by: John Linn
The NFL draft is rapidly approaching and the Packers needs are a bit in debate. Some think a good offensive tackle is what is needed most, some think a corner back, others a speed rusher off the edge to replace Kampman, and still others say a possibility is a speed running back to help Ryan Grant. I am not Ted Thompson and I do not know exactly what he wants to do or what the team really wants to do. I will go through each of these possibilities and give some possible players for each.
Most likely the prevailing idea is an offensive tackle to be the heir to either Mark Tauscher or Chad Clifton. The line was obviously one of the weakest points on last year’s team and does need to be addressed in this year’s draft. The team did go ahead and re-sign both Clifton and Tauscher and they should be the de-facto starters at each tackle spot, but they are at the end of their careers and the players the team has now have not shown anything special enough to this point to earn a spot flat out. Therefore it is a good possibility that an offensive tackle could be taken early on. There is no way to fully tell who will be available at the Packers first round pick (#23), especially sense I have heard many different variations as to who the Packers will take, so I will give some of the players who will likely be available. Some of the tackles could be someone like: Bryan Bulaga from Iowa (most likely a right tackle but did play left in college, least likely to be available), Anthony Davis from Rutgers (not a good draft, but had a good college career) Charles Brown from USC (solid career at USC, maybe a little undersized).
Corner (or any other secondary player technically) is another good possibility. Charles Woodson had a career year last season, and is defying the odds and getting better as he gets older, but he and Nick Collins were the only consistent players in the secondary after Al Harris went down with a knee injury. That leads into the other problem that Harris may not be coming back at full strength and or may never be the same player. In any case both Harris and Woodson are getting up there in age and won’t be around forever, and a backup or heir apparent is needed. Also Atari Bigby just doesn’t seem to be cutting it at safety. He barely shows up half of the time and more safety help is needed or Collins will again be left alone. Some players who could help at corner or safety would be Kyle Wilson from Boise State (a great corner who could possibly still be around when the Packers pick) and as for safety Taylor Mays from USC would be a good possibility (a big hitter with good speed).
Outside Linebacker is another possibility in the first round to replace the departed Aaron Kampman. It may seem unnecessary because Brad Jones played admirably opposite Clay Matthews, however there’s always a chance to improve. Clay Matthews had a great rookie season last year off the edge but you never know how he will perform in his sophomore season (though there is no reason to think he will have a bad season). Brad Jones did not start until after Aaron Kampman went down with injury and now with Kampman leaving via free agency it is likely that Jones is in the #1 spot for the spot opposite Matthews but there is also a chance that he could be deposed. Some possibilities are Texas’ Sergio Kindle or Michigan’s Brandon Graham.
Ryan Grant is the starter at running back, that fact does not seem to be in flux at all. However, Grant is a big back, a bruiser, not a speed back at all. The Packers would like to find someone faster or maybe even someone a little more all around than Grant to groom to be the successor. Grant had a solid season last year but has been slowed these past two seasons by injuries. The backups for Grant are not quite what the Packers would like at this point either. The team has put a lot into Brandon Jackson as the 3rd down back, but he has not panned out the way he was expected to. Ahman Green is most likely retiring for good this time. Beyond that it is unknown who will still be on the team next season. Some possible backs the team could look at would be CJ Spiller from Clemson (Spiller is a good all around back, but it is unlikely that he will still be there at #23), Ryan Mathews from Fresno state (though Mathews is not quite the type of back they are looking for, but he is a very good back that they may not be able to pass up), also someone like Joe McKnight from USC (though he is not a first round pick) or Jahvid Best from Cal (though he has injury issues he is the type of speed the Packers need).
The Packers could of course draft for any of these positions in any round, at any time, for any player.
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