Packers brace for the draft

The Green Bay Packers are finished with their evaluation process of the top college players available with nothing left to do but tweak the board of about 180 top players in their draft room, says Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman.<p>

With a variety of needs, beginning with linebacker, quarterback and defensive tackle, Sherman insisted Monday in front of a room of reporters that he will take the best player available rather than draft for need this year. Remember when the Packers took defensive end Jamal Reynolds over linebacker Dan Morgan two years ago with the 10th overall pick of the draft? The Packers were in need of a defensive end at the time, but Morgan has turned out to be a starter and Reynolds a bench-warmer.

Sherman said repeatedly during his pre-draft press conference that the Packers will take the best player available when it's their turn to pick this weekend during the NFL's 68th annual draft.

"The GM in you wants to take the best player," Sherman said. "The coach in you wants you to address the need. I do think you have to take the best player because if you don't you'll have regrets down the road because the best player will serve you better than making a reach on somebody else."

The Packers will enter the draft with 11 selections but only one – the 29th overall of the first round – in the first 93 picks. Trading up is a possibility and so is trading down, Sherman said. In other words, he is keeping his options open.

"You really don't know how it's going to unfold until you are into the draft and it starts coming upon you," Sherman said. "It's very much like having a game plan. You have a game plan going into the draft, but as people get plucked off the board and opportunities come up, and other ones cease to exist, you adjust. We would definitely adjust to what's presented to us at that time.

Last year, the Packers traded up eight spots to obtain wide receiver Javon Walker with the 20th overall selection. In need of a receiver, the Packers coveted the Florida State product and were afraid he would not be available if they had stuck with their original 28th pick, so they made a trade with Seattle and surrendered their second-round pick.

"If we feel like we can move out and still get the player we want, we will try to do that," Sherman said. "It's presumptuous to a certain degree that somebody would move up to the 29th spot and give up enough juice to get there. I don't see that happening, unless there's a quarterback or a very specific player, but I think those types of players will be gone well before the 29th pick."

Sherman said the Packers will probably draft a linebacker, quarterback, cornerback/kick return specialist, defensive lineman, defensive lineman, and running back, but in no particular order. The Packers have two picks on the first day of the draft – 29th and 94th – and nine picks on the second day (rounds 4 through 7).

Sherman said a player's character and any outstanding attribute generally separate them from others in later rounds. He said the Packers always look for those qualities in players before making selections on the best players available.

Green Bay's biggest need at the moment is at outside linebacker, but the Packers are also trying to work a trade with Miami for veteran Derrick Rodgers. Green Bay released Nate Wayne in March for salary cap reasons, and Wayne quickly signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.

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