Analysis of Notable Selections:
Nick Perry: Green Bay had a lot of trouble stopping opponents’ passing attacks last season. One of the main reasons why was a poor pass rush that produced only 29 sacks and not enough pressure. The biggest need on defense was an outside linebacker to pair with Clay Matthews to rush the quarterback. The pickings were slim late in the 1st round, but Nick Perry was still available. The former USC defensive end is an explosive athlete and has the potential to bring some heat off of the edge. Perry is not an ideal scheme fit because he has average instincts and likely will be more comfortable playing defensive end in a 4-3 than being a 3-4 outside linebacker. It is up to the Green Bay coaching staff to convert Perry’s raw athleticism into production on the field. Perry likely will start his NFL career as a situational pass rusher. He has a lot to learn before he is a well-rounded outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The Perry selection fills a major need, but he is a bit of a project that may take some time to produce.
Jerel Worthy: The Packers also suffered from average defensive end play in 2011. Opposing running backs rushed for 4.7 yards per carry last season. Jerel Worthy is a solid run stopper and has the quickness to mount a pass rush as well. Worthy played defensive tackle at Michigan State, but will learn to be a defensive end in Green Bay’s 3-4 defense. Worthy will have to up his dedication to fulfill his impressive physical skills. He represents solid value in the 2nd round and SEO in green bay had to have been pleased that he was still available.
Casey Hayward: Green Bay added another 2nd round pick by trading their 3rd and 5th round draft choices to New England. The Packers add one of the better ball hawk cornerbacks in the draft. Hayward lacks top speed, but he is a student of the game with terrific instincts. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams did not play as well in 2011. Charles Woodson is 35 and cannot play much longer. Hayward was worth trading up for and he has a bright future in Green Bay.
Mike Daniels: The focus on improving the team’s front seven continues with the Mike Daniels selection. Daniels is undersized, but displayed the quickness and strength to rush the quarterback from the defensive tackle position. Green Bay’s coaches will have to figure out how to utilize his talent. The former Iowa defensive lineman does not project to be a nose tackle or a defensive end in the 3-4 defense. Green Bay selected Daniels because of his ability to penetrate. It will be interesting to see how Green Bay’s coaches utilize him.
Terrell Manning: The former North Carolina State outside linebacker was productive defending the pass and also flashed some pass rushing potential. Manning has had more than one knee injury and needs more strength to defeat blocks better. He was a solid 5th round pick who can help Green Bay on special teams.
Andrew Datko: The former Florida State left tackle fell to the 7th round because of persistent left shoulder injuries. Datko physically may not be able to handle the rigors of pro football. However, if his latest shoulder surgery combined with proper rest and therapy work then the Packers have themselves a bargain. All late-round picks have some perceived deficiency. Datko would have been drafted significantly higher had he been healthy. This was a worthy late-round gamble on a player who will try his best to come back strong from his latest shoulder surgery.
2012 NFL Draft Grade: B+
Bottom Line: The Packers concentrated on defense in the 2012 NFL draft and rightly so. A tremendous regular season (15-1) that was powered by the NFL’s highest scoring offense went to waste as Green Bay’s defense could not stop the Giants in a 37-20 home playoff loss. Green Bay has a quality coaching staff and Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy provide them with two talented front seven defenders to mold. Casey Hayward did not receive a lot of publicity prior to the draft, but his instincts and film study habits are impressive. Overall, the Packers added starting talent and depth to a defense that needed it.