Day 1: Thumbs up, thumbs down

Initial thoughts on each of Packers' four picks of NFL draft

The Green Bay Packers opened the first day of the NFL draft by selecting, to everyone's surprise, Tennessee defensive tackle Justin Harrell, a pick that was booed by Packers fans looking on inside the Lambeau Field atrium. It got a little better, however, for the Packers from that point on.

After swinging a trade with the New York Jets to pick up an extra third round pick, the Packers proceeded to fill some areas of need. Green Bay selected Nebraska running back Brandon Jackson late in the second round, then picked up wide receiver/punt returner James Jones out of San Jose State, and strong safety Aaron Rouse of Virgina Tech.

While it will take a few years before we can truly rate general manager Ted Thompson's selections, here is a knee-jerk, thumbs-up/thumbs-down ranking of Green Bay's first four picks:

Justin Harrell - thumbs down
Who? Why? The fans at the Packers draft party weren't the only ones up in arms when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Green Bay's selection with the 16th overall pick. The same can be said for the media contingent gathered in an auditorium just down the hall from the team's locker room.

Most everyone felt that the Packers are in need of offensive weapons. Cal's Marshawn Lynch was selected a few spots earlier by the Buffalo Bills, but the Packers should have selected a player who can score points. If no one else was worthy on offense, then why not go for cornerback Leon Hall as the heir apparent to either Al Harris or Charles Woodson

Green Bay's defensive line is one of the team's deepest positions. Veterans Ryan Pickett and Corey Williams are the starters, and the Packers have solid backups in Colin Cole and Johnny Jolly. Plus, Cullen Jenkins plays inside on passing downs. So, where exactly does Harrell fit in?

Brandon Jackson - thumbs up
It took a while, but the Packers finally addressed a need by selecting Jackson with the second to last pick of the second round (63rd overall).

Though Jackson has only started 11 games in his career at Nebraska, he seems ready-made for Green Bay's zone-blocking scheme. Built along the lines of Vernand Morency, Jackson is good at finding cutback lanes and changes direction well. That's all the Packers can hope for from a running back in their offense.

James Jones - thumbs up
Let's hope that Ted Thompson hit on a player who can return punts for years to come. The Packers haven't had a legitimate threat at punt returner since Allen Rossum in 2000. Thompson missed badly last year by selecting Cory Rodgers in the fourth round, but Jones appears to be the real deal.

Jones, who once lived in homeless shelters with his mother, not only was an excellent punt returner, but has the size, speed and ability to be a solid backup receiver.

Jones averaged 11 yards per return on 11 punt returns last year, and led San Jose State with 70 catches for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns. He will address Green Bay's needs for better depth at wide receiver and a punt returner to take over for Charles Woodson.

Aaron Rouse - thumbs up
Rated a high third-round pick by Scout.com, Rouse is coming off a sub-par senior year after a breakout junior season. The Packers addressed a need at the position where Marquand Manuel and Nick Collins struggled at times last season.

Rouse's strong Senior Bowl performance probably prevented him from slipping into the fourth round.


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