Packers Path To Draft: Part 5

With several questions revolving around the linebacker positions, this versatile Big Ten star would be a great fit. He's big enough to anchor against the run and has a history of standout play in coverage.

Linebacker is one of the strengths of the Green Bay Packers' roster. It's also a position group with a lot of question marks.

Aaron Kampman will be a free agent and is coming off a torn ACL. Jeremy Thompson's future is clouded because of disc and nerve problems. Brady Poppinga will make $2.25 million in base salary and roster bonus as a special-teams performer because he can neither rush the passer not play coverage at a high enough level in the new scheme. On the inside, Desmond Bishop's contract expires after the 2010 season and A.J. Hawk is due $10 million in 2011.

Thus, linebacker at the very least is a position where the Packers need an infusion of talent to play immediately on special teams.

One mid-round possibility would be Iowa's A.J. Edds, who has the size (6-foot-3 1/2 and 245 pounds) and coverage skills (five interceptions as a senior) to fit the scheme. He would fit immediately on the inside and could develop into a prospect on the outside if he gains some pass-rushing skills.

"He can do whatever you want," Edds' agent, Jack Bechta, told Packer Report on Friday. "It's funny, at the Senior Bowl, he was the biggest linebacker there. I just think if you need a guy that you're not sure where you're going to plug him in, that's who you take."

Edds was a second-team all-Big Ten choice as a senior and a three-time pick to the conference's all-academic team. His nose for the ball was evident at the Senior Bowl, when he preserved the North team's big lead with a late interception. Of his five interceptions for Iowa, one helped clinch the win over Penn State and another clinched the Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech. His tipped ball resulted in an interception that powered the Hawkeyes' comeback win at Indiana.

"I'm playing a little different position than I have when I was at Iowa, playing out more in space there," Edds told Packer Report at the Senior Bowl. "Still look a little bit raw on film and I've got a lot of stuff to clean up, but for the most part, I'm holding my own. I'm probably a little better in the pass-coverage aspect of it than the run support, but that's almost to be expected with what I've done at Iowa. I wanted to come out and show that I can play in the box as well. I'm comfortable in that position."

With just 2.5 sacks during his four seasons, Edds thinks he'd fit better on the inside — where he can play coverage and stop the run — than on the outside. Iowa's linebackers rarely are used as blitzers, though, so it's possible Edds could develop in that role.

Edds was a team leader at Iowa with an ability to get players to rally around him.

"My parents have been very important to me in my life," he said. "I have an older brother that I look up to. My high school coach, Rick Wimmer (Greenwood, Ind.), made a big impact on where I am today and did a lot of things for me behind the scenes. And some childhood coaches and teachers have pushed me to do as well as I could, and it kind of carried through to where I am today."


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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. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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