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Defensive Reinforcements Arrive in Titletown (05/02/2012)
By Dave DeLano

The 2012 collegiate draft is in the history books and it appears that Cheeseheads will see much needed improvement from the Packers’ defense this coming season. Once again General Manager Ted Thompson worked several draft swaps and there was no doubt this time around that the emphasis was on the defense. In all, the Packers selected eight new players, the first six of which are defensive and the last two seventh-rounders play on offense. Here is a quick look at the newcomers.

First-round draft pick Nick Perry played defensive end at USC. Even though he weights 270, the Packers are projecting him to play outside linebacker on the side opposite Clay Matthews III. Perry is very strong and fast and excels in rushing the passer, which is exactly what the Packers need. Perry’s ability to quickly adapt from his collegiate position to the Packers’ starting outside linebacker just might be a key to how successful the Packers’ 2012 season will be. If Perry turns out to be “special,” CM III will have many of those double team blocks disappear which should return the Packer defense to where it should be.

With their first picks in both the second and the fourth round, Thompson selected quick defensive linemen. Both Jerel Worthy (Michigan State) and Mike Daniels (Iowa) played tackle in college but likely will project as defensive ends with the Packers. Both of these guys are thick and strong with a burst of explosion that relatively few big men have. Both have good pass-rushing ability. Worthy was thought by some to give only partial effort at times, but if that was the case, Packer coaching can correct that. He has all the tools to play the five-technique position. Daniels’ nickname is “The Beast” which is a sweet nickname for a defensive lineman. Both should fit nicely into the defensive line rotation and contribute immediately.

With their second picks in rounds two and four, the Packers selected defensive backfield help. Second- round pick Casey Hayward is an instinctive cornerback who had a productive career at Vanderbilt. A native of tiny Perry, Georgia, Hayward should factor into how the Packers intend to replace Nick Collins in the Packer backfield. Jerron McMillian, who played safety at Maine, also may factor into the Collins replacement strategy. It is possible the Packers decide to move 35-year-old Charles Woodson to safety or possibly one of these two rookies will see significant playing time this year.

The Packers’ lone fifth-round pick went to North Carolina State linebacker Terrell Manning. Manning is a bit undersized but is a good athlete and possesses natural pass-rushing skills.

In the final round Thompson addressed the offense. Andrew Datko is a talented left tackle from Florida State who has had a promising collegiate career marred by various injuries. When healthy, Datko displayed good blocking skills against quality opponents. He has excellent size and potential. The Packers’ final pick was quarterback B. J. Coleman who enjoyed a pretty nice career at Tennessee – Chattanooga. The Packers are looking for a backup quarterback after the loss in free agency of Matt Flynn, and Coleman has the size and arm strength to have a shot at fulfilling that role.

This draft class is exactly what the Packers needed. As much as Thompson denies it, this draft was all about need and it sure appears that the Packers picked up some very good quality defensive players in the process.



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