Packer Update

All champs need a little luck

Packers were fortunate to sign Shields after '10 draft

When a reporter tried to give Ron Wolf credit for drafting Donald Driver in the last round of the 1999 draft, the straight-shooting former general manager of the Packers set the record straight. “If I were that smart,” he admitted, “I would’ve taken him a lot earlier.” It’s safe to assume Wolf’s protegĂ©, Ted Thompson, would say something similar about signing Sam Shields as an undrafted free agent on Apr. 28, 2010. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine that 32 teams – including Green Bay – didn’t deem the speedy cornerback worth even a seventh-round pick. You know what’s even harder to imagine? The Packers winning their fourth Lombardi Trophy and 13th world championship without the former wide receiver from the University of Miami.

Just imagine how different things would’ve been on defense had Shields not accepted Green Bay’s modest $7,500 signing bonus. Jarrett Bush almost certainly would’ve opened the season as the No. 3 corner after Brandon Underwood and Pat Lee flamed out during training camp. Think Dom Capers would’ve been willing to play as much press-man coverage with Bush on the field? And what about Charles Woodson? He went to yet another Pro Bowl after lining up 80% of the time in the slot, where his toughness and short-area quickness allowed him to excel. Without Shields, the 34-year-old might’ve had to play a lot more from the outside, where his diminished speed would’ve been a liability.

There’s no way to predict how many games Green Bay would’ve won without Shields, but it’s safe to say the number would’ve been below the 10 that was needed to qualify for the playoffs. And even if the Packers somehow managed to sneak into the postseason, their road to the Super Bowl almost certainly would’ve ended in either Philadelphia or Chicago. Watch those two games again and see just how effectively Shields played. The 23-year-old was able to hold up one-on-one against Jeremy Maclin in the Wild Card game, which allowed Capers to keep two defenders on the dangerous DeSean Jackson at all times. Two weeks later in the NFC Championship, he had a pair of huge interceptions. The first kept the Bears from scoring at the end of the first half and the second ended the game with the home team driving for a potential tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

And here’s the scary thing – as well as Shields performed last season, he’s nowhere near a finished product. He’s only played on defense since 2009, so he’s still very raw. And his blazing speed couldn’t always make up for numerous rookie mistakes – both mental and physical. That’s obvious when you look at the statistics. He gave up the second-most touchdown passes (four) and allowed the most number of plays of 20 yards or more (10).

With Shields and Tramon Williams, the Packers should be set at cornerback for the foreseeable future. That has to be a comforting feeling when you consider just how hard it is to find capable players at this key position. Remember Fred Vinson, Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas? All were high picks who couldn’t cut it in the NFL. So the next time you here somebody say that drafting is an inexact science, believe it. Thirty-two teams passed on Shields anywhere from five to 12 times in 2010. And the next time you hear a GM say it’s better to be lucky than good, believe that too. Seven teams offered Shields a contract, and for some reason, he chose Green Bay. So while Thompson was very good last year, he probably wouldn’t be picking up a ring next week if he also wasn’t a little lucky.

11 Comments to "All champs need a little luck"

  1. Tangysizzl says:

    Joe Whitt Jr. is the man mostly responsible for getting Sam Shields to sign a free agent contract with the Pack. He built a nice relationship with him during the interview process leading up to the draft.

    Sam Shields has some learning disabilities and Joe Whitt helped him through learning the playbook which made it possible for him to play as early and as well as he did.

    So thank you Joe Whitt Jr, you da man.

  2. dHoward says:

    Keep the posts coming! It’s nice to read some real packer stuff during this dry season.

  3. Nerdmann says:

    “There’s no such thing as luck. There is only preparation meeting opportunity.”

  4. p@ckers says:

    This is the best packer blog website. Good job Keep the articles coming.

  5. Mike says:

    With all due respect, Nerdman, this is a bit lucky. Nobody, not even the Packers, were bringing him into camp as a DB. He was a return specialist all the way and nothing but an afterthought as depth on the roster for defensive back. Whitt was a believer in the kids aptitude, but no way any team in the league felt he was DB depth in the present or immediate future.

    Good for Sheilds, he worked hard.

  6. LoveMD says:

    Very true, but there is nothing wrong with developing that midas touch. Great basketball players seem to get more favorable rolls than good players, lets hope our good fortune continues with the draft and UDFA. While there is no disputing good fortune or luck, some just have more good fortunate and luck than others. I believe we have that working in Green Bay…..mostly because we expect it to be so…..have confidence and conviction in the system. We draft and have confidence we will select the right players, develop them and see them come through.

  7. D Cooke says:

    Actually, in all the love for Joe Whitt Jr, (I like the guy as well so don’t misunderstand what I am about to write) the person most responsible for Shields arriving in GB was by Shields own words was his uncle.

    When Shields went undrafted 7 teams offered him a contract, when he sought advice about where to sign his uncle told him GB, didn’t you see the backups get toasted against Arizona! Go to GB. As for luck, the odds also play out ocassionaly, (hard work and opportunity often intersect under the lucky banner) GB has taken a flyer on fast, athletic DB’s late in the draft or FA since TT arrived. Just remember Mike Hawkins the 5th round pick. He was a sensation in TC in 05 but got a little dinged and never played to his potential, TW was a waiver wire find the next yearr and trevor ford et al. all came with ability but raw and like Shields were thought of as special teamers. To this day I believe TT saw him as the best gunner in the NFL and Shields worked his way into other plans.
    So as another poster said kudos to Shields he grabbed a job higher paid players couldn’t handle and thank god Joe Whitt and not Sh___enhimer was here to coach him up!
    Pack 88

  8. igtbapf44 says:

    TT@MM draft for character as much as talent…………

  9. Yoop says:

    Shields was offered a contract and signing bonus because of his physical talents and showing ability in his games at CB at the U.
    He was not brought in as a returner, he did not do that in college. IT would have been a bonus if he could have taken that job.
    It’s not lucky or drafting character it’s the scouts doing there job and presenting a case for a player to be brought in.
    In this case they all really failed, EVERY scout and GM in the NFL failed on Shields.
    The way he played he should have been not only drafted but drafted in the early rounds.
    IMO this is a case of a player and coaching staff making a great match. Shields abilities matching what the team coaches and asks of the player on the field.
    Shields is still very raw. And not having a off season of coaching will hinder his development.
    He has a long way to go but improved week by week. That shows he is willing to do what ever he needs too and takes to coaching.
    The one thing that is true in all this is his play made a HUGE difference in the outcome of the season.

  10. Mike says:

    @Yoop:

    This part:
    “Shields was offered a contract and signing bonus because of his physical talents and showing ability in his games at CB at the U.”

    Is unequivocally revisionist history. Everybody that had him as a priority free agent was doing so in the hopes that he could make the squad as a gunner or returner, not a DB.

  11. Mike says:

    ….Shields himself talked about his hopes of making the team as a gunner in interviews with JS Online when he signed as a priority free agent.

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