Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Draft musings

OK, Packer fans, it's time to start thinking about who the Pack will pick at #9 in the upcoming NFL Draft. Or, if they actually stick with that pick, given GM Ted Thompson's penchant for trading down to grab more players in exchange.

It's no surprise to any Packer fan that most folks -- including this folk -- see the defensive line as the number one area of need. Now, that whole "need" thing runs a bit contrary to Thompson's usual approach to taking the best available athlete. But this year might indeed be different, especially given the move to the new 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator, Dom Capers. The Pack's defensive line, due to injury and lack of depth, was mediocre at best last season. That can't happen again. The Pack will need stout players upfront and active players on the edges and across the middle.

But the Pack also has a need for a few folks on the offensive side of the ball, particularly on the line. As noted here and elsewhere before, it is questionable whether longtime veteran Mark Tauscher will be back as part of the team, given that he won't be totally rehabbed from his knee injury until several weeks into the season. The Packers have a number of good, young, versatile players across the line right now. But picking up at least one good tackle would be a plus.

Wide receivers? We should be covered. And the Packers just yesterday agreed to terms with tight end Tory Humphrey, who has always enamored the Pack with his potential but who can never seem to stay healthy. And what about running back? Hopefully, Ryan Grant won't take half the season to find his full stride. Head coach Mike McCarthy likes Brandon Jackson and would like to see more of what he can do, too. But if there is a good back available, the Packers could sure use one in the mix.

So, what are all the mock drafts saying about the Packers' #9?

The consensus at this point seems to OLB Everette Brown out of Florida State. Brown was a defensive end for the Seminoles and was extremely productive. Pro scouts, however, seem to be projecting him, because of his size, as a better option at OLB. And he may have to work against the bad experience several teams -- including the Packers -- have had with other highly touted defensive ends coming out of Florida State; does the name Jamal Reynolds ring a bell? (Shudder!)

But there are other names being tossed about, including:

  • Malcolm Jenkins, DB, Ohio State
  • Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn State
  • B.J. Raji, NT, Boston College
  • Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
  • Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
  • Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
  • Brian Cushing, OLB, USC

That should be enough to set your head spinning. There are only a zillion or two mock draft sites you can check out which will give you more names, scouting reports, etc. No need to reinvent the wheel here.

As with any draft, much depends on what happens in front of you. B.J. Raji and Brian Orakpo would be excellent picks, but the likelihood of them lasting until #9 is questionable. The trade between Denver and Chicago last week also will impact things a bit. And then there is the distinct possibility that the Lions with the #1 overall pick, and even with new management, may still somehow throw a monkey wrench into things.

Of course, what happens in a draft sometimes depends on things that happen behind you, too. Would a team that picks a few slots behind the Pack and which sees a player they really want -- such as a QB -- wheel and deal with the Packers to move up? If Thompson thought he could still get the player he's targeting and nab an extra pick later, that would be a deal you just know Thompson would definitely take a look at if the past is any precursor.

So, stay tuned as things get closer to draft weekend, April 25-26. And, by the way, if you're looking to join in some fun and excitement, be sure to head to Lambeau Field for the Draft Day party.