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By The Book

It didn't have the fireworks of the first day -- there was no trading-up or trading away -- instead the Green Bay Packers took their picks as they came Sunday and the 2002 NFL Draft came to a close.

Mike Sherman's first draft as general manager is in the books and, if nothing else, Packers followers learned one thing about Sherman's war room policy: it comes as advertised.

Going into the draft, Sherman said that out of the first round he wanted first-round talent, and that he'd keep an open mind to moving up or moving back to ensure that there was no difference between taking the best available player and taking the player that would best help the team.

Evidence of that was seen immediately when he swapped first round selections with the Seattle Seahawks, also tossing in the Packers' second-round pick and receiving Seattle's fifth-round choice, so that Green Bay could draft Florida State wide receiver Javon Walker with the 20th overall pick, rather than being saddled with what Sherman determined would be a second-round caliber athlete with the 28th overall selection.

Just over a week ago, Sherman suggested that he'd look to bolster the secondary, and that you could never have too many linemen on either side of the ball. And so he went out and took safety/cornerback Mike Houghton of San Diego State in the sixth round.

He said he'd keep an eye open to a possible heir to Brett Favre's throne at quarterback, but that he wouldn't take a 'project player' in the early rounds. Thus, it made sense when the Packers claimed talented but inexperienced Northwestern State (La.) quarterback Craig Nall with their second of two fifth-round picks.

He promised that he would not reach, that he'd avoid taking a lesser player just to fill a position where the team was of need, and instead would stick to his plan of taking the best player available, paying little mind to position.

And once again, he proved true to his word, first trading away the Packers' second-round pick and then taking fullback Najeh Davenport of Miami in the fourth round, both spots in which many figured Sherman would feel obliged to take a linebacker.

In fact, while Sherman admitted afterward that it's one of his positions of highest priority entering into the free agent search, the Packers didn't select a linebacker with any of their six draft choices, even though it had been suggested again and again going into the draft to be among their top-two positions of need along with wide receiver.

Which is not to discount the needs of the Green and Gold at fullback. True, outstanding veteran William Henderson will be back to lead the way in 2002, but any hint of depth at that position was largely smoke and mirrors. As it turns out, the Packers got a wakeup call when Henderson had to leave the St. Louis playoff game last season due to injury and much of their offensive game plan had to be thrown out the window.

Did the Packers do enough in the 2002 NFL Draft to help them win this season, or did they find instead the champions of their future, or neither of the above?

Those are questions that can be answered in time. What can be seen was that the 2002 class was built to blueprint specifications. The carpenter was capable. As is always the case in the NFL Draft, only time will tell about the architect.

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