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Packer Partisan (04/25/2007)
By Dave DeLano

Next weekend the NFL conducts its annual collegiate draft ritual which is a hoot for all football fans. Cheeseheads are especially enthusiastic this year given the Packers' strong finish last season. Ted Thompson invested practically no money in off-season free agency acquisitions so he obviously believes that improvement will come from the young players currently on the roster and the new talent that the 2007 collegiate draft will provide.

Like all teams, the Packers clearly have needs. Perhaps foremost of those is a feature back replacement for the departed Ahman Green. A tight end with good receiving skills and a speedy wide receiver would also be high on the offensive wish list. On defense the Packers need an upgrade for safety Marquand Manuel and some depth at cornerback where the two starters are getting a bit long in the tooth. The Packers also need a special teams return guy who is "special"" something lacking for many years in Green Bay.

That is a tall order for Ted Thompson to fill in a single draft. This year the Packers have a single pick in the first six rounds and three picks in the seventh round. The Packers pick sixteenth in the first round, unless Thompson makes a trade. With all these "needs" Thompson may trade "down" to pick up an extra selection or two in the lower rounds.

There are a bazillion mock drafts on the magazine racks and the internet. Most of the mock drafts I have seen have California running back Marshawn Lynch going to Green Bay in the 16th slot. Lynch is generally regarded as being the second best running back in the draft and might be available at #16 based on the projected team needs of those who draft #1 - 15. Lynch, however, has some character issues and the Packers do not have a good history of selecting quality running backs in the first round.

The Packer Partisan is going out on a limb this year and predicts that the Packers will instead select Ohio State wide receiver/kick return specialist Ted Ginn Jr. with their first round pick. Ginn possesses elite speed and is a tremendous natural athlete. Ginn would provide the Packers the blazing receiver they currently do not have. "Twofers" are hard to find but Ginn would address two of the Packers' needs by also providing spark to the Packs' kick return game" similar to what Devin Hester did for the Bears last season. If the stars line up just right, Thompson might be able to get Ginn by trading down a couple slots and picking up another pick.

Another Packer Partisan prediction is that the Packers will draft a running back somewhere in the first three rounds. Louiville's Michael Bush, Auburn's Kenny Irons or Arizona's Chris Henry are "second tier" possibilities. There are reasons why these players won't be drafted in the first round but all of these guys have the potential to contribute in the Packers' backfield. Bush and Henry are big, powerful runners that might fit the mold of what the Pack is looking for to balance out their backfield.

Anything is possible on draft day" which is what makes it so entertaining. Enjoy!



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