After months of anticipation, the NFL Draft starts tonight, and the Green Bay Packers hold the 32nd pick of the first round Over the last week, I've heard from several sources that there's a "good" chance general manager Ted Thompson will not stay at 32
What does a "good" chance mean? Something along the lines of Ed's quote about Nordberg, probably
Thompson himself at this point probably doesn't know, though all of the scenarios have been gone over again and again and again in the draft room No doubt, the talent scout has scouted for potential trades, both up and down the draft board
"It's kind of how the board is," Thompson told reporters last week "If we're thinking about trading up, then we're of the opinion there's a particular player that we really value higher than a lot of players on the board, and we feel like it's worth the cost, then we will entertain trying to move up there The same thing can work in reverse If we feel like there are a number of players that are about the same value, and we can move back five spots and still get the same player, then we are not averse to doing that It kind of goes both ways "
For a decade, the Packers could rest easy knowing that Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher would protect the flanks for Brett Favre It's not just that they kept Favre safe; it's that they could do it one-on-one That allowed the tight end and halfback to get out into pass routes immediately, in turn putting more pressure on the opposing defense and turning loose a great quarterback with four- and five-man routes
After years of being able to neglect that position in the draft, Thompson wisely selected Bryan Bulaga in the first round last year At worst, he's the long-term answer at right tackle Now, Thompson needs to add the Clifton to Bulaga's Tauscher
Sherrod is a gifted, long-armed pass blocker with incredible intelligence By giving up picks Nos 32 and 64, Thompson would have the ammunition to move to No 20 By giving up picks Nos 32, 96 and 129, Thompson could move to about No 24 If Sherrod starts to sink during a possible quarterback frenzy, Thompson might see if the price is right
If Thompson's short list at No 32 has been wiped clean, the Packers' pick might be in play for a team that wants to move up to get one of the leftover quarterbacks
Florida State's Christian Ponder, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, TCU's Andy Dalton and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett aren't universally loved but each is loved by a few specific teams One possibility we were told has Tennessee looking to move into the first round to get TCU's Andy Dalton The Packers' pick at 32 could be highly coveted if one of those quarterback-hungry teams gets antsy and wants their guy before going to bed on Thursday night
Who could be in play in a trade back?
— Brooks Reed: Reed very well could be the guy at No 32 but could be had later, especially if New England, which picks 33rd, has taken Akeem Ayers to play outside linebacker with one of its two first-round picks We heard the Packers were doing homework on Reed until late in the draft process, signaling they like him but still aren't entirely sure about the defensive end-to-linebacker transition
— Randall Cobb: Thompson's history is that he doesn't draft short receivers Cobb, at 5-foot-10 1/4, doesn't measure up in a literal sense but he plays much bigger Not only does he have the talent to eventually succeed Donald Driver as the slot receiver, but he'd add instant pizzaz to a return game that has been horrendous for years And how about this: Cobb produced 10 touchdown blocks as a senior at Kentucky — Georgia's A.J. Green had five in his career — a fact that makes him worthy of the comparisons to Pittsburgh's Hines Ward
— Mikel Leshoure: As is the case with Reed, Leshoure could be the target at No 32 Running back isn't a need but Ryan Grant is coming off a serious injury and has a serious price tag ($5 25 million in salary and roster bonus), and given James Starks' history with injuries in college and during his rookie season, it'd be a gamble to put too many eggs in his basket Leshoure is a big, workhorse-type pack who fits exactly what the Packers want in their backs, given the uncertain field conditions late in the year
— Wild cards: Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski would solidify left guard, where Daryn Colledge is a free agent and hasn't developed into a reliable standout like you'd expect from a former second-round pick He's got impeccable intangibles (name, intelligence, off-field work) Troy receiver Jerrel Jernigan is in the mold of Cobb — an inch shorter and not nearly the blocker but even more explosive Like Cobb, he returns kickoffs and punts Mid-second round is where the receiver depth is in general Pitt's Jon Baldwin is a big man, (6-foot-4) which the Packers like, but could be a big pain in the butt Maryland's Torrey Smith (6-1) would add a deep threat and return kickoffs but is a raw route-runner Miami's Leonard Hankerson (6-2) is a lot like Jordy Nelson
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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