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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