This isn't meant as a pure prediction of who the Packers will select in April's draft. Instead, this is meant as a way to introduce you to some of the names who could fill holes on the roster. Our round projections are based on our conversations with three scouts and Optimum Scouting's Eric Galko.
How important is the Senior Bowl? In the last five drafts, the Packers have selected 11 Senior Bowl players, including their top selection three times and eight of their 12 choices in the first two rounds. Casey Hayward participated in the 2012 Senior Bowl, Derek Sherrod and D.J. Williams played in the 2011 game, Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson were part of the 2010 game, B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews and Quinn Johnson suited up for the 2009 game, and Jordy Nelson, Brian Brohm and Pat Lee played in the 2008 game.
Coach Mike McCarthy trusts fullback John Kuhn. He's the third-down running back and a short-yardage weapon.
However, Kuhn's spot on the team might not be safe. He'll turn 31 on Sept. 9. His base salary of $1.8 million for 2013 is practically as much as the combined amount of the other running backs under contract (James Starks, Brandon Saine, DuJuan Harris and Alex Green check in at $2.24 million). Of the 28 backs who will make at least $1 million in base salary, Kuhn ranks 18th, including fourth among fullbacks.
And for all of that trust, Kuhn had a killer holding penalty on a kickoff return and gave up a sack in the playoff loss to San Francisco, and he put a nail in the coffin with a fumble in last year's playoff loss to the Giants.
Harvard's Kyle Juszczyk is an intriguing possibility in the seventh round. A two-time All-American tight end, he caught 52 passes for 706 yards and an Ivy League-leading eight touchdowns as a senior.
At 6-foot-1 and 248 pounds, he's not tall enough to play tight end in the NFL but he has a fullback's body.
During a one-on-one blitz drill at the Senior Bowl, Juszczyk leveled touted Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene.
"To be honest with you, that's the first time I've ever done that drill," he said after that practice. "I've never had to do pass protection. Normally, I'm catching the ball. I felt comfortable and knew that was something I could do. I'm a physical guy and I feel like I can work in space, as well, so I'm comfortable."
His newness to that drill showed, at times. Unofficially, he went 4-1 in that drill the first day but 2-2 the next.
Without Kuhn's vast experience physically and mentally in pass protection, McCarthy might have to adjust his third-down plan. Kuhn ranked ninth out of 63 backs in ProFootballFocus.com's pass blocking efficiency statistic in 2012, 23rd out of 66 in 2011 and fourth out of 59 in 2010. Out of 218 snaps in which he was used as a blocker on a passing play over the last three regular seasons, he allowed one sack, according to PFF.
Juszczyk, however, is younger, cheaper and more athletic. Like the Packers do with tight end D.J. Williams, the Packers could flex Juszczyk out of the backfield to take advantage of his pass-catching abilities and athleticism. He might also serve as an upgrade as a lead blocker, an area in which Kuhn never has excelled. Juszczyk looked good in the area, leading the way as Stanford's Stepfan Taylor and UCLA's Johnathan Franklin looked like the best two backs in Mobile. So, there's some give-and-take as far as skill-sets.
"You've got to do a lot of things," he said of playing fullback. "You've got to be able to line up in a lot of spots, you have to do special teams, you have to do everything."
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.