JEFF: Value and Speed
By Jeff Falconio
With day one of the NFL Draft in the books the analysis is flying fast and furious. The Packers ended Saturday addressing two needs and picking up another weapon for Aaron Rodgers. The selection of Jordy Nelson was a bit odd but not necessarily a bad pick. Wide receivers kept falling and falling, making it a value position as the second round began. Certainly there was a lot of buzz surrounding the likes of Devin Thomas and Limas Sweed. But for all the well-known names on the board, Nelson and Donnie Avery of Houston were two of the first three receivers taken.
Nelson has size and very good speed. I read a line by Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki that caught my eye, " Great competitive speed. Creates positive yardage after the catch." Sound familiar? Isn't that the same type of scouting report for Greg Jennings and James Jones? Yards after catch was a big reason why the Packers were successful last year and it appears that Nelson fits that mold. Furthermore, Nelson put up some big numbers for Kansas State. He torched Kansas (and first round selection Aqib Talib) on October 6. Nelson caught 10 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. A week earlier against Texas, Nelson racked up 12 catches for 116 yards and a score. There's no doubt that wide receiver wasn't a need but we should all know by now that Ted Thompson doesn't pick based on need. You could argue that cornerback, safety, and offensive line were the biggest needs but by the 36th pick there was no value at those positions. So why not take a guy who fits your system? Your first pick shouldn't be a project. Nelson will be able to come in right away and contribute.
The Packers got even more value with the second pick, quarterback Brian Brohm. The biggest issue surrounding Brohm (and one that will probably dog him throughout his career) is injuries. Can he stay healthy? We knew the Packers would nab a quarterback at some point in the draft and with Joe Flacco going earlier than expected the Packers didn't have to worry about selecting a quarterback with the first pick. This pick could end up paying huge dividends for the Packers down the line. First, you have to go back to 2006. Had Brohm come out last year he would've been considered on par with JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn. Brohm has the talent and is incredibly smart behind center. Mobility is an issue but in Green Bay's offense you don't need to be a scrambler, you just need to have enough speed to avoid defenders and run the keep pass, a staple of the West Coast offense. There's no doubt the skill set is there. As an added bonus, if Brohm is pressed into service and performs well, other GMs will inquire. NFL teams are always looking for a quarterback on the rise and as Houston proved last year with the Matt Schaub trade that teams will pay a heavy price for potential.
Auburn's Patrick Lee is a solid late second round addition. Lee registered a 4.41 40 yard dash time and on the field has good closing speed. He is a consistent tackler and good in coverage. Lee led Auburn with 10 passes broken up and was tied for most interceptions with four. Remember, the Packers don't need a corner to come in and start right away, so Lee will have the chance to prove his worth as a nickle substitution. The Packers love guys who can multi-task and Lee will be able to use his speed as a special teams contributor. Look for Lee to try out as both a returner and in coverage.