Packers draft review: Good picks, but now let’s make some trades
If you would have told me three days ago that the Packers would make it through the entire draft without taking an outside linebacker or cornerback, I wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s where we are.
That’s not a terrible thing. It does seem like Ted Thompson overestimated his chances of being able to get a quality OLB in the second round and had to resort to Plan B. But the pick he made, defensive end Michael Neal, was pure Thompson: taking the best player available rather than reaching to fill a need, and when in doubt, scooping up a defensive lineman in keeping with his (well-validated) belief that a deep rotation of big men is the key to a stout run defense.
Overall, everything we did either addressed a need or complemented an existing strength. The only real head-scratcher was using our fourth-round pick on a tight end, Andrew Quarless. Although he sounds like a genuine talent who fell down draft boards owing to personal problems he’s put behind him, Quarless will find himself playing behind a rising superstar in Jermichael Finley (who expressed some displeasure at the move on Twitter, although he later made nice).
Between Finley, Quarless, Donald Lee and Spencer Havner, we’re now as loaded at tight end as we are at wide receiver. I wonder if Thompson picked Quarless with an eye to dealing Donald Lee, whose production over the last couple seasons has been disappointing. Other trade candidates are Daryn Colledge and James Jones. The selection of Brian Bulaga and Marshall Newhouse makes a Colledge trade seem likely. Either Bulaga should be ready to compete for the starting left guard job or else train as the primary backup at tackle, allowing T.J. Lang to shift to guard, where Mike McCarthy apparently sees him landing long term. Either way, at this point Colledge, an established but relatively youthful veteran, probably has more value to another team at this point, and may well benefit from a fresh start. On his own, he may not be worth all that much, but packaged with Lee or Jones, who has never played up to expectations, he might really be enticing enough to net us a linebacker, cornerback or return specialist. (I’m not including John Kuhn on the list of trade bait because few other teams seem to value fullbacks as much as the Packers do.)
Flashy trades aren’t the sort of thing one expects from Thompson, of course. But you have to hope he has a better plan for bolstering the remaining weaknesses in our defense than hoping Brad Jones and Pat Lee both make developmental leaps.