Lombardi: Drafting for offense

PackerReport.com's John Lombardi breaks down each position on Green Bay's offense, and drops a few names of players who might be available in the NFL draft that can help the Packers.

In 1999, I said goodbye to a member of the Tennessee Titans accounting department on the Friday before the draft.

"See you tomorrow," I said as she headed for the door. She gave me a wide-eyed look and responded, "What do you mean?"

I asked, "You're not coming in for the draft?"

She answered, "No, why would I? I have nothing to do."

My wiseacre response was, "You have nothing to do on the day of a game, but you drag yourself to the stadium to watch that. The draft is the most important two days of the whole year."

As a scout, I was very defensive of the effort put into draft preparation. It is largely unnoticed.

Needless to say, she declined visiting the facility and probably spent the weekend balancing her checkbook, or something. But the fact remains that the draft is the most important event in the year for an NFL franchise. Success on the field depends on it. That is why there are a dozen or so folks (like me) on each team who spend the whole year preparing for the thing. Once the season is finished, another couple dozen folks (coaches primarily) turn their complete attention to it. The draft is an important event for every NFL team.

It is even more important for the Green Bay Packers because Ted Thompson believes in building the roster primarily through the draft and because the Packers still have numerous holes to fill. Keeping that in mind, let us take a look at the offense this week to see where the team might be looking for help:

WIDE RECEIVER – This is a need position currently. Donald Driver is a very good player but is getting older. Greg Jennings had a very good rookie year, but injuries and fatigue (possibly) took it toll as the year went on. Robert Ferguson should be on his way out of town, but who knows what they will do with him? There are a slew of young guys, Carlyle Holiday, Ruvell Martin, and others, who hope to make the next step. There is also the possibility that Koren Robinson may be back, if he stays clean. The Packers need to find a game-changer here, but there is a possibility that they may stand pat and hope that Robinson, Driver and Jennings can carry the burden with the young guys filling in when needed. Much of it probably depends who is available when it is their turn to pick.

Popular names at the position: Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech, Ted Ginn, Jr. of Ohio State, Dwayne Jarrett of USC, and Sidney Rice of South Carolina

TIGHT END – Bubba Franks severely underachieved as a receiver, but held his own as a blocker. David Martin battled injuries as he usually does and they should let him walk. Donald Lee shows promise, but drops too many passes. The Packers need to upgrade here, but I doubt they will pick early to do so because of a number of reasons, but principally because there are not that many highly ranked prospects at the position.

Popular names at the position: Greg Olson from Miami and Zach Miller of Arizona State are the only tight ends that are getting any love right now.

OFFENSIVE LINE By drafting so many guys last year, it would seem that the Packers may lay off the position this year, but depth upfront is vital and they might take a flier. Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are not getting any younger so a tackle could spring up.

Popular names at the position: Joe Thomas of Wisconsin, Levi Brown of Penn State, Ryan Harris from Notre Dame and Justin Blalock from Texas lead the pack at the tackle position.

RUNNING BACK - Ahman Green had a great season when you remember the injury he rebounded from, but he is another year older and is a free agent. Vernand Morency showed flashes, but the Packers could use a game breaker here.

Popular names at the position: Adrian Peterson from Oklahoma, Marshawn Lynch from Cal, Michael Bush from Louisville and Kenny Irons from Auburn are the big names. Tony Hunt from Penn State is making a late run.

FULLBACK – This is a need position. William Henderson is as old as dirt and Brandon Miree could not wrest the job away full time. I doubt the Packers will invest too much in this position but they could take someone late.

Popular names at the position: Only Brian Leonard from Rutgers merits any serious look early. He is not a lead blocking type of guy but more of a utility back.

QUARTERBACK – I am not going to even consider it. Favre will probably come back, and if he does not then they have to give Aaron Rodgers a shot first.

You can never tell what will happen on draft day. Highly rated players drop and unknowns vault up the board at the last minute. Trades mess everything up. Ted Thompson will hopefully continue to stockpile picks and get as many choices as possible. That way, he increases the chances he will find a couple of players to fill some of those holes. Free agents may be tapped to fill some of these areas of need, but look to the draft for a long-term answer.

Next week: The defense

John Lombardi

Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.

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