Packers Draft Observations from the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine
With the end of the combine, it is time for the Green Bay Packers to head back to the office, compile their notes and then watch all the film they already watched once, again.
So much happened that distilling it will take weeks.
We don't have weeks, so we'll do it right now.
No need to rush to add to the backfield
Sure, they might have a shot at Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, but even if they don't they shouldn't panic.
There are plenty of solid running backs in the draft this year.
The chore will be to separate the "workout warriors" and under-performing athletes at the combine. This means more film work of course, as well as some up close and personal visits.
While I would like to see them attack the position early, there are quality backs across the first two days—and even early on the third—who could be quality contributors for the team.
Guys like Florida's Mike Gillislee, Stanford's Stepfan Taylor and Oregon's Kenjon Barner all could be there in the third or fourth round and will contribute early for whatever team grabs them.
Some, like Taylor, had an unimpressive combine, but the tape shows speed, skill and vision. Others, like Arkansas' Knile Davis or Auburn's Onterio McCalebb, have injury issues or aren't built to withstand the constant pounding a running back gets at the pro level.
It's up to the team to decide who fits what profile. One thing is for sure though—there are plenty of talented backs to be had, even if there isn't an Adrian Peterson or Ray Rice in the group.
The tight end class is thin at the top
The opposite is true for the tight ends. The are some guys who may be quality players down the road, but if the Packers want a game-changer (you know, in case Jermichael Finley isn't long for Green Bay), they'd better go early.
Zach Ertz, Tyler Eifert and Vance McDonald will be gone before they pick again in the second—potentially long before then—but they should have a shot at one of them at least in the first.
I'm not totally sold on McDonald as a first-rounder, but Ertz and Eifert absolutely are.
If the Packers want to replace Finley—and this is a huge "if" of course, but things don't sound great—they will have to do it early because once one those three players are off the board, there's a pretty sharp drop to the next tier.
Not much offensive line help at No. 26
There might be a few offensive line prospects haunting the Packers' first round pick, but I don't feel great about them at this time.
D.J. Fluker isn't a guy I trust a ton—he might make a solid right tackle, but he might also miss big—and I expect Jonathan Cooper to be gone by the Packers' pick. On top of that, I still think guard isn't a huge need for the Packers.
They'll have to mine the tape and notes for mid-round guys who can fill in and maybe develop into solid starters or at least bench depth—something they always need.
They can beef up the middle
If you're worried about run defense—and Packers fans should be—part of solving that will be getting some guys in the middle who can actually be stout against the run.
There are some very nice prospects for the first round (about four to six) and good depth through the second as well. It starts to dip after that, but the Packers are in good position to start to deal with the issues they have stopping the run.
The most intriguing prospect is suddenly Star Lotulelei. The Utah tackle has a heart condition and right now we don't know what that means exactly.
It could cause him to slip, and if the Packers feel confident he is healthy, it would be a steal if he landed in their lap.
So I'd say it's time for Ted Thompson to grab a few medical books at the local Borders bookstores and bone up on heart issues.
Even if Lotulelei isn't there for the pickings, Kawann Short, Johnathan Hankins or Sheldon Richardson could be.
With that, the combine coverage for the Packers is pretty much done. I'll be shifting to some prospect-specific articles about guys the team could look at throughout the draft as well as general free agency and team analysis.
What stood out to you from the combine? What should the Packers and fans have learned last weekend? Let me know in the comments.
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