It is a sure sign of spring when the NFL holds its annual draft of collegiate talent and here we are. This week Cheeseheads will get to see which players Packer management will pluck from the draft to improve the squad for the 2010 season.
In 2010 the NFL will break their tradition of carrying out the draft on the weekend. This week round one will commence at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 22, rounds two and three at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, and rounds four through seven at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The Packers own eight picks this year, one in each round except the fifth, when they get two picks. The Packers own the 23rd pick in the first round.
Almost everybody agrees that the Packers’ primary areas of need are defensive backfield, offensive tackle and outside linebacker. Last year your humble scribe correctly predicted the Packers would select B. J. Raji with their ninth pick in the first round, but predicting the 23rd pick is obviously much more difficult. Still, it is lots of fun to speculate so here are my thoughts.
That vexing 23rd pick in the first round is just a tad below where the instant impact players will be selected and more in an area where very good football players can be selected. For that reason, I would not be surprised to see Packer General Manager Ted Thompson possibly trade up a couple notches or perhaps trade down to pick up additional picks. Last year’s second first-round “gem,” Clay Matthews, was selected by Thompson trading up, so he just might try that again.
Of the three areas of need mentioned above, it seems that the cornerback situation is the most critical. Boise State’s Kyle Wilson could be the selection if he is still available. Wilson is also a tremendous kick return guy and would add value there.
Our offensive tackles have been re-signed but they are both on the down side of their careers and will need to be replaced soon. Protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blind side should be of high priority. Rutgers’ Anthony Davis and USC’s Charles Brown may still on the board. Davis has a tremendous physical presence, but brings some baggage with attitude and limited athleticism. Brown is probably a better fit of the two for the Packers, possessing the skill sets to play left tackle.
But the remaining area of need is what I think the Packers will address with their first-round pick. It was quite obvious last year that the Packers need to improve their pass rush. An aggressive pass rush also addresses some of the pass coverage issues. There are a couple guys that could be available here… “tweener-type” defensive ends in college who project to be 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL. I am crossing my fingers that Michigan’s Brandon Graham will still be on the board to be selected at # 23. Graham is a pass rushing demon which he displayed in the Senior Bowl. I think he has the athleticism to make the switch from defensive end in college into 3-4 outside linebacker for the Packers.
Packer Partisan predicts Brandon Graham to be the choice. Let’s see if I am right.