Go for talent over need at 30

With most starters in place, Packers can truly afford to select best player available, Packer Report's Doug Ritchay contends

The Green Bay Packers pick 30th in the first round of April's NFL draft, and if recent history tells us anything, the Packers could find anything there from a Pro Bowl-caliber wide receiver or running back to someone who never lived up to the pick.

In the next month, media will ask GM Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy what they want at this spot, and you're not going to like the answer, because it's going to be, "We're going to take the best player available."

At No. 30, you normally don't pick for need, you do pick the best player on your draft board. Of course, there are some exceptions.

It would seem unlikely the Packers would draft a quarterback at 30, because Aaron Rodgers doesn't need to be looking over his back at a potential threat to his position. Rodgers needs a veteran backup who will tutor him and not be a threat long-term, so he can play without thought of being pulled running through his mind.

Outside of quarterback — no reason to mention kicker or punter — it would seem the Packers would pick any other position at No. 30.

Most agree the Packers should pick a cornerback, safety or tight end at 30. That is, if one's worth the pick. But what if a running back slips or a wide receiver?

Ryan Grant is the starter at running back, but anyone who follows the NFL knows every team needs a reliable backup and the Packers lack that right now (sorry Brandon Jackson).

With Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Koren Robinson filling out the top four spots at wide receiver, do the Packers need to spend a first-rounder on a receiver? No. But you can't pass up on talent.

Indianapolis was in that spot in 2001, when it grabbed Reggie Wayne at No. 30. With Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James already supplying firepower to the offense, Wayne wasn't needed. But the Colts picked him anyway and he has developed into a Pro Bowler.

This is a perfect example of not worrying about the position at 30, but rather the talent.

Recent history tells us the 30th pick will be a player who could do just about anything in the NFL. Among the last 10 drafts, the players picked at 30 were in order from 2007 to 1998: Craig Davis (WR, LSU), Joseph Addai (RB, LSU), Heath Miller (TE, Virginia), Kevin Jones (RB, Va. Tech), Sammy Davis (CB, Texas A&M), Kendall Simmons (G, Auburn), (Wayne, Miami, Fla.), Keith Bulluck (LB, Syracuse), Patrick Kerney (DE, Virginia) and Marcus Nash (WR, Tennessee).

Addai and Wayne have been integral part to the Colts' success this decade, Miller has been a playmaker for the Steelers, Bulluck has been a Pro Bowler with Tennessee, Kerney has been a Pro Bowler for Atlanta and Seattle, and Simmons has been a good lineman in Pittsburgh.

Craig Davis did little last season, but he's young, Jones has been slowed by injuries, Sammy Davis has been disappointing and traded, and Nash did nothing.

If you go back 11 years, the Packers had the 30th pick in 1997 and selected guard Ross Verba, who had a solid career in Green Bay before leaving in free agency.

Starters can be found at 30, Pro Bowlers can be found at 30 and busts can be found at 30. The deeper a draft goes the more likely you are to miss, though.

Many draftniks have listed who they think will be around at No. 30 for the Packers, and most have penciled in a defensive back. If the Packers find the right fit at defensive back, especially cornerback, they would grab that player in a heartbeat.

However, if the Packers go off the board a little and pick in a position with depth already, don't snap at Thompson and Co. What would you rather have, a player who fits a need but lacks first-round talent, or a player with first-round talent who makes a position deeper?

More talent makes a team better, not filling a need.


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