paychecks and its over.

Stroh's picture

I seriously doubt that Pickett is thinking that. I'm guesding he'll get another 2 yr contract.

Morgan Mundane's picture

Ya I was half joking, except for Raji. I thought from what I saw last year, he did very little. Pickett carried him.
Pickett's problem will be his age. Next year they will probably go youth and replace both him and Raji since their overall needs, should this draft pan out, will be less.
Hell, maybe Pickett already figured this out too and is in good shape. Maybe he plays like a man possessed? Lets hope so.
All I remember is that Giants game where Eli stepped up into a nice pocket all night long and made passes without any up front pressure on him. Ditto the 9'er's.

Jamie's picture

McGinn is a know-it-all, that has good scout sources but overrates his own ability to assess a guy's talent, or in this case his weight and what shape he's in.

I'll take Trgovac's opinion, and Pickett's word over McGinn's presumptive guess any day.

Ernst's picture

I asked McGinn a couple years ago who the nicest Packers are. He didn't answer at first so I suggested Driver. He shrugged that off. He said Pickett. He also said Pickett and Woodson gave the best, most honest, no BS interviews. So many he said just give canned responses to questions that have no substance or insight.

Evan's picture

"He also said Pickett and Woodson gave the best, most honest, no BS interviews."

Kinda like what Finley constantly gets ripped for...

al's picture

my the best MAN win go pack go

T's picture

When was the last time a NT has ever been described as a Muscular, Fit, Specimen?

He described every NT in the NFL. Overweight and out of shape, that is what they strive for.

Fish/Crane's picture

along with 80% of American males

gratif's picture

it's MAY. You bulk before you cut.

Lars's picture

It also interesting that Pickett is in the last year of a very generous contract. I would probably trust McGinn more on this, but it isn't really issue for me.

My only question to Pickett would be---Why now? You haven't taken this very seriously before, why bother in 2013? Could it have something to do with the fact the packers have drafted four DLineman the past two years and Raji is the likely NT of the future?

Pickett's a solid pro and great team player, but the packers need to get faster, more athletic and more dynamic on the DLine and ILB. The days of the block eaters may be numbered.

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