NFL Draft Countdown: Packers by position

Today: Defensive line. Next: Offensive line.<p> Who is looking for defensive line talent in this weekend's draft? An easier question is who isn't hungry to shore up this position. Only a handful of teams are likely to overlook defensive linemen, and a dozen out of this deep talent pool could go in the first round.<P> While drafting a defensive lineman is not the Packers' top priority, they aren't among the lucky few considered already deep enough on D.<P>

The defensive lineman draft pool is perhaps the deepest in the draft. The list of talent almost matches the list of demand – but not quite. Here's a look at the top defensive lineman in the draft, and who might be still on the board when the Packers' name is called.

The real riches are at defensive tackle, according to most draft pundits as well as the Packers' own Director of College Scouting John Dorsey. "This position has as many as seven impact players," Dorsey said of DT. "Combine that with the depth of that position and it makes for one of the better defensive tackle drafts in many years."

From that standpoint, looking for a run-stopper who can rush inside and collapse the pocket, Jimmy Kennedy of Penn State, Dewayne Robertson of Kentucky, William Joseph of Miami, Kevin Williams of Oklahoma State and Johnathan Sullivan of Georgia are likely first round picks. Despite the long list, all could be gone by the time Green Bay steps to the mic at No. 29.

The Pack's best bet at defensive tackle may be Ty Warren (6-4, 308) of Texas A&M. Slated as a late first-rounder, he was one of the top DTs in the country for the Aggies last season.

As for the Packers' DE gift list, no team can turn down an impact outside pass rusher. Terrell Suggs of Arizona State has received most of the hype. He had 24 sacks last year and will probably shake off a little bad publicity after the combine and workouts to go high in the first round. Conventional wisdom has him going to the Bears with the fourth pick.

Next up in this category are Jerome McDougle of Miami. After that, look for Chris Kelsay of Nebraska, Michael Haynes of Penn State and possibly Tyler Brayton of Colorado to round out first round defensive lineman picks. Low first round or high second round picks could also include Dewayne White of Louisville and Kenny Peterson of Ohio State.

Brayton is a guy whose stock has risen into a solid first-round pick, but may still be around at No. 29 if the Packers are shopping for a defensive lineman. He developed a reputation for toughness and dependability at his position for Colorado.

How badly do the Packers need help at this position? Securing Cletidus Hunt and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila definitely helps, while the loss of veteran Vonnie Holliday could hurt. Last year's free agent prize Joe Johnson is a huge question mark. He had a disappointing start for the Pack, then just when he turned it around, the former Saint was felled for the season by a torn pectoral muscle.

Another big unknown is 2001's first-round pick Jamal Reynolds. Alternately written off as a bust and viewed with guarded optimism, he can't ride that fence much longer.

Gilbert Brown is likely to re-sign with the Packers, but although he's definitely a fan favorite, the 10-year veteran isn't likely to regain the effectiveness he had during the Gravedigger's best days. Aaron Kampman surprised many showing so much heart and toughness in his backup role. Other backups including Rod Walker and Steve Warren also answered the bell last year, but their future role with the Pack will depend on how they, and this draft, develop.

Green Bay also added free agents Cukie Nwokorie and Terdell Sands.


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