Ted and Mike

Joe Arrigo’s Final Packers 2016 Mock Draft

Here is my FINAL Packers mock draft for 2016 mock draft season. I decided to do some different things this year. I decided to do a mock with a trade and a mock without a trade. I also added undrafted rookie free agents who I think could be available and the Packers have interest in to these mocks as well.

The players that I selected players based on a few thing: first the tape of the player that I watched, and second, the information I obtained through my college and NFL sources and third using my own opinions on each player.

I have been asked periodically on twitter and other social media outlets if I’ll post any Packers rumors prior to the draft and why I haven’t posted any this offseason. I want to explain why I haven’t.

Since March I have been covering UNLV (football and basketball) for Scout.com (the site is InsideTheRebels.com)  as well as working on other media projects that have me collaborating with some great people. I am doing this while working my “regular job” and coaching High School football all the while being a husband and father. So in short I am grinding (and loving every minute of it).

But I feel it wouldn’t be fair to put out a weekly or semi-weekly blog when I work for Scout.com and could be writing about UNLV and all the great things that’s going on with the football program and basketball programs. While I am not going to post any rumors now, if you read in-between the lines of my evaluations, you may catch a few gems in there.

I appreciate the support over the years, but like anything in life, I had to adapt and make a decision that I felt was best for me long term.

Now the mock drafts…

Mock Draft #1 (with a trade):

Here is my first mock with a trade between the Packers and Browns. I was told that the Browns would like to move back and forth in the draft and that does include moving back into round 1 (presumably to select a QB). I can confirm the report that NFL draft reporter and draft guru Charlie Campbell (from WalterFootball.com) reported on earlier in the week that the Browns and Broncos have spoke to the Packers about a possible move to the Packers 1st round pick.

I was also told that the Browns (and other teams drafting in the late part of round 1 and the early part of round 2) and Packers have had dialogue about the Packers moving back in the 1st round or early part of round 2 to select a player that they feel they can land a few spots back. I was told that Cleveland, who would be moving back into the 1st round, is a very real possibility if the player they want is there for the taking. While no deal is agreed upon, it makes sense for both teams.

In my first mock I have a Cleveland deal taking place. The Browns will send their 2nd round pick (#32) and their 3rd round pick (#65) to Green Bay for the Packers 1st round pick (#27) and 4th round pick (#125). According to the trade value chart the Packers come out slightly a head, but it is close enough for teams to pull the trigger.

ROUND PLAYER POSITION COLLEGE Evaluation 
         
1 (27)  TRADED     Traded to Clev for picks 32 (2st) & 65 (3rd) in exchange for GB’s 27 (1st) & 125 (4th)
       
2nd (32)- Clev Vernon Butler DL Louisiana Tech He can play the anywhere on the defensive line. The Packers could use him at the 5 technique, 3 technique and nose tackle positions. Butler is an explosive lineman who plays with energy, aggression and good leverage. He uses violent hands an a fast get off along with a quick first step to get leverage against offensive lineman. He is equally talented playing the run or rushing the QB. He would be a welcome addition to a defense that wants to play with more nasty and with more of an edge. 
       
2nd (57) Jaylon Smith ILB Notre Dame Ted Thompson takes the best player that bests fills his teams biggest need, even if he doesn’t play until 17′. You can’t pass up on an elite prospect like Smith. It would be like having two 1st round picks in 2017 and an impact ILB for the next decade. I feel the reward is well worth the risk in this case with Smith’s high character, work ethic & performance  with the added determination to get back on the field in 2017, I have no doubt he’ll be ready to go. Smith was my top overall player on my big board prior to his injury.
         
3rd (65)- Clev
Shilique Calhoun
OLB Michigan St. Calhoun will shift from a defensive end to OLB in the Packers defense. He possess a burst of the line of scrimmage, allowing him to win the edge battle. He has long arms and is a long strider which allows him to close quickly. He has the size (6’5/252) to be an elite pass rusher. He plays the run well enough but I question him in pass coverage. I would like to see him finish plays better, but has the talent to be a very good player. 
 
3rd (88) Le’Raven Clark OL Texas Tech Clark is a big lineman that gives the Packers a quality player who could come in and play without missing a beat should a starter go down. He has good footwork in the passing game and is a better than average run blocker. While the offensive line is not a huge need, QUALITY depth is and with Josh Sitton and TJ Lang free agents after the 2016 season, Clark could learn to play guard as well to play early in his career.    
         
4th (125) TRADED     Traded to Clev for picks 32 (2st) & 65 (3rd) in exchange for GB’s 27 (1st) & 125 (4th)
       
4th (131)-Comp Matt Ioannidis DE Temple I’ve watched a lot of film on Ioannidis and I see a lot of former Bengals and 49ers defensive end Justin Smith in him. A strong defensive lineman who attacks and creates havoc at the LOS (line of scrimmage). He doesn’t run away from the lineman, he engages and attacks them. He can be a very good pass rusher and even better run stopper. A major sleeper in this draft. 
         
4th (137)- Comp Kenyan Drake RB Alabama The perfect 3rd down back with the speed the Packers need and covet to compliment Eddie Lacy and James Starks and compete with John Crockett for touches. He can also return kicks and punts. Mike McCarthy could be creative using Drake in a variety of positions on offense using Drake’s playmaking ability. 
         
5th (163) BJ Goodson ILB Clemson All he did is make plays for the Tigers. He had a great combine and his tape is better then you would think. He doesn’t run from contact and is aggressive vs the run. He could become a potential starter down the road. 
         
6th (200) Avery Young OL Auburn The Packers need to prepare for a scenario that could see Sitton and/or Lang walk after 16′. Young could be a nice replacement in a year. He plays with the nasty offensive lineman need and is strong. He is not as athletic as Sitton or Lang, but he is the type of player that will have a long career in the right situation. 
         
7th (248)
Robby Anderson
WR Temple Big, tall, strong, fast WR that is a freak, but RAW. His hands are inconsistent and his route running need some work. Would be a perfect practice squad player early on if he doesn’t take a spot in camp, which could happen. He has the talent, that in time, could be a real weapon if not forced to be a starter early on in his career. 
 
UDRFA Tyler Higbee TE Western Kentucky Higbee should be drafted much earlier, but his injury history and his recent arrest are scaring teams off to the point some are removing him from their draft boards. He’ll be a real steal for some team due to his production and ability to make plays and stretch the defense.
       
UDRFA James Bradberry DB Samford He has all the traits the Packers look for in a DB (size/speed) and can play multiple positions (CB/S).
       
UDRFA Kevin Byard DB Middle Tenn St. Another DB that was a playmaker in college (19 int’s) and can play in the slot or the backend. Needs to be more physical, but he is a ball hawk.
       
UDRFA Chris Brown WR Notre Dame A track guy that can flat out fly. Needs to bulk up, but his speed is game changing. He didn’t do enough on film (to me) to get drafted, but his speed with earn him a look as a possible return man.
       
UDRFA
Halapoutivaati Vaitai
OL TCU Big guy (6’6/315) with really nice footwork. Was second team All Big-12 in 2015. Projects more of a RT or inside at guard than at LT.
       
UDRFA Joe Callahan QB Wesley College Callahan is a record setting QB with a strong arm, mobility and decent size. He threw for 12,852 yards & 130 TD’s and only 38 interceptions in his career. In 2015 he threw for 55 TD’s and 5,068 yards. Yes he is a D-III quarterback, but he has tools that can’t be taught and the Packers are showing A LOT of interest.
       
UDRFA Ufomba Kamalu DL Miami Kamalu has the size to play anywhere up and down the defensive line. But quite honestly, I put him on because every year the Packers sign an UDRFA from The U, so I wanted to keep the tradition alive.
       

I know, why Jaylon Smith when most fans presume he’ll be taken later in the draft? I’ll tell you this much, I was seriously considering taking him in the 1st round of this mock, which is something I was told by several NFL sources that the Packers and Ted Thompson are also seriously considering. Multiple NFL sources I talked to over the past 5 weeks don’t think he lasts until the 3rd round and have told me that “the Packers really, REALLY like him” (and the feeling is mutual). Although opinions vary on his knee and if he’ll be healthy again, the people I spoke to believe he can and will make a recovery and he is determined to be better then what he was in college.

ap_447124765804
The Packers could select Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith early despite knowing he’ll likely miss the 2016 season- Photo Credit (A/P)

By waiting until 2017 to play, the Packers can have him “in the building” for the entire 2016 season, rehabbing, getting stronger, learning the defense as well as his coaches and teammates. When Smith returns in 2017 it will be like the Packers having two 1st round picks, with one of them being the player that was most likely to go 1st overall in 2016 prior to his knee injury.

Mock Draft #2 (no trades):

Here is my big surprise!

Ted Thompson stays true to his board and takes the best player that best fills his teams biggest need, even if he doesn’t play until 17′ in Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith. You can’t pass up on an elite prospect like Smith, Ted Thompson knows it and from what I was told by several NFL sources, loves the Notre Dame linebacker. A current NFL scout told me “Smith is a more athletic, instinctive and physical Luke Kuechly when he was healthy.”

Drafting Smith would be like having two 1st round picks in 2017 and an impact inside linebacker for the next decade. A source told me Thompson feels with the return of Sam Barrington, Jake Ryan, Joe Thomas and Carl Bradford, he has depth at inside linebacker for the upcoming season and can afford to wait for Smith to be ready in 2017. Also, by selecting Smith in the 1st round, the Packers would have the rights to opting into a 5th year for Smith, something I was told is also attractive to Thompson.

Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith was the top player on my big board prior to his injury- Photo Credit Scout.com

I personally feel the reward is well worth the risk in this case with Smith. His high character, work ethic & past performance  fueled with the added determination to get back on the field in 2017, I have no doubt he’ll be ready to go when he gets back on the field. From what I was told, Smith is a head of schedule with his rehab, gaining feeling in his foot and regaining the weight he lost when he was injured. Smith was my top overall player on my big board prior to his injury.

ROUND PLAYER POSITION COLLEGE EVALUATION
 
1 (27)  Jaylon Smith ILB Notre Dame  Ted Thompson stays true to his board and takes the best player that best fills his teams biggest need, even if he doesn’t play until 17′. You can’t pass up on an elite prospect like Smith. It would be like having two 1st round picks in 2017 and an impact ILB for the next decade. I feel the reward is well worth the risk in this case with Smith’s high character, work ethic & performance  with the added determination to get back on the field in 2017, I have no doubt he’ll be ready to go. Smith was my top overall player on my big board prior to his injury.
 
2nd (57) Noah Spence OLB Eastern Kentucky Spence will slip due to his drug addiction history and off the field questions. A few teams have him off their board completely, but he is an ideal fit for Green Bay on the field and the Packers locker room would help him off the field as well. It’s a perfect fit for Spence and the Packers on the field and off of it.
 
3rd (88)
Javon Hargrave
DL South Carolina St. The Packers biggest need on the defensive line is the 5 technique, not nose tackle. Hargrave is an athletic, strong, fast twitch, fast off the ball defensive end that can get to the QB and play the run well. The level of competition he played against makes him a gamble, but he played REALLY well at the Shrine Game against FBS players. Hargrave could come in a play right away as a starter with his abilities and skill set.
         
4th (125) Joe Haeg OL North Dakota St. Haeg is a talented lineman that can play either tackle spot and possibly slide inside to guard if needed. He needs to get stronger in the weight room.
         
4th (131)-Comp Kenyan Drake RB Alabama The perfect 3rd down back with the speed the Packers need and covet to compliment Eddie Lacy and James Starks and compete with John Crockett for touches. He can also return kicks and punts.
       
4th (137)- Comp Matt Ioannidis DE Temple I’ve watched a lot of film on Ioannidis and I see a lot of former Bengals and 49ers defensive end Justin Smith in him. A strong defensive lineman who attacks and creates havoc at the LOS (line of scrimmage). He doesn’t run away from the lineman, he engages and attacks them. He can be a very good pass rusher and even better run stopper. A major sleeper in this draft.
       
5th (163) BJ Goodson ILB Clemson All he did is make plays for the Tigers. He had a great combine and his tape is better then you would think. He doesn’t run from contact and is aggressive vs the run. He could become a potential starter down the road.
 
6th (200) Avery Young OG Auburn The Packers need to prepare for a scenario that could see  josh Sitton and/or  TJLang walk after 16′. Young could be a nice replacement in a year.
       
7th (248)
Antwuan Woods
NT USC Classic nose tackle that is strong and has surprising quickness. A leader and plays with a high motor. Great vs run & OK rushing the passer.
       
UDRFA Robby Anderson WR Temple Big, tall, strong WR that is a freak, but his hands are inconsistent and his route running need some work. Would be a perfect practice squad player early on if he doesn’t take a spot in camp, which could happen.
       
UDRFA Tyler Higbee TE Western Kentucky Higbee should be drafted much earlier, but his injury history and his recent arrest are scaring teams off to the point some are removing him from their draft boards. He’ll be a real steal for some team due to his production and ability to make plays and stretch the defense.
       
UDRFA James Bradberry DB Samford He has all the traits the Packers look for in a DB (size/speed) and can play multiple positions (CB/S).
       
UDRFA Kevin Byard DB Middle Tenn St. Another DB that was a playmaker in college (19 int’s) and can play in the slot or the backend. Needs to be more physical, but he is a ball hawk.
       
UDRFA Chris Brown WR Notre Dame A track guy that can flat out fly. Needs to bulk up, but his speed is game changing. He didn’t do enough on film (to me) to get drafted, but his speed with earn him a look as a possible return man.
       
UDRFA
Halapoutivaati Vaitai
OL TCU Big guy (6’6/315) with really nice footwork. Was second team All Big-12 in 2015. Projects more of a RT or inside at guard than at LT.
       
UDRFA Joe Callahan QB Wesley College Callahan is a record setting QB with a strong arm, mobility and decent size. He threw for 12,852 yards & 130 TD’s and only 38 interceptions in his career. In 2015 he threw for 55 TD’s and 5,068 yards. Yes he is a D-III quarterback, but he has tools that can’t be taught and the Packers are showing A LOT of interest.
       
UDRFA Ufomba Kamalu DL Miami Kamalu has the size to play anywhere up and down the defensive line. But quite honestly, I put him on because every year the Packers sign an UDRFA from The U, so I wanted to keep the tradition alive.
       

In my second Mock, where I didn’t make any trades, I decided to go a different direction altogether in the 1st round by selecting Smith. I know the Packers know that the defensive line in this draft is deep and that they can get very good talent in the 3rd round and later in the draft.

Noah Spence is a game changing pass rusher who the Packers have had 3 visits with in the offseason to gauge whether or not they want to take a chance on him. I was told by a source that they came away feeling good about Spence and his recovery and feel that he would benefit being in a locker room like the Packers.

Spence would fill a potential need at outside linebacker and be a potential bookend to Clay Matthews III going forward. I was told by several NFL sources that Spence is expected to slip into round 2 because of his addiction to the drug ecstasy and could as late as early round 3.

Unlike most people, I think the Packers are looking for a 5 tech more then a nose tackle early in the draft and Hargrave has tools and skill set that fits with what Mike McCarthy wants to do, plus there are more classic nose tackles that will be available later in the draft if they chose to go that route.

Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson is leading his 12th draft for the Packers and is looking to add impact players to help give the Packers an opportunity to win another Super Bowl- Photo Credit A/P

Thanks for taking the time to read my mock drafts. As usual, it will be an entertaining draft with Ted Thompson leading the Packers on draft weekend. I look forward to your responses here and on social media.

 

Joe Arrigo

@JoeArrigo

Cam Dab

Cam Newton’s Poor Press Confrence

Here are my thoughts on Cam Newton’s post Super Bowl press conference. Keep in mind I really like Cam and think he is a special talent. This by no means is a shot at him or the Panthers. Just my thoughts on his poor press conference.

I was a member of the sports media and have done it in one of the largest media markets in the world (Los Angeles) while hosting various sports talk shows in various markets. I have dealt with plenty of athletes during my time who had experienced both the thrill of winning a title and losing in a Game 7. There is a way you conduct yourself as a professional athlete and a way you should not.

Cam Newton was all smiles all year (going 17-1 heading into the Super Bowl), dabbing his way to the NFL MVP. I respect what he did all year both on the field and in the community, which I find more admirable then winning a football game. I love how he (and his teammates) gave balls to kids after TD’s.

Cam Dab (photo credit A/P)

But Cam is also a poor loser, he always has been. Go back and look at the years they were not winning in Carolina, he sulked, pouted and that made it very easy to dislike him after a loss. I admit, A LOT of the questions were poorly asked by the media at the Super Bowl and were just plain dumb. But Cam still has to understand that he was the FACE OF THE NFL in 2015/16 and IS the new face of the NFL and there is a certain responsibility that comes with that. He can look no further than his head coach , Ron Rivera, who answered EVERY QUESTION with class and respect after the game.

This is not a racial issue because, in all honesty, he played Peyton Manning to a draw. They BOTH played poorly and the game was a direct reflection of the NFL as a whole: poorly officiated, sloppy play & full of mistakes.

When asked about his teams performance he would’ve been better served saying “I was too geeked up early on and that caused my throws to be go high. It was hard to get my emotions under check, which I eventually did. I had to do a better job protecting the ball, I had to many fumbles and interceptions in a game of this magnitude. But I will say this, I will use this as motivation this offseason to make sure when we do get back we won’t be in this position again.” THAT would have not only endeared himself even more to his teammates, but also the NFL & media would’ve ate it up and made him a hero.

At the end of the day, when Cam made some statements on Media Day that polarized himself. I personally took it as a slap in the face to Doug Williams, the 1st African American QB to win a Super Bowl and a graduate of Grambling who handled the media, who was more “anti-black QB” back then, with class and dignity.

Yes, we haven’t seen a player like Cam with his size and speed (6’5/250/4.4) with a cannon for an arm, a personality that is endearing to those around you and with a unapologetic arrogance that has teammates believing in him (although Michael Vick was the first player in recent memory with that skill set, albeit a smaller version). But we have seen players like Cam personality wise and they become villianized and quickly fall out of favor with the NFL and lose out on MANY marketing opportunities.

But Cam also should know that somethings should go without saying, or better yet let others, like you teammates and coaches, say it for you. It would’ve been a much bigger statement for Cam to be gracious after the tough defeat. It would’ve shown maturity, class and growth on his part. I know it’s difficult to deal with the media (who are just doing their jobs) after playing poorly and losing the Super Bowl, but if you welcome all the accolades and attention after wins, you need to do the same after losses.

 

Joe Arrigo

las_vegas_raiders

Sports Thoughts from an Average Joe- 1/28/16

Since moving to Las Vegas I have taken up an interest in the local sports scene. I have always had a strong liking for UNLV basketball, especially under Jerry Tarkaian. I also really took up an interest in UNLV football after Tony Sanchez took over as head football coach. Now today word spreads of the Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis meeting with the Las Vegas Sands Corporations Chairman and CEO Sheldon Alderson about possibly moving the Raiders to Las Vegas.

las_vegas_raiders (Photo courtesy of TotalSports.com)

Let me set the stage for you.

UNLV and the Las Vegas Sands Corporation are attempting to build a $1 billion dollar multi-sport stadium that could also host conference championships and college bowl games, NFL exhibition games, boxing, soccer and neutral site games, as well as music festivals. You could also make the case that a stadium like the one they are proposing could also host a Super Bowl as well. The school already owns the 42 acres of land that they are planning on building the stadium on, which is near The Strip and close to UNLV.

Many people will say that the NFL won’t allow the Raiders to move to Vegas, but I ask why? The NFL is already in bed with FanDuel and Draft Kings, both are daily gambling sites. Las Vegas would welcome the Raiders (and ANY professional team for that matter) with open arms. Las Vegas and the Raiders are a natural fit. The “Bad Boys” of the NFL in “Sin City.”

The Raiders are scheduled to receive $100 Million dollars from the NFL for backing out the Carson Stadium deal and allowing the Chargers to have first dibs on sharing a stadium with the Rams in Inglewood. Mark Davis and the Raiders could contribute half of that money and use the rest to build a state of the art facility for the team and STILL have enough money to left over to be happy, not to mention the Raiders would be the hottest ticket in Vegas, 8 Sundays a month in the fall and winter. The casinos wouldn’t have a problem with that.

raiders-mark-davis-big-changes (Photo courtesy of A/P)

If the Raiders do leave Oakland and they don’t end up in L.A. I sincerely hope that they end up here in Vegas. Mark Davis and the Las Vegas Sands Corporations Chairman and CEO Sheldon Alderson have been discussing this for over two years, so this leads me to think that the Raiders moving to Vegas is a very real possibility and not another NFL team trying to strong arm a city for a new stadium.

College Football Recruiting:

Tony Sanchez just landed his highest rated recruit and the future starting QB for the Rebels on Thursday when 3 Star Hamilton High (CA) QB Armani Rogers committed to UNLV. Rogers was a Cal commit until he re-opened his recruitment and had offers from UCLA, Washington and Fresno St. prior to choosing the Rebels.

Sanchez 2 (Photo courtesy of A/P)

Scout.com lists Rogers as the 70th best QB in the country and 16th best in West and 8th best in the state of California. Rogers is a big, (6’5/220) fast (4.7) QB with a strong arm, great anticipation and confident demeanor. He is the ideal QB for Sanchez’s spread offense and should be able to compete early on for major playing time.

6_3555627 (Photo courtesy of A/P)

Sanchez needs to build the Rebels with  a combination of under the radar and blue collar recruits until he can establish himself and his program. Rogers is the first player that can help him with that and should be one of the foundation players programs need to start the winning tradition. The Rebels also have a potential sleepers in Mater Dei (CA) WR Andre Collins and Level Tatum, a defensive tackle from Edison HS (Fresno, CA).

Bryce Harper: 

Las Vegas native son and NL MVP Bryce Harper is poised to make a killing in free agency in 2019, when he would turn 26. Harper is coming off an historical year and only getting better. He is considered one of the top 3 players in the game and his agent, Scott Boras, knows he will command a record breaking contract.

Division Series - Washington Nationals v San Francisco Giants - Game Four (Photo courtesy of A/P)

Harper also grew up a Yankees fan and has a swing that is tailor made for Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch. The Yankees will have Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia and Mark Texeria’s contract off their books in 2019 and will make a run at B-Harp. If that happens you could be looking at MLB’s first $500 Million dollar player in Harper, who will be entering his prime years.

Harper in New York makes a ton of sense from a baseball and marketing standpoint. Harper’s larger than life personality, “Charlie Hustle” playing style and on the field flare would make Harper an instant Yankee icon. He would also have more marketing and off-the-field money making opportunities then he could imagine.

This is not a far gone conclusion Harper signs with the Yankees by any means, but it is already out there in MLB circles, so it is being talked about. The Nationals will have every opportunity to resign Harper, but they will have to be creative with their resources. The Dodgers also can’t be disregarded since they can outbid almost any team not to mention Harper does have a connection with Stan Kasten (who was the Nats President when Harper was drafted to Washington) and L.A. is a short plane flight to Vegas.

Whatever happens from now until Harper hits the market, one thing is for sure, he will make MLB history. I already consider him the best everyday player in the game, if he were to sign with the Yankees, he could become a global icon.

 

Joe Arrigo

 

Lambeau Field

Green Bay Packers: 2016 Offseason Thoughts

The Green Bay Packers season ended in Arizona after a valiant comeback to tie the NFC Divisional Playoff game with a Hail Mary, only to see the Cardinals score 3 plays into OT. As soon as the season ended reports started to surface that Head Coach Mike McCarthy and General Manager Ted Thompson have a rift due to Thompson’s perceived lack of interest in acquiring veteran talent via free agency or through trades. McCarthy also put running back Eddie Lacy on notice by saying he cannot play at the weight he did this year and he needs to take his offseason training and conditioning more seriously.

Ted and Mike

(Photo courtesy of A/P)

McCarthy knows he has 3 or 4 more really good years left with Aaron Rodgers at the helm of his offense. He also knows that he can carve a nice place in Packers history if he were able to win another Super Bowl, becoming only the second Packers coach to claim two Super Bowl victories, with the other being Vince Lombardi. In order for that to happen Thompson would need to help him by adding quality veteran depth and continue his stellar drafting.

Jason Cole of Bleacher Report reported that Thompson denies any frustration between himself and McCarthy. A source I spoke with told me that while there is no rift or animosity from McCarthy to Thompson, he did said that McCarthy and other members of the Packers player personnel department have been more vocal about Thompson adding help through free agency or trade. The source also said that McCarthy is in no danger of losing his job and there is no ill will from Thompson towards McCarthy after the head coach voiced his frustrations about lack of help when players started to get hurt this past season at his end of the year press conference.

The Packers salary cap room is in decent shape (as usual) but they could free up even more money by resigning offensive guards Josh Sitton and TJ Lang who’s contracts are up after the 2016 season (pointed out here on Acme Packing Company’s Blog). The Packers also could restructure or add a year to Julius Peppers’ contract or they could cut Peppers gaining over $8 million dollars in salary cap space. The Packers currently have $22.5 million dollars in cap space (14th most in the NFL).

There are a couple players that would really help the Packers (on paper at least) that could be available as free agents, but as you know this is just conjecture and a pipe dream for most Packers fans. Although I was told that the Packers would be more active in free agency this off season, I will take a wait and see approach.

Von Miller, the Broncos outside linebacker, is scheduled to be a free agent. If the Packers were to cut Peppers, Miller could be an amazing bookend on the opposite side of Clay Matthews and make the Packers pass rush one of the best in the NFL. The Broncos also have two additional free agents that have my interest, defensive end Malik Jackson, and inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, both of whom are 26 years old and entering the prime of their careers.

Chiefs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson is also available and would fill the Packers biggest need and allow Mathews to move back outside. Lastly, a player I would love to see the Packers add is Chiefs safety Eric Berry. I know the Packers have Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett, but Burnett’s play has not been up to par with what he is getting paid and he could be a cap casualty should the Packers want to add Berry.

If the Packers and Thompson were to sign a big ticket free agent, it will be only one and not more than that and that Thompson would then look to add players at his normal bargain (or what he describes as fair market value) prices . While adding a few would be nice, the Packers under Thompson have been great at keeping enough salary cap space to resign their own young talent and ensure they keep a surplus of cash.

One player that the Packers will do everything they can to keep in Green Bay is Mason Crosby. The 31 year old kicker doesn’t want to leave the Packers and is coming off another stellar season and is regarded as one of the, if not the top kicker in the NFL. The same can not be said for John Kuhn. While the Packers would like to retain their All Pro fullback, the price has to be right with Aaron Ripkowski waiting in the wings. Casey Hayward is also a player who the Packers are unlikely to retain since rookies Demetrius Randall and Quinton Rollins played so well in their rookie years and with Ladarious Gunter showing promise as well.

My WAY TO EARLY Mock Draft:

I know the draft process has just begun for many people, but draftniks (like myself) have been watching film and already preparing for the 2016 draft. Here are the Packers biggest needs to me:

 

  1. Inside Linebacker
  2. Nose Tackle
  3. Outside Linebacker
  4. Change of pace Running Back
  5. Offensive Line depth (the tackle position in particular)
  6. Tight End

 

Here is my way to early mock draft (v1.0)

Round 1: Jaylon Smith– ILB- Notre Dame:

A playmaking inside linebacker that many compare to Cheifs inside linebacker Derrick Johnson (when he came out of Texas). Smith would’ve been a top 5 pick if he didn’t tear his ACL and MCL in the Irish’s Bowl Game and because it is uncertain whether he’ll be able to play in 2016 he will slide. He has all the traits the Packers need in the middle of their defense. He is highly athletic and can cover well as well. I would like to see him make more plays behind the line of scrimmage, but I feel he will be a better pro player then college. He may be forced to be on the PUP list to start his career (best case scenario) or miss the entire year all together because of his knee injury. With Sam Barrington returning and Jake Ryan entering his second year, the Packers could take Smith knowing they have a stud when he returns to full health.

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(Photo courtesy of A/P)

 

Round 2: Vernon Butler– NT- La Tech:

The Packers may not bring back BJ Raji, who had a decent year coming off an injury but none the less need to upgrade the nose tackle position. Butler is a big guy (6’3/325) who carries his weight well and is surprisingly athletic for a big man. Scouts compare him to Muhammad Wilkerson (NY Jets) and with some good coaching, he can become a force. There is a lot of tape that has him not being as active or impactful as some scouts would like to see, but he is talented and raw. He could be a gem with proper coaching.

 

Round 3: Shawn Oakman– DE- Baylor:

A physical freak. He is 6’7, 268 pounds and an athletic specimen. He his built like former NFL defensive end Sean Jones (who also won a Super Bowl with Green Bay) and can develop into that type of player. Oakman is a terrific run stopper and can get to the QB as well, although he will need some work there in the NFL. He plays with a nasty streak and that is something Green Bay would love to add to their defense. He is powerful and plays with violent hands, something defensive ends need. While he may have the best upper body (and facemask) in this draft (making him look like a modern day Darth Vader), he will need to be coached up as a pass rusher. He may go higher in the draft because he will blow up the combine.

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(Photo courtesy of A/P)

 

Round 4: Jordan Jenkins– OLB- Georgia:

Nick Perry and Mike Neal are both free agents and Julius Peppers may not be brought back so OLB is somewhat of a need pick. Jenkins is a plug and play guy who has been in a 3/4 defense his entire college career. He is good in coverage and vs the run, but lacks that burst you would like to see as a pass rusher. While I anticipate the Packers resigning Perry and restructuring Peppers, Jenkins would provide much needed depth and a quality reserve who could see a lot of playing time.

 

Round 5: Kenyan Drake– RB/KR- Alabama:

Drake is not an every down back and had some injury questions while at Alabama, but when he was on the field he was electric. He is a difference making return man and would be an excellent back-up and change of pace back to Eddie Lacy. He has good size (6’/200) and should run a fast 40. He needs to let the game come to him and slow down a bit when he has the ball, but he is a threat to score whenever the ball touches his hands. Opposing teams would have to scheme for his talent, but Drake in McCarthy’s offense with Rodgers hitting him out the backfield in flat or on screens could make the Packers even more dangerous.

 

Round 6: Kyle Murphy– OT- Stanford:

When the Packers lost David Bakhtiari for the final few games of the season, it was a mess (and I am being overly nice to say the least). While JC Tretter did an admirable job, Don Barclay, who is a free agent, was a disaster (as usual). Murphy has the size (6’6/300) that NFL teams like, but he needs to get stronger. Once he gets with a strength staff and build up his strength, he could be a starter down the road, but the Packers don’t need that now, they need quality depth that if called upon can do the job, and Murphy could be that type of guy.

 

Round 7: Jake McGee– TE- Florida:

McGeee is already 24 after completing his 6th year at Florida. He missed a lot of time due to injuries, but is the type of TE that can be a valuable contributor to whomever drafts him. He has nice size (6’5/250) with good football speed, but he won’t blow you away when he runs his 40. He is a good blocker but needs to learn to get separation when he is a receiver. He will be good underneath and in the Red Zone.

 

Alternate Round 7 pick:

Round 7: D.J. Reader– NT- Clemson:

reader is a plugger. He is an old fashioned nose tackle that has the ideal size (6’3/340) to be a force against the run. He moves well for being a big guy, but he needs to be coached up to use his hands more and shed tackles. He has to be double teamed because he will win most one on one match-ups, which would free up the inside backers.

 

Joe Arrigo

 

Griff

An Average Joe’s opinion on sports

Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame today and deservedly so. Griffey was the best player and defined a generation of baseball players from 1990-2000. He was the gold standard for center fielders and 5 tool players. Piazza was the greatest offensive catcher of his generation (at the least) and maybe of all time. But more importantly during one of our countries most difficult times, the tragedy of 9/11, he was one of 2 faces of New York and helped the city rebuild itself.

Griff

(Photo Credit: A/P)

But if I had a vote for the Hall of Fame at least 7 others would have also been inducted on my ballot. Tim Raines, Mike Mussina, Lee Smith, Jeff Bagwell, Trevor Hoffman, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds would also join Griffey and Piazza.

I know many would ask why I would allow Bonds and Clemens in the Hall of Fame with their alleged PED use? Well, then commissioner Bud Selig, the owners of EVERY team in Major League Baseball and the writers covering MLB all knew PED use was rapid and did NOTHING but profit from it. It wasn’t until the US Congress threatened to revoke their antitrust exemption that baseball decided enough was enough because it effected their bottom line and bank accounts if that were to happen.

People are acting as if Bonds and Clemens were the only two players using PED’s when in fact the usage of PED’s in MLB was at an all time high during their playing days. I am asking where the moral high ground and outrage was from the same reporters and beat writers (who also profited from those same PED users)? Why the sudden outrage now that PED use is banned from baseball? Now they are voting against players for doing something that was not illegal in MLB at that time because it is now illegal?

Bonds and Clemens

(Photo Credit: A/P)

Well, if that is the case, then take out EVERY PLAYER, OWNER AND COMMISSIONER elected in the Hall of Fame prior to integration. They knew damn well that keeping African-Americans and Hispanics out of Major League Baseball was wrong and yet did NOTHING about it. But it was “legal” at that time, so that justifies it? No, and neither does keeping out players who did something that was legal at the time of them playing.

You can’t have it both ways. While Bonds and Clemens were not the most pleasant people to work and deal with, that takes NOTHING away from what they did on the field against other players, many of whom used PED’s.

I am not condoning PED use and feel it almost ruined baseball long term, although it also saved it after the strike. But I won’t be like Major League Baseball and act like it (the Steroid Era) never happened (until the Hall of Fame vote comes up). I would make sure that EVERY PLAYER that has been busted or confessed to PED use that makes the Hall of Fame has written on their bust that they used and were a part of the “Steroid Era” of baseball. So while they are honored for their accomplishments, they are also shamed, forever.

A sad personal note:

My heart hurts. I got word that The Beast 980 (KFWB) in Los Angeles was sold and they will flip formats in Mid-February (2/15/16), leaving some good friends & talented people looking for work and giving L.A. one less sports station to chose from.

Beast 980

I am proud to have been a part of the original group and an privileged to have have worked with the on-air staff of Jeanie Zalasko, Marques Johnson, Jim Rome, Brett Winterble, George Wrighster and my mentor, L.A. Sports icon, and close friend, “The Dean of L.A. Sports” Fred Roggin.

Fred has always been brutally honest with me. He is one of the 4 pillars of L.A. Sports Media’s Mount Rushmore. Fred was (is) always fair, and willing to give me a shot. I am indebted to you Fred and am so blessed to have you in my life to this day. Thank you for everything.

I am honored to have also worked  and became family with Amy Bender, a woman who’s sports knowledge can rival ANY PERSON and I love and respect. Sam Faber, who is a feisty as they come and another L.A. sports icon, “Teddy Ball Game”, Ted Sobel, who I am proud to call my friend and I miss our after (and during) the show sports conversations. I love you Ted.

My producing brothers, Allen Faul, Adam Hawk and my brother from another mother, John Gennaro. I love and cherish you guys. I had so much fun creating, debating and hanging with you guys. You’re all as talented as them come and will be beyond successful.

Steve Delamater, Mike Stark, John Ingles, the men that made the Beast tick. I love you guys. Your creativity, jokes, advice, timing and in Mike’s case, studio, made it easy to produce, work and be on-air. THANK YOU.

Lastly, Joe Safety, who was my closest friend there and a person that I confided in daily. You’re so special and were a god send to me. Thanks for being there for me ALL the time. Finally the person, no genius who brought us all together, Owen Murphy, our P.D.  Sorry about everything big guy, you were the best and gave me a shot. Thank you for that and I hope that you continue to thrive in life.

I regret a few things prior to my leaving The Beast 980 and if I could, I would go back and change things. That group of people is so special to me and I respect EVERY ONE OF THEM knowing how much time we all put in behind the scenes. While Marques, John and I had already left, I hope and wish nothing but the best for my Beast Family.

I love & am praying for everyone at The beast 980.

Joe Arrigo

 

 

 

Ted and Mike

Green Bay Packers: Time to be real

Like most fans that watched the Packers in 2015 I experienced a wide range of emotions. In the first six games I was thinking, like NFL experts (something I am not), that the Packers were destined to play in Northern California in Super Bowl 50. But since then it has been a roller coaster of emotions for me.

I also didn’t write this after the Packers loss to the Vikings at home for the division title (and their first home loss verses Minnesota since 2009) because I wanted to be logical and not just vent. I didn’t want this to be another version of the JS Comments twitter feed or tweets I get complaining about how awful the Packers are.

The reality is the Packers fans, myself included, are spoiled. 10 wins, a playoffs berth and a shot, albeit a small one with the way they have been playing, but a shot none the less at winning the Super Bowl. That is something the Browns, Jets, Bills, Lions, Bears, 49ers, Rams and the other NFL teams that missed out on the playoffs wish they had.

I grew up in the 80’s and remember the years of the Bart Starr, Forrest Gregg & Lindy Infante led teams were horrible. Sure there was talent on those teams, like Lynn Dicky, James Lofton, and Tim Harris (to name a few), but most fans would have given almost anything to have an 8 win season. And if you would have told them they wold have a 10 win season after 4 straight NFC North titles, we would have gladly took it!

But the truth is the expectations have changed and raised. These Packers teams led by Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have a Super Bowl or bust mentality, and I love it. But these Packers also are not built to win this year. Not with the poor offensive line play and depth. Not with the receivers failing to get open. Not with the defense being on the field way to much and trying to keep the score within reach and not with the offense, and Aaron Rodgers, playing so bad.

That is the honest truth and the reality of the 2015/16 Green Bay Packers.

But I was told don’t complain if you don’t have a solution or a way to fix the problem. So I will try to do that now. I want to preference this by saying these are my thoughts and ideas. I didn’t get them from any NFL sources or people within the Packers organization. This isn’t an OTS or any type of rumor article, so please don’t take it as such.

I coach football and I am of the belief that a team needs to be built up front, in the trenches, especially if you have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The Packers offensive line play has been been bad all year. I really like the whole line as men, but the play hasn’t been where it needs to be in order for the team to win. Part of that is injuries, which is lack of QUALITY depth behind the starters and that falls on Thompson.

But the first call I would make as soon as the season ends is to Cleveland and see what or how much it would take to trade for left tackle Joe Thomas. The Wisconsin native is not happy in Cleveland (and losing) and would be a great fit for the Packers. While I wouldn’t give up a 1st round pick for him, I would offer a 3rd and a 2017 conditional pick (a 4th but based on performance could be as high as a 2nd). The Packers can afford him because their cap situation is in excellent shape.

The next thing I do is draft an impact middle linebacker. The bottom line is Jake Ryan is just a guy, he is NOT the answer in the middle. I know he is a rookie, but he is not good in coverage and makes too many tackles beyond the line of scrimmage. I think getting Sam Barrington back would be huge in 2016, but for the past 3 or 4 years the inside linebacker position has been one of the Packers biggest weaknesses to me. Drafting a linebacker early would be huge for the defense going forward and the Packers depth at that position would be greatly improved.

I would also draft offensive line depth early in the draft as well. The Packers need to add a tackle and guard to their line just in case the injury bug continues to bite them (like this year). Defensive end is another priority in my opinion. The Packers need to add a player that can be effective verses the run and pass. I would also look to add another OLB that can create havoc via rushing the passer and more defensive tackle depth and that includes trying to resign BJ Raji.

Lastly, I would look to add a speed back. Eddie Lacy has been ineffective for reasons known to all (and injuries), but the Packers need to add a change of pace when they take Lacy out. A third down back that can also be a threat to take one to the house at any time would be a welcome addition to McCarthy’s offense.

The Packers need to take a long hard look at themselves this offseason and be totally honest about where they are and what they need to do. If that means Ted Thompson becoming the President of Football Operations and making Eliot Wolf the V.P. of Football Operations/General Manager so be it. If that means Mike McCarthy shuffling his coaching staff, so be it. But one thing is for sure, it is time for the Packers brain trust to look in the mirror and be real with themselves.