Acme Packing Company's Tex Western on Vince Biegel, NFL Draft Hot Takes
On this week's episode of Blue 58, we welcomed Acme Packing Company managing editor Tex Western to the program. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Tex offered his insights on the newest Packers pass rusher Vince Biegel and gave us his hottest NFL draft takes. Here's the transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.
Jon Meerdink: Let’s start with the process of the draft. Ted Thompson really let the board come his way, and when things rolled around to the 29th pick, there were plenty of options on the board and he traded out of the spot. What did you think of the move when it happened? How did you think it played out?
Tex Western: For about two weeks I’ve been saying that Ted’s going to trade out of the 29th pick and move back into the early part of the 2nd round. It didn’t surprise me in the least. It did surprise me a little bit that it was with Cleveland, and it surprised me even more that Cleveland didn’t try to grab DeShone Kizer or another quarterback that was left on the board. The fact that they moved up to get [tight end David] Njoku was more surprising than anything.
I think the Packers got good value out of the trade. I was pleased with the move when it happened, grabbing that extra fourth round pick. It was interesting to see the meltdown of Badgers fans when T.J. Watt went with the next pick to Pittsburgh at 30.
I even tweeted out at one point during that evening on Thursday night:
I got a lot of crickets. So, I think it was pretty interesting the way it worked out and I think the Wisconsin fans who really wanted to see Watt in Green Bay had their concerns eased when Biegel ended up being the pick in the fourth round. For value purposes, it was a good move. I think they got the guy they wanted in Kevin King anyway, so I think it all worked out for the best.
Gary Zilavy: Listen Tex, people just wanted a Badger. They just wanted a Badger. Give me a Badger please.
TW: It’s funny, because for so long Thompson never drafted one. And now we’ve got two in the last three or four drafts with Abbrederis a couple years back. I think the narrative of “Ted doesn’t draft Badgers” can be called dead now. There’s so much associated with the Watt name that I think that was a little more on some people’s minds, too. But yeah, 90% of it was “let’s get one of these guys” and feel good about one of these homegrown stories coming to Green Bay. Once they got Biegel, it calmed everybody down and had everyone feeling good coming out of the weekend.
GZ: Agreed. And speaking of Biegel, how big of a contributor can Vince Biegel be?
TW: He’s interesting. I think he’s undervalued, if you ask me. I’ll admit, being a Wisconsin grad and watching Wisconsin every Saturday that I’ve gotten to see him play for the last four years. I think he’s an excellent player. He brings a little more polish right away to his game than T.J. Watt did because he’s playing on the defensive side for his entire life. Watt coming into Wisconsin was a tight end and only shifted over to linebacker for the last couple of years. So maybe the ceiling isn’t quite as high on Biegel, but he certainly had good testing numbers at the combine. That certainly impressed some people, and he performed better than I anticipated he would. It’s certainly a positive moving forward. You look at his versatility, you can maybe play him inside a little bit, use him in a Clay Matthews role where he’s playing all over the place. So he’ll be very good on special teams right away.
In terms of the defense you almost slot him in there right away at that third linebacker spot behind Nick Perry and Clay Matthews. You have to assume he’s certainly ahead of Kyler Fackrell. Biegel’s a more polished pass rusher than Fackrell was, even after a year of playing in the NFL for Fackrell. It’ll be interesting to see how Biegel’s snaps compare to Jayrone Elliott in the rotation. But certainly I think he’ll play 20, 25% of the snaps on defense and be a big time special teams player in year one.
JM: Jumping back to the Packers’ first pick – Kevin King. Now the measurables are off the charts, we’ve seen how tall, how fast he is and what he does in the agility drills. The concerns about him that kept him from being a first round pick were technique and how he really plays cornerback. The Packers do have a need at cornerback, do you think he’ll be a starter in Week 1 at one of those two spots?
TW: I think it’s worth noting that the Packers used that nickel alignment so much as their base when they’re in the nickel, I think he’ll be one of the two starting outside corners, with Davon House being on the other side and Damarious Randall starting out in the slot. I think that he’s got the upside over Ladarius Gunter in speed and agility. Gunter’s got the size, but he’s not nearly the athlete that King is. Ultimately, having a full offseason to work with Joe Whitt Jr. on his technique will be a good step for King. You’ll see him rotate a little bit, but I do think you’ll see King start on the boundary with Randall in the slot on day one.
GZ: Shifting away from the defense here, we’ve got three running backs taken in this draft. Jon and I like how this turned out, as all three of these backs are different and unique. What should we think about THompson drafting three guys at one position, especially one that’s not that important to the Packers?
TW: It was definitely unexpected and curious. I had thought they would draft two and they had given some of the prospects that indication during this draft process. I think taking a third one in the seventh round with Devante Mays was more of taking a flyer on a guy with some upside that they like. I wouldn’t really read into the seventh round picks in general. That’s how I’d approach it from Thompson’s overall strategy.
The seventh round seems to be where they pick players they want to have the rights to and not have to deal with bidding for them in undrafted free agency. They’re just taking a flyer on a guy they brought in for a visit or know a little something about. Certainly, seventh round picks are not guaranteed roster spots in Green Bay. We’ve seen a number of these guys come into camp and get cut, or move down to the practice squad.
I think Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones are the two you’ll see fighting for position in the depth chart. I really like what both of those two guys bring into the fold. WIlliams is a bit more of a slasher – he reminds me a bit of James Starks when he was really, really good – and then Aaron Jones is right out of the Johnathan Franklin and Brandon Jackson mold. I’ll be interested to see if he can pass block, because if he can, that’s his ticket onto the field. Certainly, there’s roles for these guys but I read more into these first two than I would into the Mays pick.
JM: Speaking of seventh round picks, Malachi Dupre has been anointed as a surefire contributor. What’s your read on him?
TW: It’s funny, this whole thing has been going on for the last two days on #PackersTwitter. I’m of the opinion that the Packers got a steal in the seventh round. I think he’s got early round 4, late round 3 ability but he just never put together the production at LSU.
You can look at the offense: Bret Bielema levels of basic concepts and certainly the quarterback play was not very good, either. You’d like to see a player with his talent rise above that and put together better numbers than he did. So, it’s going to be a question of whether he can put together all of the skills he’s got now that he’s got a really good quarterback throwing to him.
I think the skills give him the opportunity to carve out a role. I think his skillset is even a little better than DeAngelo Yancey, the Packers’ fifth round pick. Dupre’s ceiling is higher, but again, there’s no guarantee and it’s going to come down to the training camp competition to see if he can make a roster spot.
GZ: What’s your hottest NFL Draft take?
TW: I think the 49ers defense is going to be really good, really soon. I think the fact that they got a couple of really good players in Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster means they’re going to be back, and they’re going to be back fast. I think we’ll see more of the 49ers defense that’s disappeared since Jim Harbaugh return.
The other one – I really didn’t like Minnesota trading up to select Dalvin Cook. I think they had a lot of other holes to fill. They could have used that pick on a corner, or a linebacker or even an offensive linemen. I’ve also been very low on Cook throughout the draft. I’ve been on the record as saying he’s going to be a big-time bust in the NFL and I don’t think he’s going to be a particularly good running back. I don’t know why you trade up to get him when you already signed Latavius Murray in the offseason as a big free agent signing. I think Cook’s going to flame out.
For my coldest take, I think the Bears just completely shot themselves in the foot with everything related to Mitchell Trubisky, and then trading up again for a 5-6 running back in Tarik Cohen. I think they royally screwed up their roster. Those third and fourth round picks that they traded away, they could have really made some good contributors to fill some of those holes. They’re not a quarterback away; they’ve got a lot of places to improve.
Thanks again, Tex, for joining us on Blue 58! You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcast app.