Packers Morning Buzz: Savage to Green Bay 'a match made in draft heaven'
Welcome to your Morning Buzz, rounding up news and views regarding the Green Bay Packers from around the web and here at PackersNews.com.
We'll start with The MMQB's Andy Benoit writing about the increasing demand for safeties and how that was reflected in the draft, with six pure safeties going in the first round (the first being Darnell Savage to Green Bay).
Expanding your defensive scheme almost always involves safeties, the most maneuverable pieces on the chessboard. Lately, with offenses using more flex tight ends and running the ball out of three-receiver sets, defenses have taken to replacing their third linebacker with a third safety, putting more athleticism on the field. And so it’s no surprise that, after free agency this year brought sizable contracts to a host of safeties (Landon Collins, Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu, Lamarcus Joyner, Adrian Amos and, on the second tier, Kenny Vaccaro, Tashaun Gipson and Eric Weddle), this draft also proved how highly teams value the position. Since 2010, NFL drafts have averaged 4.7 safeties taken in the first two rounds, but this year, teams selected six pure safeties in those rounds (including Darnell Savage, the first one off the board, at 21 to the Packers), plus two more who may well play the position (Joejuan Williams in New England and Lonnie Johnson in Houston).
You can read the entire article here:
Gennaro Filice of NFL.com hands out NFC North draft grades, and absolutely gushes over the selection of Savage:
BEST PICK: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland.
Green Bay Packers, Round 1, No. 21 overall
Full disclosure: Darnell Savage was my favorite player to study throughout this pre-draft process. Not favorite safety. Not favorite defender. Favorite player. The insane closing speed, the dynamic ballhawking, the way he tracks down ball carriers like a heat-seeking missile -- I adore the total package. I mean, the guy's name is Darnell Savage, for Christ's sake. So, I was always going to wax poetic about the guy in this series, regardless of what team he landed on. That said, this really does feel like a match made in draft heaven. Yes, the Packers handed safety Adrian Amos a four-year, $37 million deal in free agency, but he's at his best playing as an enforcer closer to the line of scrimmage. Considering how often Mike Pettine likes to deploy single-high looks, the Packers defensive coordinator needs a true center fielder with range and ball skills. Savage is that guy! The 4.36 40-yard dash he ran at the NFL Scouting Combine shows up in his game tape -- dude's a blur closing on the football. So, while it might've caught some by surprise last Thursday night, when Brian Gutekunst traded up nine spots to make Savage the first defensive back selected in the 2019 draft, it actually makes perfect sense. The only thing that doesn't make sense is Savage's continual avoidance of the obvious jersey number: 21. Come on -- it's called marketing, people!
As for team grades, the Packers were second-best with a B (the Vikings got a B+). Here's Filice's Packers assessment:
» Round 1: (No. 12 overall) Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan; (No. 21) Darnell Savage, S, Maryland.
» Round 2: (No. 44) Elgton Jenkins, C/OG, Mississippi State.
» Round 3: (No. 75) Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M.
» Round 5: (No. 150) Kingsley Keke, DE, Texas A&M.
» Round 6: (No. 185) Ka'Dar Hollman, CB, Toledo; (No. 194) Dexter Williams, RB, Notre Dame.
» Round 7: (No. 226) Ty Summers, LB, TCU.
Gary was one of the most polarizing prospects in this class. Some people saw a 277-pounder who ran a 4.58 40-yard dash, oozing elite traits and untapped potential. Others saw an edge rusher who logged 10 sacks in three college seasons and was consistently overshadowed on the Michigan defense by Devin Bush and Chase Winovich. Count this draft grader among those in the latter group. But alas, the report card got a major boost from the next four picks! Savage, a hyper-rangy playmaker who flies to the football and through the ball carrier, is the perfect complement at safety to the more box-friendly Adrian Amos. Jenkins played all across the offensive line at Mississippi State, but his professional home will be on the interior -- an area where Green Bay definitely needed some help. Sternberger, who led all FBS tight ends with 10 touchdowns last season while averaging a whopping 17.3 yards per catch, looks like the mismatch weapon the Pack thought they were getting in Jimmy Graham. And Keke, who showed flashes as a versatile D-lineman in College Station, is exactly the kind of raw, traitsy project that makes sense in Round 5.
You can check out his entire NFC North draft evaluation here:
The Packers wasted no time getting Savage signed Thursday:
Pete Dougherty explains why we shouldn't expect much from third-round draft pick Jace Sternberger as a rookie:
The first day of Packers training camp is right around the corner:
Second-round draft pick Elgton Jenkins has some impressive measurables:
Packers appear likely to face the Raiders north of the border in August:
Yes, that probably was Peyton Manning you saw with Brett Favre in Green Bay on Thursday:
A look at three tryout players who could make the Packers' roster after rookie camp, via Acme Packing Co.:
And finally .... a nice honor for former Packers receiver James Jones:
Contact Stu Courtney at (920) 431-8377 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stucourt