Lombardi blog: April edition

Thoughts on Favre's appearance on Letterman; the draft; rookie salaries

April 25, 2008
More Favre
Brett Favre was on Letterman and he continues to stoke the flames of uncertainty. He told Dave that once training camp approaches, "something is bound to happen."

What that means, only Brett knows and having watched Favre for a couple of years now, he probably does not know what he is talking about.

I stand by my earlier statement that I think he plays this year and probably not for the Packers. Too much has happened, especially if the Packer draft a quarterback in this weekend's draft.

The Draft
The hay is in the barn and tomorrow is the single most important event of the year for a football team. Pick wisely and a team achieves, pick poorly and a team can be crippled for years, but talent-wise and financially.

The Packers do not pick high enough to worry about busting the cap, but if they have a draft like they did in 2005, they could be in trouble. Aaron Rodgers will get his chance to shine but the rest of that draft was not real great. Nick Collins and Brady Poppinga are decent starters and Junius Coston and Mike Montgomery might be, but there are not any stars in that draft. 2004 and 2003 were even worse. Only Nick Barnett and Scott Wells are left from those drafts who contribute. LB Hunter Hillenmeyer starts for the Bears and Corey Williams was traded to the Browns, but only Barnett and Wells are even on the roster out of those 15 picks.

The flip side to that is the 2000 draft where Bubba Franks, Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher, KGB and Na'il Diggs all contributed to the team in some way. Franks and Diggs are gone, but there are more impact players from this draft still on the team than from the 2005, 2004 and 2003 drafts.

The draft is such a gamble and it takes a good three to four years to grade them. If Rodgers blossoms into a good player, the 2005 draft goes from average to good. If he bombs, then that draft will be remembered as a dud.

Guys drafted three to five years ago should be the core to a team and the Packers are weak there. If you look at the Packer Roster, it looks like an upside down bell curve. There are a bunch of older guys, Al Harris, Charles Woodson, Clifton, KGB, Tauscher, Donald Driver, Aaron Kampman, Ryan Pickett, Koren Robinson, and Donald Lee are all in their sixth year or more.

The other side of the upside down curve or valley consists of approximately 30 players who are entering their second or third year in the league. With Favre gone and 6-10 draft picks coming to camp and the team gets even younger.

Vets with 4 or 5 years of service who contribute are few and far between. Coston, Collins, Poppinga, Rodgers, Colin Cole, Noah Herron, Vernand Morency, Cullen Jenkins and Wells are the guys contributing from those years. There are some solid players in that list, but no body approaches the value of even one of those older guys with the exception of Robinson and he is a special case.

The Packers roster is a teeter totter, young guys on one side, older guys on the other. The 4-5 year vets are the pivot. They should be the heart of this team. They aren't and the season may snap right there.

Rookie Salaries
I am in favor of the league and union instituting some form of rookie salary control. To pay unproven players so much money is ridiculous. Older, proven players get less because of it. It can destroy a team financially if they make a bad pick.

Most importantly to me, it should completely eliminate rookie holdouts. That is good for everyone. The team gets them in quickly, without distraction and the player is there from day one and never falls behind.

The only folks who I can see not being in favor of it are the rookies and their agents.

John Lombardi is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.

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