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Thursday, 7-Apr-2011 01:35 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Fan’s take: Green Bay Packers’ biggest 2011 NFL Draft needs

The Green Bay Packers are entering the 2011 NFL Draft as the defending Super Bowl champions. While they're perceived to have few deficiencies, the Packers will attempt to position themselves with January playoff games at Lambeau Field. Most depth concerns will need to be addressed via the draft because of the NFL lockout restrictions on free agency acquisitions.

What are the Packers biggest draft needs? Are there any areas that need to be addressed immediately or will Ted Thompson attempt to address depth concerns through the "Best player available" philosophy? These are five of the Packers biggest 2011 draft needs.
The Packers run a slew of spread formation offensive sets. Greg Jennings(notes), Jordy Nelson(notes), Donald Driver(notes), and James Jones(notes) combine for one of the NFL's deepest receiving units. Jermichael Finley's(notes) return will give the Packers another slot presence who possesses fascinating size

There could be looming concerns following the NFL lockout. At 36, Driver is destined for career regression. Jones's unreliable hands and contract situation could make him a roster casualty. The Packers could also benefit by finding a more athletic upgrade for Brett Swain(notes).

The Packers could use a return specialist, although that won't be as essential with the kickoff policy changes. They still need someone other than Tramon Williams(notes) to return punts. Don't be surprised if they draft a receiver with return ability.

Abilene Christian University prospect Edmond Gates reminds me of Greg Jennings. He has the size, speed, and playmaking ability that would serve well for a long-term project. Gates could transition into a slot receiver role alongside Jennings and Nelson following Driver's retirement.

Offensive Line
Aaron Rodgers(notes) sustained two concussions during 2010. Josh Sitton(notes) and Scott Wells(notes) were the Packers only reliable offensive linemen who weren't plagued with inexperience (Bryan Bulaga(notes)), age (Chad Clifton(notes)), or inconsistency (Daryn Colledge(notes)).

Clifton and Mark Tauscher(notes) have reached the zenith of their careers, but I wouldn't expect them to draft an offensive tackle before round two since Bulaga was last season's first round selection. Don't be surprised if the Packers look for Colledge's replacement.

Defensive Line
Johnny Jolly's(notes) codeine infraction will almost certainly conclude his Packers (and NFL) career. After B.J. Raji(notes), the Packers have Mike Neal(notes) and C.J. Wilson (inexperienced), Justin Harrell(notes) (injured), Cullen Jenkins(notes) (free agent), and Ryan Pickett(notes) and Howard Green(notes) (over 30).

The Packers need a versatile defensive lineman. Muhammad Wilkerson would be a viable option if he fell to #32 (doubt it, though).

Nick Barnett(notes) will probably become a cap casualty since they resigned A.J. Hawk(notes) to start alongside Desmond Bishop(notes). I also don't believe they're going to want three linebackers (Barnett, Matt Wilhelm(notes), and Brady Poppinga(notes)) who are 30+ on their roster. Brandon Chillar(notes) will also turn 29 during 2011.

The Packers could use a versatile linebacker who could play ILB and OLB. They'd also benefit from an outside rush specialist opposite of Clay Matthews(notes). Since they already have Brad Jones, Frank Zombo(notes), and Erik Walden(notes), Thompson may favor the versatile linebacker.

Mason Crosby(notes) has failed to eclipse 80% in four NFL seasons. He does have great range and his success rate is skewed from attempts exceeding 50 yards (10/21 career). I still wouldn't mind seeing some competition acquired during the final rounds.

Monday, 28-Mar-2011 07:13 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Notre Dame's Abromaitis has Future Potential with MBA and NBA R

Everywhere you look, college football and college basketball news stories are filled with scandal and skullduggery. It's enough to make one think there are no good guys left among the coaches, and no "students," in the term "student-athlete."

Tim Abromaitis of Notre Dame is an exceptional exception. His team finished the season ranked #4 in the final poll, earned a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and they return three senior starters next year. He was the team's second best offensive weapon behind Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough, and should have an even bigger role next year.

"I'm very excited, it's funny when you get into the postseason you start thinking about next year's team and I thought about that a little bit and we have a lot to work with," ND Coach Mike Brey said about 2011-12.

Brey took home both a conference and a national coach of the year award; to complement Hansbrough's conference POY. And Abromaitis, who graduated a year early with a degree in Finance and a 3.7 GPA, won his second Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. He's on the fast-track to complete his MBA this May. So he'll have two degrees already completed before getting back on the hardwood for his final season next fall.

I asked him how he does it all.

"I work hard at managing my time, and just taking advantage of any free time that I have, being able to know how much I'm able to do, without doing too much, little things like that, and being disciplined I guess," Abro responded.

His MBA specialization is Corporate Finance.

"I think that's my desired career path at this point, but I still have next year to play, and hopefully a couple years after that, and we'll see what I get into," Abromaitis said.

"I've tried not to look too far ahead, and focus on basketball, but it would probably be something with a big company in the finance division. Something like that I'd be interested in. However it works out, I'm sure I'll be okay."

Indeed he truly will; without or without basketball. Firsthand, I've heard from scouts who believe he could be a tremendous overseas player, and in midseason I read his name in the second rounds of NBA mock drafts. So if/when earns professional money from basketball, I'm sure he'll be good at managing it.

I asked him if he had any favorite economic theorists during a recent media session. (Yes, a reporter who also holds a MBA can sometimes be a dangerous thing)

"We get preached about Adam Smith pretty much all the time in business school, so I guess I have to follow his stuff, but I wouldn't say there's any favorite or anything like that," he said.

Smith's timeless classic "The Wealth of Nations" is considered the bible of free market doctrine. He's often quoted as the founder of the specific strain of capitalism that dominates over today's contemporary landscape. Of course, if Smith were alive today, I think he'd reject the manner in which his ideals and beliefs are being practiced and applied. (Much like Karl Marx is rumored to have said on his death bed "I am not a Marxist.") But that's another discussion for another time.

Abro told me about a specific organizational behavior class he enjoyed in South Bend.

"One class I particularly liked in undergrad was a behavioral finance class. It's kind of like a mix of psychology and finance and economics all thrown together, and it was a view of how people behave in finance and some of their irrational behaviors."

Thursday, 24-Mar-2011 02:32 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Will Von Miller and A.J Green Be Chosen in the Top 5?

Any chance the Miami Dolphins change their mind on Ingram for the 2011 NFL Draft?

The Dolphins have seemed to be the only team that the experts haven’t disagreed on. In every NFL mock draft the Dolphins are slated to take Mark Ingram.

Why? Because the Dolphins are without a running back now that Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are out of the picture.

There will be a chance to take a guy like Ryan Mallett but it’s not likely they will do that. The Dolphins love what Ingram brings to the table. He’s got a good burst and knows how to get to that “next level.”

I’m not sold on what the Dolphins are thinking here. If there is a chance that Jake Locker or Mallett are around it makes the most sense for the Dolphins to take either one of those guys. They should know well enough that in the NFL these days you are only as good as your quarterback.

In the last decade Super Bowls have been won by great quarterbacks, not great running backs.

Ingram is a good back, but special enough to take in the middle of the first round? That’s debatable at least.

Still, the Dolphins seem to believe he’s the answer and they might regret it if the get cold feet at the last minute.

They’ll take Ingram…for better or worse.

Monday, 21-Mar-2011 09:08 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Sports venting

I can't wait for the regular season to end so the local media can stop covering our sadsack hockey team.

It was great to see the Oilers bring in members of the Oklahoma City farm club to show them how to be losers.

Let's hope Oilers management doesn't make the mistake that Kevin Lowe did with Curtis Glencross, and gets Ryan Jones under contract for two or three years. Lowe decided Glencross wanted too much money, and broke up the most promising rookie line the Oilers have had in years.

Shawn Horcoff has played 47 games, has 27 points and four evenstrength goals. He also has the highest inefficiency rate on the entire team killing penalties. Get rid of him.

The only time I go to an Oilers game is with someone else's ticket.

Can Steve Tambellini please explain to me why we traded Dustin Penner? As a season-ticket holder, I paid for every home game. If he wants to give up on the season this early, kindly refund me the price of the remaining home games.

There is nothing for Jack Michaels to yell about, so why is he?

If the low bids that Oilers tickets are fetching on eBay are any indication, Daryl Katz might want to focus on improving the Oilers before pushing a new expensive arena on everyone.

How does a couple spend $400 at an Oilers game? My buddy and I spend about $80 each, and that includes LRT fare, a snack or two, 50-50 tickets, a meal after the game and the price of a ticket. Clearly these venters have bad spending habits.

If the NHL got rid of the goon factor and back to playing hockey, it may lessen the injuries.

The penalty must fit the crime. If the injured player is out for 10 or 20 games, so should be the player causing the injury. As well, if the injured player must quit hockey, the player causing the injury should be banned for life. Only then will players back away from causing this type of injury.

New cheap-shot rules: If hit from behind or blindsided, a player must see a doctor. Isn't that a bit like closing the barn door after the horse is already out? How about a 10-game suspension?

"Finishing the check" means nothing but intent to injure.

My family was shocked to see Glenn Anderson and other hockey players not wearing helmets at the Oldtimers Hockey Challenge. Shame on you!

How about some more coverage of the cricket World Cup in The Journal? There are many expats from cricketmad countries living in Canada.

Even though his brother was playing, the least biased TSN announcer in the Brier semifinals was Russ Howard.

Could our Alberta Olympic gold medal winner at least act more like a winner and less like a whiner? Could he at least throw his last rock, no matter how difficult, in the eighth end of a Brier game before shaking hands to concede?

The look on Kevin Martin's face speaks volumes as he limply "shakes" Howard's hand after losing to Howard last weekend. Martin's expression is indicative of a poor loser and his body language is anything but one of grace in defeat.

E-mail us at or call 780-429-5196. You can vent on Twitter at @EJ_Venting or with the # yegventing hashtag . Check out our Facebook page at

Friday, 18-Mar-2011 01:03 Email | Share | | Bookmark
NBA: Steve Nash returns from injury, but Phoenix Suns fall to Ne

Chris Paul has decided to take a shoot-first, pass-later approach lately, and it's producing wins for a Hornets team that needs them to solidify its playoff hopes.
Paul had 26 points and nine assists, and host New Orleans extended the Phoenix Suns' losing streak to four games, 100-95 on Wednesday night.
Phoenix (33-33) fell three games behind Memphis for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot despite the return of Santa Clara product Steve Nash, who had missed the Suns' two previous games with a pelvic injury. Nash had 10 assists and finished with eight points, but missed a long 3 in the final two minutes with the Suns trailing by five and needing a basket.
Thunder 96, Heat 85: Kevin Durant scored 29 points on 12-for-21 shooting, and the Thunder frustrated Miami's offense on the way to a victory over the host Heat.
Celtics 92, Pacers 80: Jeff Green scored 13 of his 19 points in the second quarter, and host Boston coasted to victory and moved back into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference.
Cavaliers 97, Kings 93: Ramon Sessions scored 20 points to lead Cleveland to a rare road victory, beating host Sacramento.
A Sacramento attorney representing the Kings owners filed for at least four federal trademark registrations this month as they explore a move to Anaheim.
Nuggets 102, Hawks 87: Nene scored 20 points, J.R. Smith added all of his 15 in thefourth quarter, and Denver ran away to another win, beating host Atlanta.
Jazz 119, Timberwolves 104: C.J. Miles scored a career-high 40 points and cemented his new starting role as host Utah cruised to a victory over Minnesota. .... Jazz center Mehmet Okur is out for the rest of the regular season because of continued issues with his lower back and Achilles' tendon.
Magic 93, Bucks 89: Dwight Howard had 31 points and 22 rebounds to lead Orlando to an overtime win over host Milwaukee.
Rockets 94, Bobcats 78: Kevin Martin scored 21 points, and host Houston never trailed in a win over Charlotte.

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