Packer’s are a draft and develop team and through the first three weeks of the season they have gotten next to nothing from their last four first round draft picks.
Bryan Bulaga (2010) and Derek Sherrod (2011) were drafted with the intention of adding a more physical nature to a finesse based offensive line. Bulaga has clearly demonstrated first round talent and would have been a huge upgrade on this offensive line (at either offensive tackle spot). However following his injury shortened 2012 season he is not able to contribute at all to the 2013 Packers. Sherrod has been a not factor since his devastating leg injury during his rookie season. In theory Sherrod could provide some contribution later in the year (he is available to come of the PUP list after the 6th game of the season), but given the significance of the injury and the difficulty of the recovery that seems unlikely. The net result is the Packer’s are starting 2 undersized and inexperienced offensive tackles and are simply not capable of consistently winning one on one matchup’s vs. a quality defensive front seven.
Ted Thompson went back to the USC well to draft Nick Perry (2012). The hope was investing a high round draft pick could provide a much needed bookend to Clay Matthews. One injury shortened season and three games later the Packer’s have little to show for their investment. Although it is still early Perry has not demonstrated the ability to do anything particularly well. As a pass rusher he can be best described as an undersized bull rusher. In pass coverage he looks like a defensive end, which he was at USC. His best attribute is setting the edge on running plays, however even in that phase he is not a significant upgrade over last year’s Desmond Moses and Erik Walden (two “street” free agent pickups). At this point I am beginning to agree with a growing consensus that Perry’s best hope would be to add weight and move to defensive line. Either way, the odds look long for him meeting the promise expected of a first round pick.
Datone Jones (2013) – 3 games in is certainly not enough time to give any sort of long range projection on the eventual contributions of a rookie. However one thing that can be said is that Jones has not provided a significant contribution thus far. In fact outside of blocking an extra point you would be hard pressed to even notice Jones on the field. We can only hope the reason for his slow start has been due to his recovery from a sprained ankle, because in spite of all the training camp hype Jones has simply not delivered in a game.
As we all know Ted Thomson and Mike McCarthy are firmly committed to building their team with a draft (plus sign undrafted rookies) and develop philosophy and they have an excellent track record to demonstrate the effectiveness of that approach. However one of the critical components of this approach is to find new difference makers with your early draft picks. When those top picks, particularly first round picks, do not develop and contribute it creates a large hole that can be difficult to overcome.