Packers Add Four In Draft's Second Day

When it came time for the Packers' fourth-round selection to be announced, many had to be thinking linebacker.

Outlined as one of Green Bay's areas of greatest need going into the draft, the Packers had opted for wide receiver Marques Anderson in the third round.

Three rounds, two picks, one day, no linebacker.

But the trend away from linebacker would continue through the Packers' sixth and final selection of San Diego State offensive lineman Mike Houghton with the 200th overall pick, as the 2002 NFL Draft came to a close Sunday.

It wasn't because the Packers weren't and aren't hungry for depth at linebacker, it's simply because the talent level at the position in the 2002 draft pool was just as thin.

So the Packers selected instead fullback William Henderson, knowing also that Davenport has an injured foot that could possibly require surgery immediately if not down the road.

Yet as representatives stepped out from behind the curtain of the Packers' great and powerful war room and spoke to the media, you had to assume it was just as well.

"Last year we only had one fullback rated 'draftable,'" explained running backs coach Sylvester Croom. "To have a guy that's even worthy of drafting is unusual. To have a guy that can play two spots (fullback or halfback), it may be a couple more years before we have that opportunity again."

Translation: As rare a breed as the prototypical NFL linebacker is today, the NFL fullback is on the endangered species list. And when the fullback dies, to some extent, so does Green Bay's 'West Coast' offense.

The Packers found that out firsthand last season when Henderson, the only fullback they carried on their 45-man roster, suffered an injury in a playoff game versus the St. Louis Rams. As quickly as Henderson exited so, too, did the game plan.

"We felt like in that game we probably had one of our better run game plans for the entire course of the year, and when he (Henderson) went out, the plan went out," Croom said. "It was a signal right there that what we feared for the course of the year could possibly happen, it did happen. We were really intent on not seeing it happen again."

Which is why the Packers felt it was a simple choice - injury or not - to take Davenport with their first selection of Day Two.

"He was the highest rated player left on the board," said Mark Hatley, Packers vice president of football operations. "It's our fullback of the future, he's got a chance go develop into something . . . We were excited about getting this quality of a player in here, especially at the bottom of the fourth round."

All that was holding Davenport back from being a late second-rounder, Hatley said, was his foot injury. Although teams prefer to avoid athletes with even the slightest boo-boo, the Packers' medical staff is confident that it can tend to Davenport's stress fracture, which is mild enough that Davenport was able to complete every requirement of his pre-draft workout for the Packers.

Over 6-foot tall, weighing 248 pounds and previously a halfback, Davenport played only one full season at fullback with the Hurricanes, but did enough to earn the team's Unsung Hero Award. Because of his soft hands and combination of bulk and speed, the Packers believe he has all the physical tools to play either backfield position, but it's his mental attitude they think will give him an edge.

"In order to be an effective fullback, you have to like to play the position, you have to love to play the position," Croom said, noting that until a fullback wants to run as hard into an opposing linebacker's chest as a halfback wants to run into a gap in the line, he won't succeed.

Fullback, halfback, special teams, Davenport said it didn't matter where the Packers wanted to play him.

"If you love to play football you love being on the field," he said. "It's what the team needs. I'm playing what they pay me to play."

Davenport is eager to prove that he is 'first-round value' taken in the fourth round. To do it, he'll stick close to Henderson if it means he can pick up even the slightest edge.

"I'm going to be his shadow," Davenport said. "What he eats, I'm gonna eat."

The Packers hope it'll be a breakfast of champions.


It was big news in the small farming town of Kelsey, Iowa, population 80, when their hometown boy Aaron Kampman was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round, Sunday. Only, it might not have been as groundbreaking as one might expect.

Turns out Kampman is actually the fourth NFL player to come out of his high school, Aplington/Parkerburg. Still it was a banner headline for Kampman himself.

"I tried to not have any expectations going into yesterday and today," Kampman said. "But I'll let you in on a little secret, I was hoping it was going to be the Green Bay. I had a great visit up there and I'm just extremely thrilled to be a factor."

Turns out the Packers weren't the only team interested.

"We had a chance to trade back with that pick, but we opted not to do that," said Mike Sherman, Packers head coach and general manager. "Buffalo wanted us to trade back with them 10 spots and we'd pick up a seventh (round pick).

"I didn't want to do that because I thought he was such a good player and it turns out Buffalo called back and that was the player they wanted. So we were fortunate to get him."

What the Packers get is a 6-foot-4, 285 pound defensive lineman who is built now to play an end position, but may be asked to gain some weight to give the Packers some versatility on the line.

"I told him to eat some more biscuits," Sherman said.

Kampman said he is more than willing to put on pounds if it will help him and the team, after all things do change. Kampman said that other than following the a Reggie White-led Philadelphia Eagles defense as a child he never had a favorite team growing up. But he does now.


If you don't know much about Craig Nall, the Packers' second selection of the fifth round, that's okay with them. If you don't know anything about him, they might be downright giddy.

Nall, a quarterback out of Northwestern State in Louisiana, slipped underneath the radar to get to the Packers. And they wanted it that way.

"I like this guy," Sherman said, "I didn't think we had a chance at him. I know that not a lot of people knew about this guy. We kind of had it hidden, we kept it real quiet."

A highly touted recruit out of high school, Nall turned down Steve Spurrier and Florida to start his collegiate career at LSU. But after limited action in Baton Rouge, he transferred to Northwestern State where he set a single-season NSU record with 2,022 yards passing.

Even more impressive, Nall threw only three interceptions during his senior season, all of them on tipped balls. And Packers fans will like this stat: in his final collegiate game at Montana, he passed for 339 yards in a minus-20 degree wind chill.

"We thought he had a big upside as far as what we wanted to get done," Hatley said. "He's a project that we felt like could develop into a quarterback that could be successful in our offense."

Obviously, with Brett Favre's career still going strong, there's little rush for the inexperienced Nall's development. But the Packers are enthusiastic about Nall's quick release that they feel fits perfectly into the NFL and the 'West Coast' offense, not to mention his contagious personality.

"He hunts, he fishes, he's kind of like an offensive lineman, kind of like Brett in many ways," Sherman said. "He doesn't have the characteristics of Brett Favre in regard to arm strength, but he has an awareness, plays fast. It's important to him and he competes."


The honor of being the Packers' final selection in the 2002 NFL Draft went to San Diego State offensive lineman Mike Houghton, who was taken with the 200th overall pick of the draft.

For any sixth round pick, the odds of making it in the NFL are not as strong as with a first or second rounder, but Houghton has seen tough odds before.

Out of high school, he drew the tough task of trying to handle Aztec teammate and current Packer standout Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila during practice.

"I went up against him about every day and it was a humbling experience," Houghton admitted. "But that just taught me to work hard and never give up . . . (Kabeer's) done pretty well over there. It's going to be great to get out there and see him again."

The largest player taken by the Packers this year, Houghton is 6-foot-6, 315 pounds, but offensive line coach Larry Beightol likes his agility and versatility, noting that Houghton played center, guard and tackle in college.

"I think he has very good change of direction, a very, very aware guy," Beightol said. "He is without question the most versatile of all the guys that I saw, and I think I analyzed 49 players for this NFL Draft...He's got the tools, we just need to do the teaching and get it out of him."

The draft now over, the class now assembled, instruction begins immediately.

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