NFL Draft 2011: Best Case and Worst Case Scenarios for the Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers best building weapon is the NFL Draft, mostly because GM Ted Thompson simply refuses to bring in high profile free agents, with the lone exception of veteran CB Charles Woodson.
Thompson and the Packers organization have proven to be masterminds at drafting and developing young players. Their efforts have culminated in a Super Bowl winning team that shows no signs of slowing down.
With a little less time to prepare and the last pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Thompson must work extra hard to snag successful selections.
It may seem like the Packers have a complete squad with nothing to add, but there are needs on this team and there is always room for improvement.
I'll begin with the worst possible situations, but I'll move on quickly so you can finish reading with a more optimistic outlook on the Pack's offseason.
Worst Case Scenarios
If the Packers fail to fill a need in the first round, it could prove disastrous for the remainder of the draft. The majority of the team's recent top picks have become impact starters including Bulaga, Raji, Matthews and Rodgers.
Failure to continue this impressive streak may result in a poor draft for the Pack. Since the team thrives on the draft, late round selections are equally important.
James Starks sparked the running game through the playoffs and wasn't selected until the sixth round. Donald Driver was once a seventh round pick and is now the Packers all-time leading receiver. Worst case scenario would be that Ted Thompson can't find a single diamond in the rough.
While the Packers may seem set at wide receiver, the draft will be crucial for depth at the position as well as in the backfield. TT must find solid players with potential to develop.
Nothing is worse than a draft full of busts.
Best Case Scenarios
The NFL has recently rewarded the Packers a compensatory draft choice, the 34th pick in the fourth round, since they lost DE Aaron Kampman to the Jaguars in free agency last year.
This may seem insignificant, but the team's last two compensatory pick are now starting offensive lineman, Josh Sitton and Scott Wells.
It would be great for the Pack if they could pick up a future starter with this extra selection, or use it to trade up for a better player that Thompson has his sights on. Thompson has a history of trading up for players with potential, most notably LB Clay Matthews.
Speaking of No. 52, what cheesehead wouldn't love to see Matthews teamed up with his brother Casey in the Packers' linebacker unit?
Not just because it would be a nice sibling story, but the kid can play as well. While he may not be as good as his older brother, yet, his work ethic replicates Clay's and his natural football instincts are equally strong.
He is projected to be a late fourth round to fifth round pick, so it is not impossible that the Packers could use their compensatory selection on the inside linebacker from Oregon. However, somebody might decide to steal him in the third round.
Casey Matthews would provide depth at a position where injuries took a toll last season. When A.J. Hawk signed a new contract, the odds of the injured Nick Barnett returning to the team plummeted. There is certainly room at inside linebacker on the Pack's roster.
While he may not jump in on defense right away, Matthews could contribute on special teams. The best case scenario in this intriguing situation would be a dominant force of three long-haired linebackers for the Packers in 2011, the third being Casey or an even better long-locked linebacker, Brooks Reed of Arizona.
The primary best case scenario for the Packers' draft focuses on their primary pick, the 32nd in the first round. They may go last, but last does not mean least.
Arguably the two best players on their roster were chosen in the mid-twenties of the opening round: Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews.
Despite Ryan Grant's return and the emergence of rookie RB James Starks, there still is uncertainty in the backfield. If the Pack could grab a potential franchise back in Illinois' Mikel LeShoure, it would be a good start.
With Johnny Jolly's recent arrest and with Cullen Jenkins dipping his toe into the free agency pool, defensive ends will be targeted early. UNC's Robert Quinn did not play last season but could be a force in Dom Caper's 3-4 defense should he fortunately fall to bottom of the first round.
Quinn could also create excitement at OLB, playing opposite of Matthews. However, character concerns may turn off Thompon's classy organization, so Cal's Cameron Jordan is an alternate best case option.
Whatever really happens, it should be an interesting and beneficial draft for the Green Bay Packers. In Ted Thompson we trust.
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