Previewing the Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft


“The Green Bay Packers select Aaron Rodgers (2005), Jordy Nelson (2008), A.J. Hawk (2006), B.J. Raji (2009), Clay Matthews (2009), Donald Driver (1999).”

By now, everyone has seen the ESPN commercial listing various Green Bay Packers draft picks over the the last decade.

For General Manger Ted Thompson and the Packers, the NFL Draft is truly “Where Champions are Built,” because key steals in April were the reason the Green and Gold brought the Lombardi Trophy back home this past season.

Even though the Packers are the returning champions, Thompson and the team are aware of some holes to fill. Read on to see where the team may go in the draft and what to expect this weekend.

By: Nick Grays

First of all, let’s summarize where the Packers will be picking in this year’s NFL Draft and their primary needs.

Picks (9):
1st Round – 32nd overall
2nd Round – 64th overall
3rd Round – 96th overall
4th Round – 129th overall and 131st overall (Compensatory)
5th Round – 163rd overall
6th Round – 197th overall (from Carolina)
7th Round – 204th overall and 233rd overall

Primary Needs (3)
Outside Linebacker, Offensive Line and Defensive Line

There’s a lot of speculation about what the Packers will do with their first few picks, but let’s throw out a few players I could see Ted Thompson drafting in accordance to the team’s needs.

The most likely position the Packers will address early if possible is outside linebacker. If UCLA’s Akeem Ayers is available here, it seems like Thompson will surely go after the second-rated linebacker in the draft.

Another guy that scouts really liked was Arizona’s Brooks Reed, if Ayers is off the board at 32.

Either pick would be a great short-term fix in the Packers 3-4 defense.

Last year’s first round draft pick and right tackle Brian Bulaga, from the Iowa Hawkeyes, might be joined by a rookie left tackle because veteran Chad Clifton won’t be around forever. Add in the fact that left guard Daryn Colledge’s return to Green Bay is questionable and you have a legitimate question mark in star quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ protection.

The only problem with drafting an offensive lineman is whether there will be any good ones left come the 32nd pick of the draft. If Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi lasts towards the end of the first round, he’s expected to go to the Chicago Bears at 29, so that leaves Mississippi State’s Derrek Sherrod for the Packers. This is assuming Colorado’s Nate Solder is also off the board at this point.

Sherrod would be a great pick for Thompson because he provides a lot of flexibility of where he could play on the line. If Buluga works out better on the left side, Sherrod could move from the guard position and play right tackle.

Third in priority, if key players have already been drafted on the offensive line and at outside linebacker, is defensive end where Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward would be a great addition.

Cullen Jenkins’ departure and Johnny Jolly’s codeine addiction leaves the team with a huge hole to fill on the defensive line. Heyward isn’t the flashiest of defensive ends, but he is experienced and could play significant minutes in the NFL right away after starting as a Buckeye for four years.

As most mock drafters know, general managers and teams can go in an entirely different direction than predicted when building for the future. Starting Thursday, we will see what Ted Thompson’s next chapter in the Packers franchise is all about.

While I have addressed the team’s primary needs and the best players to fit those needs, never underestimate the ability of a general manger to select the best player available.

The Sports Bank Mock Draft has GB picking the following players in the first three rounds:

1st Round – Nate Solder (OT) Colorado

2nd Round – Chris Carter (DE/OLB) Fresno State
3rd Round – Terrell McClain (DT) South Florida

Where do you think the Green Bay Packers go in round one and who are you rooting for to join the Champions? Let me know by commenting below!

Nick Grays is a senior editor at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

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  1. andy schoenfeldt says

    i think the packers should go with a running back in the 1st or 2nd round. who knows how long ryan grant will be a good star back.

  2. Nick Grays says

    That is true, but James Starks looked fairly good during the Super Bowl run. If the best player available was a running back, I could see them possibly picking one in the first two rounds, but it’s more likely they look for one in the later rounds.

    Too much value on the offensive line or defensive line in the draft for them to take advantage of in the first two rounds.

  3. I would love carimi/solder to drop to us, or even drop to where we can trade up. I also would like ayers/reed. Ryan Kerrigan is probably my favorite player the Packers could potentially get by him dropping or us trading up. good luck, ted. make us proud.

  4. Nick Grays says

    I agree, Kerrigan would be a beast. As a Badgers fan, I will not miss him at Purdue.

    I think Ted will make Packers fans proud with whatever he decides to do. You can’t really question the man at this point.

  5. J J Watt falling to the PACK

  6. Nick Grays says

    haha DB, that would be a dream come true, but no way he drops below 15 and I don’t think he’s worth trading that far up for even though I love his work ethic

  7. i def believe we should go o-line first round and possibly even trade up to get ahead of the bears i wouldnt hate seeing that or even trading down but i would love to see them go o-line then d-line and take a shot at a wr/kick returner in the 3rd or 4th rounds and a qb possibly late 6 or 7th and a rb late 6th or 7th there is a need for another corner but i just dont think this years draft is the one we will pick one up in although who knows we have 2 fourth rounders but thompson is the man i have complete faith in him and will stand behind his decision bust or future hof he has a tuff job and he sure as hell does it better than anyone in probably any sport

  8. paulmbanks says

    Thompson is about as much a value GM as anyone in the league. Luckily for him, this draft is all about value at OT, and pass rushing DEs.

    No way Kerrigan and JJ Watt drop out of the top 20. Watt might be even be top 10

  9. paulmbanks says

    I think the Packers’ 1st need is protection for Rodgers blind side, and this class has some OTs that more NFL ready than you usually see at this position. Because 4/5 top prospects made the NFF Scholar-Athlete team, showing their great students, and students of the game.

    Next they need another pass-rusher to bookend with Matthews; especially now with Jenkins gone

  10. Nick Grays says

    I agree with you Paul, tons of value at the offensive line and it should be top priority to keep your elite QB protected.

    On a side note, I think it’s absolutely crazy what J.J. Watt has done. A few years ago, this guy was some tight end looking for a place to play college football. Now, he’s going to be a top pick to a team desperate for him at defensive end. Crazy how things change! His worth ethic is like nothing I’ve ever seen in a college athlete, that alone has him shooting up draft boards.

  11. Clebs Morton says

    Pack should go with an OL and a DE/LB with two of their first three picks, thats probably a given. Sherrod and Reed are players so either would be a great first pick. I see the Pack going with a high impact offensive player though with their second pick. We may see them trade up in the second to secure one of the following WR’s: Cobb, T.Smith, Jernigan. Any of those 3 would be a great add. I see the Pack in the 3rd round going with the best defensive lineman available at that point. Dont be surprised if its Oregons Bair, who older, has drive and determination and brains to be a decent DE for a few years.
    The Pack will also do some damage with their two fourth round picks as Ted Thompson is a whiz at finding real players in the middle rounds. GO PACK

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