Getting value in a third or fourth round draft pick is what makes the difference between a Super Bowl contender and a last place finisher. Football is a team sport, so one great player in a draft just won't do. A team needs to find players throughout the draft that can produce instantly for their team.
The Green Bay Packers need to be one of those teams. They have been fantastic at scoring talent in late rounds like Donald Driver, Desmond Bishop, Scott Wells, and Mark Tauscher. Now they need to be fantastic at drafting talent in the middle rounds of the draft.
Here is a look at 10 players that the Packers could draft in the third or fourth round who could start right away.
Daniel Thomas had a very productive career at Kansas State. He was the focal point of opposing defenses, yet he still produced huge numbers.
He is a big back that is more finesse than power. He has good running instincts and can find the hole in the defense. He doesn't showcase excellent speed, but once he gets into the open field he is hard to chase down. He has soft hands and could develop into a decent receiving back. He is durable, consistent, and has the work ethic to succeed in the NFL.
The Packers backfield is loaded with Ryan Grant, James Starks, John Kuhn, and Brandon Jackson. However, Thomas has proven that he could easily handle 20-25 carries a game and could rise to the top of the depth chart because of his durability.
Just to be clear, neither of those Hoosier football players are James Brewer. I am pretty sure that there are no pictures of James Brewer playing football available.
Anyways, James Brewer is a very large man, 6'8" and 331 pounds to be exact. He is still very raw, but his size will be enticing to many teams. He needs to learn to play with more aggression, as he is not the most physical player around. He has the necessary skills to protect the quarterback and create holes for in the run game. He might be best utilized in a zone blocking scheme.
The Packers certainly will be looking to draft an offensive lineman in this year's draft. Brewer looks to be a few years away from being a starter, but if needed, he could step in and be a big body for the Packers.
The only reason that Ras-I Dowling is this low on the countdown is because the Packers secondary looks to be pretty set. Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, and Sam Shields is one of the best cornerback combinations in the NFL.
However, Ras-I Dowling is a big cornerback with exceptional athletic ability. He has struggled with injuries, but when healthy, he has proven to have starter potential. He can make plays while the ball is in the air and has good hands to make the interception. He has good speed and the ability to stay with faster receivers. His play, at times, has been inconsistent, but he has the work ethic to be a very good cornerback in the NFL.
If the Packers decide to move Charles Woodson to safety, a player like Dowling could be a value instantly as a nickel cornerback.
The Packers offensive guards had an up-and-down season last year. At times they played very well together. They were certainly the weakest point in the protection of Aaron Rodgers.
John Moffitt was one of the best offensive lineman in the country last year. He has a big, thick body, but showed tremendous agility at the Combine. His versatility is a plus, as he played three positions on the offensive line at Wisconsin. He can get beat by faster players and he isn't the toughest lineman in the draft. He does have a great work ethic, as he is willing to do anything to get the job done.
Offensive guard is rather slim in this year's draft, but Moffitt has the versatility to play numerous positions and could work to become a starter for the Packers right away.
Wide receiver is another interesting position for the Packers. No one knows what James Jones is going to do and Donald Driver's age leaves questions about his ability to produce.
Austin Pettis might have the best hands in the entire draft. He appears to have the ability to catch any ball that is thrown in the immediate area of him. He is reliable, confident, and brings a consistent effort whenever he is on the field. He has good body size and strength to be a threat in the red zone. The only real knock on him is the lack of elite speed. He would be best used as a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver.
There is no questioning Pettis' ability to catch the football, which could make him a better option than James Jones or Jordy Nelson.
Inside linebacker is another interesting position for the Packers. Nick Barnett is coming off injury and Desmond Bishop was just signed to a long contract. However, there is room for improvement at inside linebacker.
Greg Jones was a four-year starter at Michigan State and has tremendous experience. He can be the leader of a defense and is an overall great person. He is very productive and has great on-field instincts. He lacks the ideal size for an inside linebacker, but did bulk up some for his senior year. He doesn't have great speed or athletic ability, but no one can question his production.
Jones has the experience to be able to play right away for the Packers. He could bring a consistency at inside linebacker, which is something that has been missed in recent years.
No one knows what to expect from the Packers running game next year. James Starks is still a question mark and Ryan Grant is coming off a huge injury. The Packers will certainly address their running back situation in this year's draft.
DeMarco Murray has tremendous size and speed for a running back. He also showed great play making ability in the open field. He struggled with injuries at Oklahoma, so there are questions concerning his durability. He lacks the bulk that teams desire from a starting running back. However, he has great hands and can even play slot receiver at times. He could also be a weapon in the return game.
I think Murray is the perfect fit for the Packers. His injury history is a concern, but his versatility could make him very dangerous and a perfect weapon for Aaron Rodgers.
Could you image having two Matthews on the same team? The universe might explode due to having too much hair on the same team.
In all seriousness, Casey Matthews is a great football player. He has good bloodlines and great passion for the game. He has good instincts for an inside linebacker and looks like a lion on the prowl the way he tracks plays. He hits with good power and can force fumbles. He lacks great athletic ability and strength. He is also a little undersized for the NFL and will need to add weight to his frame.
I feel like Matthews has that "it" factor. Don't be surprised if Matthews shines during training camp and the preseason to lock up a starting position for the Packers.
James Jones wants to be a starting receiver in the league. I don't know if the Packers think that Jones could be productive enough as a starter for them. This will make them look hard at drafting a wide receiver.
Greg Little has everything you could want in a wide receiver. He has the right size, speed, strength, hands, swagger, and athleticism. He can make plays after the catch and is tough to bring down in the open field. He had a tremendous Combine workout and put up huge numbers in Indianapolis. He does carry a "diva" status and has some character issues that need to be addressed. He missed the entire 2010 season due to a suspension.
The Packers have the ideal environment for a player like Little to not get into trouble. He would be the perfect compliment to Greg Jennings and an ideal replacement for Donald Driver.
Adding another outside linebacker that can get after the quarterback is key for the Packers. It's very likely that they will draft an outside linebacker with their first round pick, but they could also trade out of the first round if they aren't impressed with who is available.
Brooks Reed has been rising up draft boards in recent weeks. He has even been compared to Clay Matthews. He plays the game with a great motor and gives 110 percent on every play. He has tremendous strength and knows how to pursue the football. Some are worried that Reed has already reached his maximum potential and doesn't have any room to grow. He played defensive end in college, but will almost certainly transition to outside linebacker.
Green Bay needs an outside linebacker, and if the comparisons to Matthews are even half true, Reed could be a very good player. He could produce instantly for the Packers.