Thursday Thoughts: 2021 Draft

A lot will be made this week of former general manager Ted Thompson passing on T.J. Watt in the 2017 draft, but I never had a problem with trading down. I had a problem with selecting Kevin King and Vince Biegel instead of Dalvin Cook and Carl Lawson. Anyway, here are three more Packers-related thoughts that ran through my mind recently:


1) Three of the Packers’ top four picks in last April’s draft started on Sunday night in San Francisco, and corner Eric Stokes, center Josh Myers, and right guard Royce Newman all played pretty well. That was a stark contrast to GM Brian Gutekunst’s previous three drafts, which produced only one starter in 2018 (corner Jaire Alexander), two starters in 2019 (safety Darnell Savage and guard Elgton Jenkins), and no starters in 2020. To make matters even better, wide receiver Amari Rodgers and running back Kylin Hill were the top returners against the 49ers, and defensive lineman T.J. Slaton contributed a half-sack. It’s still very early, but this has the makings of a strong class, and that’s something the Packers desperately needed after a string of mostly mediocre drafts for the past 10 years.

2) Even before the officials called pass interference six times in Sunday night’s game – some of them dubious to say the least – I had a problem with this particular penalty. Why award 30 or 40 yards to an offense on what’s so often a questionable infraction? The league needs to have two different types of penalties. Any blatantly obvious pass interference, and we all know one when we see one, should remain a spot foul, but the less egregious variety should be only 15 yards. For example, it’s ridiculous to gift the offense 30 or 40 yards because the defensive back inadvertently collided with the receiver on a badly underthrown ball. The college game did away with the spot foul, and I think that’s wrong. Sometimes, it’s warranted, but more often than not, 15 yards would be the fairer outcome.

This highly questionable pass interference penalty against rookie cornerback Eric Stokes (#21) early in the fourth quarter cost the Packers 35 yards.

3) Unless Matt LaFleur slept with Kyle Shanahan’s wife during the offseason, there’s no excuse for the latter’s behavior following Sunday night’s game. Even coaches who despise one another shake hands and exchange fake pleasantries at midfield, so to watch Shanahan barely acknowledge LaFleur at midfield was shocking. After all, the two worked together for nearly a decade and have been described as very close friends. And while I’m sure their relationship was strained quite a bit due to San Francisco’s tampering flirting with Rodgers in the spring, that scene should never have taken place. Shanahan is now not just an alleged weasel; he’s also a proven sore loser.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. This rookie class has a chance to be really, really good. Excited to see these guys continue to develop throughout the year.

    Shanahan kinda showed his colors when he blocked Mike LaFleur from joining his brothers staff in GB, IMO. Intentionally blocking one of your staff from pursuing a better job feels wrong.

    • I forgot about Shanahan blocking Matt from hiring his brother. You’re right, that showed what kind of person he is long before Sunday night.

  2. Yeah, really excited about the rookie class, too. And to think, if Michael is right, Van Lanen could very well be the starting right tackle down the line. And I expect that Amari will be getting more significant snaps towards the end of the season. I think these rookies are the key to the season; so far, so good!

      • Blocking assistants is one thing, but Shanahan blocked LaFleur’s brother. And it wasn’t like Mike was the OC in SF. Going to the Packers would’ve been a promotion.

  3. The tampering and blocking of coaches I can live with. That seems to be part of the NFL. Leaking said tampering on draft day thereby causing all this needless drama is inexcusable. The 2020 draft will play itself out next year when Love starts at QB. And if Gutekunst hits on Love, nothing else in the 2020 draft will matter. We needed this draft. We’ll need cheap labor to get under the cap for next year.

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Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.
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