Sydney Speaks! Time to wheel, deal

With free agency set to get under way this weekend and the NFL Draft right around the corner, former Packers fullback and assistant coach Harry Sydney recommends some players the Packers should strongly consider pursuing to plug holes in the lineup.

Whether Ted Thompson believes in free agency or not, when you have $32 million to spend and only five draft picks at this time you can really be selective and fill some of the holes that can prevent the Packers from swimming in the bottom of the NFC North this year. Here's how:

With the draft around the corner anyone that knows anything about football is saying that with the fifth pick the Green Bay Packers will select Mario Williams of North Carolina State. This should be a no brainer because if there ever was a need on this team, it's at defensive end. Williams fills the bill as the defensive end of the future. He is someone that can be the cornerstone of this defense a play-maker and an every-down guy. What an awesome pick!

But before the draft, the Packers should take some of that money and sign a few free agents in certain spots. This is where I think they can use that money to work magic and the Packers have one of the best money men in the game in Andrew Brandt, Mr. Capologist. I think they should target the positions that college players coming to the professional game struggle with, such as safety, cornerback, wide receiver and offensive line, although, I believe with the new blocking scheme Kevin Barry and William Whitticker might be able to do an excellent job there, but a solid starter wouldn't hurt, either.

This is my wish list at this point. Whether this happens or not only time will tell. But at safety I really like Chris Hope of the World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. I like the way he plays and like his nasty style. This defense could use that. I also think Dexter Jackson from the Buccaneers can still play, so if you throw either one of them in the mix with Nick Collins I think you have a pretty good pair of safeties. I know they are looking at Marquand Manuel of Seattle, but Adam Archuleta wouldn't be bad, either.

And the Packers really need another starting cornerback, so they can move Ahmad Carroll to the nickel or dime corner because he is not a starting corner in the NFL. He's too small and doesn't have enough confidence in his abilities, which make him a liability on the defensive side of the ball. When you play scared, or try to be a tough guy, penalties usually follow. He doesn't have the confidence to be on an island one-on-one with a good receiver and the Packers need that other bookend to go along with Al Harris. Guys like Ty Law I believe can still play especially if the defensive line can put pressure on the quarterback and he doesn't have to cover forever. Also there's Nate Clements from the Bills, but I know Buffalo wants him back and may be close to re-signing him, but now it's about the money, so put up or shut up!!!!!!!! Maybe even take a chance at Charles Woodson. He's still better than anything the Packers have when he's healthy.

The next thing I would go get is another wide receiver because we don't really know how Javon Walker will be when he returns, so why not get an insurance policy that's not Rod Gardner? There are some receivers available. Guys like Troy Brown or David Givens that know how to run routes and know how to win the big games, or even Eddie Drummond as a fifth receiver and punt and kickoff return specialist. I'd take him over Antonio Chatman anytime. I'd even try to get a Joe Jurevicius because he's still a big-time player in my opinion.

Because of the new blocking scheme that the offensive line will use, unless they can go get someone outstanding, I wouldn't overpay anyone at this time. Even though the transformation from college to the pros usually takes a while for an offensive linemen, the new scheme will help it be a little smoother.

If you look at what the Packers could do in free agency with that money as well as draft smart they really shouldn't have that many holes in 2006, right? So if they do anything like this in free agency, and then draft Mario Williams in the first round, and then in the second round get someone like a Rodrique Wright (DT from Texas). And in the third round pick up another linebacker, then in the fourth maybe take Brian Calhoun, the running back from Wisconsin since he had an excellent pro day and let him become the third down back while Green and Gado battle it out for the starter. Whoever the quarterback is will be surrounded with pretty good talent. So Ted and Mike, it's TIME TO WHEEL AND DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to managing editor Todd Korth at, and he will forward it to him.

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