NFL Mock Draft 4-21 Round 3

gator dazzlers

By Paul M. Banks

Check back often as we’ll be filling in the descriptions and updating it a few more times between now and Draft day!

To read our updated team needs go here

For our draft big board rankings go here

For round one go here

For round 2 go here

65. St. Louis Aaron Hernandez TE Florida

This team needs playmakers BADLY, so they’ll rebuild the offensive side of the ball here

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Most Overlooked NFC North Storylines

staffordgrinding

By the TSB Staff

The NFC North will undoubtedly be a reality series this fall with the Brett Favre-Minnesota Vikings story likely to be “the lead” all year in most NFL content-producing mediums. #1 overall draft pick Matt Stafford helping rebuild the Detroit Lions, Jay Cutler bringing the Chicago Bears solid quarterback play for the first time since the Industrial Revolution will be huge as well.  But what about under-the-radar NFC North storylines? What interesting developments have been under-reported?

SAM SVOBODA

The Bears’ loss of safety Mike Brown.

Even though he’s had injury problems, I was shocked at how little I heard about the Bears letting him go. I thought maybe it was because I was in California at the time, but it turned out my brother (who’s been in Chicago the whole year) didn’t even know about it until seeing that Brown signed with the Chiefs in June. Yes, Brown has lost a step with his injuries and age, but he played 15 games last year and proved that he can still make plays. More importantly, he brought leadership and experience- Brian Urlacher has always gotten more press, but I really believe that Brown was the heart and soul of the Bears’ defense.

Perhaps the main reason that I think Brown’s departure is a big story though, is because of the safeties that the Bears kept. If the Bears had some great, established safeties then I would have had an easier time understanding letting Brown go. But the team’s current list of safeties reads like this: Kevin Payne, Danieal Manning, Craig Steltz, Josh Bullocks, Al Afalava. I really hope some of the above guys can prove themselves as consistent NFL starters, but if the Bears’ safeties are repeatedly beaten this season, you have to wonder about the decision to let Brown go.


JAKE MCCORMICK

What’s missing? The answer is anything about the Green Bay Packers. As we’ve seen from even just the past week, ESPN will report every time Brett Favre involuntarily farts when he gets under center for the Vikings. It’s like a politician, where everyone is giving him advice on how to act, what he needs to do to gain his teammates trust, and the best way to overcome the doubts.

The Lions are a story because they are a team with a new image, the biggest being the new badass Lion on the helmet. The worst team in the league from the previous year always gets obligatory press coverage because it’s interesting to see how they change their approach on Sundays.

The Bears have a mini-Favre in Jay Cutler, who is a great talent but already a prima donna. And he doesn’t even have a winning record as a starter. How he responds to moving from a team with good receivers, a banged up running game, and a terrible defense to a team with a good running back, bad receivers, and an aging defense will be something to watch.bearstrainingcamp2

That leaves us with the Packers, and the biggest storyline that anyone can pick up will be the transition to the 3-4 and how Aaron Rodgers responds as a second-year starter. But honestly, name one story about the Packers that has made any sort of noise on ESPN or anywhere outside of Wisconsin. And no, the team’s reaction to Favre’s return doesn’t count. Green Bay has the talent and depth to be much better than last year’s 6-10 record indicates, and although Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy build the team through the draft, the fact that they only kept one coach from 2008 on the defensive side of the ball this season says something about the team’s sense of urgency. The whole Packer organization is an underreported and under-the-radar story, which is funny considering it is one of the top three most popular teams around the world. For proof, I offer this: My girlfriend spent a semester in Spain and her host brothers knew nothing about football, but they all had Green Bay Packer bobble-heads.

SOXMAN

The coverage of the Favre signing was to the sports world what the death of Michael Jackson was to the pop culture masses.

I’m actually more curious to see if rookie WR Percy Harvin can unseat Devin Hester as the next American Idol of the return game.  The kid can fly and actually might end up being a decent wide receiver as well.  Did you hear that #23?

What ever happened to Devin Hester’s return game anyway?  He is the Rueben Studdard of the NFL- minus about 200 lbs.bearstrainingcamp1

Other NFC North storylines- “My Tight End” sounds like the name of an alternative lifestyle reality show, but actually it’s a question.  With the exception of “the Packers,” (again, minds out of the gutter), all North division QBs have a new tight end.  Who will be the first TE to establish that “till free agency do we part” chemistry with their ball hurler?  Cutler and Olsen, who have already established chemistry on the Chicago nightclub scene?  Stafford and Pettigrew?  Both are NFL “first timers,” who only have each other in a world of potential pass rushers?  Or old man Favre and Visanthe Shiancoe?  Given Favre’s love of men who can go long, anything is possible.


PAUL SCHMIDT

I know, the Jay Cutler talk and the love affair with him is ridiculous right now, and it’s getting just as tiresome as the Brett Favre story.  Well…maybe not that bad…but it’s getting old.  The thing people need to be talking about with the Bears is what happens if they are bad?  I mean, there’s a lot of speculation about the receivers, and maybe it’s founded, but it would seem to me that there isn’t enough speculation about the defense.
What happens if Tommy Harris isn’t ok?  What happens if Brian Urlacher continues to slide as he ages? What happens if Lance Briggs’ ego continues to grow and it gets in the way of his performance?  What happens if Peanut Tillman isn’t ok, and doesn’t heal properly?  What happens if Danieal Manning doesn’t get better?  What if Nathan “The Interceptor” Vasher sucks again this season?  What if no one steps up in the secondary?  What if the defensive line STILL can’t get pressure on an opposing QB this season?vikingsheadshadow

See?  There’s a ton of questions.  The defense isn’t a sure thing to be great.  The offense BETTER score a lot of points, because the defense just might be giving up quite a few…

The point is, if the Bears aren’t a playoff team, and end up .500 or worse, is Lovie Smith’s job on the line?  Jerry Angelo’s? Both have really put their necks on the line with the Cutler deal yet not bringing in any top WR (like Anquan Boldin). Shouldn’t they be on the hot seat just because of that?

SHAYMUS MCLAUGHLIN

In my opinion, it has to be Aaron Rodgers coming into his own as an elite QB in the NFL. He put up pretty ridiculous stats last year, especially for a first year starter (4,038 yards, 28 TDs, 13 INTs, and a 63.6% completion percentage). He managed to do it with the whole Brett Favre thing weighing down on him, which makes the feat even more impressive. While the mainstream media will be keeping an eye on Favre’s follies in Minnesota, Cutler’s conquest of Soldier Field, and Stafford’s starting gig in the Motor City, Aaron Rodgers will be quietly be amassing elite numbers for the green and gold at Lambeau Field.

Collective bargaining agreement highlights Packer shareholder meeting

2009 Packer shareholder meeting

By Jake McCormick

Editor’s note: More meeting photographs will be posted Monday

Packer OwnerA guy in full 1920s ACME Packer garb, a cheesehead with NFL OWNER tattooed on its side, a Minnesota license plate reading GBPCKRS, and beer served at 11 a.m. – sounds like a typical day at Lambeau Field.

Concerns were abound at the annual Green Bay Packer shareholder meeting, but the mood was light and optimistic compared to last year’s gathering. I’ll let you guess the reason why. If you don’t know, please stop reading. That’s like asking what the second highest selling beer in the country is behind Budweiser.

In a simulation of the start of the shareholder meeting Thursday, I’ll quickly remove the “1,000 lb white elephant in the room,” as Packer President Mark Murphy put it.

“The Brett Favre situation did severely test the organization,” he said, looking much more comfortable saying the name than he did last year. It reminded me of the King of the Hill episode where Peggy had to teach sexual education and struggled to say “penis” and “vagina.” When she got past that fear, her mouth was an open floodgate of genital names. Anyways…

“We wanted to be fair to him, but we felt we had to act in the best long-term interests of the Packers,” Murphy added, to a collective round of applause from the team “owners.”

He then drew the first of many ovations at the mention of current quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He expressed total confidence in Rodgers’ leadership abilities and future with the team. “I’m confident we’re set for the next decade under Aaron Rodgers,” Murphy said.

Murphy led the meeting and spent most of his time in front of the 7,500 Packer crowd addressing the upcoming issues surrounding the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL Players Union and team owners.

“This is the biggest issue we’ll face over the next two years,” Murphy said, before explaining the origins of the CBA and its evolution over time.

NFL team owners have chosen to opt out of the current agreement, citing concerns over increasing player salaries compared to team revenues and high pay for unproven rookies. If the agreement isn’t ratified by both sides by March 2010, Murphy said that season will go on without the salary cap. Although it sounds much more problematic for owners, Murphy was quick to point out the problems players will face if stuck without an agreement.

“Not only does the cap go away, but free agency changes and player benefits will go away,” he said. “So there’s definitely an incentive on both sides to get a deal done.”

Ted ThompsonGeneral Manager Ted Thompson gave his “state of the team” address and went through each position while making comments about each player on the depth chart without giving too much information. As Thompson jokingly put it, “Where else will people come out in the rain to listen to me talk and not really say anything?” Obviously with players checking into St. Norbert dorms today, there isn’t too much to report in terms of team progression.

Looking around the stands filled with Packer “owners” from all across the country listening intently to cut-and-dry reports on the financial stability of their organization, I realized the unique structure of the Green Bay Packer franchise. Sure, Jerry Jones gives Dallas Cowboy fans his “State of the Cowboys” address, but would he ever stand and meet each of those fans and listen to their concerns about the franchise as if he were a senator?

After the meeting, Murphy and Thompson trekked over to the Don Hutson Center to meet and greet with shareholders. Packer fans aren’t afraid to speak their minds about their team, especially when it concerns Brett Favre, and last year Thompson heard it from a lot of angry “owners.” But the President and GM both received nothing but words of encouragement as they signed souvenirs and answered questions about players and coaches.

Green Bay Packer shareThe concept of being a Packer “owner” works much like the representative democracy of the United States. Each shareholder has an opportunity to voice their opinions about the team’s direction to its leaders, but the real action is ultimately in the hands of the administration. So shareholders collectively own the team, but they cannot change anything by any means other than voting and protesting.

Would you prefer to have at least some say in your favorite team’s operating procedures or have one owner who doesn’t have to answer to anyone, like a dictatorship? I’ll take the former, and I think the Packers’ unique system could be beneficial to other teams. Obviously there is a higher chance of alien contact on the Moon than seeing someone like Ralph Brown sell the Bills in public shares, but knowing you’re more to a team than just a fan is a feeling that most people should be allowed to experience.