Let's make a deal?

PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence presents three first-round possibilities: safety Kenny Phillips, tight end Dustin Keller or a trade

When the Green Bay Packers go on the clock with the 30th selection of the first round today, the result could be anticlimactic.

While the depth in the draft matches the Packers' needs, there's a good chance the player or players general manager Thompson covets will be gone. Thus, instead of scouring his draft board, Thompson might be holding an auction, with the suitors being the half-dozen or so teams who want a crack at a quarterback like Brian Brohm or Chad Henne.

You'd have better luck having Thompson tell you his Social Security Number than have him divulge his draft plans, so it's tough to guess what he'll be thinking.

So, let's start with the basics: What do the Packers need? That's easy. In no particular order: a tight end, guard, tackle, cornerback, quarterback and perhaps a safety.

It's impossible, however, to know how Thompson's draft board is stacked. And, as Thompson reiterated during his Monday news conference, he drafts for talent over need.

Nonetheless, it's pretty easy to eliminate a few positions Thompson will avoid in the first round, which will make this guess something approximating educated.

Unless a top prospect really tumbles, no running back will be worthy of being taken at No. 30. Thompson wouldn't rule out drafting a quarterback with the No. 1 pick, but Aaron Rodgers is his guy.

"If they draft a quarterback high, in that first round, that puts a lot of pressure on Aaron Rodgers, and I don't think they'll do that," said Dean Dalton, a former NFL assistant coach who keeps close tabs on the league.

Several mock drafts have the Packers taking a linebacker at No. 30, but that's highly unlikely, given the third linebacker is replaced for an extra cornerback on half of the defensive plays. Plus, Thompson added Brandon Chillar to the mix. So, why invest a high pick and all of that money on a linebacker?

If one of the top defensive tackles or ends slips to No. 30, Thompson could pounce. But the good prospects almost certainly will be gone in the top 25 picks, and then there's a sizable void to the next group of linemen.

There are no interior offensive linemen or fullbacks worthy of being taken in the first round, and - this is dangerous to say - it's hard to see Thompson taking a receiver with the first pick because it's the Packers' deepest position.

So, that leaves safety, offensive tackle, cornerback and tight end. Thompson wouldn't turn down a quality player at any of those positions, and the latter three are among the deepest in this draft. Thus, the first two rounds today - where the Packers hold picks Nos. 30, 56 and 60 - could be especially productive.

"They're in a great position because they have three picks in the first 60. Those two second-rounders give you a lot of talent," Dalton said. "The first three picks give you a chance to get really good players. You can get a corner that can really compete. Al Harris isn't just long in the hair, he's long in the tooth, and Charles Woodson has been dinged up. I think you can get a tight end who can get on the field right away. I think you can get an offensive that you can develop behind those old-school tackles. You can't lose a step on the edge."

It's a weak group of safeties, and the only prospect with first-round talent is Miami's Kenny Phillips. If he's available, the guess is Thompson will take note of the depth remaining at tight end, cornerback and offensive line and go for the big-play safety and try to fill the other holes later.

Because it's a weak group of safeties, though, there's a good chance Phillips is gone before No. 30. Unlike the safeties, it's a deep group of cornerbacks. The top two prospects (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Leodis McKelvin) will be long gone. The next-best prospects are Virginia Tech's Brandon Flowers and Kansas' Aqib Talib. Flowers isn't even 5-foot-10, so that probably takes him off the Packers' board. Talib's three positive tests for marijuana almost certainly takes him off the Packers' board, too.

That leaves South Florida's Mike Jenkins - though he could go ahead of Talib because of Talib's issues - and Arizona's ballhawking Antoine Cason. Picking Cason at No. 30, however, could be a bit of a reach because Cason isn't a burner and he might be better suited to play zone.

Finally, there's tight end. Purdue's Dustin Keller is the lone first-round prospect. Because of his speed, he would make life as a first-year starter a lot easier for Rodgers. He's the Packers' pick in several mock drafts, including Scout.com's Chris Stueber.

"He's a great receiving tight end and he fits well into that scheme," Dalton said. "He gives you a lot more speed and ball skills (than the other top tight ends)."

If Phillips has been taken and Keller ranks high on Thompson's board, look for Keller to become a Packer at about 7 p.m. today.

And if Phillips and Keller have been selected (or Phillips is gone and Thompson isn't keen on a tight end who can't block)? Then watch for Trader Ted to make a deal with one of the quarterback-hungry teams that failed to land Matt Ryan in the first round and move into the top-third of the second round.

A trade of that magnitude - moving back a half-dozen or so slots from the end of the first to early in the second - generally would fetch an additional fourth-round pick. But, with so many teams seeking a quarterback, the Packers' No. 30 position could be especially coveted and worth more than normal.

If Thompson does trade out of the first round - perhaps a 50-50 possibility - watch for him to use that early second-round pick on Cason or perhaps USC tackle Sam Baker, who might be able to play at guard while being the heir apparent at left tackle.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com

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