Does Hawk provide enough value?

Packers passed on a playmaker in Davis to fit a need

Saturday brought a new player to the Packers expected to be the next star in Green Bay. With the selection of Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk in the first round of the NFL Draft, general manager Ted Thompson got the guy he prayed for the night before and the one he thought was the best fit for the Packers.

Still, the selection of Hawk, regarded by many as the safest pick in the draft, raises some questions. Those questions are not necessarily regarding Hawk's ability, but rather whether the Packers got enough value with the No. 5 overall pick (their highest selection in the draft since 1992).

With the way the top of the draft fell on day one, the Packers were left with some tough decisions. Clearly, it appeared they wanted Hawk all along when they learned that Mario Williams had signed the night before with the Texans, but with quarterback Matt Leinart sliding and tight end Vernon Davis rising, they passed on two players who are arguably better than Hawk in terms of total value.

Just a year ago, Leinart would have been a lock to be the No. 1 pick had he not returned to USC for another season. He did nothing he final year in college to diminish his worth, yet fell this year because of the quality of players ahead of him. Leinart ended up going to Arizona with the No. 10 pick.

Certainly the Packers would have selected Leinart ahead of Rodgers a year ago, so questions can be raised as to why they passed on him this year. Yes, Brett Favre is coming back for another year and Rodgers is looked at as the quarterback of the future, but Leinart's value to the Packers should not have changed in a year. He would have been a steal at No. 5 and a perfect fit for the Packers' offense over many others. Plus, the Packers would have options at quarterback when Favre retires, not putting the pressure solely on Rodgers to be the man, but rather challenging him. Finding franchise quarterbacks is perhaps the most difficult task of all when dealing with the draft and building a team for the future.

With Maryland's Vernon Davis also available when the Packers selected in Round One, Thompson passed on a tight end billed as a player with one-of-a-kind skills. In some years, he could have been a No. 1 overall pick because of what he can do and the impact he is expected to have. The Packers were interested in Davis, and he would have been the playmaker on offense they sorely need, but Hawk filled more of a need for the team. The Packers already have a high-priced starting tight end in Bubba Franks.

Furthermore, Hawk plays a position where it is difficult to stand out in the NFL. A No. 5 pick has to stand out. So few players at linebacker are chosen high because the position has morphed over the past decade into one where so many players are so similar in skill level. Thus, equal-valued players can be acquired with later picks or in later rounds. Of the top linebackers playing now in the NFL, only LaVar Arrington (second overall pick in 2000) was selected higher than Hawk. Is Hawk that special of a player? The Packers had better hope so based on where they picked him.

Thompson has been all about value in the first round of the draft. He even reiterated that at his pre-draft press conference earlier in the week. While Hawk has the tools to become a star in Green Bay, time will tell if the Packers got value with him at No. 5. Right now, it does not look that way.


Matt Tevsh

Editor's note: Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.


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