NFL Draft: Packers Balance Out Need and Value
Packers-Examiner%7Ey2010m4d23-Packers-plan-for-the-future-select-Bulaga-in-first-round" target="_blank">Round One: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Bulaga’s stock was all over the board, but Ted Thompson stuck to his draft board and went with who he hopes will be the team’s future left tackle. They could have gone with the instant upgrade at outside linebacker or safety, but instead chose Bulaga. He has excellent size and can play three positions on the line. The Packers say he will have a chance to compete for the starting left tackle position this year.
Round Two: Michael Neal, DE, Purdue
Neal was a real head-scratcher among many experts, but his production and size made him a good fit in Green Bay. With Justin Harrell’s future in serious doubt and Johnny Jolly’s status still up in the air, Neal made sense as a potential starter on the line. Many predicted Neal would last until the fourth or fifth round, but the Packers clearly wanted their man and got him.
In untraditional form, Thompson traded up to get the safety he wanted, staying with defense on day two. Slated as a second rounder, Burnett fell in the draft and the Packers moved up 15 spots to nab Burnett. If you are looking for a rookie who could start next year, Burnett is the guy. He is a big hitter who plays well against the pass, but will need to improve against the run as a strong safety. This will be one of the biggest battle positions this summer.
Round Five: Andrew Quarless, TE, Penn State
Donald Lee’s future is in serious doubt with the selection of Quarless, an athletic tight end who will give the Packers’ offense another upgrade. Thompson said Quarless was their highest-ranked player on the board and decided to go with value over need. He still needs to improve with his run blocking but is an overall upgrade from Lee and could contribute right away.
The Packers once again improved on the offensive line by selecting Newhouse, the best remaining guard on the board. His production in college was excellent, playing left tackle for the Horned Frogs. However, his quickness is an issue and he will most likely move inside to guard at the pro level. He has the experience and will now need to prove it at the next level.
Round Six: James Starks, RB, Buffalo
Starks is an intriguing prospect that looks like excellent value on paper, but durability is a big concern. A torn labrum kept him out of the 2009 season, but at 6'2'' and a 4.50 forty-yard dash, his upside makes him a worthy pick in the sixth round. Starks caught 127 passes in his three years at Buffalo and racked up 38 total touchdowns in those three years. His natural ability made him a potential second-round pick entering 2009, but the injury set him back quite a ways. If he can stay healthy, Starks could be a project worth keeping an eye on.
Wilson has good speed for his size and, at 290 pounds, will make a solid defensive end in Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense. Wilson totaled 21.5 sacks in his three seasons at Eastern Carolina and played well against the run, but his speed and quickness will hurt him in the NFL. Still, Wilson’s numbers speak for themselves and he could find himself in the rotation at defensive end next season.
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