The first time I had an actual opinion in the draft was 2006. Mario Williams looked like he was going to be available at fifth overall (where the Packers picked) until the last couple of days when the Texans made a play for him and let the "once in a generation" talent of Reggie Bush fall to No. 2 and the New Orleans Saints.
Since then, I've followed the draft pretty closely and become a "draftnik." I even took the steps to fly from Oregon to New York last April so I could see the NFL Draft in person with other fans.
Side note: If anyone was wondering who Packers fans in attendance wanted in the first round, it was Courtney Upshaw. After the Jets passed on him and the place exploded, we all just got together and talked about him slipping. When Nick Perry was picked, there was a shoulder shrug and a mumbled, "In Ted we trust," before we started to think about the second round.
Here's how I see 2012 breaking down for Green Bay:
Green Bay probably goes 14-2 or 13-3 and loses in the Super Bowl. If Rodgers doesn't get hurt, then they should be favored every single time they step on the field for the rest of the season. They've already played their toughest opponent in San Francisco. No matter what, though teams drop random games. Remember the Chiefs last year?
Players the Packers re-sign: Tom Crabtree, Brett Goode, Greg Jennings and Sam Shields.
Tom Crabtree has to be one of the biggest "I can count on you" guys the Packers have had in the McCarthy Era. He's pretty much the only tight end that actually blocks in the Packers corps. Also, his Twitter account alone should be the reason he stays in Wisconsin.
Brett Goode? Who? He's our long snapper and the less you hear about him means the better the job he's doing.
Greg Jennings is a huge debate right now among Packers fans. The way I see it, we have to tag him no matter what next year, and he means more to us than he would to any other team. The dude is perfect for the Packers' offense and Ted Thompson doesn't usually let Green Bay-bred players leave without a fight. No promise about 2014, but he's back for 2013.
Sam Shields, barring a Pro Bowl season, will be back with Green Bay also. He's regressed since his rookie year so that should bring his price back down as he signs to be the starting corner until House or Hayward take over in a year or two. I mean he's got a damn Packers Super Bowl ring tattooed onto his neck, no way he can leave.
Players the Packers let go: Cedric Benson, Donald Driver, Brad Jones, Phillip Merling, and Erik Walden.
Remember, Benson was only signed because James Starks went down with an injury. He's a textbook example of a guy that is a "stop gap" for a year. Benson really showed up last week, but I doubt he's going to be in green and gold next season.
Donald Driver just has to retire next year, right? The league minimum for a player his age isn't even a fair price for a player like him anymore. He did have the touchdown catch last week, but he's so buried into a deep WR corp that if Jennings wasn't hurt, than he wouldn't have even been on the field.
Brad Jones, Phillip Merling and Erik Walden are pretty much the same story. Guys that are good, but not much upside. I don't think any will be back next year, although I do have a special place in my heart for Jones. Merling might not even make it past the Neal addition to the roster and I'm surprised Walden is on the 2012 team after the on- and off-field stuff that happened last season.
Now we can go on to the draft: