Sydney Speaks! Why not the Packers?'s Harry Sydney recalls his experience of evaluating players at the NFL Combine, and also explains why it is imperitive for the Packers to select a top running back in the NFL draft this year.

With the NFL Combine coming to an end every coach or scout is trying to figure out if what they saw was real because some guys performed better than they thought they would and some guys stunk up the joint. Like I said a while ago now is when things really start to get good in the NFL. Some players will be added to the list and some will be erased.

I remember when I ran the drills at the Combine. I liked it because I got to get inside their heads and got a chance to see just what they could handle by the questions they asked while explaining the drill. I could look in their eyes and see who felt at ease or who was about to panic. I could see who was natural, or who had to work hard to make things happen. These are all things that you don't get from a test score.

While at the Combine all the coaches and scouts got the dates that a particular player will have his private workout because many have other times set up just in case they don't do as well. At this workout they will do the same things that they did at the Combine, but each coach will have the ability to work them out on the things they want to see. What usually happens is all the coaches will get together at a site and have one coach do the drills so everyone else can take notes. Then they will all talk about the drills they want to see done so they can get the proper feel of that athlete. As I say that I look at this draft and I see a bunch of players that can fill some of the voids that the Packers have if Ted Thompson decides to go in the direction of that best-player-on-the-board route. I believe there is plenty of depth in the positions that are of interest for the Packers. As I look at that number one pick I see plenty of talent that can help us.

Awhile ago I wrote about Ahman Green and I said between him and Vernand Morency they probably could hold the fort down, and there would be no need to draft a running back in the early rounds. Upon further review this team would be fools not to grab either someone like a Marshawn Lynch or a Adrian Peterson with its first pick. This team has to build for the future and the best way to do that is to have stud at running back. A guy who can carry the ball 20 to 25 times a game with the potential to break the big one at anytime.

Mike McCarthy admitted that he threw the ball more than he wanted to last year, but I believe he felt he didn't have a choice. Bless Ahman Green. He has done great things for the Green Bay Packers, but last year in too many crucial situations I thought he came out of the game too often, whether it was for health reasons or not. Let's not forget he is getting old as running backs go.

Also, with an aging Brett Favre, sooner or later there will be someone else at the helm and it would be nice to have something solid to lean on like a legit running game, paced by a legit running back that is busting to get in his prime, as opposed to someone sliding down the backside of the hill. I know I mentioned either Lynch or Peterson and, yes, there are others that will be available in the draft that might be late first day picks or second day picks, but the way I see it this team isn't far off. On offense they are related in a scary way because either one helps the other one. If they get a legit running back it helps the running game, which in turn helps the passing game because the defensive secondary would have to play the game differently.

Offensively, besides a running back, this team can definitely use a tight end that can stretch the field and that's no secret. I have written before that I would love to see the Packers step up and go after Daniel Graham. If you look at it there are only a few good tight ends coming out of college with the best one being Greg Olsen from Miami that should be there when the Packers pick. But tight end is a hard position to learn, especially with the pressure he will face if he came to Green Bay. If I was Ted, I would fill holes on the offense by getting a running back, receiver and tight end, and I don't care if he drafts them, trades for them, or signs them in free agency, but these are the needs for the offense to get over the hump. I'm still on the Randy Moss bandwagon. I haven't gone anywhere because of these three needs of the offense the one that a rookie can handle the best, and be most effective, is running back. That's a position you either can do well, or can't, whereas running routes and reading defenses as a wide receiver or tight end takes some time. Believe it or not, the Packers don't have that time anymore if they plan on getting there with Brett Favre. The window of opportunity is closing.

That's why it's so important to do some wheeling and dealing to get the offense set so that when Brett does retire there will be other weapons in place. Trust me, whether it's Aaron Rodgers or whomever that takes the legend's place, their best friend will be a serious running game.

I know Ted likes to have as many draft picks as possible, but if I was playing general manager for a day I would trade for Randy Moss and give up a third and maybe another player, then sign Graham from New England in free agency. Then I would do whatever I have to do to trade draft picks and select one of the two top running backs - Lynch or Peterson. The only way I would not go this route if I knew that there is another back you have your eye on that could help this offense be successful right away.

The way I see it the Packers have money and picks, which is all they need to get in the mix. If no one else wants to take control of the NFC, WHY NOT THE PACKERS?

Harry Sydney

Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at

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