The question seemed preposterous a month or two ago: What would the Packers do if Michael Crabtree were on the board at No. 9?
C'mon, seriously. A stress fracture couldn't sink the prospects of the draft's best receiver that badly, could it? Sure, Crabtree might not be able to run a 4.40 40-yard dash, but who cares? Not possessing big-time speed didn't stop Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Marvin Harrison from being the four leading pass catchers in NFL history. Crabtree has good size, runs great routes and has tremendous hands. What's not to like?
So, imagine the surprise when this possibility was broached to Packer Report by a team's personnel man:
— At No. 3, the Chiefs take Smith/Monroe or linebacker Aaron Curry.
— Cincinnati needs help on defense and Marvin Lewis' staff coached at the Senior Bowl, where defensive tackle B.J. Raji dominated. There are character questions about Raji, but nobody's ever mistaken the Bengals for the Vienna Boys Choir. So, it's Raji to Cincinnati at No. 6.
— Jacksonville picks at No. 8. On the board under his scenario would be Crabtree and Smith/Monroe/Curry. Raji makes sense here, too, if Cincinnati went for Smith/Monroe. The Jaguars have a big need at wide receiver. They also had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last year. Games are won in the trenches, so they take a lineman.
Voila, Crabtree at No. 9.
Holy cow, now what?
But Driver turned 34 in February. He just produced his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season, but he can't remain this productive forever. Jennings is well on his way to a superlative career, but he's also faded down the stretch of his first three seasons. There's some question to how Jennings will perform without having Driver taking away some of the pressure.
During his predraft news conference on Monday, general manager Ted Thompson said no position was off-limits. Adding Crabtree, at least on paper, solidifies the receiver position for years.
But the Packers are coming off of a 6-10 season, are installing a new defense and have some glaring holes. Drafting solely on need is never a wise idea, but the Packers could fill an immediate hole at offensive tackle, defensive end or outside linebacker with this choice.
Does the phone start ringing, and does Thompson like what he hears on the other side?
San Francisco (No. 10), Washington (13), New York Jets (17), Philadelphia (21, 28), Minnesota (22), New England (23), Miami (25), Baltimore (26), Indianapolis (27), New York Giants (29), Tennessee (30 and Pittsburgh (32) need receivers.
The Redskins and Jets have aggressive front offices who likely would be interested. Philadelphia (two first-rounders) and New England (three second-round selections) have the ammunition, though Thompson might not like the talent as much that far down the board. But the Patriots would seem particularly interested in giving Tom Brady another target as coach Bill Belichick tries to repair his tarnished "genius" tag.
Drafting Crabtree would be tempting. There's something to be said about being so good on one side of the ball that it hides the weaknesses on the other side. But the Packers have a talented team — 6-10 notwithstanding — and they're in a unique position to really help themselves in this draft.
Thompson loves to trade down, and if Crabtree falls into his lap, he'd be poised to do exactly that.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.