Top 5 pick guarantees nothing

Remember Tony Mandarich? Tim Couch? Terrell Buckley?

With the Packers' season a wash, not much positive things going on, I thought this week I would concentrate on the 2006 NFL draft, where the Packers certainly appear headed for a top five pick.

Many fans are excited about the prospect of landing USC do-everything running back Reggie Bush, or possibly quarterbacks Matt Leinart or Vince Young. I'm here to not douse your enthusiasm, but to keep yourself on an even keel, as top five picks don't guarantee anything. Need I remind Packers fans who Green Bay picked fifth in 1992? That would be Douglas Terrell Buckley (yes, Douglas is his real first name), who this week was picked up by the New York Giants.

Furthermore, other top five picks who have flamed out include Akili Smith, Tim Couch (top pick of draft) and Tony Mandarich — all of whom spent time in Green Bay at one time or another. Also, there are Ryan Leaf and Joey Harrington.

Getting a top five pick is earned, in a strange way, but it's up to each team to make sure it makes the right pick, keeping it out of the top five the next season.

If the Packers wind up with No. 1, they have to go with Bush. This kid just makes things happen every week. Samkon Gado has displayed improvement since becoming a starting running back, but can the Packers afford to not draft the next Gale Sayers?

Some want the Packers to draft a quarterback. Just when did Aaron Rodgers fail? Preseason? C'mon, that's not nearly enough time to grade a player, who has just been in the NFL one year.

Rodgers deserves to succeed or fail on his own. For those already failing him, it's ridiculous. Give Rodgers a healthy Javon Walker, and maybe Bush and then let's see. ranked Rodgers the sixth best player in the 2005 draft, ahead of No. 1 pick Alex Smith. Braylon Edwards of Cleveland was ranked first. There has to be something there for Rodgers to attain this ranking.

And picking a quarterback could be a moot point if Brett Favre decides he doesn't want to go out throwing 20-plus interceptions and playing for a double-digit losing team.

Also, think Favre wouldn't mind Bush? That would be a way to coax another year out of him. Anyway, the draft has been a topic this season more than any other in the last 12 seasons because of the Packers' horrendous year. It does seem like a top five pick is realistic, but don't think because they pick in the top five the player they choose will be a stud. He could be, but sometimes, as we've seen, he can also be a dud.

Just like the Packers want, three of their final four games are at Lambeau Field. Sunday, the Lions visit, Christmas Day the Bears come to town and New Year's Day the Seahawks open 2006 in Green Bay.

The season is a loss, but finishing strong at home could be worth something. This season, the Packers are 1-4 at home, and the last two seasons under the leadership of Mike Sherman, the Packers have been a poor home team, recording a 5-8 home record.

Sherman's job status is in question for 2006, but finishing with three home wins would be a big boost.

Sherman isn't all to blame for what's occurred in 2005. Injuries have been the main reason for the 2-10 record. However, GM Ted Thompson is in his first season in Green Bay, and most new GMs will look for any reason to bring in "their" head coach.

The last time a new GM was in this position in Green Bay was 1991, when Ron Wolf was hired late in the season. He fired Lindy Infante after a 4-12 season and hired Mike Holmgren, and we all know how the story goes from there.

Thompson would like to write a story like that, and if he does, it starts with the coach. It's all speculation on what will happen, but if the Packers don't finish strong, a move should be expected. It's not that Sherman necessarily deserves to be let go, it's just that Thompson will want to put his own touches on the franchise.

Doug Ritchay

Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a longtime sportswriter and former Packers beat writer for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. E-mail at

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