Legendary senior writer, Packers lead blogger & NFC North featured columnist jclombardi evaluates Packers 2011 & 2012 raft classes.
With the official trade of defensive lineman Jerel Worthy to the New England Patriots, the Packers press and blogosphere have debated the questionable defensive picks for both Packers 2011 & 2012 draft classes, specifically the 2012 draft classes with six straight defensive picks including Worthy. According to the numbers, in the 2011 draft class, the Packers picked ten players. Yet, wide receiver Randall Cobb (2nd round) is the only starter with only four picks still on the Packers roster. If that is not bad enough, GM Thompson did worse in the 2012 draft class. In an attempt to shore up a bad defense, the Packers chose six straight defensive players of their eight picks. They began with defensive end Nick Perry (to transition to outside linebacker) and defensive lineman Jerel Worthy.
Today, Perry is not the hoped outside pass rusher and he has been hurt often. He is just good enough to niche rotational player. Further, Worthy was not a fit for the 3-4 defensive scheme and he was hurt too often before the official trade. In the 2013, he was the fifth player out of the eight chosen players gone. Fortunately, in the 2012 class, although not a fit for the 3-4 defensive scheme, short defensive lineman Mike Daniels is a Packers starter with pass rushing abilities, although his skills in the rush defense is questionable. Also, cornerback Casey Hayward is a solid slot cornerback, if he can return to his 2012 stellar year performance level.
In sum, GM Thompson selected eighteen players in the two drafts. Horrifying, only seven still remain on the Packers roster. This 38.9 percent retention rate is the worst of the teams in the NFL from the two drafts (see this eye-opening chart). Its old NFL sports story with Thompson management who failed to get the proper defensive personnel to fit the 3-4 defensive scheme, specifically in the front seven defensive line. Also, the issue of failed transition from defensive end to outside linebacker are old stories for Mike Neal and Nick Perry who move like laughable tanks in open field. Meanwhile, the issue of failed inside linebackers in the 3-4 defense continue to be a Packers problematic issue to be resolved with both ILBs Jones and Hawk failing to do enough consistently and effectively to stop the runners and cover opposing receivers.
Further, the management failures in draft selections and shortcomings in free agency have led the Packers to serious depth and experience issues in the front line Also, without a strong 3-4 defensive front seven, the talk in the Packers fluff press about quality defensive backs in 3-4 scheme is wishful thinking. Elite teams like the 49ers and Seahawks will simply power run through the middle zone and will effectively execute middle zone passing schemes to score enough points to beat the Packers.
We shall see what the final weeks of training camps along with the final 3 preseason games do to resolve these personnel defensive issues. If they are not solved, the Packers simply fail to make another deep playoff run again.