While Packers Nation was already hard at work early Friday evening deliberating on whether Jerel Worthy would prove worthy of the Packers deciding to move up eight spots up in the second round (to 51st overall) to acquire the Michigan State defensive tackle, Packers GM Ted Thompson did something nobody thought he would ever think of doing.
He traded up in the second round again — to the 62nd overall spot — to snatch his third straight defender in this year’s draft, Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward.
The last time Thompson traded up in the draft, he ended up with an almost instant superstar in OLB Clay Matthews — a fact worth noting before discussing the merits of the extremely rare upward mobility he has displayed early in the 2012 draft.
Let’s start with Worthy, who cost the Pack the 59th and 123rd overall picks in the draft, which were handed over to the Eagles.
With good size and mobility, Worthy would appear to have potential as a starter at the five-technique position and, ideally, provide the inside pass rush that has been missing without Cullen Jenkins, who signed with the Eagles last season. Worthy, who has good instincts and gets off his blocks in a hurry, should help both Matthews and starting NT B.J. Raji, who really missed Jenkins last season, generate more of a pass rush right away.
As for Hayward, considering Thompson’s surprising willingness to go to such lengths to obtain him, a case just might be made for him possibly taking over many of veteran Charles Woodson’s CB duties, thus enabling the eight-time Pro Bowler to concentrate more on the safety position, which has been seriously weakened by three-time Pro Bowler Nick Collins’ release.
By all accounts, Hayward has good size, very quick feet and excellent instincts. What could be a real concern, though, are his marginal grades when it comes to tackling, which was a major problem that might have been as responsible for the Packers’ defensive demise last season as any other factor.
But with first-round OLB Nick Perry, Worthy and Hayward in the fold, Dom Capers’ defense appears to be undergoing some pretty dramatic upgrades.