In February of 2005, could anyone have predicted that the Packers would have drafted Aaron Rodgers? A.J. Hawk was predicted pretty early last year, but would anyone have seen the Javon Walker trade for a second rounder and the parlaying of that pick into a handful of later round picks? Of course, anything that happens on draft day is dependent on the events of the day, but let me throw out some possibilities for you.
Stay where they are – With the 16th pick the Green Bay Packers take … WHO? Early mock drafts have them taking Marshawn Lynch, the running back out of Cal. He made the news lately with some unsavory accusations, which is troubling. Things seem to have moved on and I am sure the Packers will investigate and make the right determination on him. A playmaker is a must in the first round.
Trade Up – To get Calvin Johnson, the wideout from Georgia Tech, or Adrian Peterson, the running back from Oklahoma, or Alan Branch, the defensive end from Michigan would require a move up. Those guys are slated to go early as are Joe Thomas, the big lineman out of Wisconsin and Clemon's Gaines Adams. I doubt they are interested in Brady Quinn (Notre Dame) or JaMarcus Russell (LSU), the top QB prospects. What kind of package could the Packers put together to entice the Raiders, Lions, Cleveland or Tampa into swapping picks? Trade Down – Depending on who they are targeting, they may trade down in order to get additional picks. They may be going after a wideout. They may determine that Ted Ginn, Jr. from Ohio State, Dwayne Jarrett out of USC and Dwayne Bowe from LSU are the next batch of players after Calvin Johnson. Maybe they would be happy with any of them. Based upon their survey of their sources in the league, they feel that at least one of them will be there in the late first round. They might trade down, still get a receiver and pick up another pick or two in rounds three and four. Maybe. There is risk with this course of action. None of them could be there when they pick and they may be forced to take a player that does not fit their plans, or reach at a position where they have good depth.
Ted Thompson has shown that he is prepared to wheel and deal. Though he has not done so in the first round since he took the Packer job. He made a bold statement by taking Rodgers two years ago. The status of that pick is still up in the air. Last year he took what many people considered a safe pick that was a success. A.J. Hawk had a solid year and should only get better.
What direction will he go this year? Will he surprise the fans with a trade, or pick a player that goes against conventional wisdom? Or will he play it safe and take a player that carries little risk but does not have as much upside as somebody else?
Based upon Thompson's history here the last two drafts, he will no doubt trade picks to stockpile some picks. Depending on whom they take in the first round, look for them to look for a safety, a running back, a defensive end, or two, and some wide receivers. It is my belief that a team needs to draft offensive lineman every year, so look for that to happen. Odds are that they will take the best available player when their turn comes up. If history tells us anything, the Packers will have about 10 picks when the weekend is over.
The draft is a whirlwind of trades, surprise picks and unforeseen events. No one can predict with any amount of certainty what will happen once your team is on the clock. The best a team can do is be as prepared as possible for every possibility. Once the team before you picks, you had better know who you want and wait while the trade offers roll in. The future of the organization hangs in the balance.
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 email@example.com.