Immediate impact

The Green Bay Packers won't know for sure until the pads come on in training camp, but it looks like Ted Thompson is going to get immediate results from the first seven players he selected in the 2006 draft.

Five have a definite chance to start on regular units, while two can help improve the special teams right away.

First round pick A.J. Hawk is the obvious rookie that will most likely make the biggest impact. Hawk has been installed at weak-side linebacker and he hasn't shown the coaching staff anything to suggest he won't be a playmaker. Hawk should become the face of the Packers' defense for years to come if his productivity in the NFL comes close to what he did at the collegiate level.

Second round pick Daryn Colledge has stepped in from day one in the mini-camps as the starter at left guard. Like Hawk, Colledge is making the coaching staff feel pretty secure about his selection in the draft. Some liken him to Mike Wahle with his athletic ability. That ability, plus his quickness and strength make him a great fit in the Packers new zone blocking scheme.

Greg Jennings, the second of Green Bay's two second round selections, has also shown remarkable maturity in getting in and out of cuts in his patterns. The wide receiver jobs are wide open opposite Donald Driver, and Jennings has a real chance to open some eyes. Like Hawk and Colledge, Jennings was very productive in college. Jennings plays bigger than his size and he makes things happen after the catch.

Third round pick Abdul Hodge has also asserted himself well up to this point. Right now he is backing up Nick Barnett at middle linebacker, but he has looked quick to the ball and instinctive. The starters right now are Hawk, Barnett and Ben Taylor, who has also has the inside track to start at strong-side linebacker. But when the pads come on later this summer, the linebacker jobs will fall into place. The coaching staff has said it will start the three best linebackers.

The second third round pick Jason Spitz has moved in as a starter recently at right guard. Spitz has the versatility to play guard or center, and he is strong, intelligent and tough. Spitz's biggest competition at right guard is second-year pro Junius Coston. Spitz is another lineman that has the qualities to excel in the zone blocking scheme.

Fourth round pick Cory Rodgers has made more noise off the field with a recent incident at a bar in Texas. Rodgers was very apologetic about the situation, and if he can keep his head on straight, has the chance to at least return kickoffs and possibly punts. He was very productive in college, especially returning kicks. Rodgers can also help the passing game, but his immediate focus will be on special teams.

The second of Green Bay's two fourth-round picks Will Blackmon has been out because of a broken foot. Blackmon may not be ready to practice by the start of training camp, coach Mike McCarthy said on Wedesday. When Blackmon gets up to speed, he can instantly improve the punt return game as he showed that ability at Boston College. He also played wide receiver as well as cornerback in college, though, he will start out strictly on defense in Green Bay. Blackmon has a chance to contribute to the Packers' dime package in pass coverage, but like Rodgers, will be expected to focus on special teams first.

We will find out soon enough how good these players really are and how quickly they can impact the fortunes of the Green Bay Packers. But at this point, the outlook is very promising. The later-round draft picks by Thompson in 2006 also have a chance to contribute, but more so down the line. These seven have a chance to make an immediate impact. The Packers hope they will be known as the Magnificent Seven.

Bob Fox is a longtime Packers fan and frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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