Yes, Hey Wilde! is back. Inspired by our ESPNCleveland.com colleague Tony Grossi and his longtimeHey Tony! column, we’ll which we'll answer your Green Bay Packers questions on a semi-regular basis. Following the NFL Draft, there were plenty of questions.
Hey Bill! Not a chance. The Packers really like their second-round pick, Casey Hayward, and cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt still believes in Sam Shields, even though he had a down sophomore season. Talib just isn’t Packer People. I always use the “never say never” caveat, but I just don’t see it.
Hey Richard! I agree. They made the trade up to No. 51, according to defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, because they knew a run on defensive tackles was coming and they wanted to get one before they were gone. Trgovac said Worthy and Still were close, but as I understand it, Worthy was the clear-cut choice for Thompson, who saw Still in person when Wisconsin played Penn State and Cincinnati Bengals first-round pick Kevin Zeitler manhandled Still. I’m skeptical that the Packers would have been happy to settle for Still there. But no, I don't think they reached on any of the three picks where they traded up.
Hans! Bubbie! I’m your white knight! (Sorry, "Die Hard" quotes, uh, die hard.) I have been told on several occasions by different people in the organization that they really like Graham Harrell. They got Coleman at a discounted rate because he had a shoulder injury last year and he played against lower-level competition after leaving Tennessee. I’d never seen him play, so I’m not sure what they have to work with in him. That said, I thought the Favre connection was fascinating, and not just because he seemed oblivious to the hard feelings that exist between Favre and the organization. He’ll definitely be an interesting story if he sticks. My early take is that Harrell wins the backup job and this kid spends the year on the practice squad.
Hey Marc! I don’t think Tramon Williams needs a wakeup call. I think he needs his shoulder to get healthy. He just wasn’t the same player last year as he was in 2010, when he was among the best shutdown corners in the game. He just couldn’t be physical with receivers after the shoulder injury in the opener and sometimes looked timid and lacking confidence. That’s not the Tramon we know. Sam Shields definitely took a step back last season. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe he was guessing too much and going for interceptions instead of simply covering the way he did in 2010. But I would think Hayward will challenge him for the third cornerback spot in the nickel. As for Hawk, while I think he had a down year, I also think he is what he is – and the coaches like him. I think Terrell Manning comes in with something to prove, kind of like Desmond Bishop did in 2007. He was really ticked that he didn’t go until the sixth round, and now you see how good he is. Maybe Manning does the same thing, if he stays healthy.
Hey Chris! Sure, there’s always bust potential with any pick – although I never quite understood why the Elmore pick got so much attention. The kid was a sixth-rounder. It’s not like they took him high. To me, the criticism of Ted Thompson for that pick should have been the fact that Thompson waited until the sixth round to take an outside linebacker prospect. Or, that he passed on the good Arizona outside linebacker prospect, Brooks Reed, in the first round. Who’s the possible bust this year? I’m not sure. But the questions about Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy not giving 100 percent effort all the time would make me a little nervous.
Hey Brandon! I think Harrison Smith is a good player. I believe most scouts had him as the second-best safety in the draft, and that’s where he ended up being taken. The Vikings had to trade back into the first round to get him, and we’ll see him twice a year and be able to judge if the Packers should have picked him as Nick Collins replacement. But I’m intrigued by Jerron McMillian. Yes, playing at the FCS level (I still want to call it I-AA) makes you wonder how he’ll transition from that level to the NFL level. And just because Collins did it and became a three-time Pro Bowler doesn’t mean he will. But I have to think he’ll be given every chance to start as a rookie. We’ll see.
Hey Tyler! Neither Dom Capers nor Joe Whitt dismissed that idea out of hand, but I think your second question hits on the real issue – Capers likes to use Woodson in so many different ways I think he’d be reluctant to make him a true safety. And as safeties coach Darren Perry said right after the season, Woodson would have a hard time when he’d have to play back in centerfield because he is a playmaker and would want to be in the middle of the action. That said, Woodson does serve as a safety somewhat frequently and lines up there in their “Corner Okie” defense. So I think you’ll see him there this season, but not all the time.
Hey Jeff! No question Mike Neal will have to prove that he’s worth keeping around. But I don’t think he’s a goner. They’ve paid him the money, and now he’s cheap labor. You’ve put two years of hope into him, why not see what he’s got in camp? If he still shows nothing, you can cut him. If he flashes, he’s suspended for the first four games, and then you give him a shot when he gets back. As for Frank Zombo, Erik Walden, Brad Jones and the other right outside linebacker candidates, a few of them will stick around, but you don’t draft Nick Perry in the first round without expecting him to start.
Hey Al! I think it’s Shields. I don’t buy the sophomore jinx, but he just wasn’t the same player last year. Whitt believes he has Pro Bowl cover skills. I do think more pass rush will help him and the rest of the secondary immensely. Still, he’s just got to be better than he was last year.
Hey Chris! You get the last one for tonight because Mike McCarthy made a joke about this very topic on Saturday after the draft. “Well, we’re going to run the ball more because we’re going to get our stats up,” he announced before adding, “That’s a joke. … We scored a lot of points last year. There’s a standard that’s been set and that’s something we want to go after every year.” McCarthy isn’t interested in a “balanced” attack. He has the NFL MVP under center and the best wide receiving corps in the league. The Packers are never going to be 50-50. Unless Rex Ryan takes over as coach.
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