Packers’ draft priorities: Some last-second advice
So the draft starts tomorrow. As discussed, we’ve got some room for maneuver. If Ted Thompson wants to look for our left tackle of the future in the first round, I’ll be happy. If he seeks an outside linebacker to complement Clay Matthews, I’ll be content. If he thinks he can find the next Charles Woodson, it’s fine with me.
Just one request: Don’t take USC safety Taylor Mays. Not with our first pick, as some, including Greg Bedard, speculate we might. I realize he could be the most impressive overall athlete in the draft, but let someone else have him.
See, Mays may be fully as fast as a cornerback and nearly as big as a linebacker, but he doesn’t play either of those positions. He plays safety. And what do safeties do? In the words of NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks, “In evaluating the key components of the safety position, it is important to recognize the two kinds of players who man it: hitters and ball hawks.”
Mays, to date, is neither. He only had five interceptions in college, and his tackling is iffy, according to Bob McGinn’s breakdown. If you don’t play the ball or tackle well, I don’t care if you can stop bullets with your mind and make a perfect souffle — you are not first-round safety material.
And since when do you need a first-round safety, anyway? The conventional wisdom is that’s one position you can more than adequately fill in the lower rounds, and the conventional wisdom seems right. The Packers, after all, have had some pretty good safeties over the years: Leroy Butler, Darren Sharper, and now Nick Collins. All three were second-rounders. In fact, all three went in the bottom half of the second round.
Yes, Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed were both first-round picks. But, then Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu didn’t have to be taught how to play the ball and tackle.