The Packers filled their Scott Wells-sized hole at center with veteran Jeff Saturday.
While Saturday, who will turn 37 in June, gives the Packers short-term stability at the position, Green Bay may invest a relatively early draft pick in a "center of the future."
With all due respect to Evan Dietrich-Smith and Sampson Genus, there doesn't appear to be a young, starting-caliber center on the roster.
After acquiring Saturday, Green Bay can afford to wait and select a center in the middle rounds. However, with the 28th overall pick in the first round, the Packers may have the opportunity to draft the best center in the 2012 draft class.
In each of the past two drafts, we've seen a Pouncey brother come off the board in the middle of round one. In 2009, both Alex Mack and Eric Wood were taken in the first 32 picks.
This year, Wisconsin's Peter Konz has a chance to continue the trend of first-round centers. Konz could be considered as high as 20th overall by the Tennessee Titans, and it's unlikely that he'd fall any lower than the early stages of round two.
Although questions were raised about his strength after managing a modest 18 reps on the 225-pound bench press, Konz not only controlled Big Ten defensive linemen at the point of attack, but his biggest strength could be between the ears.
On top of telling the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Konz "may be the smartest guy in this whole draft," an NFL scout continued his rave reviews, "Hell of a football player ... He's a genius on the board ... We put him on the board, and he blew it away. Great kid."
Above the shoulders, Konz has been likened to veteran center Matt Birk of the Baltimore Ravens.
Whereas Birk was a relatively unknown commodity at Harvard, Peter Konz has been the anchor of the Wisconsin Badgers' mammoth offensive line. The average size for a Wisconsin offensive lineman has received a great deal of media attention in recent years. in 2011, the average of the Badgers' five starters was 6'5" 322 pounds.
The big boys up front paved the way for Montee Ball's Heisman-caliber 2011 campaign. Ball rushed for 1,923 yards last season, while averaging 6.3 yards per carry and scoring 39 total touchdowns.
As a team, the Badgers totaled an incredible 3,298 yards on the ground and scored 48 rushing touchdowns.
Those numbers are not from a video game. They're real-life statistics.
While the Packers do not utilize the same power running game that the Badgers do, Konz would likely become the team's top reserve at center and both guard positions as a rookie. A former tackle-turned-center, Konz has a unique frame for the position at 6'5" 315 pounds, his build is more similar to Bryan Bulaga than it is to Jeff Saturday.
Cut out of a different mold than most centers, Konz is able to do some things that his peers can not. While at Wisconsin, Konz was often asked to pull on sweep plays—something very rare for a center.
The Packers' early playoff exit last season was not because of the offensive line, as they allowed Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense to put up phenomenal numbers for the majority of 2011. From a lack of pass-rush to a leaky run defense, Green Bay's defense was a constant problem throughout the season.
Thus, now only a couple days away from the draft, most expect the Packers to spend their first-round selection on the defensive side of the ball.
Addressing the defense is likely at the top of Ted Thompson's agenda. However, if pass-rushers such as Shea McClellin, Courtney Upshaw, Whitney Mercilus and Nick Perry are already off the board by pick 28, Green Bay may be forced to look elsewhere.
Perhaps the Packers choose to go a different route and take an offensive player with their first-round choice; Konz would seem to be the most likely selection in that scenario.
However, you can never be so sure with the "National Football Man of Mystery" Ted Thompson.
This is the same guy who once used his first selection on Jordy Nelson when Green Bay's strongest position appeared to be wide receiver. One year prior to taking Nelson, Thompson spent his first-round pick on Justin Harrell despite a loaded depth chart at defensive tackle with Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, Johnny Jolly, Corey Williams and Colin Cole already on the roster.
You can try to get inside his thoughts all you want, but Thompson will draft whoever he feels is the best option for the Packers, regardless of which side of the ball or what position needs improvement.
If the pieces falls a certain way, Thompson will not reach for a player at a position of need. He will select a player that provides value, and Peter Konz could be that guy.
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