Good thinking, because as usual, the Trojans are loaded with talent, and happily, USC has players that fit many of the Packers' needs.
A variety of mock drafts have USC players going to the Packers in the first three rounds.
NFL Network's Mike Mayock predicts the Packers will select USC offensive tackle Sam Baker in the first round. The three-time first-team all-American would be the heir to Chad Clifton's spot at left tackle, and could possibly move inside in the interim. According to Pro Football Weekly, Thompson — the only GM to attend USC's pro day — was one of the more interested observers watching Baker's workout.
"I think your point of looking at him as a long-term solution at left tackle is dead-on," Scout.com's Ed Thompson told me in an e-mail. "He needs to polish his technique a bit, but he's powerful at the point of impact and has very strong legs that he uses to his advantage to anchor himself. Where he's still a bit raw is when he has to leave the line of scrimmage to provide a downfield block. He just isn't very smooth and can look awkward at times. But on the line, he's an effective pass-blocker and uses his hands very well to his advantage."
NFL.com senior columnist Vic Carucci predicts the Packers will select USC linebacker Keith Rivers in the first round. Carucci calls Rivers the best linebacker in the draft. He's tough, athletic and can play in coverage. The Packers' signing of Brandon Chillar to challenge Brady Poppinga makes this seem highly unlikely, though. A late-round pick for depth and special teams is possible, though. Scout.com's Tom Marino sees Thomas Williams being a seventh-round prospect. He played inside and outside at USC.
In his latest mock draft, Scout.com's Chris Steuber has the Packers nabbing Trojans defensive end Lawrence Jackson with the second of their second-round picks. With 30.5 sacks for his career, including 10.5 as a senior, the quick 270-pounder would be a younger, cheaper alternative to Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on the outside in the short run, or give the Packers an additional inside rusher. However you slice it, as the New York Giants proved, you can never have too many pass rushers.
"I'm a bit perplexed by Jackson, quite honestly," Scout.com's Thompson said. "He's got a balanced skill set and nice straight-ahead speed. I'm just not totally convinced that he's going to be quick enough with his change-of-direction skills to succeed as a DE at the pro level and wouldn't be surprised to see him get a look inside at DT. That's where he'll be able to put that direct speed to better use, but he'll have to bulk up a bit and will also have to show that he can handle working through congestion and double-teams better inside than he has shown to date from the outside.
"I think it would be easier to teach him technique to be a high-impact player inside, but he could prove me wrong on that point. The guy is a playmaker and has developed a good attitude and approach to the game, so I'll be surprised if he doesn't figure it out with his coaches."
If Ted Thompson thinks the best thing he can do to help first-year starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers is to get him a tight end, USC's Fred Davis could be the answer with one of the team's second-round picks. Davis won the Mackey Award as college football's best tight end after catching 62 passes for 881 yards and eight TDs as a senior. At 6-foot-3, he might not have ideal size for a tight end, but he's got long arms and is plenty fast and would provide a complement to Donald Lee because of his different skills.
"Should be one of the first tight ends off the board as his pass-catching and route-running skills are excellent," Scout.com's Thompson wrote. "He's athletic, bright and has very good body control when going after the ball. The team that selects him will be one that is primarily looking for an intermediate and downfield pass threat at the position."
One selection that makes so much sense that it almost certainly won't come to fruition is the Packers landing USC quarterback John David Booty. The Packers need a young quarterback to develop, and Booty would be a fit because of his accuracy and big-game experience. He was sharp with slants and intermediate routes at the pro day Ted Thompson attended. Scout.com's Thompson said Booty would be a third- or fourth-round pick, while Steuber predicted Booty would go in the fourth or fifth.
"I'm not really high on him," Steuber said in a phone interview. "I don't see much athleticism. He has a solid arm and nice touch on the ball, but he's not a ‘boom' guy. He doesn't have that ‘it' factor like (former Trojans quarterbacks Matt) Leinart or (Carson) Palmer. He doesn't escape the pocket at all."
Scout.com's Thompson compared Booty to Trent Dilfer, who he interviewed at the Senior Bowl.
"He's probably the most ready-to-play-tomorrow quarterback of the group," Dilfer said at the time. "He's a guy that everything he did in college — the way he was trained, the system he was running, the throws he was asked to make week-in and week-out transition well to the NFL. He won't have a hard time picking up an NFL offense and executing it on Sundays."
One of the Packers' bigger needs is at guard. USC junior Chilo Rachal is the No. 2 guard prospect, according to Scout.com and Pro Football Weekly.
"What amazes me about Rachal is his speed (5.16 in the 40), not just because of his 315-pound weight, but because he's had problems with his knees in the past," said Scout.com's Thompson, who predicted Rachal would go in the late second or third round. "What should be very attractive about Rachal is the fact that he didn't allow a QB sack during his career at USC. So, whether he's protecting a new starter this year in Green Bay or is entrusted with blocking for an aging Favre (should he return), he would be an asset. Despite the knee problems, he still shows great quickness and agility, which would be a nice fit for a zone blocking scheme as he'd be able to get to the next level and attack linebackers effectively."
Steuber also liked Rachal, and agreed with Thompson's draft prediction.
"He's a big, physical guy. He uses his hands real well. He's kind of raw. I was kind of surprised he entered the draft, but there were family reasons. He's a big kid who really impressed me when I saw him on film. He gets good penetration up the middle and holds his ground well."
Fellow Trojans guard Drew Radovich is a mid-round prospect, Scout.com's Thompson and Steuber agreed. A tackle as a senior, he's Scout.com's No. 5 guard prospect.
"He's a steady player," Steuber said. "He's a veteran and pretty savvy. He's not overly athletic but he's powerful and has great technique. He was a leader on that offensive line with Baker. He'll be a very solid pick."
"He's a real blue-collar type of lineman with a nasty streak," Thompson wrote. "Although he's got plenty of experience at tackle, he's likely going to be most effective as a guard at the pro level. He had hip surgery and his lateral movement has appeared to suffer a bit. What makes him a good fit for zone blocking is that he's an intelligent guy who reads defenses well and as a result has a pretty good idea of what's going to happen before the snap. He uses his hands well and is effective pulling as a lead blocker for a RB or to block for a screen pass."
Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org