|NFL DRAFT: Despite need, RB Lynch not a lock for Packers|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 25 April 2007 22:19|
After losing veteran starter Ahman Green to a surprisingly hefty free agent contract from the Houston Texans, Thompson says he's just fine with an unproven stable of backs currently led by Vernand Morency.
``We have some young backs here that we think can be pretty good players,'' Thompson said. ``We don't feel particularly bound to do anything at that position.''
If Cal's Marshawn Lynch is gone before the Packers pick, they still could pursue running back help through a trade or a second-tier free agent signing. Of course, if the Packers reach their goal of emulating the Denver Broncos' zone-blocking scheme, they might not need a marquee back.
Thompson notes that his mentor, former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, found running back Dorsey Levens in the fifth round in 1994.
``The key is making sure you find the right guy,'' Thompson said. ``It's all well and good to say Dorsey Levens was a fifth-round pick, but the key was to make sure you picked him in the fifth round. A lot of people tried to give Ron a lot of credit for picking him, and his argument was, 'Well, I should have picked him earlier.'''
Besides, the Packers have plenty of needs beyond their backfield.
Brett Favre favorite Bubba Franks isn't the defense-stretching tight end he used to be, and Miami Hurricanes tight end Greg Olsen would come in handy for an offense that was awful in the red zone last season.
The Packers also could use an upgrade at safety, where free agent signee Marquand Manuel was heavily scrutinized last season after the Packers gave up too many big passing plays. LSU's LaRon Landry will likely be off the board, making Florida safety Reggie Nelson a potential pick.
And there are prospects at other positions who wouldn't fill a desperate need, but would still make the team better - Thompson's stated draft philosophy.
``When you don't take the best player, it'll just come back and bite you every time,'' Thompson said. ``And we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I've taken players based off need, or what I perceived to be a need, and passed on another player that was really a better player. But we try not to do that, and I have people that keep reminding me of that all day long.''
Along those lines, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila's age is beginning to show at defensive end and Arkansas' Jamaal Anderson could be available.
And while the Packers appear set at cornerback as long as free agent signee Frank Walker or another player emerges as a strong nickel back, there are several prospects who could be taken late in the first round, including Pittsburgh's Darrelle Revis.
It also might be tough for the Packers to pass on Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr., a big-play receiver who could jolt Green Bay's dormant kick return game, or Tennessee receiver Robert Meachem.
The Packers certainly need a complement to No. 1 receiver Donald Driver, but don't necessarily have to address it early in the draft. Rookie Greg Jennings showed flashes of being a capable No. 2 receiver last season, and Koren Robinson is expected to return to the Packers when his league suspension ends.
And then there's Randy Moss. While rumors of a deal that would bring the disgruntled Oakland Raiders wideout to Green Bay have subsided, it remains a possibility.
Thompson hasn't acknowledged any interest in Moss, and seems philosophically opposed to any move that would leave him with fewer draft picks.
Still, Thompson said it wouldn't take an extraordinary set of circumstances for him to trade a draft pick for a veteran player.
``No, it wouldn't be unusual,'' Thompson said. ``I guess I haven't probably done it, since you guys point those things out, but that happens all the time.''
Given Thompson's track record of valuing quantity in the draft, a trade up is unlikely but a trade down is possible. Thompson expects to stay put but will listen to offers.
``We've had calls from, I think, two different teams inquiring about our pick at 16,'' Thompson said. ``But they're just throwing the line out there and reeling it back. They're not actually trying to catch anything.''