Combine: Three Things Pack Learned on Offense

The Packers have needs at wide receiver, quarterback and offensive line as they plan for the 2011 draft. The biggest need is at receiver - and if that player can return kicks, that would be a major bonus.

XXXXXX (XXX XXXX/Getty) INDIANAPOLIS – With his weekends occupied by playoff games rather than scouting trips and film sessions, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson said he and his staff were behind in his preparations for the NFL Draft.

With the Scouting Combine concluding on Tuesday, here are three things on the offensive side of the ball that Thompson probably has a better feel of now than he did last week.

In good hands

After watching the Packers throw the ball up and down the field against the vaunted Steelers defense in the Super Bowl, it's counterintuitive to think Green Bay has a pressing need at wide receiver. But with Donald Driver having turned 36 – and starting to act like he's 36 – and James Jones approaching free agency, the Packers could be left with Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson as proven commodities in the passing game.

The return of Jermichael Finley is the great equalizer but the Packers clearly have a need at receiver. While needs meet talent on the defensive side of the ball, that's not necessarily true on offense. Just like how Thompson likes big cornerbacks, he likes big receivers. Greg Jennings is the only one shorter than 6-foot (5-foot-11) on the roster.

Perhaps the most intriguing name as a first-round prospect is Maryland's Torrey Smith. The 6-foot-1 speedster is a big-play threat with proven production in the return game – which would be a major-league added bonus. He was among the fastest receivers with a 4.43 in the 40.

Shopping for a quarterback

The Packers held formal interviews with a handful of quarterbacks, including Alabama's Greg McElroy, who we told you about on Saturday. With Iowa's Ricky Stanzi performing poorly during throwing drills, McElroy, Stanzi and Delaware's Pat Devlin all seem like possibilities in the fourth or fifth round. All three have that classic West Coast skill-set.

Here's another direction they could go: A true developmental guy – a boom-bust prospect – like Texas A&M's Jerrod Johnson or California-Pennsylvania's Josh Portis late in the draft. Portis in particular is a tremendous athlete, beating Cam Newton in every physical test other than the 40-yard dash. He didn't throw the ball well during workouts but that could be for quarterbacks coach Tom Clements to iron out.

A fine line

The biggest question with the Packers' offensive line is what they think of T.J. Lang, followed by what they think of Nick McDonald.

Will left guard Daryn Colledge leave in free agency? If so, Lang or McDonald would be the likely on-the-roster replacement. Or, they could go with a second-round pick like Danny Watkins from Baylor, a collegiate left tackle who the Packers really love, or Georgia's Clint Boling or Lehigh's impressive Will Rackley in the third.

Based on his play in 2010, Chad Clifton probably has another quality season in him but they need to plan for his eventual departure. The Packers say there's no reason to believe that Bryan Bulaga can't be that guy. Still, are they secure with Bulaga at left tackle and Lang at right tackle as the long-term answers as the bookend protectors for Aaron Rodgers? Or, vould Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod somehow fall to No. 32? Could they strike gold with Miami Orlando Franklin or Pittsburgh's Jason Pinkston at the end of Round 2?


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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