Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Draft Needs

Right, so the conventionally correct mantra in the draft is to always "take the best player available". And I certainly approve of that strategy. Success in the NFL is mostly having great players and exploiting them. So I encourage the Packers to take whoever they think might turn into a great player. But we're not scouts and thus are generally unaware of which players are best suited for the NFL. I certainly have no idea whom the best player available at pick 30 will be. So, since that's generally beyond us, let's talk about the conventional sports fan's approach to evaluating a draft-- filling needs.

Even with Brett retiring, the Packers look to be a pretty solid team, especially if guys come back relatively healthy from various injuries (like Jolly at DT, Wynn at RB and Blackmon at CB). But the Packers losses last season exposed their weaknesses and lack of depth and/or talent in some areas. Those should be obvious to most of us-- cornerback, offensive line, and pass rushers. The cornerback situation should be pretty obvious to all of us-- Al Harris got torched repeatedly in big games last season, specifically against Burress in Ice Bowl II and against TO in Dallas. He no longer can hold up against great wide receivers. The fact that the team doesn't feel comfortable even playing Woodson against these guys, instead of Al, should indicate that he's in trouble as well. Charles still has excellent ball skills, but he just can't compete physically with the top guys because of all his chronic injuries. And the back-ups there have some talent, but they're all unheralded guys, and either haven't been consistent (Bush, Trammon Williams) or healthy (Blackmon). An influx of talent that created more competition there, even for a starting spot, would be a good thing.

The offensive line is an enigma. There are games like the Seattle playoff game, when Brett got good time and the running game looked unstoppable. And then there are games like IBII (Ice Bowl II) and the last Bear game, where it looks plain awful. I think Wells (the center) and Sptiz are adequate. But Clifton's best days are behind him, Tauscher's getting there, and Colledge is hit or miss. Especially without Brett out there scaring other teams and keeping the sack rate down with his shiftiness, the team needs a more dominant line.

Finally, the pass rush. You never really got to see it operating at full speed, since KGB got hurt right when Cullen Jenkins was starting to get healthy. But certainly, despite Kampman's solid stats, none of the ends are dominant, and the team has no dynamic interior rusher. The NFL is a passing league, and better pass rushers are needed to keep the Packers competitive.

So that's this fan's wish list for Saturday and Sunday-- cornerback, offensive line, and pass rushers.

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