Friday, April 29, 2011

Packers "protect the franchise" with draft pick

With the 32nd and final pick of the 2011 NFL Draft's first round, the Green Bay Packers selected Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod. Or, as Packers' linebacker extraordinaire, Clay Matthews, Tweeted after the selection, "protect the franchise." And if anyone needs reminding to whom that refers look no further than QB Aaron Rodgers. Yes, even the Claymaker -- who no doubt was salivating at the idea of adding to the defense some of the great defensive ends and linebackers still on the board -- recognized the need to make sure Rodgers stays healthy and upright as the key to the Pack's future success.

Combined with last year's first round pick, Bryan Bulaga, some pundits -- including yours truly (OK, self-described pundit) -- think the Pack may have their bookened tackles for the next decade. Who plays right or left at this point doesn't matter. The point is, the Packers now have two very large and capable players to anchor both ends of the offensive line. While Sherrod may compete for a starting role, as long as Chad Clifton stays on the field there will be no rush to insert him into the starting line.

One thing they say you can't teach is big. And big is what Sherrod is: 6'5-1/2" and 315 pounds. He was a three-year starter at Mississippi State. Arguably, Sherrod was the best run blocker on one of the best running teams in the SEC. You also can't teach smart. Sherrod has already graduated, and did so with a 3.54-grade point average. He is also reportedly enrolled in a Masters program and has stated a goal of completing that program. Sherrod seems to have many of the qualities which the Packers not only value on the field but also in the locker room.

You can read more about Sherrod as the heir apparent to Clifton here. If you wish to read what various scouts and other observers have to say about him, you can do so here.

The feeling here is that, failing to have Alabama running back Mark Ingram fall into their lap (taken by New Orleans at #28 via trade with the Patriots...dang!), the Packers made a key addition to the team. Yes, they took a step to protect the franchise for a long time to come. Now, in the upcoming rounds, they can look to add depth on the defensive line, outside linebacker, and defensive backs. And, if they also happen to hit on a running back or wide receiver/returner along the way, that would be just fine, too. All of that is quite possible given the nature of this draft. Barring trade moves up or down, the Packers will select at #64 and #96 during the second and third rounds of the draft this evening.

Go Pack Go!!!