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June 22, 2017

Big Talents, Bigger Questions

Reuben Foster, Sidney Jones and Joe Mixon are three of the most talented players in this year’s draft. They will also be three of the toughest decisions facing general managers starting on Thursday night. All three come with major risks, which will make their plights among the most interesting to watch later this week.

Foster is one of the best inside linebacker prospects to enter the draft this century. He’s much more impressive than former Alabama teammate Reggie Ragland, who was picked in the second round a year ago. He’s even more impressive than yet another former teammate, C.J. Mosley, who went 17th overall in 2014. Yet there’s almost no chance of Foster going in the top 15. That’s because of off-the-field issues (failed drug test at Combine) and medical concerns (concussions, stingers, and rotator cuff surgery). One without the other wouldn’t be so bad, but the two together could end up dropping him a long way. How far? Put it this way, GM Ted Thompson might want to watch some of his tape in the next few days.

Jones was expected to go in the first round before injuring an Achilles in an offseason workout. That won’t happen now. Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack dealt with similar situations in recent years, and both wound up going in round 2. What makes this different and more problematic for Jones is the position he plays. Speed and quickness are everything for a cornerback, and even the smallest decline in either area can make the difference between being Charles Woodson and being Patrick Peterson and Patrick Lee. If the medicals look really good, there’s a chance Jones could hear his name called between picks 45 and 60. But there’s also a chance the former Washington star will still be available late in the third round.

Mixon is the biggest wild card of the three. He’s just as likely to go in the 30s as he is to last until day 3. That’s what happens when a great player on the field does a terrible thing away from it. Multiple teams have taken the former Oklahoma star off their boards, but it only takes one. Just ask Pro Bowl wide receiver/returner Tyreek Hill, who went in the fifth round to Kansas City a year ago despite kicking and strangling his pregnant girlfriend. And he wasn’t nearly as good of a prospect as Mixon. He just had the good fortune of not being caught on tape. The guess here is some GM will find a 228-pound running back with 4.4 speed and the hands of a receiver too tempting to pass up on Friday, but that’s far from a certainty.

Other talented prospects whose draft status is somewhat clouded by off-the-field concerns include Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly, Pittsburgh running back James Connor, Michigan tight end Jake Butt, Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone, LSU inside linebacker Kendell Beckwith and UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau.

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8 Responses “Big Talents, Bigger Questions”

  1. Nerd
    April 24, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Ted is risk averse not only to off field scenarios but to talent as well. He’ll take the slightly above average “try hard” guy every time.

    Ted looks at the floor, not the ceiling,

  2. TJV
    April 24, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    I disagree Nerd. My guess is injury concerns are more a concern for Foster than the failed drug test – at least for the Packers since Thompson has been forgiving with regard to drug usage and arrests: I think Guion with his multiple suspensions, 300+ grams of pot and gun in his car is still on the team. Datone Jones, Eric Walden, Johnny ‘purple drank’ Jolly, Brandon Underwood, Nick Barnett, Cory Rodgers, Ahmad Carroll, and Ahman Green were all given a second chance with Thompson’s Packers, weren’t they? Hyde was arrested once and Barrington was arrested 4 times before being drafted by the Packers. That’s a list of players who’ve been arrested and some suspended, here’s a few more who have been suspended by the NFL for drug use and given second chances: Koren Robinson, Mike Neal, Mike Pennel, and Demetri Goodson. The myth of “Packer people” is just that: A myth.

    I don’t think Thompson can afford to take Jones at 61 because he has to find immediate contributors early in the draft. But is he foolishly comfortable with the CBs on the roster which would enable him to draft for the future at that position?

    McGinn asked 16 personnel execs who the best player in the draft is and one said Mixon. Hey, one way to improve the Packers D is try to get the offense scoring 40+ points/game, rendering the D not as important (only slightly kidding). If Thompson and staff have determined MIxon’s breaking bones in a woman’s face was an isolated incident he’s very unlikely to repeat, maybe they pick him at 29? One report said Mixon met with the Bengals at his pro day and they were impressed by his demeanor and viewed his remorse to be genuine. Maybe they take him at 41? The Eagles are also supposedly very interested and could take him at 43. Particular teams’ interest could be BS, but if the Packers think the only real concern with Mixon is a PR hit regarding the 2014 incident (not to be minimized in Green Bay) they may have to take him at 29 or trade down into the early second round to take him. Hey, the Packers drafting Mixon is extremely unlikely and not just because of concerns with his character. The RB position is thought to be deep in this draft and Thompson may not think taking any RB in the first round is warranted. (Remember Thompson traded down from #55 to #61 with Lacy and Monte Ball available.)

  3. Thorny
    April 24, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Ted has taken guys with injury issues, in fact, I think they attract him as he smells a bargain. Harrell had the torn biceps that he eventually played through causing a lot of us to think we were getting this sold out tough guy Gilbert Brown II, type. Also, he took Brandon Jackson in Round 2 and Eddie Lacy (toe issue some teams felt limited his career to 4 years, asthma, and Alabama stigma) and both had injury concerns. However, neither of these guys were injured when they were drafted. I think that scares Ted just like it does most GM’s.

    The guy who readily comes to mind as the biggest success of an injured player is Willis McGahee. I also think of Lattimore from SC, who didn’t quite have the same outcome as McGahee.

    Now, character… Randy Moss! We took Vonnie freaking Holliday. Unless the guy is almost a sure thing to have issues, you just have to take him due to talent. No way I would pass on Mixon or Foster…Jones is another story. We have hard luck with 1st and 2nd rounders who are healthy. No way you should gamble on a guy like Jones anywhere in the top 3 rounds. Perhaps, as a mid round comp pick, if there, but he may never be right. Can’t think of many outside of McGahee who have been.

    Guys like Foster and Mixon would be better served in a small sugary sweet media market like Green Bay. Can’t imagine those guys in Philly. Not sure the Bengals won’t trade up to draft all the character risks before we even get the chance. 🙂 Can’t have too many of those kind of guys, but I think one can certainly be mitigated by a strong org filled with high character guys. Not sure we have the veteran leadership on defense for but we do on offense with Aaron and Jordy and Bulaga as well. Montgomery is a saint, too, even though young. Mixon should fit in well, if we take him.

    For the love of, please do NOT reach for the 5th or 6th best CB or “solid” DL prospect when a STAR is sitting there with character issues. Foster or Mixon would be outstanding. Heck, it’d be great if we got them both with 1st and 2nd round or even a 3rd rounder.

    Now, Jabrill Peppers comes with a dilute urine sample. Where does he fit? Ted loves these swiss army knife guys. Come Thursday night it will be insanely intriguing if we’re on the clock and Mixon, Foster, Peppers and Dalvin Cook are on the board. I just hate feeling like we’ll draft some CB who was a fast riser out of Nowhere State. Get us a star, Ted! Take some risk. Flatlining isn’t working.

  4. speakeasy
    April 24, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    I agree it would be tough to pass on Mixon if there, but really it comes down to what the run on position players is in the 5-10 picks before us. If it’s on CB, then maybe a good pass rusher drops or vice versa.

    The thing with RB is that’s it truly one of the easier plug and play roles for rookies and I can keep reading (as I’m sure we all are) that there are starters to be had at RB in the mid rounds. CB it’s a lot of talk from scouts on starters through the first 3 rounds. Maybe 4.

    Pass rusher is apparently deep, but not as much as the other two. Will be interesting and I’m certainly not opposed to trading down 5-10 spots if it means getting another 3 round pick added into the mix.

    Peter King has speculated that maybe 4 QBs could be taken in the first round (doubtful, but hopefully). If that happens, certainly some good position players will drop.

    Despite, TT’s defensive drafting prowess, I hope he goes defense unless Mixon is there.

  5. Nerd
    April 24, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    Take Mixon in the 2nd.

  6. Thorny
    April 25, 2017 at 1:29 am

    Mixon is unlikely to be there at our spot in the 2nd. Certainly don’t want to trade up to get him when we most likely could get him at 29. It’ll be interesting to see if someone trades up with Dallas to get in front of us to take him. Dallas ain’t taking him and neither is Pittsburgh behind us. If the word is we like him, and it apparently is, that 28 spot could be real hot for a trade up.

  7. Nerd
    April 25, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Teams will trade up for QBs. None of them are worth high picks, and they will all need 5 year contracts.

    Ted is likely to trade back and still get some good players at positions of need.

  8. Thorny
    April 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Add Gareon Conley to this list. Suspected of rape per TMZ.

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