Green Bay has several prospects in mind heading into draft day, but what would the ideal 2011 Draft look like for the Packers?
Though we are now just over a week away from the beginning of the 2011 NFL Draft, what the Packers plan to do on draft day may seem uncertain at best.
After countless NFL Combine workouts, incessant mock drafts and analysis beyond belief, we can almost say we're ready for the commencement of the first round of action.
For GM Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers, now is the time to begin defending their Super Bowl championship with several key additions to their depth chart.
Who will Thompson select this season?
Here is an ideal & not-so-ideal look at how this year's draft will shake out for the Packers.
Best Case: Gabe Carimi, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
The success of the Packers as a franchise has been (and will be) contingent upon quarterback Aaron Rodgers' production on a week-to-week basis.
So for the Packers, who could certainly use some talent up front to ensure Rodgers' health over the next few season, Ted Thompson would ideally target Gabe Carimi -- Wisconsin's mammoth offensive tackle.
Not only would Carimi's 6'7'', 314-pound frame help Rodgers in the passing game, but his physicality and downfield strength would aid in Green Bay's run game, as well.
Worst Case: Jabaal Sheard, Defensive End, Pittsburgh
Although Sheard is one of the top defensive ends of this year's class, he also carries a lot of extra baggage with him in terms of off-field incidents. In 2010, Sheard was arrested on assault charges -- somethings that GM Ted Thompson isn't too fond of.
Nevertheless, the need is there for Green Bay at defensive end, and Sheard could be a potential impact player for years to come.
Best Case: Sam Acho, Outside Linebacker, Texas
The Packers are most likely to either draft a offensive lineman, defensive end or outside linebacker early on in the draft; and since we've already projected Gabe Carimi as their first-round selection, the Packers must key in on a suitable outside linebacker to complement Clay Matthews.
With a handful of top-notch prospects likely to be drafted in the first round, the Packers' best-case option would be for Texas' outside linebacker Sam Acho to fall into their grasp at number 64 overall.
Acho generated great numbers at the NFL Combine, posting a 4.67 40-yard dash while completing 23 bench-press reps. The addition of his 6'2'', 262-pound frame induces more interest from the Packers, who are needy off the edge.
Worst Case: Ryan Williams, Running Back, Virginia Tech
If worse comes to worse, the Packers may actually have to settle for a running back in the second round.
Shocking – I know.
However, should Green Bay elect to trade away Ryan Grant for veteran help next season, Williams would more than likely become a key contributor to Mike McCarthy's offense.
This pick isn't likely, and is probably a stretch to even mention.
Best case: Allen Bailey, Defensive End, Miami (Fl.)
When I first set out to project this year's first round, I had Bailey going to the Ravens at 26th overall. Since then, his reputation has (obviously) dropped considerably – leading most draft experts to project him as a early third-round pick.
At the NFL Combine, Bailey strutted his stuff off to the tune of 4.71 40-yard dash and 27 bench-press reps.
With a good showing at the combine, and an upside that scouts just can't help but acknowledge, Bailey would be a great fit to Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme on defense.
Worst Case: Chimdi Chekwa, Cornerback, Ohio State
With Charles Woodson on his way out of Green Bay in the next few seasons, the Packers may or may not be looking to draft his replacement in this year's draft.
According to Vic Ketchman of Packers.com: "teams are vigilant about maintaining a developing supply of young pass-defenders and it’s likely the Packers will dip into this year’s crop of corners at some point in the draft."
If it comes down to sheer desperation in the third round of action, don't be surprised to hear Checkwa's name being called for the Packers.
Best case: Clint Boling, Offensive Guard, Georgia
The Packers may not need to draft another offensive lineman in the middle rounds, but they could certainly add to their depth behind Josh Sitton at left guard.
Clint Boling's 6'5'', 310-pound frame would be a superb pickup for an offensive line looking to bolster their health for the prospective future.
Worst Case: Jarvis Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
Notable offseason "transactions" (if you will) have put Green Bay's defense in a bit of a spot, and young talent will be of the utmost importance heading into 2011.
To solidify things up front, the Packers could certainly use Jarvis Jenkins as either a defensive end or a nose-tackle should B.J. Raji go down with an injury.
Best Case: Jeremy Kerley, Wide Receiver, TCU
Donald Driver isn't getting any younger, and James Jones' status with the team is up in the air. So, where could the Packers look to upgrade with their second fourth-round pick?
For a variety of reasons, Ted Thompson would be wise to pick up TCU's unheralded wideout Jeremy Kerley – one of the best receivers to come out of the Mountain West in quite some time.
Kerley may not be the biggest wideouts available in the fourth round, but his 5'10'', 192-pound frame would allow him to break tackles left and right at the next level.
Worst Case: Chris Carter, Outside linebacker, Fresno State
While the Packers have just about every defensive position solidified, there are more than enough questions surrounding the status of outside linebacker mirroring Clay Matthews. And while we have the Packers snatching up Sam Acho in the second round, more depth could be added.
Fresno's State's Chris Carter posted some of the best numbers at the NFL Combine (4.58 40-yard dash, 27 bench reps), and would be an excellent addition to Dom Capers' defensive unit off the edge.
Best Case: Derek Newton, Offensive Tackle, Arkansas State
As we enter the late stages of the draft, keep in mind that potential draft picks begin to get a bit shady, and may not see the playing field for a couple years down the road.
With that being said, the Packers do have a need for willing and able bodies on the offensive line to keep Aaron Rodgers upright, and Newton fits the need perfectly.
At 6'4'', 311 pounds, Newton would be a great backup for either Brian Bulaga or Chad Clifton for many years to come.
Worst Case: Jeron Johnson, Safety, Boise State
With Atari Bigby as an unrestricted free-agent, the need for a backup to Charlie Peprah for the season to come is there, and Johnson would be a great fit.
In four seasons with Boise State, Johnson registered eight interceptions and 325 tackles, and his prototypical 5'11', 194-pound frame would bode well at the next level.
Best Case: Cliff Matthews, Defensive End, South Carolina
Late-round picks with great value are hard to come by, but Matthews is an exception to that statement.
Weighing in at 6'4'', 268 pounds, Matthews is rated as the 16th-best defensive end according to NFL Draft Scout, and would be able to make a difference for the Packers as soon as next season.
Moreover, if Green Bay isn't able to snatch up a defensive end by the sixth round, Matthews may be next year's starter from week one.
Worst Case: Taylor Potts, QB, Texas Tech
Amassing over 7,800 yards as the Red Raiders' signal-caller, Potts would be a solid addition to Green Bay's quarterbacking depth chart.
The Packers probably aren't looking for quarterbacks in this year's draft, however Potts' 6'5'', 222-pound frame would ease the burden on Mike McCarthy should Aaron Rodgers suffer another concussion.
Best Case: Mark LeGree, Safety, Appalachian State
As we've visited earlier, the Packers could use some reassurance in the secondary behind Charlie Peprah and Nick Collins. And though Ted Thompson may elect to go offensive in the seventh round of action, LeGree could become another diamond in the rough for the Packers.
Jarrett Bush is listed as a safety, but his true talents lie at cornerback -- making this a superb pickup for the Packers in the long-run.
Worst Case: Tim Barnes, Center, Missouri
Maintaining solidarity up front will be Green Bay's number one priority heading into 2011, and if it means drafting another center to back-up Scott Wells and Jason Spitz, then so be it.
Barnes is ranked as the fourth-best center according to NFL Draft Scout, and would be a nice addition to the Packers' offensive line.