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Packer Partisan: 2006 NFL draft approaches (04/26/2006)
By Dave DeLano

Cheeseheads can't wait until the bitter taste of the 2005 season is forever washed down their throats. The best place to ensure that 2005 does not repeat is via the draft, so Ted Thompson and company will be working overtime next weekend to hopefully ensure that fresh collegiate talent is injected into the green and gold to get them back to their winning ways.

Thompson's task this year is Herculean given all the Pack's problems, starting with Brett Favre's curious indecision whether or not to play in 2006. Javon Walker is threatening not to play because of a contract dispute and Terrence Murphy's young career is over due to injury thus leaving the receiving corps in limbo. The offensive guard situation was not solved last year and begs attention. Free agency has provided the Packers' defense a new starting defensive tackle and a safety, but more troops are needed.

So what will the Packers do next week? Conventional wisdom suggests that the Pack select Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk with their fifth selection in the first round. The Packers are woefully thin at talent in their linebacking corps and Hawk is one heck of a football player. Tremendous speed, character, work ethic, excelling equally at tackling and coverage" this guy has all-pro potential for many years. This would be the choice of your humble scribe, should Hawk be available.

But wait" there are other scenarios. North Carolina's phenomenal defensive end Mario Williams has Reggie White type speed/size credentials and could also be a stud defensive player for many years to come. Maryland's Vernon Davis is an incredible tight end prospect who has unbelievable speed for a big man and would be a welcome fit into any offensive scheme.

Perhaps the most intriguing dilemma facing Thompson is what to do with the quarterback situation. I don't understand why Favre can't tell Packer management what he wants to do this year. If he plays, Packer management doesn't have to consider drafting another quarterback this year in the first round. But if Favre retires" what to do? The Packers spent their first round draft pick last year on QB Aaron Rodgers and he is the supposed heir apparent to Favre. But" Rodgers looked horrible in preseason last year and this year's crop of college draftables has three quarterbacks that might be a significant upgrade over Rodgers.

One or maybe two of those elite three might be available to the Pack when they choose at number five and it will be oh-so-interesting to see what the Pack does with their first pick. Look for the Packers to address their offensive line, wide receiver/kick returner, and defensive secondary needs with their later round picks. I can't wait until Mel Kiper Jr. and the rest of the talking heads start dispensing draft info next weekend. 


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