What do we need? Early off-season thread.


Building off Dubz draft sim thread, we are now 2 games in. Yup, it's too early to know much of anything for sure, but some things are starting to show up that are starting to give me some ideas on what we need to do position-wise next off-season, especially with the draft.

Sure, need shouldn't play into it according to the experts, but lets face it, every team uses need as part of the decision making in terms of the draft. It certainly is the main reason for pulling in most of your free agents.

We have 9 draft picks at the moment, with 5 of them being in the early/middle rounds (1-4). They have ammo to move up or can stand pat and add starters and depth at multiple positions.

These are the positions I'm most concerned with, in order:
1) Pass rusher - CM3 has moments as does Perry, but neither of them is really doing anything consistently. I hope there is a first round pick there for us at that position. If I can re-sign CM3 to a short, team friendly deal I'd consider it because he still is functional and would be decent depth both at OLB and ILB. You're stuck with Perry for at least another year because the dead money CAP hit just doesn't make it worth it to cut him and he is decent against the run.
2) WR - Adams is fine. Cobb is looking great right now, but I suspect injuries will slow him down at some point this year. A re-signing is questionable. Allison is a nice #3-4 guy. I'd like to maybe use a 2nd or 3rd round pick on a more capable and ready WR. I have a feeling that only one of the 3 guys we took in the last draft will pan out. I don't have a strong feeling for which one yet. The other two will hang around for another year maybe but probably won't ever contribute much. It's early so I could be wrong.
3) DL - Right now we are OK. Clark looks like he could be a stud, but Daniels is getting older and I suspect Wilkerson will be gone next spring. Lowry is OK. Adams is still a question mark. I'd be fine with adding a solid guy for the DL in the first or second round.
4) OL - McCray may get better but he's not very good. Bulaga is playing fine but with his injury history it only seems like a matter of time before something else happens. The other 3 guys are signed and playing well enough right now. If I can find a quality tackle in the first 3 rounds I'll bite unless we see some evidence of Spriggs being better than he has been so far. Either way I'm taking an interior lineman somewhere in Rds 3-5.
5) ILB - We haven't seen Burks yet but even if he's good there is nothing for depth. Ryan may or may not be back on a minimum deal, but he's just a guy. I'd like to see another quality player there so hopefully there will be a worthy option available in those first 5 picks.
6a) S - This and RB are tied right now. HHCD is playing a little better than last year and might be re-signed for modest/decent money. Brice is looking pretty good. They have Jones from last year's draft, but I just don't know that he's a good fit. Isn't really making plays. Still has some time and could develop. I don't want to use a real early pick on one unless a stud falls to us, but I'd be fine with one in Rd 3 or later.
6b) RB - Like safety, they are OK right now. Jones and Williams are good enough and Jones may will prove to be a real steal if he can stay healthy. Williams is a willing runner, does his job catching and pass blocking and is "available". Monty is a nice rotational guy and makes a nice receiving option out of the backfield. He's in the last year of his deal, but it won't take a ton of money to keep him. I'd take a true stud as early as round 1 but the best value is likely to be found somewhere in rounds 4-6.
7) QB - With ARs new deal, he's not going anywhere for another few years. Sure, we could use a good back-up, but with the college QB situation what it is, I think that anyone with some solid credentials will be taken early. I'll take a late round flyer on a developmental guy but I'm not sure it's worth taking one early in this year's draft. I'd rather see if it could be addressed in FA.
8) TE - Graham still looks like he's got plenty in the tank and might play out the entire 3 year deal with quality production. Lewis is probably done. Kendricks is serviceable as a back-up if you want to keep him on a minimum contract. I think Tonyan could be a nice addition. Maybe a little like Chmura. Decent hands and route running ability but needs a couple of years to develop physically. Hopefully he'll be able to add something later this year and next season. I'd be good with taking a blocking type TE somewhere in round 5-7.
9) CB - This could change, but the young guys seem pretty capable and should only get better unless injuries derail them. I'm always good with taking a CB anywhere in the draft if the talent is there. It's a premium position. It's just that right now, I'm feeling much better about Alexander and Jackson than I ever did about Randall and Rollins so I'm good with just a late rounder for depth.

I didn't bother with FB as it seems to be a dead/dying position. Sure, bring in an UDFA or two and let's see if one is worth keeping instead of a 4th TE or 8th WR. There is also no need to look at specialists - barring something unforeseen, Crosby, Scott and Bradley seem to all be working out fine. I know Crosby is older (34), but good kickers can go into their forties. These 3 positions might be set for the next 5 years or more.

In terms of free agency, forget pass rusher, nobody lets them hit FA. I'd be looking for a back-up QB, ILB, S, and OG. It seems that some quality players are always available at those positions. They should have about $40mil in CAP space next March, even with the AR contract. That should be enough to keep a few select veterans on modest deals, if you want (CM3, HHCD, Cobb, Monty, Wilkerson, Kendricks) and sign a quality player or two in free agency.


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Yup, OT and even OG. McCray isn't good enough and who knows if Madison is ever going to play.


See am beat to starting this thread...cool! :)

Would have pass rusher and OL as 1A and 1B. See a lot of ppl thinking it's OG but imo have RT as more need over OG.

Luckily both positions can be had in Rds 2/3. Could see.1 to 3 picks spent on OL next draft.

Imo first rd comes again to Defense. As said above DL and Pass Rusher, but our Safety Position is pretty bad and not sure how this season goes and ends for Dix. Wanted James but went Corners. Still a void there so far and have this need pretty high too.

WR and TE...Have wanted a true number 1 WR for years. But with combination of current WRs and TEs think we are good, not great here. The big question mark imo is Special K. He has the look to be special or more then just a guy. Questions are does he come back yet this year? If he does can he duplicate what he did in pre season to on field in real games and can he stay healthy? If all answers are yes then need is lessened a lot as Allison looks yo be coming on as a number 3.

RB would be nice to get a fanchise back, however in this Offense with 12, it's more of a luxury. Plus doesn't matter if our O Line doesn't block better.

Of course we need a stud inside LBer, but unless can get to QB have Pass Rusher OLB as top need


We definitely need an OT who can play both positions. What's the status on Bulaga? If he gets cut next year it's a small cap hit. Might have to replace him immediately. It's his last year in his deal I believe. So, a guy who can step up and play immediately would be best. We don't have anyone in the wings now who I'd trust stepping in and playing.

I keep hearing how good our D-line is. Sorry! I'm not impressed. We haven't had a serious presence up the gut since Raji hung up his cleats. I hear about all this potential, and how "next year" is when it will be better. I think we still need a play maker.

Still waiting for that faster than greased lightning 260# who's 6-5, can cover WRs, TEs, and run sideline to sideline, forcing runners to string it out to the chalk. You know... Superman in football gear. That's not going to happen either. I don't believe we're as strong at that position as people tend to believe.

Secondary. Send help! Lots of potential. I know. Potential. How many years are we going to hear how these guys they bring in have potential, and they never get it done? Maybe it isn't the players?

Here's my idea of a pick. "With the 14th pick of the first round, the Green Bay Packers pick a head coach and assistants, who know what the hell they're doing." Just rambling there. Everything points to the HC office.


Still waiting for that faster than greased lightning 260# who's 6-5, can cover WRs, TEs, and run sideline to sideline, forcing runners to string it out to the chalk. You know... Superman in football gear.


You mean Derwin James? Sorry I digress he not 260 and 6-5 but the rest fits


I can't disagree with anything that's been said. I easily could have put OL higher. Bulaga has one more year on his deal after the current season and he'll only be 30 yrs old next year. You could stand pat for another year at OT if you think Spriggs is improving and Bulaga makes it through the year healthy. Either way I want some help at OG, and if a tackle is there in the first 2-3 rounds grab him. Even if Bulaga is healthy it would be nice to give a rookie a year to learn, and develop physically.

I will say though that to me WR is a big priority. Adams is legit, but IMO Cobb is done, despite him looking good the past 2 games. Allison is just average at best. Nobody knows what we have in the youngsters, including Kumerow because none of them have done anything against NFL starters in games that count. They could all turn out to be just guys. I want a better weapon out there.

While I kind of agree that secondary is still a weakness I don't have either position as a draft priority partly because it's already a young group and more youth probably won't make it better. (If you can find a talented veteran to add to the mix, I'm in.) You have 4 early round draft picks in HHCD, King, Alexander and Jackson. I'm not sure any other high round picks will be more physically capable than that group. I feel like they just need reps and coaching to be better players - they have the physical talent.

To that end, I'm all for trading a draft pick for a replacement for "MM and Co." ;)


With Bulaga going down I think OT climbs the charts for need, though maybe not in the first round.
TW- I really think that Kenny Clark is better than Raji. The kid gets better every week. Maybe he needs someone playing well next to him (Daniels is more talk than walk, not a great fit for Pettine's scheme?). The hind sight with Derwin James is misplaced, he is a physical speciman, but James on the Packers would not provide the same opportunity as James on the Chargers. The Chargers have an established pass rush and established CBs. We have NO pass rush and are 'developing' CBs. James wouldn't have the opportunities here he has in LA.
Which leads me to believing that we need Edge/DL in the first round. I like Wilkins (Clem) and Gary (Mich) as fits in our DL. Would love to see Ferrell (Clem) or Bosa (OSU), but both would need a trade up. (unless we really go in the sh****r).
Sad that I'm already fired up for the draft, but it's been hard to watch so far.


With Bulaga going down I think OT climbs the charts for need, though maybe not in the first round.
TW- I really think that Kenny Clark is better than Raji. The kid gets better every week. Maybe he needs someone playing well next to him (Daniels is more talk than walk, not a great fit for Pettine's scheme?). The hind sight with Derwin James is misplaced, he is a physical speciman, but James on the Packers would not provide the same opportunity as James on the Chargers. The Chargers have an established pass rush and established CBs. We have NO pass rush and are 'developing' CBs. James wouldn't have the opportunities here he has in LA.
Which leads me to believing that we need Edge/DL in the first round. I like Wilkins (Clem) and Gary (Mich) as fits in our DL. Would love to see Ferrell (Clem) or Bosa (OSU), but both would need a trade up. (unless we really go in the sh****r).
Sad that I'm already fired up for the draft, but it's been hard to watch so far.
Disagree on James. He’s a playmaker and you can’t pass up that type when you have a chance. We lack guys who have that athleticism


Carpe Diem
Found our swing Tackle > Max Scharping

When it comes to scouting players in the Mid-American Conference, nonconference games against top-tier competition are helpful. Former Buffalo pass rusher Khalil Mack already had the résumé of a first-round pick, but his remarkable performance against Ohio State in 2013 helped quash concerns about his level of competition.

Northern Illinois redshirt senior LT Max Scharping (6-5, 320, 5.22) is one of the best players in the MAC and one of the better senior offensive line prospects I scouted over the summer. And I was pleasantly surprised to see the Huskies’ 2018 September schedule included games at Iowa, vs. Utah and at Florida State. Although all three were Northern Illinois losses, Scharping more than held his own against better competition, especially against Florida State pass rusher and potential first-rounder Brian Burns.
Over the past seven years, the MAC has produced five top-100 draft picks on the offensive line. And with his intelligence, coordination and body control, Scharping has a chance to join them.

The Scouting Report
Growing up in the shadow of Lambeau Field, Scharping knew early on that football was his calling. Although he went under-recruited, he packed on the weight at Northern Illinois and made an immediate impact at both tackle and guard in 2015, earning freshman All-America honors. He moved full time to right tackle as a sophomore before transitioning to left tackle last season where he earned first-team All-MAC honors. Scharping returned for this senior year where he is on pace to again earn all-conference honors.

Scharping earned his undergraduate degree in three years with a 3.99 GPA and is on pace to receive his master’s degree in December. And that off-field intelligence translates to the football field, which is evident in his preparation and play. Scharping displays terrific awareness to adjust his attack based on the pass rusher across from him. He understands when to change his pass set landmarks and walks the fine line of being patient while also using aggressive tactics in pass protection.

As an athlete, Scharping stays coordinated in his shuffle with adequate lower body bend, allowing him to quickly sink, reset and stay square to rushers. He has strong hands to latch and shut down his target, also flashing the same violence in the run game, setting his hands and running his feet. Although he has decent size, Scharping’s lack of length shows against long-armed rushers who are able to attack his frame or get him off-balance.
NFL scouts are evaluating Scharping as both a tackle and guard. And although he is limited in some areas, he does a great job working within the confines of his skill set. Scharping plays smart and understands his strengths to best disguise his weaknesses.

What NFL scouts are saying
“Scharp is just a darn good football player. He’s controlled, bright, technically sound. I know the coaches up there really, really like him. Love him like a son.” – NFC North scout

The Interview
The Athletic: Growing up, did you always gravitate towarda football as your sport?
Yeah, I would say so. I grew up in Green Bay, just four miles from Lambeau Field. Football has been a huge part of my life, especially being around the Packers. And both my parents went to the University of Madison so I grew up going to Badgers’ games. Football was definitely a big part of my upbringing.

You were only a two-star recruit. Why do you think you went under-recruited in high school?
I was probably too small for some of the bigger schools. I played my senior year at 250 pounds. And I was injured my sophomore year going into my junior year, so I couldn’t go to camps, where a lot of kids start to get noticed. Those were a couple reasons.

Did Wisconsin or any bigger programs show interest?
I got a couple game day visits my senior year at Wisconsin, but other than that, nothing big. Oregon State wanted me on a visit. Mike Uremovich, our offensive coordinator, he was offensive line coach at N.C. State when I was in high school, and he said he wanted me there, but now he’s glad I chose NIU.

You received a scholarship offer from Yale, right? That had to be gratifying, even though you didn’t go the Ivy League route.
That was cool. Validation of my intelligence, I guess. An ego boost. That was cool, a couple Ivy league schools showed interest, but Yale was probably the most aggressive.

You played guard and right tackle your first few years before moving to left tackle the last two seasons. Was the transition between positions taxing? Do you think you’ll offer that versatility for the next level?
I think me playing guard and both sides of the line is definitely going to help. The only real challenge was tackle to guard my freshman year. I think I had three days to learn how to play guard before we played Boston College. That was the hardest one. Switching sides wasn’t as tough. It’s the same offense. It’s about flipping your feet, hand placement, going from one side to the other.

Through the first four weeks of the season, I don’t know many other college programs who have been tested like you guys – at Iowa, against Utah and at Florida State. Unfortunately, it was three losses, but for you personally, it gave you a chance to produce tape against some of the better pass rushers in the country like Brian Burns at FSU. How do you think you did against top competition?
That’s part of the reason I came to NIU. I knew we would play big teams. Especially my senior year, it worked out well. Iowa didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. AJ Epenesa (Iowa) got me a few times, but otherwise I think I did really well against Utah and Florida State. I think I proved to myself that I can play against the best competition.

Burns rushed from both sides, but when you did face him, you did a great job keeping him quiet – for the most part, once you latched on, he was unable to shed and he was neutralized. When you studied him during game prep, what was your plan of attack?
Obviously, we knew he was the fastest guy I would see off the edge all year. I had to get a little deeper in my sets. I would try and get on guys as quick as possible, but against him I had to show a little more patience. They line up wide in general so I had to get a little deeper in my sets. He’s not the biggest guy, he weighs in at 235 pounds so I knew I could use my hands. Once I got my hands on him and if I kept moving my feet, he wouldn’t blow me back.

Who is the best pass rusher you have faced over your career?
I would have to go with Epenesa. He’s long and fast and quick off the ball. He knew how to use my set against me. That’s probably the most recent one I can think of. Another one was Kamalei Correa at Boise when I was a freshman. He was really good competition, we went one-on-one a couple times. He was going really hard, that was a good matchup.

What is your best strength on the football field?
I would say my intelligence and experience. I’ve played a lot of games and I have a good feel for what opponents are trying to do. I see the field well with blitzes and what the defenses are doing. That comes from film study, knowing what they’re doing before they do it.

When I talk to people close to the NIU program, they mention your preparation and work ethic as areas that stand out about you. Where does that motivation come from?
I think it’s from my parents and upbringing. They told me if you’re going to do something, do it the right way. Do it with 100 percent of your ability. Not everyone gets the opportunity I have and getting the opportunity to possibly play in the NFL. It’s a blessing. Even in high school, not everyone got to play varsity. Not everyone in my family could go to college and get a degree. I think I’m one of three in my family to get a master’s. It’s just something instilled in me to do my best at everything I do.

Before you get to the NFL, what is the one main area you’re looking to improve?
Two areas I’m really focusing on. First, being a dominant run blocker. Trying to finish everything through the whistle. Showing I can move people against their will. The other one was improving my hands in pass pro and not leaning.

How seriously did you consider entering last year’s draft? Did you submit for a grade?
I did submit for a grade and I was thinking about it, but I think I knew in my heart I wasn’t going to. I wanted to finish my master’s so I could just focus on football when I did leave.

When watching film, which NFL offensive linemen do you like to study or pattern your game after?
I try and watch a lot of guys. I have a lot of film of Tyron Smith here. He’s one of the best to play in the last 10 years. Always good to learn from him. Growing up in Wisconsin, I always watched Joe Thomas. Andrew Whitworth was another one we would watch. Jason Peters with his athletic ability and his sets.

Have you had the chance to meet former NIU and Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Doug Free at all? Does he come back to campus?
Yeah, I have actually spoken with Doug a few times. He has come back to speak to the team and I’ve met and talked to him a few times. Great guy. He loves NIU and sharing his expertise. Also, Ryan Diem with the Colts. He’s come back and spoken to us. I loved talking to them.

What’s the biggest difference between Max the freshman and Max now the senior?
I think I’m more relaxed on the field. I was always a little high strung, trying to make sure everything was perfect. Being a perfectionist. If I had a bad play, I’d let it affect me three plays later. So now it’s gotten to the point where they practice and study you too so I know there might be a time when I get beat. But you have to come back on the next rep and be at your best.

NIU pass rusher Sutton Smith has been one of the more productive players in college football, what’s it like to go against him in practice?
It’s really difficult. If you want a true answer for best pass rusher I’ve faced, it’s Sutton every day in practice. Unreal speed and he put on weight so he has power, you can’t just focus on his speed. He’s quick-twitched. Unbelievable in his effort. Never gives up on plays. Sets him apart from so many others. If you have him blocked for one second, you probably won’t the next second. Brings unreal energy to the defense.

I know plenty of people will look at his size and write him off, but do you think Sutton has a pro future?
I hope so. I don’t know if it will be at that position because of his size, but someone will give him a shot at defensive end or linebacker or something. Like I said, he loves football like no one on our team. Always in film room, trying to get better, working on little things. Always with his coach, trying to stay healthy. He should get an opportunity for all the effort.

Fast forward five years from now, where do you see yourself?
Hopefully starting on an NFL roster, that’s all I want to do. I hope I make it to that second contract. Starting on an offensive line, don’t know where, I just want to get a shot.

Could plug him in at RT and or both OG spots. Watching him he has great feet and hands. Smart kid and a GB native. Great fit