National experts laud Packers' draft bounty

Grading a draft before the first minicamp — much less before they've played a season or two — is pure folly. But that doesn't stop scribes from across the country from doing just that. For what it's worth, here are what some nationally renowned writers are saying about the Packers' draft bounty.

ESPN's Mel Kiper gave the Packers a B. "I gave Green Bay an A after the first day. The Packers had a lot of picks (12), and some were definitely reaches. Linebacker A.J. Hawk, their first-round pick at No. 5, will give the Packers a much-needed face on defense. Offensive tackle Daryn Colledge needs to get stronger and become a better run-blocker. I really like WR Greg Jennings, LB Abdul Hodge and C Jason Spitz. Will Blackmon was both a wide receiver and cornerback at Boston College, but reportedly he will get a chance to play corner initially."

ESPN's Sports Nation poll, with 31,129 votes tallied as of noon Tuesday, had 39.5 percent of respondents giving the Packers a B. The others: 30.8 percent an A, 14.8 percent a C, 8.8 percent an F and 5.8 percent a D.

The Sporting News' Dan Pompei gave the Packers an A-plus, the best of all 32 teams. "With linebackers A.J. Hawk and Abdul Hodge, the Packers have the beginnings of a defense that could dominate the NFC North for years."

The Chicago Tribune's Don Pierson gave the Packers a B. "Unlike Brian Urlacher, who had to transition from safety, Hawk is an experienced and instinctive linebacker who will improve the defense immediately. Hodge also was productive and underscores the need at linebacker. After trading Javon Walker to Denver, the Packers added three wide receivers in the first four rounds in a desperate attempt to uncover at least one who can help right away. Colledge also could start at guard as a rookie. "

Fox Sports' John Czarnecki gave the Packers a B-plus. "The Packers went for intelligent, all-around football players starting with all-everything linebacker A.J. Hawk, who can play the middle and also be a nickel linebacker. Boise State offensive tackle Daryn Colledge could end up being a starting guard this season while Jason Spitz of Louisville was another critical need at center. Green Bay lost its three best interior linemen from the 2004 season. Cory Rodgers of TCU and Will Blackmon of Boston College will be shooting to break the lineup as a receiver. The only knock on the Packers was giving up on Javon Walker, a former first-round pick and a Pro Bowl player, for a second-round choice. They could end up regretting that trade."

Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson gave the Packers an A. "The mass of the class is fantastic – 13 total picks, including five in the top 75. Linebackers A.J. Hawk and Abdul Hodge should be a great tandem for years to come. Tackle Daryn Colledge and center Jason Spitz should eventually develop into starters. Greg Jennings and Cory Rodgers add depth to the receiving crew and should provide what Terrence Murphy would have if he hadn't been injured. Cornerback/wide receiver Will Blackmon offers flexibility and can also be a return specialist. Defensive tackle Johnny Jolly was a great value selection in the sixth round." Robinson was critical of some later picks. "The Packers started strong, but dropped off with some reaching in Rounds 5 through 7. Two big ones came in the fifth round: Quarterback Ingle Martin was a seventh-round choice on many boards, and tackle Tony Moll was expected to be an undrafted free agent."

USA Today's Jarrett Bell gave the Packers 2 out of 4 stars: "If A.J. Hawk becomes the next Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher, he was worth the fifth pick. That will be a tall order. Another linebacker, Abdul Hodge, will be worth watching. Will OT Daryn Colledge make the leap from Boise State?"

CBSsportsline's Pete Prisco gave the Packers a B. "Best pick: Grabbing A.J. Hawk in the first round was a great move. He is the safest pick in this draft, a guy who will start for years in Green Bay. Worst pick: They took Boise State tackle Daryn Colledge in the second round when Marcus McNeil was still on the board. McNeil is a better player."

NFL.com's Vic Carucci rated Green Bay as one of his five winners. "By making A.J. Hawk the fifth overall choice, the Packers got more than a linebacker whose phenomenal playmaking skills will instantly improve their defense. They got one of the great character players to emerge from the college ranks in a long time. Hawk's off-the-charts work ethic no doubt will be contagious. The Packers made two strong additions to their offensive line in second-rounder Daryn Colledge (tackle, Boise State) and third-rounder Jason Spitz (center, Louisville). And they picked up the most polished receiver in the draft in second-rounder Greg Jennings (Western Michigan), who could end up being more productive than any of the wideouts selected before him, including Pittsburgh's first-round choice Santonio Holmes (Ohio State)."

The Houston Chronicle's John McClain gave the Packers a B-plus. "General manager Ted Thompson made trades to acquire 12 picks. It's hard to mess up. Brett Favre should be happy. After the team took LB A.J. Hawk, who should be a perennial Pro Bowl selection, four of the next five choices were offensive players. OT Daryn Colledge should start as a rookie. MLB Abdul Hodge could make an immediate impact."

The Detroit News' Mike O'Hara gave the Packers an A-minus. "The best first four in the draft -- OLB A.J. Hawk, OT Daryn Colledge, WR Greg Jennings and ILB Abdul Hodge."

The Chicago Sun-Times Mike Milligan gave the Packers a Day 1 grade of a C. "It's the year of the linebacker in the NFC North where the rest of the division chased their own version of Brian Urlacher. The Packers will do well with first round pick A.J. Hawk a very talented player with the attitude and commitment to change a defense overnight. He fills a serious need and will team with Iowa's Abdul Hodge, perhaps the top middle linebacker in the draft, to form an excellent unit in years to come. It's also hard not to like Boise State offensive lineman Daryn Colledge, who will likely start out at guard where the Packers need an upgrade. So why the low grade? They gave away disgruntled receiver Javon Walker for next to nothing, allowing agent Drew Rosenhaus to get his client out of Dodge for less than market value. Now Greg Jennings, a second-round pick with a lot of upside out of Western Michigan will have to play well. The overall group of players is not bad, but the moves that could have been made really hurt. Why not a bold move for No. 2 pick Reggie Bush or at least the selection of Vernon Davis, the best receiving threat on the board. Could it be that they really aren't interested in making things easy for Brett Favre?"

ESPN's John Clayton rated the Packers as one of his five Day 1 losers. "They didn't get great value for Javon Walker, only getting a second-round choice instead of two seconds, which they were demanding Friday. While A.J. Hawk was a great choice to help the defense, the Packers didn't do much to help Brett Favre. They didn't get tight end Vernon Davis , but that's OK. Hawk rated higher on most draft boards than Davis. The Packers had a decent second-round for the future in getting tackle Daryn Colledge and wide receiver Greg Jennings , who might take some time to make impact. But this is Favre's last year, and he is committed to making the best out of the season. As it has been the entire offseason, the Packers haven't seized the moment."


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