Saturday, March 17, 2012

Yes, Packers will need a new man in the middle

My last post here nearly a month ago -- sorry for taking so long (various busy-ness), but it is the offseason, right? -- dealt with the notion that it was likely the Green Bay Packers would lose their Pro Bowl Center, Scott Wells, in free agency. And that in fact, is just what happened. It was reported yesterday that Wells agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Rams. We wish Mr. Wells the best and thank him for his great service to the Packers. This last season, arguably, was probably his best as a member of the Pack. Viewed by some as a bit undersized, he made up for that with attitude and technique. A lot players would do well to model themselves on Wells' work ethic.

But now what? Where do the Packers go from here? There really is no heir apparent for the position. They have a player or two, perhaps, that could fill in for a brief time, but they are not your prototypical center. Evan Dietrich-Smith can be serviceable, but he is better suited to guard. The only other player on the roster with center credentials is rookie Sampson Genus. OK...moving right along...

The Packers will obviously have to address this position in the draft and/or free agency. There are a number of good centers available, 13 at last count (if the reference list is current). Reports circulated last month that the Packers had talked with former Texans center Chris Meyers' agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Other than that, who knows? A few of the free agents are a bit long in the tooth and would be stop gaps at best. But, as is typical with the Pack, you don't hear much about who they are talking to or what they will do. GM Ted Thompson would be a great poker player as he keeps things very tight to the vest, indeed. He could bring in one of these centers to act as a veteran mentor to a rookie and may well in fact do just that if the price is right.

But whether or not they acquire a free agent center, it's the opinion here that the Pack will look to the draft to fill their need. I'm of the admittedly hopeful opinion that the Packers will draft Wisconsin center Peter Konz, generally regarded as the best center prospect in this draft. And, in fact, there are some mock draft boards out there that have Konz being selected by the Packers with the 28th overall pick. There's also some speculation that he may not last that late in the first round. Would the Packers move up to get a player that could anchor their offensive line for the next decade? You bet. While it normally goes against Thompson's draft tendencies, he has moved up on occasion in recent years when there is someone he sees as unique, e.g., Clay Matthews. Konz is 6'5", 313 lbs, and was a three-year starter for the Badgers. Another plus for Konz: he can also play guard...and we know how much the Packers like players who can play multiple positions. If Konz is off the board, the next best centers are supposedly Ben Jones of Georgia and Michael Brewster of Ohio State.

Of course, with the Packers' need for outside linebacker help opposite Matthews, they could go that direction instead in the first round. If that's the strategic decision, it's hard to argue with, especially if they can pick up a player such as Jones or Brewster in the second or third round.

But for what it's worth from this viewpoint, if Konz is available at number 28...well, this blogger's fingers (and toes) are crossed for that pick.

(There are bits and bites of other Packers-related news to catch up on...but we'll do that in later posts. Happy St. Patty's day to you!)