Spring is a great time to renew the ageless bond between the Green Bay Packers and their faithful followers. Next weekend's college football draft, followed quickly with a mini-camp in Green Bay, gives Packer fans a chance to review prospects for the 2004 season. It is a great time of the year for many reasons, and this is one of them.
I read somewhere that the Packers are the only team in the NFL that will have all 22 of its starters from 2003 returning for this year's campaign. That is a good start, but since G.B. didn't win the Super Bowl last year, it is not good enough. In Green Bay, a 10 - 6 record and two games deep into the playoffs isn't good enough, and Coach Mike Sherman knows it. I am sure Sherman is preparing for the draft knowing that the 2004 club must improve personnel to take it to another level.
The last two years, Sherman and staff have done well with their number one picks, landing WR Javon Walker and LB Nick Barnett, both of whom are excellent ballplayers who should have great futures. Should the Packers be able to pick another instant impact player with their top pick this year, their chances increase for another shot at the Super Bowl. The Packers have the 25th selection in the draft this year. Both Walker and Barnett were selected in that range in previous years, so there is every reason to believe that another gem can be plucked from this year's talented draft pool.
So"¦who will the Pack select with their first round pick? The Packers don't have a lot of glaring needs on offense. Maybe a backup tight end or perhaps a backup for Brett Favre would be nice. On defense, there are several needs starting with defensive end, cornerback, and strong safety.
Here are some possibilities that might be available to the Packers in round one. Antwan Odom, an all-purpose defensive lineman from Alabama; Batman Carroll, a super athletic defensive back from Arkansas; J. P. Losman, a cocky gunslinger-type QB from Tulane; or Ben Watson, a Georgia tight end with impressive speed and strength. Randy Starks of Maryland is another possibility. Starks is a big, strong nose tackle who could contribute this year. Matt Ware of UCLA might be available. Ware can play either safety spot or cornerback and has a big upside.
My hunch though is the Packer's first pick goes for a quarterback, if their man is available. Cheeseheads will be glued to a TV set next weekend to see how it plays out.