With the 2011 NFL Draft quickly approaching, now is the time to look at a few prospects who Ted Thompson might consider selecting in the first round.
It’s always difficult to predict who the Packers will take because we all know that Thompson is going to draft the top player still available on his draft board. It is even more difficult to do so this year, as the Packers don’t have many immediate needs to address. With no idea of what his draft board actually looks like, it’s difficult to figure out who he might take, especially considering that we have no clue as to which 31 players will be off the board when the Packers come on the clock.
It’s very doubtful that the players I have listed will all be available at pick number 32, but I believe that if these players are still on the board, they would be among the top players still available on Thompson’s draft board.
Gabe Carimi is the player who I would personally like to see Ted Thompson take with the first round draft pick.
Chad Clifton played very well this past season, but there’s no telling how many more seasons he has left in him. Once Clifton retires, Bryan Bulaga will most likely take over his spot at left tackle, so Green Bay needs someone to man the right tackle position.
Carimi is a great run blocker and a solid pass blocker. He would make a great pairing with Bulaga as the bookends of the Packer offensive line.
Castonzo is another offensive tackle who could get some heavy consideration if he’s still on the board.
I don’t think he’s quite as good as Gabe Carimi, but he still has the talent to be a very good right tackle in the NFL, and he'd be a very good pickup for the Packers.
Castonzo is a very good pass rusher and he is decent in run blocking. He struggled mightily at the Senior Bowl, but it’s still possible that he could be available here.
Mike Pouncey isn’t quite the player that his twin brother Maurkice is, but he still does have enough talent to be a first round pick.
Offensive guard isn’t much of a need if Daryn Colledge is brought back, but it’s a toss up at this point if he’s back in Green Bay or not.
Pouncey is very good in both run and pass protection, and he is a very good athlete. I think he would be a very good value if he’s still here at this point
Muhammad Wilkerson would make for a very solid replacement for Cullen Jenkins, if the Packers decide not to re-sign Jenkins.
Wilkerson has risen a lot in recent months, and rightly so. He is a very versatile player who I think would fit great along the Packers defensive line.
He has a good blend of quickness and power, and he plays well against the pass and the run. He has very good size for a 3-4 defensive end, and his all around skill set will make him a very intriguing prospect.
Corey Liuget is another 3-4 defensive end prospect who has a great all around game that would be a nice asset for Green Bay.
He had a breakout junior season where he looked dominant in certain games. Liuget has nice size and he is a surprisingly good athlete for a man of his size.
Liuget is very stout against the run, but he can also get some penetration on the quarterback up the middle. He is very technically sound and I love his hustle and non-stop motor.
Cameron Heyward was projected as a top 15 draft pick heading into the 2010 season, but he could fall right into the Packers’ laps at this point.
His speed and size combination would be a welcomed addition for Green Bay. He’s got a great bull rush and he’s made a lot of plays in the backfield while at Ohio State.
Heyward does have some question marks, especially when it comes to his consistency, but his all around talent would make him a nice choice if Thompson decided to draft him.
The Packers found some gems at cornerback last year in Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. They still have Charles Woodson for the time being, but it remains to be seen how much longer he will be around.
Smith would be a great pick for Green Bay at the end of round one. He would provide great depth in 2011, while being groomed as the long term replacement for Woodson.
Smith has an outstanding combination of size and speed. He’s a physical corner, who has played well against the run and the pass.
The combination of Brad Jones, Frank Zombo, and Erik Walden played well at outside linebacker last season opposite Clay Matthews. I’d personally be fine with that combination next season, but if a player with Justin Houston’s ability is still around I think the Packers should select him.
He has great speed and pass rushing ability, which would help prevent opposing teams from double teaming Matthews.
He is a very hard worker who puts in a lot of hours in the weight room and studying film. He most likely is gone by this point, but if he’s still available I hope that the Packers don’t pass him up.
Personally, I wouldn’t be a fan of taking a wide receiver in round one, but it’s a position that Green Bay can ignore long term. It’s entirely possible that James Jones won’t be back next year, and Donald Driver is nearing the end of the line.
Young is a deep threat who has good speed and the ability to run very crisp routes. His height isn’t a huge concern to me, but he does need to add some more bulk as he is extremely thin at this point in time.
A lot of mocks have him going before Green Bay’s draft pick, but I think that he will still be available unless he tears up the combine.
One final option that Ted Thompson could consider would to be to trade down in the draft. Now this might not be an option depending on the CBA situation, but it’s something to consider.
The Packers don’t have a whole lot of immediate needs, so it may be a good idea to try and trade their first rounder if another team is willing to overpay for it. The New England Patriots have been masters of this in recent years, getting the 33rd overall selection in this year’s draft from the Carolina Panthers, as they traded up in last year’s draft to snag Armanti Edwards.
Looking back at that trade, it was a genius move by Bill Belichick and Ted Thompson may be able to pull off something similar if another team is desperate to trade back into the first round.
I would personally rather see Green Bay draft a player in round one, but I wouldn’t be overly upset if they traded down, depending on what package they got in return for the pick.