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Acme Packing Company - All Posts Where "Draft and Develop" isn't just a philosophy...it's a way of life.

  • Brian Gutekunst has stayed true to his word in exploring talent in his short time as Packers’ GM
    by Shawn Wagner on May 24, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Gutekunst has approached “every available avenue” in re-shaping the Packers’ roster over the past year. When Brian Gutekunst was named General Manager of the Green Bay Packers in January 2018, he was quoted as saying that the organization would not leave any “stone unturned as far as every avenue of player acquisition.” In almost a year and a half as a leader of the front office, Gutekunst has stayed true to his word. Just this week, writers noted distinct differences between Gutekunst and his predecessor Ted Thompson in terms of their strategies of acquiring talent. Not only have the Packers added high-caliber special teams players in the hopes of also uncovering the talents that made them drafted as position players, they have also more thoroughly explored the waiver claim market. While Green Bay continues to largely employ a draft-and-develop strategy for building its roster, it has not been the only method of acquiring talent under the new regime. Draft Gutekunst’s first draft as GM in 2018 resulted in a promising group of young players. While the development of second-day selections Josh Jackson and Oren Burks will be a key to the long-term assessment of the class, early contributions from Jaire Alexander, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown are more favorable than some of the Packers’ recent drafts. Outside of Thompson’s trade back into the first round to pick Clay Matthews in 2009, the Packers have rarely showed as much early-round aggression in draft-day trades as they have the last two years under Gutekunst. Last year, the Packers traded back from pick 14 in the first round with the New Orleans Saints to gain an extra first round choice in 2019. They then used a third-rounder to trade back up to get the man they wanted in Alexander. Even this April, Green Bay took no chances of losing Darnell Savage, trading up nine picks to scoop up the safety. While it is too early in Gutekunst’s tenure to judge his drafting skill, he has at least been aggressive via that route. Undrafted Free Agents Any disciple of Thompson can be expected to value the undrafted free agent pool and Gutekunst has been no different, keeping several such players that were signed last offseason. The Packers retained Tim Boyle, Alex Light, Raven Greene, and James Crawford on the initial 53-man roster, while eventually activating Tyler Lancaster during the season. While not an original Green Bay undrafted signing, rookie cornerback Tony Brown was signed in late September and showed the potential to be a valuable piece moving forward. Green Bay has found many undrafted gems in the past decade and Gutekunst appears to be just as committed as Thompson was in giving those players a legitimate chance at roster spots. Trades While trades are less frequent in the NFL than other major professional sports leagues, the Packers made their fair share of end-of-preseason trades when determining the final 53-man roster under Thompson. Gutekunst also made a late-August deal when he shipped Brett Hundley to Seattle, but he was also active at uncommon times. Gutekunst’s first major move as GM was sending Damarious Randall to Cleveland for DeShone Kizer, an unforeseen early-March trade in which Green Bay hoped to improve its quarterback depth. While the Packers did not necessarily add a player, they were more active at the 2018 trade deadline as well, dealing Ty Montgomery and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in two separate moves. Each player, on expiring contracts and unlikely to be re-signed, brought back draft pick collateral to Green Bay. Waiver Claims The Packers made several waiver claims during the 2018 season, including the additions of defensive back Natrell Jamerson and defensive lineman Fadol Brown who will each be fighting for roster spots again this summer. But the Packers have continued to be active through the waiver route in 2019. Just in the last month, Green Bay has claimed cornerback Mike Tyson, wide receiver Jawill Davis, and kicker Sam Ficken. The pursuit of tight end Jordan Leggett this week, though Tampa Bay won his rights, was yet another example of Gutekunst trusting his pro scouts and trying to increase the competition at a position that had already added depth this offseason. Waiver claims should continue to be a cost-effective way for the Packers to pick up role players under Gutekunst. Restricted Free Agency It is not often that the Packers have turned to the restricted free agent market for talent. More often, they have had internal players such as Aaron Kampman sign an offer sheet with another team before ultimately matching the offer. While most restricted free agency pursuits from Green Bay would be considered a surprise, Gutekunst has proven he has not ruled those opportunities out. In his first few months on the job, Gutekunst shocked many when he signed Chicago cornerback Kyle Fuller to an offer sheet. Whether it was to force the Bears’ hand on a lucrative long-term deal or an intentional attempt to improve the defense, the focus on Fuller indeed showed that Gutekunst would leave no stone unturned. Unrestricted Free Agency Last but certainly not least, unrestricted free agency has been a renewed focus under Gutekunst to improve the roster. In his first free agency, the Packers landed Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Davon House, Tramon Williams, and Byron Bell in the spring before bringing Bashaud Breeland in September. But those moves were pale in comparison to Gutekunst’s dealing in 2019, moving quickly to sign Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner on the second day of free agency. While the extreme level of activity should not be expected every year under Gutekunst, it represented a willingness to shake up the roster and commit money to getting quicker results on the field. After years of futility in free agency under Thompson, Green Bay has raised eyebrows with its number of free agent moves under Gutekunst. Brian Gutekunst vowed to explore all options of acquiring talent when he took the Packers’ GM position and so far he has lived up to that promise to large extents. And with Green Bay trying to get back to the postseason, he may have plenty more moves up his sleeves as the year plays out. […]

  • 2019 Packers 90-man roster ranking, 30-27: Josh Jackson fighting for starting job
    by Jason B. Hirschhorn on May 24, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Acme Packing Company continues its countdown of the Packers’ 90-man roster with players 30-27. With veteran free agency essentially concluded and the 2019 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, Acme Packing Company will once again rank and break down the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster. These rankings represent a composite of the individual selections from several APC contributors. Today, we reveal players 30 through 27, a group including three defensive backs vying for significant roles in the defense. 30: Jason Spriggs, OL Less than three years ago, the Packers had yet to sign David Bakhtiari to the extension that solidified him as Aaron Rodgers’ long-term left tackle and the team needed a backup plan in the event his contract demands grew too expensive. With that in mind, former general manager Ted Thompson traded up in the second round to secure Jason Spriggs, a hulking, athletic offensive lineman out of Indiana. Though Green Bay has largely hit on their offensive linemen, Spriggs proved to be an exception. He struggled with pass protection and injuries since entering the league, limiting him to mere swing-tackle duties. In 2018, only two of the Packers’ offensive linemen registered worse pressure rates than Spriggs’ 6.4 percent: Justin McCray (6.7) and Byron Bell (9). McCray’s play removed him from any competition for a starting role while Bell’s convinced the team to let him walk in free agency. That Spriggs’ performance puts him in line with either underscores how poorly his career has unfolded to date. Spriggs enters 2019 without a guaranteed roster spot, though he can probably remain in Green Bay so long as he outperforms Alex Light, Yosh Nijman, or any of the other candidates for the backup tackle role. 29: Tony Brown, CB Tony Brown landed in Green Bay in Week 4 last season after washing out with the Los Angeles Chargers, the team that drafted him just months earlier. Though Brown possessed impressive athletic tools and came from the highly successful Nick Saban football machine at Alabama, he seemed one mistake away from falling out with his second NFL team in less than a year. Brown could have just faded to the back of the roster. Instead, he found regular work on special teams and as a reserve cornerback as the year unfolded. During a stretch between Weeks 4 and 11, he gave the Packers defense some of its best pass coverage, limiting opposing passers to just 78 yards, four first downs, and zero touchdowns, good for a combined passer rating of 84.7. His performance dropped off soon after along with the rest of the defense, but his upside remains intriguing. 28: Josh Jackson, CB The second of the two cornerbacks the Packers selected at the top of the 2018 NFL Draft, Josh Jackson showed signs of promise early in his rookie season. However, opposing teams soon learned that they could pick on him in man coverage, leading to a barrage of defensive penalties that sent Jackson to the bench. While the setbacks of the 2018 season raise some concerns, Jackson likely always needed a year to adjust to the more man-heavy coverages of the NFL. And while he’ll need to show improvement in that area, Jackson offers the top-shelf play-making skills that made him an All-American at Iowa. With a strong training camp and preseason, Jackson could earn a starting role in the secondary, whether as one of the top two corners or as a de facto starter in the Packers’ nickel and sub packages. 27: Tramon Williams, CB Tramon Williams spent most of his first season back with the Packers playing at safety, a situation that unfolded after the team traded Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington. Williams played admirably considering his limited experience at the position, but he remains a better fit at cornerback. Green Bay appears to feel the same way, and after adding Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage this offseason, Williams will shift back to his more familiar role at corner. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will start again in 2019; the aforementioned Jackson and third-year defensive back Kevin King will also compete for snaps next to No. 1 corner Jaire Alexander. Further, if injuries or poor play limit the play at safety, Williams could find himself shifting back into that role. Regardless, the Packers value Williams’ versatility as they continue to rebuild their secondary. […]

  • Friday Cheese Curds: Darnell Savage could be the savior for the Packers at safety
    by Kris Burke on May 24, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    The revolving door at safety should finally end this season with Savage and Adrian Amos anchoring the back end of the defense You have to remind yourself it’s only May and the players are in shorts, but you can’t help but be impressed with what people are saying about Packers rookie safety Darnell Savage. It’s common knowledge Savage is a freak athlete. It’s the usual cliche with him in that he’s “got all the physical traits” you look for in a safety: speed, athleticism, etc. What really got his teammates’ attention in organized team activities (OTAs) though is his intelligence. He picked up on things so quickly, he was asking for more according to Tramon Williams. That’s not something you usually see from rookies, especially at a position that requires an adjustment to the speed of professional football both on the field and in the classroom. With Green Bay also acquiring Adrian Amos via free agency, they’re hoping they have their safety tandem of the future. Amos thrived next to Eddie Jackson in Chicago last season and the Packers are hoping both he and Savage can benefit from each other. Both will be learning Mike Pettine’s system together and will allow them to establish their chemistry from the ground up. If Savage can be Jackson in Green Bay for Amos, that could take the defense to an entirely new level. The possibilities are exciting, but it’s still only May. The potential is there and at this time of year, that’s really all you can ask for. You can read more on Savage plus Aaron Rodgers gets owned by his left tackle in today’s cheese curds. Darnell Savage making good first impression on Packers’ secondary—Packers.com Savage has been impressing the veterans on the team in OTAs. If he and Amos can stabilize the safety position, that will be benefit the defense as a whole. At the very least, this ends the game of musical safeties. Za’Darius and Preston Smith, Rashan Gary mixing and matching up front—PackersNews.com The Packers are moving their newest acquisitions around on defense and that requires strong communication between coaches. Versatility is the name of the game on defense now, and Green Bay has it. Aaron Rodgers & David Bakhtiari hold beer-chugging ‘competition’ at Bucks game—Acme Packing Company What Rodgers did wasn’t technically “chugging” but David Bahktiari’s form was perfect. Packers WR J’Mon Moore excited about a fresh start in Year 2–Packers Wire Moore’s rookie season was a disappointment to everyone including himself but with a new head coach and a new offense he gets a chance to reboot his rookie season. Dog joins 100-meter race, comes in second—UPI The dog is technically the winners. Because dog. Also, someone please adopt the poor thing. […]

  • Aaron Rodgers & David Bakhtiari hold beer-chugging ‘competition’ at Bucks game
    by Evan "Tex" Western on May 24, 2019 at 1:10 am

    Bakhtiari 3, Rodgers 1. The Green Bay Packers finished up their first week of OTAs on Thursday with a closed practice, and apparently the team was released for the weekend in time for a quick drive down Interstate 43 to Milwaukee. That much became readily evident on Thursday evening, when left tackle David Bakhtiari and quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed up at Fiserv Forum to cheer on the Milwaukee Bucks in game five of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. What happened during a timeout early in the first quarter was inevitable. In the first two playoff series, Bakhtiari hyped up the crowd by chugging beer, first a single one in the first round against the Detroit Pistons and then two straight against the Boston Celtics in the second. This time, he got Rodgers into the act. After downing two beers quickly, Bakhtiari pointed over to Rodgers, who got his turn (though he put his down in a much more controlled manner). Rodgers then returned the attention back to Bakhtiari, who put down a third beverage in short order. The Bucks’ social media team quickly got the video up on Twitter for us all to enjoy: @DavidBakhtiari and @AaronRodgers12 go head-to-head in a beer chugging competition!! #GoPackGo | #FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/etedPaiJ9G— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 24, 2019 Bonus points go to the arena staff at Fiserv Forum for the chyron describing Rodgers as “Game of Thrones extra.” And there’s really nothing that screams “Wisconsin” more than seeing two of the greatest athletes in the state chugging beer, right? The Bucks and Raptors enter this game tied at two apiece in the series, so the winner of Thursday’s game will have a chance to close it out in Toronto this weekend. Be sure to check out Brew Hoop for all things Bucks-related. […]

  • Josh Jones’ potential departure adds pressure on Oren Burks to step up
    by Peter_Bukowski on May 23, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    With or without Josh Jones on the roster, second-year LB Oren Burks faced pressure to play meaningful snaps for the Packers. If Jones gets dealt, Burks has to be ready to provide even more versatile play in the box. Both the cause and the effect of Josh Jones demanding a trade leads directly to the moment Oren Burks comes to as OTAs open. The fact that the Green Bay Packers found roles for multiple UDFAs over the former second-round safety led, at least in part, to Brian Gutekunst tabbing Burks by trading up in the third round of the 2018 draft. In a perfect world, Mike Pettine would find a way to use a pair of uber athletes together, as malleable chess pieces who could cover, defend the run, and attack downhill. To this point, neither Burks nor Jones have demonstrated the ability to do these things consistently. Jones’ struggles, and the team’s seeming distrust of him to be where he needs to be, necessitates Burks metaphoric arrival in Year 2. With or without Jones on the roster, this was always going to be true. If and when the Packers part ways with their discontented safety, Burks will have to pick up the slack. Trying to project what that looks like shouldn’t be particularly difficult either, though some of the personnel deployment Pettine used last season could make the frequency with which certain personnel groupings will be used murky at best. Did he like to go to that big nickel safety look because he didn’t trust Antonio Morrison to do more than attack downhill, or because he liked Jermaine Whitehead so much? Considering all it took was one bonehead play from Whitehead to get the heave-ho, the answer should be obvious: this is the way he wants to play. His prioritizing of passing defense underscores the formula. Keep smaller lineups on the field to cover and live with whatever the team gives up on the ground. And when he had his preferred starters in the secondary last year, that formula proved effective. With a revamped back end, Pettine should be emboldened to go with this strategy even more. Given Burks’ alacrity in pass coverage, the one place he truly shined in college and in the Packers’ preseason last year, he may be able to allow Pettine to both play bigger and cover well. This is the key to a defense like the Seahawks, where Pettine studied as a consultant the year before joining Mike McCarthy’s staff in 2018. When a team has Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, who can cover like safeties, the defense can play bigger and jam up the ground attack while not giving up anything in coverage. This was the wisdom behind the Jones selection, as well as the Burks selection. Gutekunst must hope the latter works out much better than the former. Last season, non-Blake Martinez linebackers played just under 40% of snaps, with Jermaine Whitehead getting nearly 21% of the full season snaps, despite only playing about half the season with the Packers. It’s not unreasonable to conclude that if Burks can show the kind of cover ability he did in preseason during the regular season, he’s looking at playing well over 60% of snaps. That creates the kind of flexibility and interchangeability that Pettine prizes. Right now, this is how the Packers’ base defense will look. Just how much Pettine plays this group will depend on how much he trusts Burks. In the 2019 version of base, Burks replaces Morrison next to Martinez. In big nickel situations a year ago, Pettine would often replace Morrison with a safety like Whitehead. That was a spot Jones could have won, but now appears destined for Burks or a dark horse candidate like Raven Greene or even Natrell Jamerson. More speed and playmaking at safety could embolden Pettine to roll with Burks as well, a factor we can’t account for given how poorly the safeties played last year. If the second-year Vanderbilt linebacker proves his mettle in coverage, Green Bay could look to more traditional nickel formations, which would allow for more disguising of blitzes and coverages while staying relatively big. Adding outside linebackers with size, strength, and flexibility can amplify that kind of advantage. This formation is one the Packers played regularly last season, taking the defensive linemen off the field and replacing him with a nickel cornerback. Pettine liked to used Whitehead or Jones in that box de facto linebacker spot, making them even smaller. That’s now going to be Burks’ job to lose. For a Mike Pettine defense, this would be awfully traditional in look, but it would certainly give him considerable flexibility with blitz looks and run fits. All of this hinges on the development of Burks. “We’ve been working with him on his sight lines, where to put his eyes, and to move more efficiently in the core,” explained inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti on Wednesday. “He’s done a very good job with trying to be efficient with his feet, efficient with his angles, and putting his eyes in a good spot.” This type of developmental work makes sense given Burks’ relative lack of experience as a linebacker. It also follows with where Burks does seem to thrive: go cover that guy. When he’s not having to read and react from the box, a position he’s still learning to play, he can be effective. Sight lines change farther away from the quarterback, even if some of the run/pass keys stay the same at times. We have reason to believe Burks can already do some of the things he’ll need to do in coverage to make these bigger lineups work. But if he’s not an asset in the run game, even with a subverted priority level from Pettine, then the team might as well put a defensive back on the field. That’s where Jones would have come in, but likely won’t given the current contemptuous situation. Green Bay would prefer Burks earn that job, rather than force another DB onto the field. Jones’ impending departure doesn’t change much in terms of opportunity for Burks considering how little Jones was playing last year before injuries hit the secondary. But trading or releasing him would clear the decks for Burks to show what he can do. It also elevates the pressure on him to perform. The Packers can’t keep missing on top picks and another flop with Burks would likely prove costly. Solidifying the defense around the position, with major acquisitions at safety and outside linebacker, set up Burks to succeed. Moving Jones kicks the doors to opportunity wide open for the 24-year-old Burks. It’ll be up to him to walk through them. […]

 

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