Desmond Howard remembers his Draft Day.
Draft Day 2010 is approaching fast, now only eight days away. Last year was Ted Thompson's best draft in his Packer tenure, and at the same time, was instant gratification for Packer fans.
From Raji at No. 9, which was a miracle considering he was suppose to go in the top five to Cleveland, to the shocking trade up, yes up, back into the first round to take OLB Clay Matthews, Packer Nation was delighted. Even sixth-round pick Jamon Meredith was a pleasing pick to fans, as Jamon was projected to go in round two, or three at the latest.
However, most of Ted Thompson's drafts have had picks that leave Packer Nation scratching their heads. From Harrell to Brohm, Lee to Nelson, Ted Thompson has often gone against the grain, the consensus, to get his man. And he's not afraid to pick his guy a round earlier than the 'consensus' has the guy.
Now, that being said, I am going to give you my mock as I would do it. This certainly is not my guess or prediction of what Ted will do.
WELCOME TO THE 2010 NFL DRAFT
GREEN BAY PACKERS DRAFT
Pick No. 23- Brandon Graham, OLB, Michigan
Pick No. 56- Traded to Baltimore for OT Jared Gaither
Pick No. 86- Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB, Indiana, Penn.
Pick No. 122- Clifton Geathers, DE, South Carolina
Pick No. 154- Robert Johnson, S, Utah
Pick No. 169- A.J. Jefferson, CB, Fresno St.
Pick No. 193- Traded to Miami for WR/KR Ted Ginn, Jr.
Pick No. 230- Zoltan Mesko, P, Michigan
Per Peter King and Adam Schefter, among others, the Miami Dolphins have been trying to unload WR Ted Ginn , the ninth overall pick in 2007. He was booed the moment Cam Cameron selected him instead of Brady Quinn in that draft, and fans have hated on him ever since in Miami. It's similar to Browns fans hating Braylon Edwards, although that was because of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.
Ginn has dropped more than his share of passes, and he's been soft, stepping out of bounds instead of taking on tacklers to get an extra few yards. Still, he's had electrifying moments for the Fish. Last year, he single-handedly won the game at the Jets with an NFL-record two 100-plus yard kick returns for touchdowns. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpI1wElYoCs&feature=related
He's also torched Darrelle Revis for a 53-yard bomb. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyPtJF-IgPc&feature=related
So the Packers decide to add a spark to their anemic special teams units and they send the Dolphins a sixth-round pick for Ginn. A lot of teams are interested in Ginn, but they are expecting the Dolphins to just release Ginn now that they have traded two picks for Brandon Marshall. The Dolphins are happy to get a sixth-rounder for Ginn at this point.
This addition for the Packers is eerily similar to a move Ron Wolf made about 15 years ago when he brought in another special teams ace, Desmond Howard. Like Ginn, Howard is a former Big Ten WR who was drafted in the top ten, but was given up on after just a couple of years.
Cheesehead Nation is well aware of how important Howard was to the Packers' lone Super Bowl title in the modern era. He was the Super Bowl MVP.
Also, per Peter King and others, the Ravens are most likely going to be trading 24-year-old left tackle Jared Gaither. Why would they trade one of the league's best young OTs? Well, because they have another one in 2009 first rounder Michael Oher, the Blind Side stud. King predicts the Ravens will deal him to Dallas for their second-rounder, which is later than the Packers pick that round, so we can swoop in and get Gaither.
Now, I am aware of the fact that Ted Thompson has brought back both Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, with new contracts to boot. Gaither has no interest in sitting on the bench, or moving to guard. He can play right tackle, but not guard. Still, he's too good to pass up, and would be an upgrade over Chad Clifton. And Clifton seems the type who'd accept a role as a backup.
In addition, it's about time the Packers actually have a real backup OT instead of having to shift a guard over to tackle when Clifton or Tauscher go down. If it takes an additional future pick thrown in for Gaither, it's still well worth it. But based on what I have been hearing, it might not.
OLB BRANDON GRAHAM - Height: 6'1", Weight: 268 pounds
NFL Scouts still haven't learned their lesson about overrating textbook size, and they let Graham slide to the Packers at pick No. 23. From James Harrison to Elvis Dumervil, it's amazing how these scientists can continue to overlook flat-out football skills in favor of the perfectly sculpted body.
The Packers' own Jeremy Thompson has a great looking frame, but he's a nothing on the field compared to Graham. Graham at the worst will be LaMarr Woodley, and at the best is another Elvis Dumervil. Either way, he will combine with Clay Matthews to give the Packers the best pair of young OLBs in the NFL who will terrorize Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, and the graybeard in 2010.
CB AKWASI OWUSU-ANSAH - Height: 6'1", Weight: 207 pounds
From a small school in Indiana, AOA is a future Pro-Bowl cornerback for the Packers. He's got all the skills you look for as a CB, and the Packers are very fortunate to land him in round three. He will immediately be an upgrade over anyone behind Tramon Williams on the depth chart.
He's also a demon on special teams, scoring five special teams touchdowns. He will bump the injured Will Blackmon off the team as punt returner, while Teddy Ginn handles the kick returns.
DE CLIFTON GEATHERS - Height: 6'8", Weight: 297 pounds
Clifton is the brother of Robert Geathers and had 8.5 TFL and three sacks as a junior.
He has great size for the 3-4 DE position, and will probably beat out Jarius Wynn this season. With the legal status of pharmaceutical sales rep Johnny Jolly in question, and the back of Justin Harrell in question, Geathers is a great value pick at this spot for the Packers.
S ROBERT JOHNSON - Height: 6'2", Weight: 203 pounds
Despite not getting invited to the Combine, Robert Johnson is one of the fastest rising names in the draft. At his Pro Day, he turned in blazing times in the short shuttle and three-cone drills. In fact, his 4.06-second short shuttle and 6.56-second three-cone times were faster than those recorded by any safety in Indianapolis.
"A natural ball-hawk with 13 interceptions over the past three seasons, Johnson has visited or been privately worked out by a half-dozen teams."—Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange
CB A.J. JEFFERSON - Height: 6'0", Weight: 191 pounds
From Walter Cherepinsky: "Mike Mayock repeatedly praised A.J. Jefferson during the Combine. Jefferson, who is 6'0" with long arms, ran a 4.43 and notched a 44-inch vertical. He's a project, but has a ton of upside."
P ZOLTAN MESKO - Height: 6'5", Weight: 236 pounds
Mesko could be one of the Packers' best tacklers on punt coverage with his size.
His punting average went up from 41.1 to 43.2 to 44.5 from 2007-2009.
POST-DRAFT FREE AGENCY
In a surprise, and a change in M.O., Ted Thompson brings in a free agent. Rumors already swirled this week about the Packers having interest in former Eagle Pro Bowl RB Brian Westbrook . After the draft, Westbrook passes a battery of tests from the Packers physicians, and his head is given a clean bill of health. He inks a one-year, heavily incentive-laden deal with the Packers.
While LaDainian Tomlinson has clearly declined in the past few years, which his stats reflect, Westbrook's overall average hasn't shown that type of drop. Westbrook will add a spark as a receiver, something that Brandon Jackson has not provided. Brian is probably the best pass-catching back in the NFL, and the best since Marshall Faulk.
2010 TEAM OUTLOOK
The Packers were (this) close to being a Super Bowl team last year. Had they beaten Minnesota just one time last year, the Packers would have won the division and been the NFC's No. 2 seed. But the Packers failed to sack Favre even one time in two games. That lack of pressure was evident in the elimination game in Arizona, when Kurt Warner had all day to pass, and had guys wide open all over the field, especially in between the hash marks.
On offense, everything was fantastic, aside from the early-season pass protection problems at both LT and RT before Tauscher and Clifton started to solidify things off the edges. Still, the final play of the season was a sack off the edge that resulted in the strip sack and return for a touchdown in overtime. But that sack was Rodgers' fault, not Tauscher's.
Still, adding Gaither instantly upgrades the offensive line, and it gives us a brighter future at LT than we had before. Many mocks have the Packers rolling the dice on Charles Brown out of USC with their first-round pick.
He might become a fine player, but history says that he has as good of a chance of becoming a bust than he does a good NFL left tackle. There's no such mystery with the big man Jared Gaither, and he costs less than a first round pick.
Brandon Graham immediately bolsters the pass rush. He's very similar to Matthews with his high motor, big heart, and can-do attitude. But he's stronger than Clay is. Think Aaron Kampman, but stronger and quicker. Oh, and younger too.
The two cornerbacks and the safety Johnson replenish the terrible coverage unit we saw being exposed in the Cardinals' playoff win over the Packers. Sure, Pat Lee might be back, and he might become something of himself yet. Same with Brandon Underwood.
Al Harris is very old and is coming off of an extremely serious knee injury, and it would be unwise to plan on his being even close to the same Al Harris that we saw before. He already was losing a step before the injury.
So the same team that finished last year by going 7-1 is pretty much back intact, with the improvements here at OT, RB, LOLB, CB, S, KR, and PR.
If the young guys from Ted's past few drafts improve as expected, and some of these new guys make an impact like they should, there's no reason that this team can't go at least 13-3 next year and get back to the Super Bowl.