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.
(This selection is the Packers' fourth-round pick. We project Green Bay having a fourth-round compensatory pick.)
The Packers enter the offseason feeling relatively good about their offensive line, even after Aaron Rodgers was on the receiving end of a franchise-worst 51 sacks. That's especially true in the interior, with Evan Dietrich-Smith playing well enough in a four-game trial at center to get the ball for the first snap of training camp. The guards are above average, with Pro Bowler Josh Sitton on the right side and T.J. Lang on the left.
Where, however, is the interior depth?
Is it Don Barclay, or will he need to focus his attention at tackle if Derek Sherrod doesn't bounce back from a year off? Is it Greg Van Roten? Or will it be a draft pick?
And is that pick Cal's Brian Schwenke?
After starting 16 games at left guard and eight games at right guard as a sophomore and junior, Schwenke moved into the pivot as a senior. He started every game, earned first-team all-Pac 12 accolades and finished second for the Morris Trophy, which is given to the conference's best blocker.
At 6-foot-3 and 307 pounds, he's certainly not the biggest center prospect. However, he certainly held his own against Georgia's mountainous 359-pound nose tackle, John Jenkins, who figures to go in the first round.
"He's a big boy but you get in on him and you'll be all right," Schwenke said with a laugh. "Not going against someone like that in my four years — ever, really — it's going to take some time to get used to it but I think I've done a good job."
Schwenke is quick off the ball, plays with good leverage and hands, and has the intelligence you'd expect from someone who went to Cal. That the Golden Bears run a pro-style offense only accentuates his ability to come in and contribute immediately.
"A good part of it — the first part of it," he said when asked how much of his position is mental. "Pre-snap, it's all mental making all the calls. You're definitely thinking a lot more than the other positions on the O-line. I like to think of myself as a smart guy."
Schwenke relishes his role as a finisher. On several occasions during practice, he put his man to the ground and added one more shove, just for good measure.
"Yeah, that's my style," he said. "That's how I am on the field. I'm a tough sucker on the field but I try to be a nice guy off the field."
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.