The Green Bay Packers just got done winning Super Bowl 45, and now with Disney World out of the way, they have to already get back in the saddle to prepare to do it all again in 2011.
That means they have to run through all the players they scouted all season long and start putting together their final draft board for the 2011 NFL Draft. The encouraging thing is that they will be returning several key injured players. Combine that with a good draft and a team that defeated the odds to win it all, and Cheesehead Nation could be looking at a repeat.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Here's a logical look at who the Packers could come away from the draft with, starting with the 32nd pick at the end of the first round, and running to their last pick in the fourth round:
Round One (Pick 32) - Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The Packers would love to grab another outside linebacker to boost their already strong pass rush, but they'll be perfectly content with grabbing another solid tackle to help protect Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers sustained two concussions in 2010, and with Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton getting older, they'd be wise to make sure Rodgers is better protected.
Green Bay could very easily trade down out of the first round, as well.
What will the Packers do with their first pick?
Round Two (Pick 64) - DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
Let's be real. Even if Ryan Grant is healthy and both John Kuhn and Brandon Jackson return, those three backs and James Starks all together still don't add up to an impact runner. Sure, they're all serviceable, but try naming the last game-breaking running back the Packers had. Ahman Green was the last guy with any real speed, and that's something the Packers offense desperately lacks from the running back position. Murray gives them a shifty, explosive runner who can be teamed up with either the returning Grant or James Starks to form a powerful and balanced one-two punch.
While they don't have a high need for middle linebacker, Nick Barnett may be done as a starter, and Clay Matthews probably wouldn't mind playing with his brother, Clay.
Round Three (Pick 96) - Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
Reed is an excellent outside pass rusher, something the Packers still need on the opposite end of Clay Matthews. Having an elite pass rusher on both sides will give their defense so much more flexibility, and will also make their already solid rotation that much more effective. Reed was impressive in the 2011 Senior Bowl, and should be on Green Bay's radar if he falls this far.
Other Possibilities: Jeff Maehl (WR), John Moffit (OL), Shane Vereen (RB)
Round Four (Pick 128) - Chris L. Rucker, CB, Michigan State
There's a decent chance Rucker will be gone by the time this pick rolls around, but if he's still on the board, look for the Packers to pounce on him. If this draft mock is even close to right, Green Bay will have locked up a new offensive lineman, beefed up their ground game, and added an elite pass rusher to their defense. After filling some major holes, Green Bay gets the physical and talented Rucker in preparation for a future without Charles Woodson. Whether Woodson retires, leaves via free agency, or switches to safety, its only a matter of time before the Packers need to have a replacement ready. Rucker looks to be the perfect fit.
Other Possibilities: Ugo Chinasa (OLB), Mike Mohamed (LB), Nick Claytor (OT)
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