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Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
If hair is an indicator of greatness, then taking Reed over the other options at OLB would be an easy decision. As silly as this sounds, it appears that many talent evaluators are seeing CMIII's double when they watch Reed. Reed and Matthews do share similarities, including long hair, great intangibles, and a relentless motor, and while there are doubtlessly other similarities, this is the end of the important ones for Ted Thompson to concern himself with.
Reed appears to lack the athleticism that was the trademark of No. 52 over the last two years in Green Bay. He also lacks great production in conference not called the ACC or the SEC, demonstrating underwhelming sack totals over his three starting seasons. Bearing in mind Green Bay's penchant for athletic marvels or high production players, Reed could be a very solid player, but seems unlikely to be one that Ted drafts at 32. Likelihood: Low at 32
Unlike Reed, Houston has great athleticism, freakish size, and decent sack totals over the last two years. What he also has, unfortunately, is questionable football savvy, inconsistent effort, and a blemished character record. Houston was one of the players that tested positive for marijuana at the combine, likely putting him in a free-fall position come Thursday.
One of the positives going for Houston is that he has played the 3-4 OLB position, giving him an edge over a player like Reed. If available in the second or third, Thompson might take Houston, but the first round seems too high with his red flags. Likelihood: Low at 32
Ayers is somewhere between Houston and Reed; he is not the perfect character player, nor the problem child (his passion and toughness has been questioned). He is a very fluid athlete whose flexibility allows him to bend well off the edge. He also demonstrates some violence in his tackling, but not consistently enough when attacking the quarterback.
The reason that Ayers is so attractive to a team like the Packers is his versatility. What seems most lacking from his game from an evaluator like Ted Thompson is Ayers' apparent lack of fire or intensity to complement his athleticism. TT's view on what Kevin Greene could get out of Ayers will likely dictate the likelihood of this pick. Likelihood: Medium to High at 32
Sheard might be a little early at 32, but could be a player the Packers target upon trading down a few spots. Sheard is a talented defensive end who possesses the size and athleticism to play the 3-4 OLB postion, though he is much better at rushing the passer at this time.
Sheard is a player that Kevin Greene could mold, and with whom he shares the characteristic of a great motor, along with a competitive streak that elevated his game during pivotal moments. His character concerns are a mixed bag, with both positive and negative history, but not a long laundry list of the latter, thus probably still keeping him on Green Bay's draft board. Likelihood: Medium at 32; High if GB trades down
All the above players have their shortcomings, but it appears that the top two should be Ayers or Sheard, with the close nod going to Sheard due to his fantastic motor, especially if he can be had at 40 instead of 32. This is certainly a position that Thompson and company could address with the first pick, and would likely win out over anything other than OT, though DE would probably be very close. The argument could be made for DE being slightly ahead as well of OLB as well, but many scouts believe that solid 3-4 defensive ends can be picked in the 4th-7th rounds, while finding an impact OLB can be more difficult to find outside the second round.