by Justis Mosqueda
Every week in the regular season, I'll ask a friend of mine, who is also a fan of the team playing against the Packers, a couple questions. Since the pre-season is starting, I decided to run through a couple rough drafts, instead of just jumping into the regular season. Green Bay is playing Arizona on Thursday at 5 PM Pacific (West Side). Joining me is my friend, Kent Hodder (who you can follow on Twitter: @kenthodder.)
What's it like being a fan of the Morgan Athletic Club, and why don't you root for the Packers?
Frustrating, exciting, depressing. It can be hard at times, though there is usually some payoff in that draft time can be more exciting having your team pick in the top 10, however it gets a bit old repeatedly sitting that high. The last 5-6 years have bought some of the best seasons this team has ever seen including being 2 minutes away from one of the most improbable Super Bowl victories of all time. The cycle of this team over the past 6 years would have to be one of the strangest six year periods in football; this team went from having a great offense led by Warner/Fitzgerald/Boldin and a defense that was so-so followed by three seasons of absolute crap on offense led by nobody in particular and a defense that has been among the best in the league.
Coming into this season there are a lot of unknowns around the team, and while that is a cause for a lot of excitement, it has also been a cause for some concern. The addition of Carson Palmer has created such a surge of excitement among the fan-base I wonder what will happen if the team ever acquires an elite QB. Yet some of the losses on defense could be hard to cover up, none more so than the departure of Ray Horton. Hopes are high in the desert but only time will tell where this team with so many new pieces needing to fall into place will end up.
As for why I am not a Packers fan, I hate cheese….
[Don't tell anyone, but so do I. I didn't eat pizza with cheese until I was well into middle school, and I still don't like cheeseburgers. Shh.]
Either that or there was a distinct lack of Anquan Boldin on the Packers when I first started looking for my team.
Give me five players on the Cardinals who you'll be looking at during the game.
The first off the bat has to be Tyrann Mathieu, it will be his first live game action since the National Championship game LSU lost to Alabama nearly 18 months ago, there has been nothing but stellar reports coming out of camp about this guy. It will be interesting to see him on an NFL field.
Second is Nate Potter, he will be running with the second team offensive line at Left Tackle and is in with a shot to win the starting LT job. I want to see if he has improved on his functional strength, is he going to be an asset in the running game, he will need to be to surpass Levi Brown.
Justin Bethel, a 6th round pick in 2012, Bethel was drafted out of a small school based on special teams ability. He was moved from S to CB in his first season and is now looking to cement some more PT on defense, he will probably run with the 2ndteam unit, and maybe some with the 3rd team. He has solid size and is a good athlete, we have heard good reports coming out of camp on him, so we will see where this goes.
Earl Watford, the small school rookie RG; I want to see how he is going to show on the NFL level, he is sitting 4th string at RG at the moment, but he will more than likely make the football team, will run with the 3rd string OL and likely get a lot of snaps.
Finally Stepfan Taylor, right now our RB position is wide open, Taylor has someone that will endear him to Bruce Arians and that is his pass protection. If he can prove to be the best runner of the bunch he might be in with an outside shot of surpassing Mendenhall as the number one running back, especially with Ryan Williams still dealing with his injury worries (Thanks Packers). There is some depth at the RB spot too, it is going to be interesting to watch it shake out in the preseason.
[If you're interested in Taylor you might want to check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD3TH2ARmFE]
The Vegas line is set as a Packers win by 6 points, over/under?
I don’t really care either way, but I would probably take the over. Packers will build a lead early with a couple of good first team drives, and with the caliber of 2nd and 3rd string QB’s on both teams leaving a bit to be desired I think it could hold. I don’t mind a bit of a bet here and there, but there is no way I would ever put money on a Preseason NFL game.
Looking at the depth chart, you'll be needing a quarterback in next year's draft. Who's your favorite in the 2014 class (outside of Teddy Bridgewater)?
You would find a lot of Cardinals fans who would disagree with the notion that the team will “need” a QB in the 2014 draft, I don’t, but it will all depend on who is available and at what spot.
Among the seniors I love David Fales, but I don’t think he will even be on the radar of the team because of the scheme that the team is wanting the run (Vertical, Vertical, Vertical) so my eyes are on the small school fellow with a good Education Jeff Matthews out of Cornell. I think our team is going to be present at a lot of his games this season if they are serious about adding a Quarterback early in the draft. Bryn Renner has caught my eye too.
[Agree with you on Fales and Matthews. I'm out here trying to kill the Bryn Renner hype train with my bare hands. In the games I've charted, he was something like 3 of 13 on passes equal to or over 20 air yards.]
If we delve a little bit into underclassmen I like Blake Bortles, Marcus Mariota and the Brett’s Hundley and Smith. It is all still very early however and we could see someone come of out thin air somewhere to really impress and we could see some of the more liked guys struggle.
[You just named two of my top three non-Bridgewater juniors and my top two sophomore quarterbacks. Much better. Again, Renner is sub-25%, and his base is wider than the big screen hanging in Jerry's Dome.]
If it's not quarterback, which positions would be the biggest 2014 need, and who you would take?
I think QB is always the place to start when building a football team and depending on where the Cardinals are drafting a first round selection of either Bridgewater or Matthews would be fine with me, past that I think rather than looking to draft at any particular position you are looking for difference makers and mismatches. That leads me to an area on this team which could use a play-maker, the Tight End position, Rob Housler is heading into his third season and finally has a solid QB to throw him the football so his development in 2012 will be one to look out for, but a guy like Colt Lyerla or Austin Sefarian-Jenkins at the TE position could really provide this team with a difference maker and a mismatch creator on offense.
[I don't like ASJ as much as most people do, at this point. I think he's a top-50 tight-end, but I'm not taking him in the first. He's way more Mercedes Lewis, to me, than Gronk.]
Defensively the needs are a little more obvious, but again it is about difference makers and taking away mismatches. Safety and Pass Rusher are going to be the two areas that the team is likely to look at closely in the 2014 draft; I love Anthony Barr, he has freakish athleticism, if he can develop technically he will be a very highly drafted player. If Clowney is an option (And Bridgewater is not) you would be stupid not to draft him I also really like Khalil Mack from Buffalo in the 2nd round, and have just started looking at some Prince Shembo games.
At Safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix is a standout at the position for me, but really I struggle to get good evaluations on safeties.
[I'm with you there. It's hard to really get a feel for safeties without access to coaches' film.]
There will be a lot of talk of Left Tackle too given the teams situation at the position.
Former Packer, Daryn Colledge is on the team; how's he looking?
He is looking injured right now, he has missed most of training camp with a nerve issue in his leg and will not play against the Packers in the first preseason game.
[It's okay, the Packers won't actually be playing against Arizona. Not the ones making the roster, at least. Everyone's hurt. #PackIRs]
Last season he was poor there are no two ways about it. Expected to take on a leadership role on the OL with all the turnover and new players coming in he fell flat on his face. It was not the best situation to be playing in, but he really had issues last season. He is being moved to Right Guard this season (Mostly to accommodate Jonathan Cooper) another new position for him. I don’t think he will be with the team much past this season, a very expensive, average at best guard. With Earl Watford being drafted in the 4th round and 2012 5th round pick Senio Kelemete in the background, Colledge will have to really impress this season to hold a roster spot in 2014.
Has the Morgan Athletic Club considered a name change to the Honey Badgers?
Not yet, but if he keeps up his camp form in the season they might. I am also pretty sure the entire fan-base would not be against calling this team the Arizona Warners if it meant Kurt would be around the team.
[Lifetime coach-player contract included? You just found your 2014 starter.]
Justis Mosqueda is a Journalism student who writes for OptimumScouting.com, DraftFalcons.com, Packers-Backer.blogspot.com, and cuts videos of NFL Draft prospects for DraftBreakdown.com
You can follow Justis on Twitter: Twitter.com/JuMosq