The following are excerpts from the latest Packer Report magazine. If you're a subscriber, your issue should be in your mailbox or arriving soon. If you're not a subscriber, details on how to get the issue are at the end of this story.
NFL Draft Overview
April 25-26 — the dates of this year's NFL draft — could be the days that define general manager Ted Thompson's tenure with the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers made a radical change after last season by getting rid of most of the defensive coaching staff. Gone was defensive coordinator Bob Sanders, along with a 4-3 alignment that had been in place since Mike Holmgren took over as coach in 1992. In his place is Dom Capers, and a 3-4 scheme that the Packers' roster is ill-suited to run.
When the Packers failed to land the premier 3-4 defensive lineman in free agency, end Chris Canty, the onus fell on Thompson and his assistants to plug as many holes as possible with this draft.
It's a daunting challenge, but it's a test Thompson must pass if the Packers are going to succeed this year. And it's a test he must pass if he wants to stay off the hot seat after his team plunged from 13-3 in 2007 to 6-10 in 2008.
The story continues with looks at each position group, with analysis from NFL insiders like Pittsburgh Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert and other general managers and coaches.
Six Who Could Be No. 9
Stop me if you've heard this story before.
A big-time pass-rusher from Florida State is selected in the first round of the NFL draft. That player, for all of his athleticism, is unable to adjust to the pro level and winds up being a multimillion-dollar bust.
You remember Jamal Reynolds, the 10th pick in the 2001 draft who finished with three sacks in three seasons, after all. And for you longtime Packer Backers, there's the case of Alphonso Carreker in 1984. The biggest bust of them all, however, was Andre Wadsworth, the No. 3 overall pick in 1998 who was out of the game after eight sacks in three NFL seasons.
Well, Brown has heard those stories, too. And he's got a reply.
"The main thing I explain to people when they ask me that question is I tell them to look at my career over time at Florida State," Brown, who had 13.5 sacks last season as a junior, said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February. "There was never a time when my career hit cruise control. I was always consistent. There were always drastic gains. My knowledge for the game is really just beginning, which is going to make me a better player as far as knowing what to do and being a step quicker. Being able to learn from the veteran players and become better."
The package follows with features on five other players who could be the Packers' choice at No. 9: Brian Orakpo, Malcolm Jenkins, Vontae Davis, Michael Oher and B.J. Raji.
Rush to Judgment
Veteran Packer Report writer W. Keith Roerdink states his case for Everette Brown to be the Packers' first-round pick:
Who the Green Bay Packers ultimately select with the ninth pick in this year's NFL draft and who you think they should take are often not one and the same. It's a matter of opinion, of course, and the only one that matters in the end is that of general manager Ted Thompson. But I'm hoping we've got the same player in mind this year.
There are plenty of directions Green Bay could go with a top-10 pick — but the direction that leads them to the opposing quarterback is the one they need to follow. Fortunately, there's no shortage of pass rushers in this draft class. In fact, it's probably the strongest position.
But the player who could have the greatest impact in Green Bay's new 3-4 defensive scheme opposite Aaron Kampman is Florida State defensive end Everette Brown. Yes, I'm about to make a case for drafting a Florida State defensive end with the Packers' first-round pick. Resist the urge throw your magazine across the room.
I saw Brown as the Packers' pick in an early mock draft several months back and had the same initial reaction as every Packers fan. I cringed. Not because of anything Brown did, but because of everything Jamal Reynolds — another pass rushing defensive end from Florida State — didn't do.
2009 Draft Prospect Capsules
We put the power of Scout.com to work with glimpses of more than 200 prospects, complete with career highlights and analysis by Scout.com draft expert Chris Steuber.
How Does New Defense Fit Hawk, Harrell?
The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft has been subdued in Titletown only by the introduction of a new defense this offseason, Packer Report's Matt Tevsh writes. Veteran coordinator Dom Capers has taken over as the Packers look to rebound from one of their worst seasons as a defense in years, if not decades.
A unit that supposedly was building toward becoming one of the NFL's best regressed to 20th in the league a season ago. Its pass rush was nonexistent, its run defense was inconsistent, and unspeakable performances down the stretch at New Orleans (Nov. 24) and at home vs. Carolina (Nov. 30) and Houston (Dec. 7) cost the team a shot at the playoffs.
Two of those players who were first-hand witnesses to the late-season meltdowns were general manager Ted Thompson's last two first-round draft picks. Linebacker A.J. Hawk, headed into his fourth season, and defensive tackle Justin Harrell, headed into his third, will be looking to benefit from the change to a 3-4 defense. As the Packers continue to put together their plan for a new defense, in addition to their preparation for the draft, here is a look back and ahead for two of the Packers' key players.
John Brockington's tough, relentless running style made him a Green Bay Packers legend.
That same will and determination have continued to make a huge impact since receiving a life-saving kidney transplant in 2001.
After establishing The John Brockington Foundation in 2002, he has focused his energy on improving the lives of others in need of transplants.
Brockington recently took a timeout to discuss the ongoing work of his foundation with Packer Report from his office in San Diego.
"Our biggest mission is to raise awareness about kidney disease and promote organ donation," Brockington, a two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection who was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1984, told Jeff Hagenau. "After being given a second lease on life, I just want to do my best to make people aware of the growing problem and the difference that they can make."
Chips Off the Old Block
For Shawn Slocum and Joe Whitt Jr., some of their earliest memories are from a college football sideline.
Slocum is the son of legendary former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, who spent 30 years as a defensive coordinator or head coach for the Aggies. Whitt is the son of Joe Whitt Sr., who was a linebackers coach at Auburn for 25 years before becoming an assistant athletic director in charge of raising money to improve facilities.
"He grew up around coaching his whole childhood," R.C. Slocum said of Shawn, who replaces Mike Stock as special teams coordinator. "He was always in the backseat of the car with me with coaches in the front talking ball. Our summer vacations, we'd normally go see a coach somewhere and visit some along the way. So, he knows coaches everywhere and he's been around a lot of football."
Told of Slocum's idea of a summer getaway, Joe Whitt Sr. chuckled.
"We did, too," Whitt, the son of new Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr., said. "I can remember one of the things that when Joe was young, we would spend time with coaches, friends of mine. In addition to that, I could remember even before, I guess he was maybe 10 years old or so, I did a few camps. I would use him to demonstrate our running. He actually could do it better than anybody. He got a kick of that."
Also inside this Packer Report, you'll find a question-and-answer piece on Boyd Dowler, commentary from Packers Hall of Famer Art Daley, a Fantasy Football look at the draft, our monthly trivia and photos of Fan-Tastic Packer Backers.
Get Your Copy Today!
To subscribe to the magazine — which was started by Ray Nitschke in 1973, before he retired — click here. If you're interested in this edition and you live in the Green Bay area, you can pick it up next week at the Packers Pro Shop at Lambeau Field, as well as a few businesses by Lambeau (Card and Coin Corner and the Shell, Citgo and Express gas stations/convenience stores), the Austin Straubel airport gift shop and the gift shop at the Radisson attached to Oneida Bingo & Casino. Or, while my supplies last, you can get a copy from publisher Bill Huber. E-mail me at email@example.com.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport