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Packers wanted big guys and got big guys

Four of seven draft picks are linemen, five of seven from out west


GREEN BAY – Two distinct flavors permeate the Packers' 2016 draft.

Big guys and West Coast guys. The first was a target, the second a curious anomaly.

Four of the seven selections are linemen. This was said to be a big-guy draft and the Packers certainly made it one in grabbing Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry for the defensive line, plus Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy for the offensive line.

"You don't have to be big to play in the NFL, but it helps," GM Ted Thompson said following the last of Saturday's selections. "We were able to get some bigs on both sides of the ball, which we think is a good thing."

Mike McCarthy certainly does, calling today's NFL "a big man's game."

"We had a desire to get bigger, and we've accomplished that," said the head coach, who had the final word with the media late Saturday afternoon. "You never have enough big men, and that's definitely something that came out of this draft class."

Reiterating the words of his boss, McCarthy said the big men were acquired by staying true to the draft board. In one of the best drafts for bigs in recent memory, the Packers rated plenty worth taking at all stages, choosing a lineman in the first, second, fourth and sixth rounds.

"You have a game plan and you need to stick to it," said McCarthy, emphasizing how many months of preparation go into the past three days. "We felt very good about the way our board was stacked and we trusted it."

It's harder to know what to make of the geographical bent to this draft, and maybe it's nothing but happenstance. Five of the seven selections are from out west, with four coming from the Pac-12 Conference and another from Utah State in pass rusher Kyler Fackrell.

West regional scout Sam Seale found a lot of players that others above him on the personnel staff followed up on, and they obviously liked what they saw.

With so many selections coming from his territory, Seale was brought into the Lambeau Field media auditorium for an extended rundown. He held nothing back on the guys he scouted.

Seale's feeling on Clark is "he has enough ability to get us over the hump." He was high on Stanford linebacker Blake Martinez because "you need guys who are physical on the inside with the smarts to set up the defense." His take on Cal receiver Trevor Davis was as expected, coming from a former Oakland Raider who played for Al Davis: "Speed kills."

Seale's press conference became the most entertaining of the weekend. A two-decade grinder in the scouting business who makes no bones about his preference for the weather in San Diego vs. Green Bay, Seale is a team guy all the way and works tirelessly to do his part.

"The last six years we didn't get where we want to go, and that's what I live for, going to the Super Bowl," he said. "Hopefully these guys can come in and help us."

More guys are on the way. Thompson referred to the selection of seven draft picks as "just getting started," with the goal of signing several undrafted prospects in the next day or two to fill out the 90-man offseason roster.

Thompson didn't select a running back or tight end in the draft, but in finding four linemen, a pass rusher, an inside linebacker and a speedy receiver, he fulfilled a lot of wishes.

"You wish you could do these other things, too, but you can't do every single thing in one draft," he said.

No, you can't, but the Packers did the "biggest" things they could, and given their beliefs, neither Thompson nor McCarthy will regret it.


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