Veteran left tackle Chad Clifton's body is breaking down, so the Packers need a long-term answer at the line's most important position. And the Packers don't have enough cornerbacks to match up against the NFL's best quarterback-receiver combinations.
Clifton's two prolonged absences essentially cost the Packers a shot at winning the NFC North and getting a first-round bye. The lack of quality cornerbacks cost the Packers in three regular-season losses and again in the playoffs.
With the Packers selecting 23rd in the first round, who could help them at those critical positions? We turned to Scout.com draft analyst Chris Steuber.
Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
Overview: The Big Ten's offensive lineman of the year is one of three junior offensive tackles to declare for the draft. Bulaga (6-6, 312) missed three games with a thyroid problem, and the condition played a role in his decision to come out of school early. At his Jan. 6 news conference, Bulaga said, "The illness I was faced with at the beginning of the 2009 season made me realize how important football is in my life and how quickly it can be taken away." In the Orange Bowl, he helped hold Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan — a possible top-10 pick — to three tackles and no sacks.
Steuber says: If he's available at No. 23, that would be a great upgrade for them. Bulaga can be a guy they can build around. He's got quick feet. He's a very good athlete. The problem with Bryan is he still has to develop a little more. He's still kind of raw. But as far as being athletic, he's very athletic for his size. He's probably going to run a high 4.8, 4.9 (in the 40-yard dash) at the Combine. That's pretty good. He's got nimble feet. He uses his hands well. As far as technique, sometimes he appears sluggish. It feels like he just goes through the motions sometimes. As far as talent, I think he's as talented as any tackle in this draft. Russell Okung is probably the best one, then you've got Anthony Davis and Trent Williams, but he's up there with those guys. He has that kind of talent. He just hasn't really put it all together just yet. When he does, he's going to be pretty special."
Plan B: Bruce Campbell, Maryland.
Patrick Robinson, Florida State
Doug Benc/Getty Images
Steuber says: If you watched the bowl game against West Virginia, when he ran down Noel Devine, that was impressive. That just shows his work ethic and his ability to never quit. I think when scouts saw that in person, it probably woke them up a little bit with this kid because there were some questions about him. He's only had one interception the last two years but teams don't challenge him often, and when they do, he positions himself very well.
Plan B: Syd'Quan Thompson, California.
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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 Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.