Analysis - Hard work pays off for Sherman, Pack

Mike Sherman just may be the hardest working GM in show business. The Packer GM maneuvered to gain selections above and beyond the regularly scheduled slate and delivered a bevy of defensive help that defied pundits' predictions.<p> Whether or not the Packers reap the benefits of the Draft Day deals remains to be seen. But already the Packers and their fans can be confident that Mike Sherman is committed to do everything he can to bring his team back to the top.<P>

The Packers executed a dizzying number of deals in the 2003 NFL Draft Saturday and Sunday. They traded picks that were traded to them, they traded picks they received based on last year and traded picks they would have had next year. In all, Green Bay struck three separate deals, which altered 10 picks. EVen when the only selections they had remaining were non-tradeable compensatory picks, the Pack still managed to make a deal when they swapped a 6th rounder next season to add a seventh round pick Sunday.

"We have a great staff who were working the phones constantly throughout the draft, always trying to do something to benefit the Green Bay Packers," Sherman said when the dust cleared Sunday evening.

"It was a great draft," Sherman said. "I felt we had a great draft last year, too, but we had more picks and more action. We certainly made our preseason camps very competitive and addressed our needs."

Only the first pick stood pat, and even with that the Packers managed to turn the tables a bit. With the 29th overall selection, the Packers chose a linebacker -- that was no surprise. No one expected Green Bay to be the first team to dip into the linebacker pool, and only a few savvy draft analysts saw Oregon State's Nick Barnett as the top talent at his position. Both Boss Bailey and E.J. Henderson were consistently listed as mid-first round picks, but both ended up slipping to the second round.

The pick was surprising, but smart. In the analysis that followed, the ESPN broadcast team and many print journalists concurred that Barnett's injury-free slate, excellent workout performances, consistently excellent collegiate career and overall characted did, indeed, put him at the top.

Then the wheeling and dealing began. Green Bay moved up 15 spots in the third round, trading with Buffalo to get DT/DE Kenny Peterson. The Ohio State defensive lineman had been predicted by one draft web site to be a true gem who would probably slip below his true value due to his position switch from DE to DT and projected back to DE in the pros. Pass rush help is what the Packers need, and Sherman went out and got it without missing the first-round opportunity at a top-notch linebacker.

The Packers sat out the fourth round as part of that deal, but they made up for it with more moves in the fifth. This time they shifted up 18 spots in a trade with Seattle, netting DT James Lee from Oregon State with the 147th. Although the Seahawks got the Pack's pick at No. 165, yet another trade - this time with Philly - gave Green Bay the 166th pick. They selected LB Hunter Hillenmeyer from Vanderbilt.

Addressing the offense for the first time with a sixth-round compensatory pick, Green Bay took OT Brennan Curtin of Notre Dame. This may be the only question mark in the draft. Curtin found trouble in South Bend by reportedly asking a teammate to take a drug test for him. Again, Packer fans will have to put their trust in Sherman who has proven to be big on the character issue and hope that he sees something there.

If you thought the Packers were done dealing and went out to enjoy the fine spring weather, you may have missed Green Bay's final spin. The Packers traded a late-round pick in 2004 to Philly for the 245th pick. That pick went for CB Chris Johnson of Louisville.

Spending the remaining compensatory picks on WR/KR DeAndrew Rubin of South Florida, WR Carl Ford of Toledo and LB Steve Josue of Carson Newman, the day was finally in the books.

"We feel we got good value for where we picked (each player)," Sherman said.

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