NFL Draft Countdown: Packers by Position

Today: Cornerbacks. Next: Safeties<P> One position that finds its way toward the top of everyone's draft list is cornerback. They seem to go early and often, no matter what the talent pool or teams' needs dictate. In his pre-draft press conference this week, head coach/GM Mike Sherman noted that the Packers' are indeed shopping for a cornerback/kick returner. <P>

As nickel and dime packages are used with more frequency, the draft stock of the CB rises even higher Most teams with winning records have played at least 50 percent of their defensive snaps in a package with more than two cornerbacks on the field, according to Also, it's a position that by definition has a high injury risk, so depth is a must.

This year's draft plays more into depth insurance than star power. According to several draft experts, about half of this year's CB crop has been tabbed as backups rather than a No. 1 or 2 guy.

A trade for former Eagle Al Harris to complement Mike McKenzie bolsters the position for the Pack, but depth is the key and the presence of veterans never closes the door to a newcomer who has the ability to line up against the Randy Moss-type elites, they do exist in this year's field, and they may be there for the Packers' taking in round 1. Both Terence Newman of Kansas State and Marcus Trufant of Washington State are considered the marquee CBs of 2003. Green Bay would have to trade up to get either one. There are other possibilities, however, such as Andre Woolfolk of Oklahoma.

Woolfolk is big and athletic, and is considered to be first-round quality, although he won't go up high. Could that be a perfect fit for Green Bay at No. 29? In several different rankings, Woolfolk was pegged at No. 26, 27 and 30. The only thing standing between Green Bay and Woolfolk are several teams desperate for talent at corner that could boost Woolfolk's spot into the teens. This theory could go the other way. If Indianapolis (No. 24) and/or Pittsburgh (27) opt to wait until the second round to select a corner, that will leave much better pickings for the Pack.

Next comes a group of corners who are probably second-round caliber and who will all be gone by the end of day one due to the shortage of talent. These include Sammy Davis (Texas A&M) and Kevin Garrett (SMU) along with Dennis Weathersby (Oregon State), Rashean Mathis (Bethune-Cookman) and Eugene Wilson (Illinois).

Right now, what Green Bay has at corner is a mixed bag. Mike McKenzie, a good third-round find in 1999, returns for his fifth season to lead the position. Then there's a drop-off in proven Packer products, but not in possible potential from Harris, recently re-signed Bryant Westbrook, Erwin Swiney, and Bhawoh Jue.

While Harris' payoff won't be known until the season is underway, Green Bay has reason to hope that he will be the steady presence at corner that they need to complement McKenzie.

The 28-year-old Harris, a Texas A&M-Kingsville alumnus was employed extensively as the "nickel" back in the Eagles' defense, which ranked fourth in the NFL. Appearing in all 16 games, with two starts, he closed out the season with 25 tackles, 18 of them solo. He also posted one interception and was credited with 13 passes defensed. Harris has appeared in 80 games with 21 starts, and amassed 171 tackles, 133 of them unassisted. A highly durable performer, he has not missed a game over his five-year NFL career and will carry an 80-game playing streak into the 2003 season. Originally a sixth-round draft selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997, he joined the Eagles via the waiver route August 31, 1998.

If Harris continues on his consistent route, then the draft won't be a necessary measure to find a starter but instead a way to add the needed depth to an area of growing importance.

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