2011 Green Bay Packers Draft Preview

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The Green Bay Packers chose at No. 32 in the 2011 NFL Draft.

While the team doesn’t have many glaring holes, there are several areas they need to shore up and improve. Primarily, the Packers need a pass-rushing outside linebacker to complement [intlink id=”454″ type=”category”]Clay Matthews[/intlink], upgrades on the left side of the offensive line and center, and defensive line and wide receiver depth.

Of course, there’s no telling who the Packers will select in the first round. It’s a long way from No. 1 to No. 32.

The Packers own nine picks in the draft. They are Nos. 32 (1st round), 64 (2nd), 96 (3rd), 129 (4th), 131 (4th), 163 (5th), 197 (6th), 204 (7th) and 232 (7th).

Here are our writers’ selections for the Packers in the first round.

Torrey Smith

Smith would help the Packers in two areas.

Steffen: Fresh off a Super Bowl win, it’s safe to say Ted Thompson and his wacky roster-building technique has probably earned some respect among even the most dubious Packers fans.

That doesn’t mean any of us will be any more capable of predicting what he does this year. Thompson has been about as predictable as a tranny hooker on St. Patrick’s Day. Anything can happen.

With that said, I’ll do my best to do just that. The only time I came close to predicting a Thompson draft pick was when I told some friends I hoped the Packers would take Jordy Nelson in the third round, mere seconds before he traded down and took him in the second. So there you go.

They say you’re not supposed to draft for need, but that’s the best way to go about this. Just because the Packers are Super Bowl champs doesn’t mean that they don’t have some holes to fill.

With Cullen Jenkins likely gone via free agency (pay the man, dammit!) and Johnny Jolly permanently super stupid, I’d like to see the Packers shore up the defensive front. Defensive end Mike Neal has a lot of potential, yes, but why not grab Cameron Heyward from Ohio State?

You could also make the argument for Arizona linebacker Brooks Reed or UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers and frankly, most of the pundits have slated one of these two to the Packers. That makes it all the more likely that Ted Thompson will go in another direction.

I like the idea of the Packers’ linebacker corps featuring not one, but three blond maniacs, but honestly I don’t think Reed is anywhere near Clay Matthews caliber.

Offensive line perhaps? Left guard Daryn Colledge is replaceable and tackle Chad Clifton’s magical knees have to give out someday, right? Jason Pinkston, a guard from Pitt or Mike Pouncey from Florida might be available.

That would make too much sense, though.

Nope, Ted Thompson is probably going to take somoene like Miami receiver Leonad Hankerson or Maryland receiver Torrey Smith, even though the Packers are loaded at receiver.

Come to think of it, either would be a nice fit. James Jones might be gone as a free agent and Donald Driver’s play is starting to decline. At 6-0, Smith has the size Thompson covets and in college he showed dynamic ability as a kick returner — something the Packers will need if they want to defend their title.

So, there you go. Torrey Smith.

Shawn: First of all, the best thing, by far, about this draft is the fact the Packers sit at the coveted No. 32 spot. So, let’s all just take a moment to appreciate that.

Alright, now for the act of futility that is predicting who Ted Thompson is going to take at the end of the first round. What we do know for sure is TT will draft whoever sits atop his draft board, regardless of position. There are a couple other tendencies that are less certain, but probably reliable enough that we can use them as some sort of guide.

1) TT drafts guys who leave school early and would be higher picks if they would have stayed.

2) TT drafts guys who would have been higher picks if not for injury.

3) TT likes to draft big guys. You can never have too many skilled big guys.

4) TT likes to draft receivers.

5) TT won’t pass on guys who fall down the board, regardless of position.

So, mostly thanks to Nos. 3 and 5, I’m going with Muhammad Wilkerson, defensive tackle, Temple, as the pick. Like Bulaga last year, Wilkerson will slide a couple spots down the draft board and be available for the Packers at No. 32. For a second choice, I’ll take receiver Torrey Smith if he slides to the end of the first round.

Akeem Ayers

Ayers would make a nice bookend for Clay Matthews.

Sarah: The Packers must address the outside linebacker position opposite of Clay Matthews in the first round.

Some believe the offensive line needs more help, but think about it. Frank Zombo and Erik Walden did a great job filling in this past season, but they’re not starters who are going to force a team to pick their poison.

If Green Bay adds someone outstanding at that spot, defenses can’t automatically slide protection toward Matthews. They must account for those two forces. Throw in whatever Charles Woodson and B.J. Raji do on a blitz and suddenly you have a lot of one-on-one matches that favor the Packers.

There are a ton of options out there at the linebacker position, but the guy who’s been getting a lot of hype lately, and whom I really like, is UCLA junior Akeem Ayers.

He didn’t overly impress with his speed on pro day, but Ayers is a big, strong, smart player who’s a little raw talent-wise and just waiting to be molded into Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense.

Ayers started three games at strong-side linebacker in 2008 and played in 12 contests overall, earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors and being named to the conference’s All-Freshman team.

He again earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors as a sophomore, while showing a knack for making big plays. Ayers tied a school record with two interception returns for touchdowns and scored three defensive touchdowns overall. He foreshadowed what was to come with 30 tackles, including 4.0 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss, along with three interceptions over the final four games of the season.

Ayers built on that effort with a junior season that would include becoming a Butkus Award finalist. He started all 12 games and finished with 68 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 10.0 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions. He earned first-team All-Pac-10 and second-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Monty: When I did the Packers draft preview for The Score, I went with Florida guard/center Mike Pouncey as the pick.

I’m now getting the feeling Pouncey won’t be around at No. 32.

I still feel like the Packers will go offensive line, though. Aaron Rodgers is the team’s most valuable commodity and keeping him off the turf is job one. The Packers hit with Bryan Bulaga in the draft last year, but I think everyone would feel a little better if the Packers had both ends of the line taken care of for the next 10 years.

Of course, NFL-ready tackles will be off the board by the time No. 32 rolls around. The Packers will take a small-school project with big upside — Villanova tackle Benjamin Ijalana.

The move makes sense because Ijalana can sit behind Chad Clifton while he plays out the string. After Clifton retires, Ijalana will be ready to step in and the Packers have their bookends.

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

9 Comments on "2011 Green Bay Packers Draft Preview"

  1. Cody

    What I don’t understand is why everyone thinks Bulaga is going to stay at RT…I strongly believe if it were Cliffy that went down instead of Tausch, we’d be looking at Bulaga starting at LT this year. That’s his natural position, so who’s to say he won’t slide over once Cliffy goes down for good. Plus I really like what I’ve seen out of Lang…could easily replace Colledge at LG or Tausch at RT. Not too mention the team seems pretty high on Newhouse. I don’t think OL is as big of a problem as people are making it out to be.

    TT’s obviously going to go for BPA, and at #32 I think there will be far better players at other positions that OL. I’m not going to complain who he drafts, I’ve learned over the years he does what he does for a reason. Also with 9 picks this year, why wouldn’t he bundle some picks and get some solid talent early…the pack don’t need 9 extra players next year trying to make the team, they’re going to have to cut enough as is. Get some solid players that could push for playing time right away, that’s my hope.

    Personally I’d be happy with a receiver in the likes of Torrey Smith, Clowney, or Titus Young…all double threats. Either way I can’t wait!

  2. Shawn iltarion

    The Packers proved last year that they aren’t as concerned about the OLB spot opposite Matthews as fans are. I believe they feel they can coach up cheaper players at that position. We have Brad Jones, Eric Walden, and Frank Zombo there.

    I also forward that TJ Lang held up pretty well against Julius Peppers after Clifton got injured in the NFC Championship Game. I don’t think OL is a huge need either.

  3. Taryn

    I don’t expect TT at this point to draft anyone in the “impact-start” now thinking.Core-developement-patience will dictate this year as the Packers can get severly hit in a new CBA.

    Salary capped or not is a major ideology for TT and with the guys we already have…don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone called a”beast”.

  4. BubbaOne

    NITPICK: The 7th round pick is the 233rd.

    Steffen: I question your describing TT’s drafting strategy as “wacky roster-building technique”. Also, saying “They say you’re not supposed to draft for need, but that’s the best way to go about this”, tells me you apparently are oblivious to a successful strategy known as taking the Best Player Available aka BPA. I do however bow to your expertise re tranny hookers.

    Taryn: I do expect to hear someone TT drafts to be called a “beast”. When he drafted Finley TT arguably took the best TE that year; same w/ Sitton arguably the best OG of that draft class; same at OLB w/ CM3.

    As we found out last year w/ injuries to Grant, Finley and Rodgers, we’re one hit away from saying “oh-oh”. That’s why drafting for need is shortsighted. For instance, Matt Flynn most likely is gone after this year. AR has had two concussions and Harrell is an unknown. Some think Christian Ponder will be the best NFL QB out of this draft. If TT has him rated that high it’s plausible TT could draft him at 32.
    Would this shock fans anymore than in TT’s first year w/ a HOF QB, he drafted w/ the 1st pick of his tenure Aaron Rodgers? Oh yeah, how’d that work for him?

    • Bubba, I was making fun of the perception of Ted Thompson’s draft technique and overall futility of predicting what he’ll do.
      Look back at the media’s coverage of his drafts – lots of beffudlment and accusations of wackiness. Can’t argue with the results though.
      And yes, Bubba, I know of and endorse (to an extent) the BPA. But accurately picking who Thompson has rated as his BPA is not so simple. Relax.

  5. Taryn

    When first starting a quest for change whether QB,OL,DL,LB of coarse you feel more dependent on the “beast” of a position which TT has gone for,got and has.IMO,though TT has reached somewhat the point of being forced into certain picks, has waned a little and developement depth is now more need than the “beast” per se,and a much oft mis-used description of players.
    Drafting Ponder at 32 would make me grab my hair yes,but it would fall into my feeling of what he does now.
    As for last year,the players that stepped up where by no means labeled “BEASTS” but all had “Beast” in them,which is what I would prefer over a couple called “Beasts”.
    Draft for need yes,but if need is replacing depth even better as IMO is the one constant to winning.

    • Cody

      If you would have written “beast” in your post one more time I was going to start ripping my hair out. Let’s get real people…with no CBA Flynn CANNOT be traded, he’ll be with the pack this year, and no way in hell does TT draft Ponder with his first pick. Have you guys looked at anyone’s big board? He’d be considered a reach no matter what in the first round. And having 4 QB’s on the same roster…just dumb. He’d instantly get moved to the practice squad and picked up by someone. I can’t guarantee a lot of things that TT does during the draft…but I guarantee he doesn’t draft Ponder at 32

  6. Vijay

    I agree with Monty on this one. I study the draft more than I watch internet porn. Late first round you can always get quality starting caliber talent on the D line or O line who, with a bit of seasoning, can become what you’ve envisioned for them with a late #1. The one caveat to the Ijalana pick might be his size, but his smarts are without question. He, like Bulaga, can man either side at the tackle position and would be dominant at LG or RT when paired with Bulaga who may end up as our LT in the future. I think receiver is completely out of the question for the first pick because there are many ‘value’ in that category which will be available in the later rounds (see Vincent Brown, Shaky Smithson, Titus Young, Edmund Gates, Jeremy Kerley, Matt Szczur, Ron Johnson, Niles Paul, Greg Little, Jerrel Jernigan, Ryan Broyles to name a few…).

    I also do not think that they will value an OLB prospect this high in this draft. Unless a blue chip talent slips far enough because of ‘?’of character, injury concerns, etc. they have been digging and looking at a ton of small school prospects of late. Check out Marc Schiechl from the tiny Colorado School of Mines. He’s the D-II all time sack leader. His measurables, work ethic and desire are very impressive.

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