With the 2012 NFL Draft in the books, we can now say the Green Bay Packers made an emphatic attempt to improve the one facet they struggled in the most last season.
General Manager Ted Thompson went away from his “best player on the board,” motto and strictly went after defense.
Not since 2004 had Green Bay started out their draft with three consecutive defensive players. This year, they spent an unheard of six straight picks on the defensive side of the ball and even parted ways with three picks in order to trade up.
Here’s a look and a brief analysis of each of the Packers’ eight draft picks:
1.) USC DE Nick Perry (1st round – 28th overall)
Perry was no doubt the best at his position at USC, if not in the entire Pac-12 conference. He led the Pac-12 with nine and-a-half sacks for a Trojans team who went 10-2 with an impressive upset over #4 Oregon. Perry had a sack and a forced fumble in the thriller at Eugene.
For more on Perry and how he will help Clay Matthews track down opposing quarterbacks, go here.
2.) Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy (2nd round – 51st overall)
Here’s one of the guys Thompson moved up in the draft to make sure they could get. Worthy was a beast at Michigan State while helping the Spartans become one of the best defensive teams in the nation (led the Big Ten in total defense and rushing defense). Worthy will join already stellar B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett to form one of the most potent run-stopping trios in the game. Anything Worthy can do with the pass-rush will be a plus.
For more on Worthy and how he helped anchor a defensive line at MSU, go here.
3.) Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward (2nd round – 62nd overall)
Selecting Perry and Worthy were solid early round picks for the Packers, but taking Hayward here was a great pick. He won’t come in right away and start at the corner, but he is a smart kid who should pick up Dom Capers’ defense quickly and make an impact in no time. He has the versatility to play on the special teams and his eight tackles/two interceptions against Cincinnati in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl were quite impressive.
4.) Iowa DT Mike Daniels (4th round – 132nd overall)
Joining Worthy as another Big Ten prospect for the Packers, Daniels is a guy who was a permanent captain for the Hawkeyes and proved to be really durable while starting 21 games over his last two seasons, including all 13 in 2011. He will provide some much-needed depth to a young and promising future for Green Bay’s defensive front.
For more on Daniels and the Hawkeye’s awesome defensive line in 2010, go here.
5.) Maine S Jerron McMillian (4th round – 133rd overall)
McMillian made some history for the Black Bears as he became the highest draft selection in his school’s history. McMillian was second on his team with 92 tackles including 11-and-a-half for a loss.
6.) NC State OLB Terrell Manning (5th round – 163rd overall)
Manning was a pick that resulted from a trade with the New England Patriots. Following his junior season at NC State, some scouts had the hard-working linebacker going as high as the second round. Over the span of his last seven games of 2011, he recorded 55 tackles, 11 for a loss and five sacks. However, knee surgery to start the season kept some teams wondering about his durability.
7.) Florida State OT Andrew Datko (7th round – 241st overall)
Similar to Manning, Datko’s draft stock dropped dramatically after he failed to keep a healthy shoulder. A 40 game starter at Florida State, there’s no doubt he has the ability to start in the league. For the Packers and Datko, only that shoulder stands between him and a spot at left tackle sometime in the future.
8.) Chattanooga QB B.J. Coleman (7th round – 243rd overall)
With the departure of Matt Flynn to free agency, the Packers are in dire need of another quarterback to join Graham Harrell as the “worst case scenario” back-up plan. Aaron Rodgers may have won the MVP last season, but he has yet to play every game in a season. Coleman was a Tennessee transfer who has a very strong arm and will be a developmental project for the Packers. Don’t forget that Flynn was also a seventh rounder.
For more on Coleman and his relationship with Brett Favre, click here. (Hat-tip to Sports-Glory)
What did you think of the Packers draft and who are you most looking forward to seeing play in the Green and Gold this upcoming fall? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.
Jerel Worthy (acmepackingcompany.com)
Casey Hayward (bleacherreport.com)Follow paulmbanks