Thursday, April 14, 2005

Target Practice

New coordinator Jim Bates needs more speed at defensive end, linebacker and safety, and Thompson will try to oblige. The first three or four selections could be defensive players. The team's primary need is at safety, but Georgia's Thomas Davis likely will be gone by No. 24. Oklahoma S Brodney Pool is a possibility in the first round, especially with his 4.5 40 time, but more than likely, the best available player will be a defensive end.

The strong outside pass rushing of Oklahoma E Dan Cody or Troy E/OLB Demarcus Ware would bolster Bates' system, which relies on pressure from the front four. Linebacker is another area of need, and the team wants someone who can run. Nick Barnett can play all three positions, and Na'il Diggs can play at least two, so it doesn't matter what spot the new linebacker plays. Tennessee LB Kevin Burnett has the size, speed and know-how that Bates appreciates. The exception to the team's focus on defense could be at quarterback or guard.

The club might consider Akron's Charlie Frye, Auburn's Jason Campbell or Purdue's Kyle Orton as a developmental quarterback. After losing top-flight free-agent Gs Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera, the team will be on the lookout for young replacements.

The club has had a lot of luck drafting starters in the late rounds and likely will draft a guard late. But the team could take a chance on an athletic guard such as Alabama's Evan Mathis or BYU's Scott Young if one is available the first day. The Packers also might look at a running back after the second round; Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport will be unrestricted free agents after the season.

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