Thursday Thoughts: Dexter’s Talent
The draft begins two weeks from tonight, and aside from Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence going first overall to Jacksonville, the only other certainty will be the “experts” gushing over every single pick. Meanwhile, at least half of the players chosen in round 1 will likely be busts or just serviceable players. Of the 32 players taken in round 1 in 2015, only 11 are quality starters. Remember that when the talking heads start pontificating. Anyway, here are three Packers-related thoughts that ran through my head the past few days:
Dexter Williams was kicked out of practice as a rookie and released twice last season, but he’s still around. The former sixth-round pick from Notre Dame, who’s spent most of his pro career on the Packers’ practice squad, will have one more chance this summer to prove he belongs on the 53-man roster. There’s no denying his talent as a runner. He’s blessed with good size (5-11, 212) and enough speed to go 75 yards every time he touches the ball. What’s keeping the 24-year-old from getting on the field are all the little things. He’s yet to earn the confidence of the coaches when it comes to ball security and pass protection. That Williams is entering his third training camp with the Packers is a testament to his talent, but he’ll need more than talent to earn the No. 3 job behind Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. He’ll need to show he’s a complete back – the type of back Matt LaFleur can trust in a big spot.
Williams (#2) showed off a number of his impressive skills as a runner on this 32-yard TD against Syracuse at Yankee Stadium in 2018. His vision, body control, strength, speed, and acceleration are why the Packers haven’t given up on him despite some shaky moments the past two summers.
Aaron Rodgers still has the highest cap number in the National Football League at $37.2 million – $5.3 million more than Russell Wilson of the Seahawks. Since the Packers didn’t need permission to restructure their star quarterback’s contract, the only logical explanation for doing nothing is that general manager Brian Gutekunst wants to keep open the option to begin the Jordan Love era in 2022. At this point, doing something significant with Rodgers’ deal wouldn’t make much sense, aside from lowering the tension level between the team and its best player. Unless Gutekunst has a trade in mind, there aren’t any free agents left who’d require the Packers to clear a large amount of cap space. What’s remaining are older players who’ll likely settle for modest contracts in the coming weeks. If Gutekunst has a master plan, he needs to stick to it because turning back now makes no sense.
Seven new head coaches were hired in January, and 27 assistants were considered for those jobs. It’s still hard to believe that Nathaniel Hackett, who helped orchestrate the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL in 2020, received only one interview. I get that the personable 40-year-old didn’t technically call the plays and that he had the MVP of the league at quarterback, but so what? In 2017, he did call the plays with Blake Bortles at quarterback for the Jaguars, and the offense finished sixth in total yards and fifth in scoring en route to the AFC title game. That alone should’ve garnered him more interviews than the likes of Joe Brady and Jerod Mayo. Come to think of it, what he accomplished in Jacksonville deserves more than a few interviews. It deserves a statue in front of TIAA Bank Field.