Monday, April 22, 2013

Packers to stay pat, move up or move down in NFL Draft. Which will it be?

With the NFL Draft beginning in three days, the conversations online and over the airwaves are starting to really gain momentum. For the Green Bay Packers, aside from the speculation as to who the Pack will pick, discussion always takes place as to whether GM Ted Thompson will stay with his first pick (#26 overall in the first round), trade up to get someone he really covets, or trade down to acquire additional picks.

When you look at Thompson's historical M.O., he generally prefers to acquire more picks in a draft than he goes into it with. He said as much in his pre-draft press conference late last week. Something to the effect that it's kind of like baseball: the more swings you have the more likely you are to get a hit. That's the way Thompson views the draft overall. Going into this draft with eight selections, one would expect Thompson to attempt to leverage that into perhaps 10 picks when all is said and done. That probably means trading down out of the 26th pick to get an additional pick. He'll spend the draft moving up and down to get more picks overall, as well as get players that he and his staff have targeted as fitting with the Packers' system.

That's not to say Thompson won't pull the trigger at 26 if a high-value player falls to him there. Given the nature of this draft class, however, there may not be one of those players available when the Packers go on the clock.

I realize we're talking in generalities here but, really, that's about the best we can do. We're looking at the past as a precursor to the future. It's this writer's guess (and that's all) that Thompson will trade down into somewhere in the early second round -- perhaps somewhere in the 40's -- to start geting more picks. There's a good deal of talent of roughly equal ability at the positions that the Packers need: safety, running back, offensive line, receiver, linebacker and tight end. The top picks in each category -- perhaps with the exception of running back -- will likely be off the board by the time the Packers number comes up in the first round. It would be very surprising if Thompson were to take a running back in the first round, despite many mock drafts having the Packers selecting Eddie Lacy out of Alabama. On the other hand, if DE Datone Jones from UCLA were to be available at #26, I could well imagine Thompson selecting him. Beyond that...I see Packer fans waiting a while for the Pack's first pick of the 2013 draft.

But I also see Packer fans being happy with the outcome of the draft. There are not a lot of big names to be found. But it seems as if Thompson always works his draft magic with relative unknowns anyway. The Packers will take a running back in the draft, perhaps as high as the second round but more likely in the third. There are some good quality backs in this draft that would seem to fit the Packers' system and possibly develop into the regular back the team has so sorely needed for balance for a long, long time. The Pack will also need to pick up a safety, and someone who can probably make a contribution very early on. As for the other needs, there will be players there. And don't forget that the Packers have more than a few players who will be returning from injury this past season. That's almost like a bonus draft in a way.

The schedule makers didn't do the Packers any favors this upcoming season, awarding them the sixth toughest schedule in the league. So the players that are drafted and make the final roster will need to play and stay healthy throughout that tough schedule.

Pre-draft, it's all guesswork on our part. No better or worse than anyone else's from that standpoint.

The best that can be said is: it's great to be a Packer fan!