Draft Comes Together, Accomplishes Goals

Coming off a trip to the NFC Championship and with no glaring holes in the lineup, the Packers weren’t going to emerge from the 2008 NFL Draft with a slew of new starters. But they did accomplish what they needed to, which was to shore up depth at several key spots, find some potential future starters, and add a couple intriguing prospects to what should be a competitive team in 2008. - More | Packers.com Draft Central


Mike McCarthy, Mark Murphy & Ted Thompson

Coming off a 13-3 season and a trip to the NFC Championship, and with no glaring holes in the lineup, the Packers weren't going to emerge from the 2008 NFL Draft with a slew of new starters.

But they did accomplish what they needed to with their nine selections, which was to shore up depth at several key spots, find some potential future starters, and add a couple intriguing prospects to what should be a competitive team in 2008.

"I think these guys going to help the team," GM Ted Thompson said. "I think they're good investments in the team, both in the short haul and in the long term. We felt it came together pretty good."

The primary place the Packers added depth was at quarterback, where they did not bring in a veteran behind new starter Aaron Rodgers. Using a second-round pick on Louisville's Brian Brohm and a seventh-rounder on LSU's Matt Flynn, Head Coach Mike McCarthy presumably has his No. 2 and 3 signal callers for the coming year.

McCarthy is not new to working with young quarterbacks, so it makes sense for the Packers to build their depth this way, even though they'll enter the upcoming season without one NFL start among their quarterbacks unless a veteran is signed.

"We haven't had any luck adding another guy, and Mike is very comfortable, him and (QB coach) Tom (Clements) both are very comfortable working with young guys, and we as a scouting staff and the coaching staff liked these guys quite a bit.

"We feel like we have two young guys who can come in and compete to make the roster."

In Auburn cornerback Patrick Lee (third round), Texas tight end Jermichael Finley (third round), and offensive linemen Josh Sitton of Central Florida (fourth round) and Breno Giacomini of Louisville (fifth round), the Packers may have uncovered potential starters down the road.

Lee will compete for a nickel cornerback spot as a rookie with an eye toward a starting job in the post-Al Harris/Charles Woodson era, while Finley, an early entry in the draft and one of only three tight ends on the roster now, could move himself into the No. 2 tight end spot his first year.

Meanwhile Sitton and Giacomini, depending on which offensive line position suits each best, could be given a chance to eventually succeed veteran offensive tackles Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton. Early indications are Sitton could be best suited at guard and compete for time right away, though that's not certain, while Giacomini will get a look at both tackle spots.

Selecting the two offensive linemen came after two of the five trades Thompson made on the weekend, which turned eight original selections into nine, plus an extra pick next year. His final trade, and fourth trade on Sunday, sent a seventh-round pick (No. 237) to New Orleans for a sixth-rounder in 2009.

"Sometimes on the second day you're really scrambling, but we felt today we had guys rated (higher) that weren't going and we were surprised," Thompson said. "Sometimes we're going, 'What does everybody else know that we don't know?' But we felt like we were able to add some good solid players today."

Perhaps the most intriguing prospects were added at positions of strength on the Packers' roster, namely wide receiver and defensive end, and there's no ruling out the impact a couple of those picks could have as rookies.

Kansas State wide receiver Jordy Nelson, a second-round selection and the Packers' first on the weekend, has size (6-2, 217) comparable to Green Bay's fourth and fifth wideouts (Ruvell Martin and Koren Robinson) and could push them for roster spots, if not playing time in the four- and five-receiver sets McCarthy liked to employ on offense last year.

Seventh-rounder Brett Swain out of San Diego State is fast but will have a tough task cracking a deep and talented group already made stronger with the addition of Nelson.

Meanwhile defensive end Jeremy Thompson of Wake Forest (fourth round) is another intriguing player at a position the Packers don't necessarily need immediate help. With starters Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins backed up by veteran Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Thompson will get to learn the position from some quality pros. And if he's able to make an early impact, he could provide more flexibility within the group to move Jenkins inside to defensive tackle if needed.

Thompson the GM must have really liked something in his namesake, because for the first time in running nine drafts (four in Green Bay, five in Seattle), he traded up to get a player, sacrificing a fifth-round pick to the Jets to move up 11 spots in the fourth round.

"We're always trying to push the envelope," Thompson said. "We're always trying to get better. I don't think you can ever say `OK, we're set at this position, so if a good football player gets to us or falls into our laps, we're just going to pass him up because we're set at that position.' We're never going to do that. We're always going to try to get better."

Reflecting on the entire weekend, Thompson seemed particularly pleased with what he was able to add with the two late second-round choices, Nos. 56 and 60, on Saturday.

{sportsad300}Getting Brohm and Lee to give the team depth and legitimate prospects at the crucial positions of quarterback and cornerback with such late picks was perhaps better than he could have hoped for.

"We had no idea it was going to go exactly that way because you never know, but I think all in all we picked good players who are going to be on our team and be good players here for a number of years to come," Thompson said. "And I think given where we were picking in the draft, that worked out pretty good."

Again, that's not to say there are any immediate starters in this bunch of newcomers. But when you're as strong as the Packers were a year ago and already have a quarterback to replace Brett Favre, you already have a tough lineup to break into.

"We think as a group this is a very good group, but the bar has been raised and it will be more difficult," Thompson said.

"We bounced around quite a bit, position to position. I certainly think we added some depth to the quarterback position. We wanted to try to get a tight end if it worked out from a value standpoint during course of the draft. We weren't specifically looking to draft a defensive end, but we felt like a good one got in a position where we could get him. Same way with the receivers.

"In some instances, we just added quality to our team."

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