Picture gets cloudier at combine

Questions surround possible Packers prospects at wide receiver and safety, while the Buffalo Bills could throw a wrench into the Marshawn Lynch rumors, PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence says.

As the NFL Scouting Combine trudges forward in Indianapolis, you'd think the annual meat market would have helped clear up the Packers' draft picture.

Think again.

What do the Packers need? If you're drafting for need, the Packers' biggest holes are, in no particular order, tight end, safety, wide receiver, and running back.

Well, there are no tight ends worthy of being taken 16th — and there aren't any good ones in free agency, either — so it looks like it will be another year of Bubba Franks doubling as an offensive lineman and all the tight ends catching the ball like it's a live grenade.

Goodness knows the Packers could use a safety after Marquand Manuel only occasionally played like the guy general manager Ted Thompson thought he was signing in free agency last offseason.

LSU's LaRon Landry and Florida's Reggie Nelson are the best of the safeties. One or both should be available at No. 16, and either would be an immediate improvement over Manuel. Both, however, have questions about their intelligence, and after watching blown coverage after blown coverage last season, you wonder if Thompson would use a precious first-round pick on someone who might lack the necessary mental aptitude.

Then again, Landry has been compared to a smaller version of Baltimore's dynamic Ed Reed, and Nelson was nicknamed the "Eraser" by his Florida teammates for his ability to erase others' mistakes.

The wide receivers are intriguing. There are a lot of first-round prospects, and it will interesting to see what happens with the two best guys not named Calvin Johnson: Ohio State's Ted Ginn and USC's Dwayne Jarrett.

Ginn injured a foot while celebrating his kickoff return for a touchdown during the Bowl Championship Series championship game. Ginn is lightning fast, and would provide the big-play threat the Packers' passing game needs. Will the foot injury — he might not be healthy enough to perform for scouts until shortly before the draft, if at all — send him tumbling into the middle of the first round, where the Packers are picking? Or will his kick return prowess — the rest of the NFL no doubt took note of the impact Chicago's Devin Hester made — make him a top-10 selection?

Then there's Jarrett, an all-American who's dogged by comparisons to another former USC receiver, Mike Williams. Like Jarrett, Williams is a huge target who put up huge numbers in college. Williams, though, has been a bust in Detroit because he simply can't run. Can Jarrett run? He skipped workouts at the combine, and rumors are swirling it's because his 40 times in training have been molasses-slow.

Finally, there's running back. But first, a history lesson. A couple of years ago, the Packers — with the 24th pick — were smitten with a quarterback named J.P. Losman. The Buffalo Bills, however, took Losman with the 22nd pick.

This year, numerous outlets expect the Packers to take California running back Marshawn Lynch in the first round. It makes perfect sense. With or without 30-year-old free agent Ahman Green, the Packers need a multidimensional running back, and Lynch fits the bill.

Helping fuel the speculation is a look at the teams drafting ahead of the Packers. All of them, from Miami at No. 9 through Pittsburgh at No. 15, have top-flight running backs.

The problem, though, is Buffalo. The Bills hold the 12th selection, and they've been shopping Willis McGahee, who suggested ownership pack up the franchise and move it to Toronto.

If the Bills deal McGahee, they'd likely take Lynch.

Fortunately for the Packers, this appears to be a deep draft, with big-time talent available deep into the first round. Most of the top prospects have a wart or two, though Thompson has some good advice.

"Before all of a sudden we micromanage this thing to the point where we don't like anybody, I felt pretty good coming out of the first set of meetings that we're going to get a very good player at 16."

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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