Green Bay Packers: Why Green Bay Won't Regret Not Drafting a Center

Alex PetersonContributor IIIMay 13, 2012

HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 11:  Center Jeff Saturday #63 of the Indianapolis Colts during game action against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Houston, Texas. The Texans won 34-7.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

After the Packers lost Scott Wells to the Rams in free agency this offseason, the future looked bleak for Green Bay at the center position.

It had no obvious replacement for Wells, and a lot of people thought center would be one of Green Bay's top needs going into the draft.

However, Ted Thompson made a rare splash in free agency to patch up the position by signing long-time veteran Jeff Saturday to a two-year deal. It seemed as though Thompson saved the day with this move, as the five-time Pro Bowler will provide a quality stop-gap solution for a relatively cheap $4 million per year.

At age 37, however, Saturday can't be relied on for more than a year or two. The Packers still need a developmental center to be the future of that position, and a lot of people still believed Green Bay would spend a draft pick to grab this player.

Instead, Green Bay drafted six straight defensive players to start and used their last two picks on a talented tackle in Andrew Datko and developmental quarterback B.J. Coleman.

While some questioned the move of not taking a flyer on a center during the draft, the Packers have a few talented options that have the ability to take the reins from Saturday down the road.

In undrafted free agency, the Packers nabbed Tommie Draheim, an interesting prospect out of San Diego State. After playing mostly tackle in college, Draheim will be converting to center, the position he was originally recruited for out of high school. He's got great size at 6'4'', 300 pounds, and the athletic ability to be a quality player in Green Bay's zone-blocking scheme.

The former All-Mountain West performer will need a year or two in order to feel his way into the NFL, but this massive prospect could give the Packers the size they never have had at center.

To go along with Draheim, Green Bay also has second-year center Sampson Genus stored away for the future. After spending the 2011 season on the practice squad, the University of South Florida product has a viable chance to make the active roster and be the backup to Jeff Saturday this year.

Genus is a strong, stocky guy who has good mobility and range in both the run and pass game. His size (he's only 6'1'', 310 pounds) raises concerns about his ability to move bigger defenders, but this kid's a hard-nosed player who could be similar to Scott Wells if he develops his understanding of the game.

With Saturday on the team for two years, another option for Green Bay would be to pick up another center in next year's draft. This would give the Packers more talented options at the position in case both of these youngsters flop.

The Packers could grab some quality players in the higher rounds that could start right away, such as Khaled Holmes out of USC and Mario Benavides from Louisville. Both of these guys are plug-and-play prospects that have Pro Bowl potential.

With Saturday holding fort for the Packers in 2012, this is a likely option for the Packers if they lose faith in Genus and Draheim.

Packers fans should be excited that Ted Thompson went almost exclusively defense in the draft and left center out of the mix, because even though they don't have any big names in waiting, one of these young guys will be a solid contributor for the Cheese Head team in the future.