Huber & Huber: Post-Draft Analysis

Packer Report's Bill Huber and OnMilwaukee.com's Eric Huber dissect the Packers' 2010 draft bounty. The timing of this would have been better last year, had the Packers drafted former University of Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber.

Packers Report publisher Bill Huber is pairing with OnMilwaukee.com contributing writer Eric Huber (no relation) to bring you a little analysis on what the Packers did and didn't achieve in the 2010 NFL Draft.

For the record, they're only related through the green and gold blood that trickles through their Wisconsin veins.

Give the Packers draft a letter grade.

Eric Huber: I give the Packers a solid B. I was a little disappointed that they didn't address the cornerback position in the mid-rounds, especially with guys like Perrish Cox and Dominique Franks available as the fifth round commenced. I think Ted Thompson would've been much better off if he would've took Morgan Burnett in the second round, and waited for Mike Neal in the third, as the safety position was a much greater need. Then, he could've kept his fourth-round pick to address the need for another cornerback. That lost pick for me is the difference between a B and A grade.

Bill Huber: I'd agree on the B. I was mystified by the Neal pick, too. I watched him all week at the Senior Bowl and was impressed that he had plenty of quickness to go with his superhuman strength. Second round though? Didn't see that coming. But when defensive line coach Mike Trgovac talked about how Neal's skill-set matches what the Packers' defensive linemen are asked to do, then it made some sense. Neal and C.J. Wilson theoretically bolster the interior rush, a fact that can't be overlooked. Bryan Bulaga is a great pick at a position of need, James Starks could add a dimension with his receiving skills and I have no idea why Wilson was available in the seventh.


Was Bryan Bulaga the right choice for the Packers in the first round, and when do you expect to see him on the field during the regular season?


Bryan Bulaga
Iowa Athletics
Eric Huber: Absolutely. The key to the Packers going to the promise land is golden quarterback Aaron Rodgers, so they need talented bodies up front to protect their biggest treasure. Bulaga was projected to a be top ten pick, and if history repeats itself and Chad Clifton's bones continue to wear, he will see the field, possibly early, in 2010.

Bill Huber: He was a great pick (though I might have preferred Charles Brown in a trade back. But, hey, I didn't watch three seasons worth of film, either. As the picks kept coming, it became apparent that the Packers were going to get their choice of several top players at positions of need. The first round couldn't have worked any better. When will Bulaga get on the field? Given Clifton's injury history, who knows ... could be Week 1.


What was the thinking behind drafting Mike Neal in the second round and was he a reach?

Eric Huber: The thinking is more real than many may realize. Neal is a beast, and is strong enough (510-pound bench press) to keep two blockers occupied, which then will create more running lanes for the linebackers to plug and rush up. With Raji and Neal up front, opposing offensive lines will have fits trying to keep pass rushers from getting to the quarterback. Yes, Neal was a bit of a reach, but I always believe that if you're going to reach, at least reach for a defensive lineman (it all starts in the trenches) who can make an impact right away. Neal was the right reach.

Bill Huber: I don't buy that whole "reach" thing. Reach to who? Mel Kiper or Todd McShay or Rob Rang or even myself? Like I wrote earlier, the Neal pick makes more sense in context of his skill-set fitting the Packers' scheme. That's the stuff that the media draft gurus just don't see. It's not a knock on them. It's a hard job to learn about 300 or 400 draft prospects. To ask them to see Neal and know how he'd fit in Green Bay is asking too much. And as you just wrote, he'll bolster the interior rush, an area where Johnny Jolly adds nothing.


Is Morgan Burnett the answer at safety, and will he challenge for a starting job in the Packers secondary this season?


Morgan Burnett
Georgia Tech Athletics
Eric Huber: Yes and yes. He was a steal at the top of the third round, and has the ball skills and mental awareness to be a pro bowl safety at the NFL level. He naturally moves to the pigskin, and always seems to make good reads on the quarterback. In fact, I would've taken him in the second round. By the time it's all said and done could challenge the Eagles' Nate Allen as the top rookie safety; he‘s that good!

Bill Huber: I did a second-round draft preview on Friday night and listed Burnett front and center. He's the one guy that I had targeted for a month or so. Just ask his agent and my frequent e-mails wondering if the Packers were bringing him in for a visit. The physical measureables aren't spectacular, but 11 interceptions in two years as a starter tell the story. He'll be the starter sooner than later, either through superior play or another Atari Bigby injury.


Can Andrew Quarless make an impact on this offense, and how soon?

Eric Huber: Yes. He's 6'5", and has play-making tight end written all over the front side of his hands. He probably won't make much of an impact in 2010, as he makes the transition to the pro game. However, he will be a good long-term backup solution to Jermichael Finley and could be the two to a good 1-2 punch at tight end down the road. Some may look at his highlight-reel catches and think that he may be a one-dimensional pass-catcher only, but his run blocking skills are above average, and did get better as his college career progressed.

Bill Huber: All I can say is we'll see. If he's as mature as he came across during interviews with the coaches and scouts before the draft and the reporters on Saturday, then he's got a chance. By now, everyone knows about his suspensions. The million-dollar question (pun intended) is how will Quarless act when he's got money in his pocket. The guy is talented, and they needed an upgrade with Donald Lee's fits of inconsistency.


Will Marshall Newhouse stay at tackle, or do you think the Packers will move him inside?


Marshall Newhouse
TCU Athletics
Eric Huber: From what I've seen from both Newhouse and the offensive linemen who took the field for the green and gold in 2009, I say they'll move the rookie from TCU inside. Bulaga will man the backup left tackle spot, and T.J. Lang will trail Mark Tauscher on the right far side. Newhouse turns his body well, and drives defenders backward. He also has the smarts to make the move inside, and has enough quickness to be a pull blocker. Newhouse could be the eventual replacement for Daryn Colledge, and has the ability to be a good and versatile offensive lineman for a long time. If he translates his game to the next level he could be the next Jahri Evans. He was a great pick in the fifth round.

Bill Huber: The next Jahri Evans ... now that would be great. Ted Thompson still hasn't drafted a good lineman, outside of Josh Sitton. Something just hasn't connected, whether it's the scouts' eyes for talent or James Campen's coaching. Newhouse is a project, from a pass-happy offense and rarely playing in a three-point stance. My hunch is he'll work at right guard (behind Sitton) and right tackle. Honestly, practice squad would be good for him.


Why did the Packers draft James Starks with talented runners on the board and other needs to address?

Eric Huber: I'm guessing Starks was selected for his work ethic, receiving skills, and special teams potential. Starks probably won't an immediate impact unless he has a spectacular offseason, and the injury bug bites Ryan Grant. However, because of his good hands he could stake his claim as kick returner and has the speed to take it to the house. At the same time I believe they could've signed Starks as an undrafted free agent, especially because he's coming off major shoulder surgery. I would've liked to see them draft a linebacker like Jamar Chaney with their sixth round pick to build a little more depth.

Bill Huber: I've been banging on this drum since before last year's draft: I like Ryan Grant as a runner, but the Packers don't have a back who can catch a pass and make something happen. Brandon Jackson picks up blitzes with the best of them but his career-long catch is 18 yards. That's horrible. Starks was a pass-catching machine (not to mention a fine runner) during his three years at Buffalo. Those little dump-offs in the flat are the easiest yards in the game. Great pick.


Does C.J. Wilson have a shot at being a long-term solution as a pass-rushing defensive end in this defense?


C.J. Wilson
ECU Athletics
Eric Huber: I was hoping that they would get North Carolina's E.J. Wilson (Seahawks: 4th) in the later rounds, but C.J. is a nice consolation prize. He won't make an immediate impact, but will provide good depth if he can capture a spot on the active roster.

Bill Huber: This could be the steal of the draft. I watched Wilson all week at the Senior Bowl and really came away impressed — probably just as much as with Neal. He had 27 sacks in four seasons and is the reigning defensive player of the year in a decent league (Conference USA). I have no idea why he lasted until the seventh. He's got a chance to become a part of the rotation immediately.


Who had the best draft in the NFC North?

Eric Huber: The Detroit Lions. Not only did they get the man named Suh, but they addressed their need for a playmaking running back with the selection of Jahvid Best, their need for a solid cornerback with the selection of Amari Spievey (third round steal), and their need for an offensive lineman with the selection of 6'7" offensive tackle Jason Fox. Overall, they captured some very talented players while improving some of their weakest positions. Their projected trench threesome of Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Ndamukong Suh is scary good, and is something that Packer fans may not be too pleased to see when the Lions defense is on the field against Mr. Rodgers and the offense.

Bill Huber: No doubt it's the Lions. Then again, when you're picking No. 2 in every round, they should have the best draft. Suh is tremendous and Best — if he can stay healthy, and that's a big if — is a home-run hitter. Fox was a steal. Here's a guy who started 47 games and just got injured at the wrong time, which scared away scouts. Add those picks to some good offseason moves (I respectfully disagree on Corey Williams, but that's just me), and they could battle the Bears for third place. The jury is still out on Matthew Stafford. If he's a legit quarterback, then they're going to be a team to watch for the next several years.


What are some of remaining need areas the team must address before the season starts?


Pat Lee
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Eric Huber: Defensive back and quarterback for sure. They did sign the speedy former Miami Hurricane Sam Shields post-draft to possibly develop in to a long-term cover corner, but he doesn't have much experience at the cornerback position, and is more of a return specialist if anything. The Packers still could use a backup defensive back. Pat Lee, Jarrett Bush, and Will Blackmon are not the solutions, as they're either too erratic or too brittle. Josh Bell has shown potential and could surprise some this offseason, but lacks game experience, and isn't ready to match up against NFC North wide receivers. They may need to bring in a veteran, otherwise the Packers secondary will be in a world of hurt.

As for quarterback; let's face it, they have no depth. Matt Flynn has shown that he can move the offense, but after him there's nothing. With the pounding that Aaron Rodgers took last season they need a veteran quarterback to sit behind Flynn just in case the worst does happen. And contrary to what Ted Thompson may believe, you can't just take a quarterback off the streets at midseason and insert him in to the offense expecting him to be productive and win games. It just doesn't work that way.

Bill Huber: Unfortunately, there's not much they can do. The roster is what it is (sorry, I really hate that phrase, but it fits). At this point, it's wishing and hoping that Lee, Blackmon and Al Harris come back healthy, the rookie linemen add to the rush and Brad Jones comes back bigger and more seasoned. As for quarterback, I agree with you but quarterbacks and cornerbacks don't grow on trees. The Packers have enviable depth compared to most teams. I would have liked a late-round quarterback, but I prefer Starks and Wilson to Jevan Snead or whoever they could have taken.


Have the Packers done enough to make a run at a Super Bowl title?

Eric Huber: Possibly. It seems like they know that protecting Aaron Rodgers is most important, and have made the right moves to improve their offensive line. At the same time the success of their defense will all depend on how fast Al Harris can recover and be a productive corner again. If Harris comes back strong, Charles Woodson continues to play out of his mind, and both can stay healthy, the defense will be fine and productive. Overall, they have just as much of a chance as they did last season at this point, but will need someone to emerge in their secondary (I know, I'm beating a dead horse) to ensure their run through the playoffs.

Bill Huber: Absolutely. Look at the NFC powerhouses from last year. The Eagles and Cardinals are starting over at quarterback. Are the Cowboys any better? Do the Saints have what it takes to repeat? Will Brett Favre return and be as good as he was last year? The Packers figured things out last year. Now, they have insurance at left tackle (about time), a better safety and, presumably, better health at cornerback. I think they've got a chance. As always, it will come down to luck and health.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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