Verdicts on the Draft? Keep ’Em at Arm’s Length
three players the Packers drafted last week were offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga
from Iowa, defensive end Mike Neal from Purdue and safety Morgan Burnett from
Georgia Tech. Green Bay also chose another lineman on each side of the ball, a
tight end and a running back.
visiting relatives in New York and Philadelphia, Artie went
solo in the Observers’ "war room" for the draft. How did he react to
the Pack's picks? We'll see…
Frank: You said
the Packers’ top priority was the offensive line. How does the Bulaga choice
fine. He was the Big Ten lineman of the year and some people were surprised he
was still available at No. 23.
Apparently, some scouts decreed that this 6-foot-5, 316-pound man has
"small" hands and a short "wingspan."
What the crock. You know if they got a measurement on the length of his beak?
Frank: I thought
holding was a penalty. Small hands could be an asset, make it tougher for a
referee to spot ’em with a handful of jersey.
Artie: In the
techniques they allow these days, they can use their hands to shove a chest or
the pads or something. And long arms can help push off those monster defensive
ends. But when they compare arm lengths or whatever, they're talking about an
inch or an inch and a quarter. How much difference can that make?
that Broadway musical years ago, Your Arms
Too Short to Box With God? I guess some alleged experts think Bulaga can't
box with Jared Allen, or Julius Peppers.
Artie: If the
guy had no arms I'd have some reservations. But a Big Ten lineman of the year
should turn out fine. They need all the help they can get in keeping Aaron
Rodgers in one piece. I'm just glad that at No. 23, Ted Thompson didn't decide
the "best available player" was a long-snapper.
Frank: I noticed
one thing that might worry you. Bulaga wore No. 79 at Iowa. Do you recall another first-round
choice who came to the Packers as the best offensive tackle in the Big Ten? He
wore No. 79 for Michigan State—and was a flop in Green Bay.
Mandarich. Oh boy. But I'll combat that by saying that when I saw Bulaga I
thought he could be a double for an All-Pro offensive lineman from the Glory
Years in the ’60s, Fuzzy Thurston.
Bulaga probably won't wear No. 79 in green and gold. That already belongs to
Ryan Pickett. Now another issue: The Packers ignored the positions you said
were their next priorities, cornerback and outside linebacker.
could use some depth at those spots but that's the thing, there's no area
that's a real dire need—except for punting. Even on the O-line, they're not
desperate for someone who can start right away. What they need is depth.
Frank: But they
still didn't draft a corner or outside LB.
Artie: Yes, with
Aaron Kampman gone they need someone to complement Clay Matthews as a
pass-rusher. But at the end of last year, Brad Jones showed a lot of promise.
And two of the corners they lost last year to injury, Pat Lee and Will
Blackmon, seem to be healthy again.
Frank: So you
give the Packers a thumbs-up?
Artie: Yeah, but
so what? It takes years to really judge a draft. But the media get hysterical,
assigning grades to the teams.
Frank: The Philadelphia Daily News gave the Packers
a B-minus, for what it's worth.
Artie: Which is
exactly nothing. It's like you go to college, get your class list and it
includes your grades. "I'm taking geography but I only get a C-plus
because I've never been to the West Coast."
knows what will happen.
Artie: Look at
the Pro Bowl rosters every year, how high those guys were drafted, and there
are big surprises. Let's get Bryan Bulaga on the field and see if his grasp
exceeds his reach, or whatever.
Déj� Vu With a Twist
Frank: Being in
Philly for a few days, I caught the aftermath of a fascinating tale. The Eagles
did what the Packers refused to do in 2008—let their longtime quarterback go to
a team in the same division.
just screwy. The Packers wouldn't release Brett Favre so he could join the
Vikings and traded him WAY out of the division, to the Jets. Last year they
couldn't stop him from getting to Minnesota,
and he sliced them up twice.
Donovan McNabb could do to the Eagles now that he's been traded to the
Artie: Just too
risky, I say.
’10 is just like Favre ’08 in the sense that the Eagles decided to "go in
another direction" after 11 years with him.
turns Kevin Kolb ’10 into Aaron Rodgers ’08. The Pack will test Kolb in the
Frank: But in
many ways McNabb ’10 is different from Favre ’08. There was no Hamlet act over
retiring and un-retiring; McNabb always said he wanted to play, and as an
Artie: So why
Frank: In the
words of coach Andy Reid, "We wanted to do what was best for us and best
for him." There's a big difference from Favre ’08: The coach did all he
could to send McNabb to a place he'd like—even if it meant the same division.
about loyalty! I guess it figures; Reid arrived in Philly in ’99 and McNabb was
his first draft choice.
began a love-hate thing between McNabb and the, um, passionate Philly fans and
media. Another difference from Favre ’08: McNabb was hardly revered the way
Brett was in Wisconsin.
The radio sports-talk shows in Philly can be brutal, and McNabb was the
lightning rod for everyone's wrath.
Artie: It's true
he never won the big one with Philly.
Frank: He helped
the Eagles get to five NFC title games, but they went to only one Super Bowl.
And when they lost to New England, 24-21,
McNabb was accused of gagging.
Artie: And you
mean that literally, ain'a?
Frank: Yup. On
the Eagles' final drive, McNabb allegedly threw up on the field.
never admitted that, right?
Frank: True, and
there's no video evidence to prove the claims made by a few teammates. Theories
abound—he was dehydrated, he was gasping from a hard hit, he was dazed and
needed help calling the plays. Bottom line: The Eagles didn't score and lost.
Artie: For which
McNabb has never been forgiven.
Frank: The main
sports-talk station in Philly, WIP, does little skits besides the call-in
stuff. Last week one of the skits included the line that McNabb would be
judging a "Punt, Pass and Puke competition."
Artie: Ouch! I'd
say McNabb has some incentive when he faces the Eagles.
Frank: Reid can
only hope he doesn't emulate Mike McCarthy ’09 against the Vikings.
Not So Fast, Hawks
Frank: A funny
thing happened to the Atlanta Hawks on the way to brushing off the Bucks in the
Artie: Two games
at the Bradley Center and voila, a 2-2 series! Who’s to
say the Bucks can't keep this nice ride going into the second round?
Frank: In Game
3, the ESPN announcers seemed amazed that the team down 2-0 got a big lift
from its home crowd and came out blazing. That's surprising?
Artie: Happens all the time. Still, to come back like that without Andrew Bogut—it's a ton of fun to watch!