After a dismal season, at least fans of uninspired teams can look to new hope; the NFL Draft.
The Green Bay Packers have managed to work their way into the ninth spot for 2009, and have the opportunity to select an impact player.
Anyone who has followed the Packers Draft History since Ted Thompson took over as GM, they know he has two mantras to draft by; create more picks and draft best player available.
Thompson has averaged nearly 11 picks per draft since he arrived in Green Bay, and it doesn't matter what position they play as long as there's potential. That approach usually has most Packer fans on the edge of their seats, because who knows what players Thompson will pick up.
His first-round choice of Aaron Rodgers in 2005 came when Favre still had three seasons left. Thompson has gone after a receiver by at least the second round every year except 2007, when he took James Jones in the third. Justin Harrell wasn't on any fan's radar when he went 16th in '07.
So, with everyone not involved in the playoffs scrutinizing whether college football's best are declaring or not, it almost seems rather futile to try to predict what Thompson's choice will be come April 25th.
The only real measuring stick we have is the 2006 draft when the Packers had the fifth overall choice. Green Bay went after defense in A.J. Hawk, and I have to believe Thompson will go after defense in the first round again. Of course, as in the case of Aaron Rodgers, some irresistable offensive talent could drop down. Like I stated before, there is elite talent drafting at number nine, so I doubt this pick is traded down.
However, here's what I think will happen. Out of this pool of defensive players will come the Packer 2009 first round draft choice.
Brian Orakpo - DE Texas
This seems to be a popular choice by fans scanning the forums.
Orakpo caught everyone's attention with his bit on ESPN that showed him calmly stating he benches 500+. The man is an incredible specimen, supposedly adding 50 pounds of muscle from his freshman year at Texas.
Not only is Orakpo gifted with an incredible body, he terrorized Big 12 quarterbacks, notching 11 sacks in as many games. He only got better as pressure mounted, recording two sacks against Oklahoma and one in the final seconds of the Fiesta Bowl, dousing Ohio State's chances.
Pass rushing is something the Packers desperately need, because after Aaron Kampman, Charles Woodson was tied for second on the team. 25th overall during the regular season is not going to cut it.
Whether Orakpo will actually be here or not is probably a better question to ponder. If he does drop, however, the Packers should be ready to snatch him up.
Malcolm Jenkins - CB Ohio State
While Orakpo seems to be the fans choice, Jenkins seems to be everyone's mock draft choice.
This would create some interesting possibilities in the secondary. Charles Woodson could play SS, Collins at FS, and have Al Harris, Tramon Williams and Jenkins round up the corner back crew.
Jenkins' 11 interceptions and three forced fumbles in his last three years are respectable, but for some reason I just don't see Thompson going after a cornerback here.
This pick would make for some intriguing personnel moves, however.
Rey Maualuga - LB USC
I'm throwing this out there because, well, our linebackers were less than spectacular in '08. Maualuga would definitely provide a spark and some speed for the defense.
I can't remember how many times our linebackers got burned by running backs the past year, but I know I could make a lengthy montage of just Nick Barnett.
And he only played nine games.
Another possibility for linebacker is Ohio State senior James Laurinaitis (Is it just me or does this year class have the coolest names?) but it seems that both of these might be a bit of a reach at No. 9. Aaron Curry will probably be gone by nine.
So what will actually happen?
Well, there's also a possibility Thompson drafts an offensive lineman, but that would seem to go against his nature. I'll bet the Packers draft at least one offensive lineman, but it won't be until at least the third round.
I still believe it will be defense that ultimately prevails, and knowing Ted Thompson so well, I predict...
With the ninth pick the 2009 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select...
B.J. Raji - DT Boston College