With the schedule release due this week, we’re all set to provide everything you need to enjoy Packers football. Game tickets. Game packages with lots of new and exciting features. Plenty of home game hotels to choose from with packages for every budget. Large groups for any game welcome. Two fantastic new and improved home game tailgate parties. Luxurious indoor and outdoor seats at Lambeau Field. Meet players before all home regular-season games at our player autograph parties. We’ve got it all and can’t wait to get you to the games!
By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a perfect world Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds will be available when the Packers are on the clock with the 14th pick in the NFL Draft.
Here’s best-case scenario for Green Bay when Packers, Gutekunst are on the clocks
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The next-best scenario has Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward inexplicably available at No. 14.
Alas, the world is far from perfect.
If the Colts don’t select Edmunds with the sixth overall pick, the 49ers quite likely will with the ninth pick.
And if the Browns don’t draft Ward with the fourth pick, the Bears most likely will with the eighth pick.
It is reasonable these 10 players will be gone by the 14th pick:
- Four quarterbacks – Sam Darnold, USC; Josh Allen, Wyoming; Josh Rosen, UCLA; and Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma.
- Two linebackers – Edmunds and Roquan Smith, Georgia.
- One defensive end – Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State.
- One running back – Saquon Barkley, Penn State.
- One offensive lineman – Nelson, Notre Dame.
- One cornerback – Ward.
That leaves the Dolphins (11), Bills (12) and Redskins (13) selecting in front of the Packers. Given the unpredictable nature of NFL Drafts, including perceived needs that supersede common sense, the Packers are going to add a talented defender with the 14th pick.
The question is, “Who will it be?”
There appears to be a consensus among NFL scouts regarding the prospects expected to be drafted in the 11-to-16 pick range.
It features two edge rushers, UT-San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport and Boston College’s Harold Landry. It also includes a trio of defensive backs in Florida State’s Derwin James, Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick and Louisville’s Jaire Alexander.
The trick for the Packers is to select the best of this bunch.
Landry, according to some, is the top pure pass rusher in the draft. Others view Davenport, a 6-foot-6, 264-pound athletic freak, as the edge rusher with the greatest potential.
I suspect the Packers already have decided which linebacker they’re going to select between these two.
My money is on Landry if he’s there, with Davenport a possible “trade back and take” player in the 16-19 pick range.
In the secondary, Fitzpatrick and James are versatile “football guys” whose body types more resemble a “Big Nickel” defender. That’s a player with the speed and cover skills to be effective in coverage and the strength and size to play the run.
James, at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, is like a faster version of Seattle’s Kam Chancellor. Fitzpatrick’s physical skills don’t jump off the page, but he’s a highly skilled, instinctive player whose athleticism shouldn’t be discounted by a so-so combine.
Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander also has to be taken seriously. Alexander, at 5-foot-11, 192 pounds, is a pure cover corner and ball-hawk with speed (4.38 in the 40) and moxie.
Alexander would join Kevin King as the Packers’ bookend corners for the foreseeable future.
What we cannot know is new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s preference within his scheme.
By signing cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House in free agency, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst has laid the foundation for a semblance of competence at the position.
That said it doesn’t rule out a cornerback in the first round.
If it’s between James and Fitzpatrick the decision would be easy for me. I would take James – the bigger, stronger, faster athlete – ahead of Fitzpatrick.
So what should the Packers do?
First, forget about trading up from 14.
Second, cross your fingers that Landry is there at 14. If the Boston College edge rusher is there the Packers should write his name on the card, turn it in to the commissioner, and begin devising a way to trade back into the late-first round for a corner such as Iowa’s Josh Jackson or UCF’s Mike Hughes.
A Landry-Hughes/Jackson one-two punch would be aces.
A Davenport-Hughes/Jackson acquisition would be my next preference.
If Landry is gone and Davenport doesn’t appeal to the Packers I expect them to make a tough call between James and Alexander. If it’s me and my pass-rush preference isn’t available, I’d defer to my new defensive coordinator. In that case I have a hunch the selection would be James.
Either way – James or Alexander at 14 – I would immediately begin working to get the next-best pass rusher available in the late first or early second rounds.
Landry still remains the best option at 14, mostly because he’s a bona fide pass rusher, but also because there are a cluster of talented corners and/or safeties available in the second round.
Getting excited to see how the off-season personnel changes have effected the Pack? Can’t wait to see Jimmy Graham in action as a Packer? With the NFL announcing the 2018 Preseason opponents the wait will soon be over! The Pack will start the 2018 preseason at home in Lambeau Field facing the Tennessee Titans and end on the road in Kansas City against the Chiefs. See the details below:
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 9-13 TENNESSEE TITANS TBA
Aug. 16-20 PITTSBURGH STEELERS TBA
Aug. 23-26 at Oakland Raiders TBA
Aug. 30-31 at Kansas City Chiefs TBA
Need tickets? Event USA has you covered from tickets at home in Lambeau Field or on the road. Call (920) 722-5377 for details. Event USA we get you to the game and more!!
By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Packers’ more aggressive approach to free agency this offseason is a reminder that there’s a new sheriff in town.
Packers’ GM will be under microscope when NFL draft kicks off in 17 days
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All avenues leading to player acquisition will be explored.
That sounds good, but the results are what counts.
Frankly, the addition of tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and cornerback Tramon Williams was important if the Packers hoped to contend in the NFC North.
That trio isn’t the solution, in and of itself, but rather a necessary upgrade to what eroded into a shaky foundation.
It’s clear the Packers will be active in free agency’s “secondary” market once the dust settles after the draft. General manager Brian Gutekunst’s actions thus far suggest he will get busy in the post-draft market to fill whatever gaps remain.
But let’s be real: That represents only part of the cure for 7-9.
The Packers’ draft-and-develop approach has been the team’s lifeblood for more than two decades. That isn’t going to change under Gutekunst, mostly because it has worked.
Green Bay has had just three losing seasons in the past 26 years. The cause for anxiety is that 2017 was one of them.
The abysmal 7-9 season is a godsend only if it compels the Packers to do a major revamping.
The most serious problem is that the 53-man roster lacks veteran impact players. Graham’s presence will help to make the offense great again, but the defense – even with Wilkerson and Williams – is devoid of game-changers.
The best defenses boast playmakers at every level surrounded by above-average veterans and feisty, talented youngsters. That said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine faces a big challenge.
Furthermore, the Packers’ bottom third of the roster was woefully inadequate last season. Injuries are part of the game so using that as an excuse is a waste of time. To say that players were thrust into action before they were ready is lame.
It’s why I believe the bottom of the roster will be routinely recycled under Gutekunst. Expect street free agents to be flying the friendly skies to Green Bay more than ever.
Beyond that, what matters most is whether Clay Matthews and/or Nick Perry can provide stability while wrecking havoc on opposing offenses. That is yet to be determined.
All of that leaves the draft as the team’s salvation … again.
Fortunately the Packers have the 14th pick, the top picks in the fourth and fifth rounds, and 12 selections overall. They also hold four of the top 101 picks. That affords great flexibility.
So how can Gutekunst maximize his ammunition?
The Packers have to be committed to focusing on quality over quantity. Trades need to be a key part of Gutekunst’s draft-weekend arsenal.
Trading down only makes sense if the Packers are certain they can still get the top impact player remaining on their draft board.
Trading up is the proper direction.
I anticipate Gutekunst staying put at 14 unless another team makes him an offer he simply cannot refuse. After that, I’m praying (for Packers’ fans sake) that Green Bay is constantly looking to package picks and non-essential veterans to go up.
The Bears own the 8th pick and it appears they’ll be selecting a cornerback such as Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, or an all-world guard out of Notre Dame, Quenton Nelson.
The teams directly ahead of the Packers all have major needs on the defensive side. The Raiders, at 10, have been linked to Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. The Dolphins, at 11, seem to be in love with Florida State safety Derwin James. The Bills, at 12, have many needs, including defense.
That leaves the Redskins, at 13, with their eyes on Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds. The Packers can only wish that Edmunds is still on the board when they’re on the clock.
If that’s the case, Edmunds is their guy.
If not, there are still excellent options in UT-San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport and Boston College’s Harold Landry. The downside for Davenport and Landry is that right now they are considered one-trick ponies: They can generate pass rush, but will need time to develop into every-down players.
To that I say, “So what?”
Green Bay doesn’t a three-down defender nearly as much as it needs a third-down pass rusher. The rookie can develop into something more in time, but would be in position to make an impact almost immediately.
After the 14th pick, Gutekunst needs to find a way to trade back into the late-first round or early second round to add a playmaker on the corner, and another pass rusher.
Beyond that an offensive tackle makes sense. So does a receiver.
The draft is just 17 days away.
It isn’t critical because it is Gutekunst’s first. It’s critical because this is a pivotal time for the Packers’ franchise. It’s incumbent on the GM to set the tone and chart the course.
If the Packers aren’t moving forward, they’re going backward. That is especially true of this year’s draft.
By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – There is comfort in seeing what the Brewers’ off-season acquisitions, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, are doing at the top of the order to start the season.
Green Bay’s GM, coach sing praises of Packers’ free-agent acquisitions
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Cain, the All-Star centerfielder, bats leadoff.
He is 8-for-14 with three doubles, three RBI, 11 total bases and three stolen bases. Cain, a Gold Glove defender, is hitting .571.
Yelich, the left-handed hitting left fielder, went a cool 5-for-5 in the Brewers’ 7-3 victory over San Diego Saturday at Petco Park. It raised Yelich’s batting average to .500 (7-for-14) with a double, three RBI and eight total bases.
Yelich, like Cain, is a first-rate defender.
The Brewers’ 3-0 start isn’t merely based on top-notch pitching and timely defense. It’s also based on making aggressive off-season moves to upgrade the team, which is what the Brewers’ owner and front office did in acquiring Cain and Yelich.
So what does that and the Brewers’ hot start to do with the Green Bay Packers’ upcoming season?
It has this in common: The Packers, like the Brewers, acquired proven, top-rate help in Muhammad Wilkerson and Jimmy Graham. If Wilkerson and Graham perform like the Brewers’ Cain and Yelich have – and there’s little reason to think they won’t – the Packers will be considerably better on both sides.
The Packers also added veteran cornerback Tramon Williams to provide insurance and depth. Frankly, if Williams can still run, he will likely start in the Green Bay secondary.
Williams, 35, was Pro Football Focus’s 9th-ranked cornerback for Arizona. He played far better than anyone the Packers lined up with, and should have a key role in new coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense.
In fact, Wilkerson, the sometimes-dominant veteran defensive end, and Williams both played for Pettine in past NFL lives. They also both played well for him and speak highly of him.
While some focus on the details: Does Wilkerson want it bad enough? Can Williams still run? The obvious reality is this: The Packers have built – and bought – a defensive culture.
The Packers’ Mike McCarthy wanted Pettine as his new defensive coordinator. Then he empowered him – along with GM Brian Gutekunst’s support – by acquiring not one but two players with experience in his system.
Meantime, Graham’s presence at tight end helps in many ways.
Let me count them:
** Graham is a monster in the red zone. He had 10 red-zone touchdowns last season with Russell Wilson in Seattle. This season, he and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers might combine on 15 or more touchdowns. Rodgers is that great, and Graham is still that good.
** Graham’s ability to move the chains by catching first down passes on third-and-short to medium-range down-and-distance, coupled with his underrated ability to set an edge in the run game.
Graham is OK with doing his share and more as a run blocker, so long as the offense reciprocates by getting him the football in critical situations and the red zone.
Graham is a team player and appears to be a tremendous off-season acquisition by the Packers.
If he and Wilkerson can provide the one-two punch that the Brewers have been getting from proven talents such as Cain and Yelich, Green Bay should contend for the NFC North title.
“Free agency, we’re going to be really good at it,” McCarthy said at the league’s owners’ meetings last week, “because we should be.”
Gutekunst called Green Bay the perfect place for “players who love the game of football.”
That may sound like provincialism at its finest – and it is – but what Gutekunst is saying at the heart does ring true.
What better place than Green Bay to refocus and rededicate a career that may be flagging for whatever reasons?
Graham’s career is far from foundering, and Wilkerson’s got the resume (double-digit sack seasons and well-regarded endorsements) to expect him to make an immediate impact.
Furthermore, Williams is an upgrade over Damarious Randall, Kevin King 2.0 will be better, as will Josh Jones.
The Packers dearly need a pass rusher at No. 14, followed by (in any order) a cornerback, a receiver and another pass rusher with the next three selections.
Meantime, free agency has been a viable and active option.
“I think when (free agents) come to Green Bay, despite how much snow is on the ground, they understand how important it is to us and how much of the resources we put into our club,” Gutekunst told reporters at the owners’ meetings.
“I think those guys see that right away, and that’s really important for us as we try to acquire players, too, is (to) find guys like that. If guys are looking for the beach or nightlife or things like that, that’s not really necessarily the kind of guy we’re looking for. We’re looking for guys who are fully invested in the team, and guys who are wired that way.”
That is a polite way of saying, “Only serious candidates apply.”
I agree with the sentiment, especially if it’s backed by action that furthers this philosophy and agenda.
Players such as Santana Dotson, Reggie White and Sean Jones were much-accomplished in football, but came to Green Bay because of a common belief that a Super Bowl was possible.
In fact, they almost made it seem inevitable.
I’ll be curious to see how quickly the Packers’ locker room dispatches the Martellus Bennett-type foolishness and conducts itself like a team that expects to win big.
Veterans such as Wilkerson, Graham and Williams foster it.
It’s not unlike the Brewers’ acquisitions of Cain and Yelich. It’s no coincidence the Brewers opened 3-0 at San Diego. There is no way that happens without the big-name free agents.
Graham and Wilkerson raise expectations.
Fortunately, they’ve got the game to back the hype.
It’s a gamble the Packers, like the Brewers, need to make if they want to be something more than so-so. In that regard, don’t criticize the Packers (or Brewers) for not doing more.
Give them a “that a way” for daring to be the best.