Packers to trade Aaron Kampman?

YAHOO! Sports.com suggests that the Packers could trade defensive end/outside linebacker Aaron Kampan.

7. Green Bay defensive end Aaron Kampman – This is going to be considered heresy by some Packers fans, particularly since Kampman recorded 37 sacks over the past three seasons. However, in switching to the 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Packers have put in a system where Kampman is going to be extremely limited. In short, Kampman is a high-motor athlete who operates best when he can attack a right offensive tackle from a three-point stance, using his initial burst and knowledge of hand techniques. When the Packers put Kampman out farther on the edge in a 3-4, his skills will be diminished. Furthermore, he’s never dropped into coverage on a regular basis, so that’s going to be a shock. Unless the Packers find a way to highlight Kampman’s strengths in some other way, he just doesn’t work in this system.

Considering the Packers have done next to nothing to address their switch to a 3-4, I highly doubt that they would trade Kampman. I agree that he isn’t an ideal fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, but Green Bay GM Ted Thompson has sat on his ass so far in free agency so I doubt Kampman is going anywhere.

The Packers are thin along the defensive line (they need a true 3-4 defensive end to play opposite Cullen Jenkins) and at linebacker, so it doesn’t make sense for them to create another hole by dealing Kampman.

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Offseason Blueprint: Green Bay Packers

Notable Free Agents: Atari Bigby, S (restricted); Mark Taucher, OT; Michael Montgomery, DE; Colin Cole, DT.

Projected 2009 Cap Space: $18,000,000

Draft Order: 9

Top Needs: OLB, OL, 3-4 defensive linemen.

Offseason Outlook: After hiring Dom Capers to run the defense, the Packers will move to a 3-4 defensive front next season. That means defensive end Aaron Kampman will move to one of the outside linebacker spots, while A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett will be the team’s starting inside ‘backers. The outside linebacker spot opposite of Kampman will be Brady Poppinga’s to lose, although Green Bay will likely bring in competition to push him for the starting position.

The Packers most pressing need this offseason will be finding D-linemen that can fit the 3-4 defensive front – especially at defensive end. Green Bay is in luck too, because after Julius Peppers (who was franchised by Carolina), the next best defensive ends on the market are Chris Canty (Cowboys) and Igor Olshansky (Chargers) – two relatively young linemen that are used to playing in a 3-4. Either way, they have to address both end positions because neither Michael Montgomery nor Colin Cole are expected to be re-signed and there are serious doubts that former first round pick Justin Harrell can be effective in a 3-4.

Even though they project Ryan Pickett to be the starting nose tackle, the Packers might consider drafting Boston College defensive lineman B.J. Raji, who stands 6’1” and weighs 323 pounds. He has excellent strength, can occupy multiple blockers and could easily play nose in a 3-4 scheme. And considering what the needs are for the teams selecting ahead of Green Bay in the draft, Raji should be available at No. 9.

If the Packers decide to go with Pickett at nose, another option for them in the first round is Florida State defensive end Everette Brown, who is athletic enough to move to outside linebacker in a 3-4. He could immediately challenge Poppinga for the starting outside linebacker position opposite Kampman and hopefully give Green Bay’s pass rush (the Pack finished near the bottom of the league in sacks last year) a major boost.


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2009 NFL All-Spectator Team: All Pros, No Playoffs

Granted, guys like Peyton Manning, Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu had wonderful seasons. But don’t they already get plenty of love? With our third-annual NFL All-Spectator Team, we want to shine the spotlight on the players that had great seasons, but for one reason or another, missed the postseason.

So there won’t be any Steelers, Cardinals, Eagles or Ravens on this team. Nor any Giants, Panthers, Vikings or Falcons. They’ve had their opportunity to shine. We’ll recognize those great players that spent the postseason on their couch, or maybe on a beach somewhere. After all, it’s not their fault that they’re on a mediocre (or a crappy) team, is it?

Hell, we’ll even honor a couple of Detroit Lions – how’s that for spreading the love around?

Check out our 2008 and 2007 All-Spectator squads.

OFFENSE

QB: Drew Brees (NO)
5,069 yards, 34 TDs, 17 INTs, 96.2 QB rating
For the second straight season, Brees is our choice at QB. On one hand, it’s a nice honor because it means he’s consistently productive, but we’re sure he’d rather be guiding the Saints into the playoffs. Brees improved his numbers across the board, and almost broke Dan Marino’s single-season yardage record; he averaged 317 passing yards per game! He posted the second-highest QB rating of his career and even turned someone named Lance Moore into a fantasy star. For this, he was named AP Offensive Player of the Year, a well-deserved honor.

RB: Matt Forte (CHI)
1,238 rushing yards, 63 rec., 477 receiving yards, 12 total TD
It was a tough call between Forte and Thomas Jones, but with 1,715 total yards, the rookie gets the nod. Some draft pundits questioned his ability to be an every down back, but didn’t have any problems taking over as the Bears’ RB1. He caught an eye-popping 63 catches and was (by far) the Bears’ best offensive weapon. It’s scary to think what he could do if Chicago had another playmaker in the passing game that would keep defenses from stacking the line against the run.

FB: Earnest Graham (TB)
563 rushing yards; 23 rec., 174 rec. yards; 4 total TD
Were there better fullbacks that we could have chosen? Yeah, especially considering Graham isn’t technically even a fullback. But we chose Graham (who missed the last six games of the year with an ankle injury) because of his unselfishness this season. He volunteered to move to fullback when the Bucs were in need of a power blocker and he never griped about losing his feature back role. When he went down with a season ending injury in Week 11, Tampa clearly missed his power running style over the past two months of the season and even more so, they missed his leadership.

WR: Andre Johnson (HOU)
115 rec., 1575 yards, 8 TD
All AJ did was lead the NFL in catches and yards, anchoring one of the league’s best offenses in the process. He posted 9+ catches eight times and went over 100 yards in each of those games. This included success against the very best competition; he racked up 11 catches for 207 yards and a TD against the Titans, who have one of the top pass defenses in the league. A big day for AJ usually meant a Texans win; Houston was 6-2 in games where Johnson went off.

WR: Brandon Marshall (DEN)
104 rec., 1265 yards, 6 TD
Marshall missed the first game of the season due to suspension, but he made up for it the next week, posting an amazing 18 catches for 166 yards and a score against the Chargers. He was one of the most consistent wideouts over the rest of the season, catching no fewer than four passes in 12 of the next 14 games. Surprisingly, he only caught six touchdowns, but with the third-most catches and seventh-most yards in the league, his stats are plenty impressive.

TE: Tony Gonzalez (KC)
96 rec., 1058 yards, 10 TD
Gonzo makes his second-straight appearance on our All-Spectator Team. Jason Witten may have earned this spot if not for a midseason injury that hindered his production, but Gonzalez was every bit the top TE in the league this season. He was 12th in the league in yards and tied for 4th in catches. What’s most impressive about Gonzo’s season is that, at 32, he turned in what was arguably his third-best season of his illustrious 12-year, Hall of Fame career.

OT: Ryan Clady (DEN)
The Broncos might have produced one of the worst collapses of any team in NFL history by surrendering a four game lead over the Chargers with only four games remaining in the season, but Clady deserves praise for his exceptional play this year. The rookie gave up just a half sack and helped anchor the left tackle position for an offensive line that tied the Titans for fewest sacks allowed in the NFL (12). He’s the type of player the Broncos can build their O-line around and he was clearly a Pro Bowl snub.

OT: Joe Thomas (CLE)
Did Thomas take a slight step back this season? Yes. Even some in Cleveland’s organization will admit it. But offensive linemen aren’t immune to having sophomore slumps and even though his production might have dipped a little, Thomas was still one of the best tackles in the AFC and worthy of his Pro Bowl roster spot. He was also part of a Browns’ offensive line that finished eighth in sacks allowed. Some are going to wonder where Jason Peters’ (Bills) name is, but don’t strain your eyes looking too long because he didn’t make the cut. Peters gave up more sacks (11.5 sacks in just 13 games) this year than any starting left tackle in the league.

OG: Leonard Davis (DAL)
Two years ago, the Cardinals gave up on Davis because they didn’t feel he was consistent or dominant enough to be their cornerstone left tackle. Not that they were wrong, but they might regret giving up on him with the way he’s excelled since the Cowboys moved him to right guard after signing him to a seven-year, $49.6 million contract in March of 2007. Davis had another outstanding year and some believe that he was the most dominant right guard in the NFL this season. The Saints’ Jahri Evans (who made our honorable mention list) got a starting look for our guard positions, but in the end we couldn’t pass up pairing Davis with Alan Faneca.

OG: Alan Faneca (NYJ)
The Steelers didn’t want to pony up to pay a 32-year old guard with plenty of mileage on his body, but the Jets signed the veteran to a five-year, $40 million contract and it’s safe to say that Faneca was worth the money. After breakout seasons as rookies in 2006, the play of left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold dropped in 2007. But the addition of Faneca turned out to be the shot in the arm that the two youngsters needed. Faneca’s presence also helped running back Thomas Jones bounce back after a rough 2007 campaign, as he rushed for 1,312 yards this season.

C: Dan Koppen (NE)
Whether it was because of a down year or the inexperience of quarterback Matt Cassel, the Patriots’ offensive line was brutal in pass protection this season. They gave up 48 sacks despite returning all five starters from their Super Bowl team. Regardless, the Patriots still had the fifth best offense in the NFL and were the sixth best running team. At the center (no pun intended) of their success was Koppen, who continues to be a quiet leader on a team filled with exceptional players. Cassel’s success this season had a lot to do with having a veteran center setting the line protection every play and guiding the young signal caller along the way.


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