Packers enter draft day - is it time to trade up?

Hopefully, Mike McCarthy will be smiling after the draft.

It’s finally here. NFL. Draft. Day.

After all gnashing of teeth, indigestion and heated arguments, it’s time to throw all the mocks away and get ready for the reality check that is the actual naming of names.

When Commissioner Roger Goodell heads to the podium tonight to announce the first pick of the much ballyhooed first round, we can all start with a tabula rasa – a blank slate.

Frankly, I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the bazillion mocks, the upsides, downsides, 40-yard dash times, the vertical leaps and the best player available. I feel all those things should kept to those in the war rooms and to let them do their jobs.

Now, as journalists, our job is to take a look at what transpires and then use our worldly knowledge to pick apart team drafts and start assigning grades and opinions about the winners and losers.

As for the Green Bay Packers, it’s time to Trust in Ted. Though we know the general manager is probably in control in the Packers’ draft room, we also know that he is getting information and birds tweeting in his ear right up until the time the phone call is made and the trigger pulled … but you also know that head coach Mike McCarthy is getting his two cents worth in as well. We wonder just how influential he is in the final decision. He’s got to have some say. After all, he is the guy who has to work with these players.

Anyway, get excited. I, for one, am looking forward to this draft. While I feel the team has got to draft defensive players up front, I am really excited to see if the team goes away from what all the experts are saying and pulls players that might not be at the top of everyone’s list. Thompson has been known to do that before. Let’s just forget about Justin Harrell and Mike Neal and move on.

So, without further adieu, here is a look at the Packers potentials for tonight. Take a look.

However, a bit of advice – you might want to ignore it once the teams are on the clock. Just like all the mocks that have been developed over the past few months, this piece will probably be null and void once the action starts tonight. But we’ll see.

You can also see this posting at NFL Mocks.

Q. What are the team needs for the Green Bay Packers heading into the draft?

The loss of Nick Collins could play a major role in how the Packers draft this weekend. Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

A. Defense. Defense. Defense. The Packers ranked dead last among the 32 teams in 2011 and it was no accident. The Dom Capers-led unit was clearly hurt by the losses of defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins and the injury to Nick Collins. They were a unit without leadership and purpose.

Ted Thompson’s first goal will be to restock the defensive line and linebacker positions. If he can also throw in a solid defensive back, he will be even further ahead. With 12 total picks, Thompson might just do some wheeling and dealing, especially in the first couple of rounds, but he could also surprise everyone and deal down to accumulate even more picks. But given the fact that 12 drafted rookies would have a very difficult time cracking the lineup of a team that went 15-2 last season, I highly doubt Thompson would look to add quantity over quality.

Look for the Packers to draft either a defensive lineman or outside linebacker with the first couple of picks; and then follow those picks up with an offensive lineman, a defensive back, a running back and a quarterback in the later rounds. The rest will be simply players to pad the roster and add competitive depth.

Q. Who are some prospects you’d like to see end up with the Green Bay Packers?

USC's Nick Perry could be a great pick if he's still on the board. Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

A. I would love to see the Packers add a defensive lineman such as a Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples or a Courtney Upshaw, but we all know they most likely will be quickly nabbed in the early picks of the first round. However, if a Nick Perry or Whitney Mercilus is still on the board when the Packers pick at 28, Thompson should pull the Trigger. However, we wouldn’t kick a Vin Curry, Andre Branch or a Chandler Jones out of bed either. Peter King says the Packers will pick Michigan State’s defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, which could be a coup for the longterm and a solid pick for the Packers. Another intriguing prospect who might be an interesting defensive pick and who would be a great pick for the Green Bay Packers is Boise State’s Shea McClellin – I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Thompson go after him.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Packers’ need for depth and longterm effect on the line is evident. Left tackle and center are the two most glaring needs, but quality is always most important when considering drafting for the line. Of course, Peter Konz’s name always comes to the forefront, but Thompson’s effort to grab center Jeff Saturday has softened the need for the team to go after a top-rated center right away. Thompson’s ability to pick solid linemen in the later rounds is well-known and he may even be able to land an undrafted free agent who could help the team.

Picking a running back and even a quarterback, in my estimation, is just as important. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers put a premium on a running back who could add to its already somewhat solid stable. Ryan Grant is probably gone, and with injuries to James Starks and last year’s rookie Alex Green, the Packers are left with second year man Brandon Saine. You might see the team try to draft Chris Polk out of Washington, or a Doug Martin out of Boise State.

Would Kirk Cousins be a good pickup for the Packers? Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

At quarterback, the Packers have more of a need than Thompson has admitted. The loss of Matt Flynn moves untested Graham Harrell to number two. The need is evident, but Thompson most likely will draft to develop at the position. A Kirk Cousins from Michigan State is an intriguing prospect, and might be available to the team around the fourth round. But don’t count out a Ryan Lindley of San Diego State or even Russell Wilson from right here in Wisconsin.

Q. What would represent a successful draft in your opinion?

A. If the Packers can nab a solid defensive lineman (defensive end or tackle), an outside linebacker that can be a bookend for Clay Matthews to draw some attention away from him, an offensive lineman, a running back and a quarterback, the Packers will have had a successful draft. I don’t see Ted Thompson moving too far away from the team’s obvious needs, though he says he doesn’t draft that way. According to him, it’s always the best player on the board. Well, in my estimation, that’s fine, but at some point the team has to address the team needs as well. Last year, Thompson decided to go with who he had at defensive lineman and outside linebacker and it came back to bite the team in the long run. Hopefully, Thompson learned a lesson with that tactic and will look at the overall picture more intently this time around.

Q. Give us a bold prediction for your team.

A. My bold prediction is that Thompson will trade up at least five picks to select USC’s Nick Perry in the first round, giving up a couple of later round picks to do so. Much like he did when the team selected Clay Matthews, I feel that if the Packers can hang on to their 28th pick and nab another in the early to mid-20s, they will have two solid first round selections that will have an immediate impact. The team can afford to give up a couple of later round picks to make that happen.

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Tags: Alex Green Andre Branch Boise State Chandler Jones Chris Polk Clay Matthews Courtney Upshaw Cullen Jenkins Doug Martin Graham Harrell Green Bay Packers James Starks Jeff Saturday Jerel Worthy Justin Harrell Kirk Cousins Matt Flynn Melvin Ingram Mike McCarthy Mike Neal NFL NFL Draft NFL Mocks Nick Collins Nick Perry Peter Konz Quinton Coples Roger Goodell Russell Wilson Ryan Grant Ryan Lindley Shea McClellin Ted Thompson University Of Wisconsin USC Vin Curry Whitney Mercilus

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