Since general manager Ted Thompson is sticking to his hands-off approach regarding other available free agents, the time is right to focus solely on the NFL Draft. That being said, here are five "take it to the bank" calls on what Packers' fans can expect from April 22-24.
1. There will be at least one trade
Some have referred to Thompson as "Trader Ted" for his proactive approach to draft bartering. In four of his five drafts with the Packers, he has made multiple trades. The only year he made only one trade was 2009, when he gave up a second-round pick and two thirds to move up into the first round to get Clay Matthews and a fifth-round pick. Thompson tends to see value in moving around (14 draft-weekend trades all told) more than others, and this year should be no different considering the draft is particularly deep at a number of positions. For what it is worth, his most common trade partner is New England, with which he has negotiated three deals.
2. No punter
Despite the Packers' inability to find a long-term punter since Thompson took over, do not expect this draft to provide an answer. Thompson never has selected a punter and his actions this offseason suggest that will not change. Since the season ended, the Packers have added two punters (first-year player Tim Masthay out of Kentucky and Chris Bryan out of the Australia) after failing to extend a qualifying offer to keep Jeremy Kapinos. The Packers have gone through five punters in the last five seasons.
3. Offensive line strength in numbers
Several mock drafts have the Packers selecting an offensive lineman with the No. 23 overall pick. But Thompson's history would suggest that will not happen. Never has he used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman and only once has he used a second-round pick on one (Daryn Colledge, 2006). Instead, he has retooled the offensive line with a number of later picks. The 10 offensive lineman drafted by the Packers since 2005 is the most at any position (wide receivers are second with eight). Though the line is an area of need, the Packers have taken the approach of finding diamonds in the rough.
4. A roster spot from a rookie free agent
The hours after the draft concludes April 24 will be the most feverish of the three-day selection process. During that time, the Packers' personnel staff will be burning up the phone lines and setting up deals with undrafted players to fill out the offseason roster. At least one rookie free agent in each of Thompson's five years in Green Bay has gone on to earn a spot on the 53-man opening game roster. Last season, it was center Evan Dietrich-Smith.
5. Expect the unexpected
For all the criticism Thompson draws for his relatively inconspicuous nature and his empty press conferences, he never lacks for shock value in the early rounds of the draft. In 2005, he made a bold move by taking Aaron Rodgers and Nick Collins with his first two picks. In 2007, he took Justin Harrell No. 16 overall. And in 2008 and 2009, the Jordy Nelson pick (second round) and the trade up into the first round to get Matthews were total surprises. So what could be the surprise this year? How about Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews (featured in a story on PackerReport.com on March 19.). How about the multi-talented Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate? Or maybe even Tim Tebow in the second or third round? While none of those players necessarily fill a need for the Packers, they could fall under the category of best available, a theory Thompson sticks by in the early rounds.
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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org