Heavy on the 'D'

The Green Bay Packers completed their so-so 2004 NFL draft by selecting a defensive lineman in the sixth round and a center with their final pick. The Packers made four trades and finished with six selections, four of whom play defense, in the two-day draft. Green Bay helped itself in some areas, but some positions were left paper thin.<p>

Tops on the agenda heading into the draft was reinforcing the cornerback and interior defensive line positions. The Packers accomplished that by selecting two cornerbacks and two defensive tackles. Green Bay also needed a punter, but had to pay a high price to get one.

The Packers also were hoping to obtain a defensive end who could make up for the ineffective Jamal Reynolds and Joe Johnson. They were hoping to land an eventual successor to Brett Favre. They were hoping to land a tight end to back up Bubba Franks. They didn't find anybody to contribute in those areas.

"You can't create players that aren't there when you're picking," said coach and general manager Mike Sherman.

Whether this draft will help the Packers advance deeper into the playoffs remains to be seen. But Sherman feels that the team addressed as many needs as possible with its selections.

"We're a fairly young football team, very young," Sherman said. "... I think there are still things out there that we're going to accomplish that we haven't accomplished just yet."

Sherman's final trade in the draft came on Sunday when he traded up with San Franciso to select Arkansas State defensive tackle Corey Williams in the sixth round (179th overall). Williams joins defensive lineman Donnell Washington, who was selected in the third round (72nd overall). Both add a lot of beef to the line as the Packers focus on stopping the run.

The Packers finished the draft by taking center Scott Wells of Tennessee. The Packers are hoping Wells can play both guard and center.

Green Bay began the draft Saturday by picking cornerback Ahman Carroll of Arkansas 25th overall, then traded down with Jacksonville in the second round to obtain cornerback Joey Thomas in the third round (70th overall). The Packers then made another trade with the Jaguars to get Washington.

Uneasy that punter B.J. Sander would be available in the fourth round, the Packers traded the sixth pick of the fourth to the Miami Dolphins late in the third round to obtain the Ohio State punter with the 87th overall pick.

The Packers in 1997 used a third-round pick on kicker Brett Conway, who suffered a leg injury during training camp and was beat out by waiver-wire pickup Ryan Longwell. Josh Bidwell, selected in the fourth round of the 1999 draft, was not re-signed by the team this off-season.

"I think (Sander) has the ability to be a special punter," Sherman said. "Yes, we have had a history of it not working, but that doesn't mean that history will repeat itself. ... I think this is a unique kicker. I love the way he kicks the ball. He puts a very unique spin on the ball. He's very dependable. He's level-headed. He's a high school quarterback. He's a holder. In my mind, I drafted a starter that can change field position."

Look for Green Bay to sign about a dozen undrafted rookie free agents in the next couple of days, including a quarterback, tight end and defensive end.


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