August 23, 2019, 01:47:05 PM

Author Topic: Position look: ILB  (Read 1622 times)

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Offline RT

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Position look: ILB
« on: June 03, 2019, 03:39:17 PM »
This could end up being a very small group if Josh Jones or other Safeties play the role of Dime LB for Pettine. After Martinez this list of ILB's is almost void of any experience, if he is lost to injury it could have a very negative affect on the defense as a whole. How many of these young guys can make enough plays to stick around at the cut down? Add in that most of the candidates fighting for a roster spot were not true ILB's in college and there will probably be a bit of a learning curve in preseason for most of them.

Locks -  Blake Martinez, Oren Burks

Hard for me to think that Burks is not a lock with this group, he is a player that we may see a big 2nd year improvement from.

In the Hunt - Ty Summers, Curtis Bolton, Randy Ramsey, James Crawford

Crawford made the 53 last season late in training camp with his ST's play. Does he show enough improvement to hold off 3 young hungry rookies?

Longshot - Brady Shelton

In some ways Shelton should probably be ranked ahead of all the rookies because he has actually played in NFL regular season games. But his upside is very limited at this point in his career and he is probably all he is ever going be today.

With the way Pettine blends Safeties and ILB's on passing downs it is hard to say what the final group will look like, but I would think that Summers is the closest thing to Martinez in this group with the ability to be a run stuffer if called upon. Most of these players should be in the conversation for the last few spots won by players excelling on ST's. 

Offline craig

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2019, 11:07:22 AM »
Thanks, RT.  Agree, it will be interesting to see what the Packers do with this group. Fully agree with your comments.   

When you look at all the other names on the roster for defense, I kinda wonder which of these guys other than Blake do we really want playing snaps? 

Burks as a high draft pick with speed and classroom intelligence, it would be such a boost if he stepped up and emerged as a good, usable NFL player.  Can the combine measurables and classroom intelligence ever convert into real-game decision-making speed and play-speed?  A "yes" answer there would be so nice for the Packers. 

If not, I do wonder how the Packers would operate should Martinez get hurt?  Would they just pick from the Burks/Crawford/Summers/Ramsey/Bolton crowd and plug the next man in? 

Even assuming Blake is available, which I hope remains true all season: 
1.  I wonder how often they'll have two ILB, ILB from this group, on the field?  (For snaps, not counting ST....)  Much of the time?  Rare?  Only on running situations?  first downs or short-yardage, or late in games when you're losing and opponents are trying to run and eat clock? 
2.  How often will safeties be functioning as ILB-esque guys?  Between Jones, Greene, Amos, or whomever? 
3.  How often will guys from the OLB group stand up and kind of play ILB-esque role? 
*Might not Gary stand up?  Perhaps a better run-stopping ILB than anybody we've got, and perhaps a better pass-rusher up the middle too? 
*Or maybe Fackrell, he's fast and pretty good in coverage, and can run really well for run-defense, assuming the big DL/OLB can keep the ILB clean?  Maybe an ILB-esque role will be a great fit for Fackrell? 
4.  In a sense, I'm kind of wondering whether, when you want one extra guy on the field, whether Pettine might not often be preferring a guy from the safety or OLB groups over anybody from the summers/Ramsey/Bolton group? 
5.  I wonder what Crawford might be, and whether he has the diagnostic quickness to become a good player?  Or if everything is too fast and confusing for him?  His ST work suggests he's got the physique, the speed, and the want-to to possibly be a very good ILB.  But every scout in the NFL knew that stuff, and knew he was Woodson's nephew, yet nobody thought he was worth drafting....  So maybe there's just something missing in the recognize-and-react department?  Would be really fun if he emerged as a good snaps player.
6.  Would also be fun if Summers looked really good in the opportunities opened, and projected to be a guy, even if opportunities are few this year. 

Offline B

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2019, 02:31:49 PM »


Longshot - Brady Shelton

In some ways Shelton should probably be ranked ahead of all the rookies because he has actually played in NFL regular season games. But his upside is very limited at this point in his career and he is probably all he is ever going be today.


Brady  Shelton, 6-5, 220 LBs has some impressive measurables. He ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the Central Michigan pro day with a low of 4.47.

That 4.52 40-time would have been a linebacker combine best if you remove Jabrill Peppers who figures to play safety at the NFL level.

His vertical of 37.0 would have been tied for second at the combine among linebackers and his 10’5” broad jump and 4.24 short shuttle would have both been top five.

Whether the coaching staff can bring out that athleticism and turn it into production is the question, but there is interesting raw material to work with.




For what it's worth:

Oren Burks 6' 3", 233 lbs, 33 3/8-inch arms
Three-cone drill: Burks 6.82 seconds
20 yard Shuffle: Burks 4.15
40 time:  Burks 4.56
Vertical jump:  Burks 39.5 inches
Broad jump: Burks 10 feet, 11 inches

« Last Edit: June 04, 2019, 02:46:40 PM by B »
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Offline Hands

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2019, 05:40:31 AM »
With the new OLBs and adding Gary to the mix, teams will almost have to target the middle of the field for success. Quick openers on those seam routes will be used until the Packers show they can stop them. Those ILBs, while not the strongest in the league, should be good enough to stop penetration and those short passes in the middle.
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Offline RT

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2019, 06:39:15 AM »
On some of the flash plays being reported at OTA's, it is interesting to note that 2nd year player James Crawford has had a couple of INT's in pass coverage from the ILB position. Including a pick-6 yesterday. He is a player that played on the outside in college and now with a year under his belt learning life on the inside, may well be a player making a big 2nd year leap.   

Offline craig

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2019, 07:46:41 AM »
Yeah, given how little they ever practice over an NFL season, for a guy making a position switch, that's got to be really challenging.  Each practice at ILB is one of few opportunities to get more comfortable there.  Hopefully he's a quick study and can pick it up really fast, despite little opportunity. 

Offline RT

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2019, 08:17:02 PM »
It is always interesting to see how people on the outside view Packers players vs. how Packers fans view those same players. At times a narrative takes root that shouldn't from fans living in the fishbowl, but once ignited spreads like a wild fire. I have always been a bit miffed by how many people don't understand how good of player Martinez is, but each off season they are there pounding the table to draft an ILB high in the draft. Kevin MacDonald of Philly Sports made a list of the top 10 players at each position for the 2019 season, this is his list of ILB's.

2019 NFL Top 10
Inside Linebackers - May OTAs
1) #Wagner Seahawks
2) #Kuechly Panthers
3) #Martinez Packers
4) #Woodyard Titans
5) #Smith Cowboys
6) #Foster Redskins
7) #Davis Saints
8) #Schobert Browns
9) #Kendricks Vikings
10) #Smith Bears

Many outsiders rate Martinez one of the top ILB's in the NFL, yet Packers fans often speak of him as a weak link. Someone on this site after the season ended was claiming that the Packers needed a ILB like the Vikings and Bears have, but when PFF released their end of year rating Martinez was the highest rated ILB in the NFC North.

 

Offline B

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2019, 10:07:10 PM »
It is always interesting to see how people on the outside view Packers players vs. how Packers fans view those same players. At times a narrative takes root that shouldn't from fans living in the fishbowl, but once ignited spreads like a wild fire. I have always been a bit miffed by how many people don't understand how good of player Martinez is, but each off season they are there pounding the table to draft an ILB high in the draft. Kevin MacDonald of Philly Sports made a list of the top 10 players at each position for the 2019 season, this is his list of ILB's.

2019 NFL Top 10
Inside Linebackers - May OTAs
1) #Wagner Seahawks
2) #Kuechly Panthers
3) #Martinez Packers
4) #Woodyard Titans
5) #Smith Cowboys
6) #Foster Redskins
7) #Davis Saints
8) #Schobert Browns
9) #Kendricks Vikings
10) #Smith Bears

Many outsiders rate Martinez one of the top ILB's in the NFL, yet Packers fans often speak of him as a weak link. Someone on this site after the season ended was claiming that the Packers needed a ILB like the Vikings and Bears have, but when PFF released their end of year rating Martinez was the highest rated ILB in the NFC North.

 goodpost 'Hammer, meet nail' Right on brother!

People also forget that Blake Martinez is an ascending young player, whose 144 tackles, five sacks and 2nd on defense 1,049 snaps all were achieved in his first year in a new system. He has such a veterans' presence that it is easy to forget he is only entering his 4th season.

Blake, who had his 25th birthday in January, wants to take his game to a whole new level, and apparently has really been putting in the work physically and mentally to get there. In his own words:

“I basically gained seven pounds and lost 3½ percent body fat, which the strength and conditioning coaches say equated to losing eight pounds of fat and gaining 15 pounds of muscle. I’m not messing around this year. Last year, I wasn’t happy. A lot of things went into it.”

“There’s a lot of things I want to keep improving on, whether it’s tackling, coverage, rush, turnovers, forced fumbles. Anything you can do along the line of a middle linebacker, it’s one of those things that I’m going to keep striving for.”


The rest of the league has already taken notice, and frankly this talented young man is just getting started as the play-caller and leader in what I suspect will be a greatly improved defense in 2019.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 10:33:40 PM by B »
The Green Bay Packers never lost a football game.
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Offline RT

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2019, 04:39:19 AM »
Thanks B, but not everyone cares to bring something of substance to the table. Rather than bringing a rebuttal with some facts to support his thoughts, Shineman cowardly logged on at 10:41 PST last night and smite our comments and slithered off into the night. We all don't need to agree, I believe it was Churchill who said something along the lines of 'if everyone is thinking alike than someone is not thinking'. If you don't agree, bring some facts to support your case and stop being petty with gorilla tactic smites. Just man up!   
   

Offline Hands

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2019, 05:23:37 AM »
Some good reading about Martinez...but depth is more a issue verses starters.
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Offline craig

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2019, 10:02:59 AM »
I think Martinez is a case where being really smart is so much a part of it.  I don't recall him having been a combine king, or having amazing measurables (they weren't bad, just not great.)  But his awareness and decision-making are really good. 

We often list the measurables, for good reason.  But a lot of plays are determined by who makes a mistake, and mistake-frequency is not a combine measurable. 

Martinez makes very, very few mistakes.  Really like him. 

I also think that with all the attention the front-5 may demand, Martinez may stay pretty clean and be able to operate relatively freely. 

There's been reference to Pettine's defense really appreciating/depending-on smart players, particularly in the ILB/safety group.  Martinez is plenty smart enough to be a perfect fit in that regard. 

Offline dannobanano

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2019, 10:13:23 AM »
On some of the flash plays being reported at OTA's, it is interesting to note that 2nd year player James Crawford has had a couple of INT's in pass coverage from the ILB position. Including a pick-6 yesterday. He is a player that played on the outside in college and now with a year under his belt learning life on the inside, may well be a player making a big 2nd year leap.   

Good catch RT.

https://www.packers.com/news/inside-knowledge-helping-james-crawford


[Linebacker James Crawford wasn’t even in Green Bay at this time last year.
In fact, he didn’t arrive until Aug. 8, no less than 10 practices into training camp and the day before the first preseason game.
Yet Crawford, an undrafted rookie from Illinois in 2018, still managed to make the 53-man roster out of camp by proving to be a quick study on special teams. Practically overnight, he became a dynamo in the game’s third phase, leading the Packers in an otherwise down year on special teams with 13 coverage tackles and a fumble recovery.
In that context, it comes as no surprise that with a full offseason to learn defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s playbook, and get snaps on the practice field throughout OTAs, that Crawford is starting to show up again.
Earlier this week during the Packers’ public practice, Crawford slipped out into the flat in pass coverage, made a break on the ball, and picked off backup QB Tim Boyle’s poorly thrown pass.
He was off to the races, and the second-year pro is off to a heck of a start in trying to nail down a roster spot once again. This time he’s making waves as a more viable option on defense at inside linebacker, working with the second string behind starters Blake Martinez and Oren Burks.
“I’ve just got to, first off, do my job, which I did, and then just catch the ball when they throw it to us,” Crawford said in describing his highlight-reel interception. “So I just capitalized on that. It’s not my first one.”
No, it’s not. Crawford picked off a pass in the open practice during Week 2 of OTAs as well.
Having tried both inside and outside linebacker last season, Crawford is settling in at the inside position and making the coaches’ long-awaited choice pay off. Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti noted the better place to learn the defense is from the inside.
“You have to be in on the coverage, in on the front and know what’s going on pretty much everywhere around you,” Olivadotti said. “I think that’s an advantage for him.”
As is just being in on all the spring meetings he missed a year ago while he was trying to find a team. He went unsigned until the Packers called, and showing up nearly two full weeks into camp, he was behind the 8-ball from the very start of his pro career.
“Last year I came in and was expected to know the playbook without even seeing the playbook,” he said, half-jokingly. “But I mean, this is definitely a blessing to be here around this time to get a little more comfortable in the system before I have to go out there and perform.”
Fortunately, trying different positions was nothing new, as his college career in the Big Ten progressed from playing safety to linebacker to defensive end. He also knew plenty about special teams, having worked on all four core units his first two years at Illinois but still staying involved when his defensive snaps increased and he became a team captain.
This year, he’s soaking up all the X’s and O’s he can and taking the coaching staff’s emphasis on turnovers seriously. He’s just done so very quietly, as is his nature. It was the rest of his teammates making all the noise on the practice field during his big interception this past week.
“He’s a very diligent guy. He’s a very prideful guy. He tries to make sure he knows everything,” Olivadotti said. “He’s soft spoken, so I always have to ask him the questions so I can get him to talk in the meetings and then he’ll smile at me, ‘Hey, I know this. We’re good.’ He’s been fun to be around.”
No notable addition at inside linebacker this offseason was made until the seventh round of the draft with the selection of TCU’s Ty Summers. That leaves the depth chart behind Martinez and Burks wide open, even with the hybrid safeties Pettine likes to deploy in that spot on occasion.
It’s an opportunity far better than the last-minute one Crawford got 10 months ago, frankly, which he more than maximized. This time, he’s actually got some odds in his favor.
“I never doubt myself. I know who I am,” he said. “It’s just time for myself to show everybody else who I am.”]


The good news in all this is that, after Martinez, there is some decent potential with Burks and Crawford.

I read that they've been pleased with Burks play so far. They have been coaching him on how and where to look with his eyes, pre snap, to diagnose plays earlier and be able to play faster. After all, he was a Safety converted to ILB at Vandy. The sightlines Safeties use is not the same as ILB's use, and he was slow because of using that same type of play diagnosis as an ILB. Improvement in this area could be huge for him.

With what we just read about Crawford, it makes one feel a little more optimistic about the middle of the field being held down with some solid potential.

Add in that there will likely be some help for time-to-time from Safety/LB hybrids playing in that area as well and I feel better about other teams not being able to gash GB so easily over the middle of the field.

I hope it works out well for these young men.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2019, 10:23:04 AM by dannobanano »

Offline craig

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2019, 06:32:55 AM »
Thanks for the Crawford article, danno.  Sounds like a nice story and young man to root for.  I hadn't realized that he began college as safety, then went OLB, and was still doing both OLB and ILB with Packers last year.  Settling into one position that suits him best might help. 

On Burks, I listened to Rodgers press conference from this week yesterday, and was surprised and pleased when he unprompted brought up and commented favorably on "OB".  Obviously it's just OTA's and an athlete like Burks probably thrives better when linemen aren't jolting his pads and stuff.  But hope springs eternal, and spring is the time for lots of it! 

For now he's playing with the starters, and it sounds like they're giving him some of the play-calling responsibilities when Martinez isn't on the field with him, too.  Talk about a massive window of opportunity, Burks has it all there in front of him.  I'm optimistic that he's going to be a good player for us this year and beyond.  It would be kinda fun if Martinez and Burks ended up being a high-end ILB pair, and Crawford and Summers being a pretty strong backup pair as well, and this ending up being a very solid position group for this year and years beyond.   

Offline Hands

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2019, 09:40:25 AM »
I think Martinez is a case where being really smart is so much a part of it.  I don't recall him having been a combine king, or having amazing measurables (they weren't bad, just not great.)  But his awareness and decision-making are really good. 
............
Craig, actually Martinez was considered the best ILB for coverage in the draft that year. I read that in a draft guide, I think it was Landry's report, that stated it. He was a little light and many wondered if he could take that pounding in the middle which is why he lasted so long. He's proven to be a beast in the middle and a great draft pick for the Pack.
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Online OneTwoSixFive

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Re: Position look: ILB
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2019, 11:33:15 PM »
My fuzzy memory from way back was that Martinez was not an especially elite athlete but had possibly  the best instincts at the ILB position of anyone, that year. That evaluation was similar (but even more marked) to that of Jake Ryan, drafted one year before Blake. Ryan was bigger (and a better tackler) but less athletic than Martinez. I was sorry to see him go, but as that position evolved, the importance of speed just rose to the point that Ryan's skills were too oldschool.
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