Here are the 10 who could be 9

Packer Report updates its popular magazine series with 10 players who could be either taken at No. 9 or eyed in a trade up or down.

In our Packer Report magazine draft preview, we had profiles on six players who could be available with the ninth overall pick in April's draft.

Well, things have changed since that series was put together a month ago. So, with barely two weeks to go until the Green Bay Packers are on the clock, here are quick-hit looks at 10 first-round possibilities.

Picking at No. 9

Aaron Maybin: More and more, Maybin is becoming the favorite to land in Green Bay. Last season, his first as a starter, he led the Big Ten with 12 sacks while adding 20 tackles for loss. He's clearly the most explosive of the 3-4 outside linebacker prospects and has the biggest upside. Weight is an issue, though. He played at about 230 at Penn State. Will he be as explosive at 250, can he hold the weight and will he be physical enough to be an every-down player?

Everette Brown: Some insiders see the Florida State standout as the best combination of run stopper and pass rusher among the 3-4 outside linebacker prospects in the draft. His 13.5 sacks last season ranked third in the nation. Others think he's too short (not quite 6-foot-2) and see the many Seminoles draft busts that precede him. There are varying opinions about every draft prospect, but Brown is more polarizing than most, though those concerns have nothing to do with work ethic and character.

Andre Smith: There is no doubt the Packers need an offensive tackle, regardless of what happens with Mark Tauscher. Smith's draft stock plummeted after he walked out of the Scouting Combine without working out, but his coach at Alabama, Nick Saban, has come to his defense to help ease scouts' minds. Still, with questions about his maturity and desire, is he the "Packer People" that general manager Ted Thompson desires? Or, has Thompson's pre-draft homework shown that Smith could be a dominating left tackle for the next decade?

Brian Orakpo: The 260-pound Orakpo was a flat-out beast at Texas. There are no concerns about his ability to stop the run. But, while he had 11.5 sacks last season, there are concerns about whether he's quick enough and elusive enough to be a big-time pass rusher in the NFL. There are durability issues, as well. Nonetheless, of these four prospects, Orakpo is the least likely to be on the board for the Packers.

Moving up

B.J. Raji: With the drug rumors apparently squashed, Raji likely remains a top-six prospect. Seattle at No. 4, Cleveland at No. 5 and Cincinnati at No. 6 all make sense. Raji, a massive run stuffer with the ability to rush the passer, is head and shoulders better than the other 3-4 nose tackle prospects. So, even if teams harbor some off-the-field concerns about the former Boston College star, he could be gone before No. 9 anyway. Finding another nose tackle to pair with Ryan Pickett remains a huge need, which could lead to a bold move by Thompson.

Eugene Monroe: As is the case with Brown, there are varying opinions on Virginia's Monroe. Some insiders think he's top-three material, while others wouldn't touch him in the top dozen picks. As was noted with Smith, the Packers need a talented young offensive tackle, and if Monroe starts to slide down boards, the Packers could pounce. He's just the type of athlete who could excel in a zone scheme.

Moving down

— Tyson Jackson: At least the Packers have Pickett at nose tackle. They don't have any sure things at defensive end, with Cullen Jenkins coming off of a season-ending injury, Johnny Jolly's continuing legal questions and Justin Harrell's prodigious injury history. LSU's Jackson is a ready-made 3-4 defensive end who is strong enough to anchor the run and athletic enough to provide some push against the pass. Of all the draft scenarios, sliding back a few spots could be the most likely — especially if Raji is gone and Thompson likes the tremendous depth with the 3-4 outside linebackers.

Michael Oher: The athletic Oher, the focus of Michael Lewis' best-selling "The Blind Side," would come with an accomplished resume after starting 47 of 48 games for Ole Miss. Oher, a natural left tackle, is a superb pass blocker but needs to finish better in the run game. He'd be an ideal player to have sit and watch behind a true pro like Chad Clifton for a season.

Connor Barwin: Other than quarterback Pat White, there aren't many more intriguing talents in this draft than Cincinnati's Barwin. Barwin caught 31 passes as a tight end as a junior before moving to defense as a senior, when he posted 11 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. He has the ability to become a superb 3-4 outside linebacker, especially as a bookend to a talented pass rusher like Aaron Kampman. Plus, he could be a goal-line tight end. Insiders love his attitude and athleticism, which transformed him from a top-50 prospect into a top-20 player in the last four months.

Clay Matthews: Matthews had a strong senior season on USC's star-studded defense, but really began to emerge during the Senior Bowl and the pre-draft workouts. As the son of former Browns linebacker Clay Matthews and nephew of Hall of Fame offensive tackle Bruce Matthews, this Matthews isn't lacking in football pedigree. Plus, he was USC's two-time special teams player of the year. He's soared up draft boards because some insiders like his potential to improve while teammate Brian Cushing may have maxed out.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport


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