Welcome to your Morning Buzz, rounding up news and views regarding the Green Bay Packers and the NFL from around the web and here at PackersNews.com. The 2017 NFL scouting combine begins today in Indianapolis, and we’ll be there to cover each and every development as it pertains to the Green Bay Packers, so grab a strong cup of coffee and get caught up on everything you need to know.
We’ll start with the latest in Ryan Wood’s free agency series, this time looking at Micah Hyde.
Hyde’s third-quarter interception in last month’s NFC divisional playoff win in Dallas personified what he brings the Green Bay Packers secondary. Where some might see a ‘tweener — not quite a cornerback, not quite a safety — the Packers see a defensive back with instincts and rare versatility.
The Packers long have found value in Hyde, even if he’s one of their hardest players to classify. He is a jack of all trades in the defensive backfield. A solid contributor, if not a game changer. Hyde needs a defense that can be creative in how it uses him, and that’s what he found in defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ scheme.
Pete Dougherty and I previewed the scouting combine, which starts today in Indianapolis:
Nate Davis of USA Today Sports takes a look around the NFC North and gives all four teams advice on how to deal with their most pressing issues.
Elsewhere, Bryan Knowles of Football Outsiders also took a spin around the NFC North.
Here’s Knowles on the Packers:
The Packers struggled mightily covering opposing receivers in 2016. Sam Shields suffered a massive concussion in Week 1 and missed the rest of the season; Green Bay has since released the veteran. Neither Damarious Randall nor Quinten Rollins really played up to expectations in their second years; Rollins had the third-worst success rate among qualified cornerbacks in our charting at just 36 percent, while Randall turned in a sub-50 percent season as well. They were also injured, with both players missing time with groin injuries throughout the regular season, and neither at full strength during the playoffs. The injuries and ineffectiveness forced Ladarius Gunter into the spotlight -- he had a solid season for an ex-undrafted free agent who played all of eight defensive snaps in 2015.
Essentially, the unexpected loss of Shields forced everyone else on the roster into a role for which they were not quite ready, and the end result was a porous secondary. Green Bay finished 31st in DVOA covering wide receivers, giving up the second-most passing yards and the fourth- passing plays of 15 yards or more in the NFL last year. In particular, both Dez Bryant and Julio Jones burned them in the playoffs, leading to a stretch where the Packers allowed eight touchdowns in 12 possessions to end their season.
Dan Dahkle has an in-depth interview of Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel for Lombardi Ave:
ESPN’s Rob Demovsky writes that the Packers and Eddie Lacy both seem to want to make something work:
From Lacy’s interview with Adam Schefter:
“Talking to my agent, the Packers have been very vocal about having me back there. I’m trying not to think about all of that right now. I’m just trying to make sure whether I end up in Green Bay or somewhere, I’m in the best shape or I’m in the best position I can be in personally, so when it’s time for me to contribute to whatever team that it is that they’re getting 100 percent of me.”
Lacy also provided details about his injury and the surgery that followed. You can listen to Lacy's conversation with Schefter here:
Free-agent guard T.J. Lang revealed on the "Wilde and Tausch" show on ESPN 540 Milwaukee that he and his agent finally have been in contact with the Packers about a new contract:
Larry McCarren’s tape breakdowns are not to be missed. His look at Kenny Clark suggests the defensive tackle is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential.
Add NFL Network’s Mike Mayock to the list of analysts who like TJ Watt to the Packers as a possibility.
Jason Wilde has the latest on several minor changes to the Packers coaching staff:
Peter Schrager has some guys to keep an eye on during the Combine:
The MMQB 10 Things Podcast looks at the best defensive free agents set to become available in two weeks:
Paul Ryan had some carefully displayed memorabilia in his office on the Today Show this morning: