The Packers, while extremely young, entered training camp with a relatively experienced roster. So, that any rookie has a chance to start in Week 1 is a surprise. That the player is a fourth-round draft pick who wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine is even more surprising.
Josh Sitton has been the starting right guard since Family Night, and even with the offense's struggles on Saturday against San Francisco, it appears Sitton will retain that job. With only two preseason games and six practices remaining until the Packers turn their attention to the Vikings, the Packers might be forced to sink or swim with a rookie facing the menacing duo of Pat Williams and Kevin Williams in Week 1.
The following is a rundown of the Packers' draft picks, listed in order of their likelihood to be contributors this season. There is a huge gap between the top four players on this list and the next five.
Josh Sitton, fourth round, No. 135
Unless something truly awful shows up as coaches review film from Saturday's clunker, Sitton will remain the starting right guard as the Packers return to practice tonight. It's not like any of the other contenders were superb.
Jermichael Finley, third round, No. 91
Finley's as raw as can be, but the Packers love two tight-end sets and third-year pro Tory Humphrey hasn't seized control of the No. 2 spot behind Donald Lee. Finley has looked sharp in the pass game and has shown consistent hands. While he may not have a firm grasp on things because of his inexperience (only two years at Texas), coach Mike McCarthy can get him comfortable enough to work him into some packages.
Jordy Nelson, second round, No. 36
Nelson is buried on the receiver depth chart behind starters Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, James Jones has taken a firm grip on the No. 3 role and Aaron Rodgers has chemistry with Ruvell Martin. Still, as general manager Ted Thompson said last week, good players find a way to get on the field, and Nelson showed his immense talent as a kickoff returner against San Francisco. "He's very, very coachable, and understands what you're trying to tell him and what he needs to work on," receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said last week.
Patrick Lee, second round, No. 60
Lee is the fifth corner, behind top backups Tramon Williams and Will Blackmon, but with one injury to the top four corners, Lee will be thrown into the fire. Lee has saved his best for the games. He was a star of the scrimmage and had a strong performance against San Francisco. His physical style is a natural for the Packers' scheme.
Jeremy Thompson, fourth round, No. 102
The defensive end hasn't been bad; he just hasn't been good enough. He seems to be quite a ways away from being a situational pass rusher. Plus, he's not a No. 1 on any of the special teams, so he's not likely to make an immediate impact.
Brian Brohm, second round, No. 56
If you've watched the preseason games, it's obvious Brohm isn't ready to lead the offense. But, you don't throw for 10,775 yards and 71 touchdowns in college by being a bad quarterback.
Breno Giacomini, fifth round, No. 150
The right tackle is in position to make the team, which is a surprise after watching him get run past like an inch-high speed bump during the first week of practice. Offensive line coach James Campen's coaching seems to have hit home. His lack of versatility — especially compared to backups like Tony Moll and Daryn Colledge — could work against him getting on the game-day roster.
Matt Flynn, seventh round, No. 209
Flynn has outplayed Brohm during the preseason, but he's in no position to take over the offense, either. If the Packers sign a veteran quarterback, Flynn will be the odd man out.
Brett Swain, seventh round, No. 217
Nobody has taken a hold of the sixth receiver. Swain drops too many passes and has had trouble getting open. "He's been a little bit inconsistent at times, but he's got talent," Robinson said. "He definitely has ability. ... He's got good speed and quickness, and I think he's got good hands."
Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at email@example.com