Let me start this by saying that as a Green Bay Packer fan, this weekend may have been one of the more disappointing weekends in quite some time. Let me clarify this statement by saying what I believe every Packer fan out there was hoping for: They needed to do EVERYTHING that they could to give Brett Favre one more shot. That meant immediate help at wide receiver and running back. With immediate help at wide receiver, with immediate help at running back, Green Bay could have become a major player in the watered-down NFC.
Let's rewind to last week Thursday, when it was first reported that Kansas City had put Larry Johnson on the trading block. Yes, THAT Larry Johnson. Fearing high demand in contract negotiation after this upcoming season, when Johnson becomes a free agent, Kansas City opened the bidding. The reported price? A first- and fourth-round pick for the All-Pro running back.
At the same time as this possibility opened up, negotiations about disgruntled Raider wide receiver Randy Moss were charging along, to the point where John Clayton said on ESPN Radio on Saturday morning before the draft that he thought Moss would be a Packer by the end of the day. He, instead, became a New England Patriot. The price New England paid? A fourth-round pick, while Moss restructured his deal to subtract a year, making it a one-year deal, for $3 million (plus incentives that could push it to $5 million), far less than the $9.5 million that he was owed.
With that being said, we fast forward to pick #16 of the first round on Saturday. The player most had figured to go to Green Bay, running back Marshawn Lynch, was no longer available. But Brady Quinn was. Greg Olsen was. Robert Meachem was. Dwayne Bowe was. Leon Hall was. And Justin Harrell was. Here is a little background on defensive tackle Justin Harrell. He missed all but two games this past season with a torn biceps. He has a history of bad ankles, missing the entire 2004 season after breaking an ankle in 2003, only to re-break the same ankle two snaps into that season. He was widely considered to be a top 10 talent, but given injury concerns, he was a borderline first-round pick. At least most, including Justin Harrell, thought so. Not only was Harrell a reach at #16, but defensive tackle was not an area of need for Green Bay. In fact, it is one of their stronger positions. Instead of drafting a highly skilled player in a position of need, they took an injury prone player at a position of strength. Why?
Green Bay's three glaring weaknesses are all on the offensive side of the ball: Running back, wide receiver, and tight end. The (arguably) second best wide receiver was on the board. The best tight end was on the board. And Brady Quinn was on the board. Why do I mention Quinn? Because, after Trent Green leaves Kansas City, they will have a glaring hole at quarterback. Damon Huard is not the answer. Brady Quinn could have been. Would Kansas City have given up Johnson for Quinn and, say, the extra third round pick that Green Bay acquired when it traded down in the second round? It's a definite possibility.
Fast forward to the second round. Green Bay trades down instead of taking a high quality player such as USC receiver Steve Smith or Auburn running back Kenny Irons. By the time they pick, Irons and Smith are gone. And they choose: Brandon Jackson? A running back who has had surgery on the labrum of BOTH shoulders during his career at Nebraska. Another injury plagued draft choice. The running backs still available? Ohio State's Antonio Pittman, Penn State's Tony Hunt, and Louisville's Michael Bush, among others. Brandon Jackson started just 11 games in three years at Nebraska.
Third round? Green Bay uses the first of their two third round choices on a wide receiver. Finally. By choosing James Jones from San Jose State. Yes, that is the same James Jones who stands just 6 feet tall, runs the 40 in 4.6 (slow for NFL wide receivers), and scored a 9 out of 50 on the Wonderlic test. That was the lowest score for any wide receivers at the NFL Combine (there were 43 wide receivers there).
So what did Green Bay end up with instead of Randy Moss and Larry Johnson? An injury plagued defensive tackle, an injury plagued running back, and a small, slow, stupid wide receiver. Super.
Why am I bitter about this? As I said prior, EVERY Packer fan wanted to see Brett Favre get one more shot. Johnson and Moss would have given them that. Would the risk of taking two players for one season be worth ruining an entire draft? Absolutely. In fact, three draft picks, especially given what Green Bay ended up with in those picks, would have been a small price to pay to become the immediate favorite in the NFC. For one season. One more shot. If they would have gotten to the Super Bowl, Favre would have retired and Johnson and Moss would have left via free agency. Green Bay would have been back where they will probably be at the end of this season anyway. Except instead of a great season and a playoff appearance, they will struggle to go 8-8 in the suddenly stronger NFC North. But hey: They'll still have a defensive tackle they don't need, a wide receiver that won't play, and a running back who will probably get hurt. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am extraordinarily pissed off right now.
(Exhale) Now, with that said, here are some other quick observations:
Cleveland paid a steep price for Brady Quinn. Yes, they had a decision between three players with the third pick of the draft. Yes, they ended up with two of them. But a team with as many holes as Cleveland cannot afford to lose their first-round pick next season. They are still not a playoff team, especially in that division, and with Quinn at quarterback, will still struggle to win games this season while he develops. Losing next year's first round pick really hurts them, even if Quinn turns out to be as good as some think he will.
San Francisco had a MONSTER draft. They will win the NFC West this season. Getting Darrell Jackson for a 4th-round pick was robbery. Patrick Willis will be a star, and offensive tackle Joe Staley will really help Frank Gore. Gore will contend for MVP this fall.
Why did Adrian Peterson have to go to the Vikings? Why? Anyone else want to bet that he terrorizes the NFC North for the next 5 years? I do.
Detroit traded Josh McCown and Mike Williams to the Raiders for a single fourth-round pick? The Raiders got fleeced...
New England is going to be really, really, really, really, really good next year. Early prediction: 15-1, Brady gets his 4th ring. And they got San Francisco's first round pick for next year. So they'll win the Super Bowl, then get two first round picks next year? I guarantee GM Scott Pioli wins his fantasy league every year...
If Detroit ever drafts a wide receiver in the first round again, I'll scream. Four wide receivers in the last five years in the first round? This is getting ridiculous, Matt Millen. Speaking of which, how the hell does he still have a job? Since he took over in 2001, they are tied with the Houston Texans for the fewest wins in the NFL. The best part about that stat? Houston didn't have a team until 2002.
Green Bay will struggle to win football games. If they win seven games this year, I'll consider it a success. They overachieved to get eight a year ago; getting back there this year will take a miracle. Or for 1996 Brett Favre to suddenly appear under center, vicatin problem and all.
That's all I got. I'm out.
PS. Let's go, Brewers!