QB a possibility with fifth pick

McCarthy feels Packers need a 'difference-maker'

Many football experts feel the Green Bay Packers will select a defensive lineman or linebacker with the fifth overall of the upcoming NFL draft. And rightfully so. The Packers need help in those areas. However, there is a possibility that a few top-rated quarterbacks, like Matt Leinart, Vince Young or Jay Cutler may be available when the Packers are on the clock. Then what?

If that's the case, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that he wouldn't have any problem if general manager Ted Thompson selected a quarterback with the pick.

"I'll say this, we'll look at every athlete on the board," McCarthy told reporters at the NFL Combine this weekend. "I think it's important to take the best player available. This is an outstanding year for quarterbacks, so we'll look at everybody. It will definitely be part of our discussions."

Many feel that Green Bay will select either defensive end Mario Williams of North Carolina State, or linebacker A.J. Hawk of Ohio State with the fifth overall pick. Then again, the Packers were in need of help along the defensive line last season and used the 24th overall selection of the first round on Aaron Rodgers. The California quarterback, whom some felt might be taken with the No. 1 overall pick of the draft, slid into the Packers' lap late in the first round.

"When you pick this high in the draft, you need to have a difference-maker," McCarthy said. "As a playmaker on offense or defense, he needs to be a player who can help this football team for 10-plus years. That's how I view picking in the top five or the top 10."

The Packers are due to select a playmaker with the fifth overall pick. Since 1970 when the common draft began, Green Bay has had five top five selections, but all have been major disappointments. Those players included defensive tackle Mike McCoy (1970), defensive tackle Bruce Clark (1980), halfback Brent Fullwood (1987), offensive tackle Tony Mandarich (1989), and cornerback Terrell Buckley (1992). Clark never played in Green Bay, instead opting to sign with a Canadian Football League team.

The Packers traded up to the 10th overall selection of the 2001 draft and whiffed on Florida State defensive end Jamal Reynolds. Green Bay has paid dearly for that mistake ever since.

"I think a pick this high should help any team in the National Football League," McCarthy said. "There's going to be a very quality football player at that spot. We need to make sure we get the right one for the Green Bay Packers."

Whether or not Brett Favre returns to play for the Packers will not have a bearing on who they will select. Knowing that Rodgers will be available, the Packers enter the draft with a set starter. If Favre returns, he will start and Rodgers will back him up. McCarthy said he has communicated with Favre, but is not pressing him for a decision.

"It's a family issue between Deanna and Brett," McCarthy said. "I feel very optimistic about his decision, but he needs to be 110 percent between the breastplates because you want him to come back and play like he always has and like we all enjoy and love. We're going to give him the timeframe that he needs."

In the meantime, be prepared for the Packers to select a quarterback, if he is the best player available on their draft board in the first round.

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