It is safe to say the Packers might not see an immediate impact from their top picks this year, but that is a direct reflection of the status of their current roster more than anything else. With the lack of a drastic immediate hole in the roster the Packers could truly take the best player available and the fact that Bryan Bulaga dropped to them was a major bonus. Bulaga clearly is the future at left tackle with hope he doesn’t have to be pressed into duty this year. At 21 years-old, a year behind Chad Clifton would do wonders for the kid.
The best chance for immediate impact would be the next two picks – Mike Neal and Morgan Burnett. Neal will certainly see playing time unless he flops completely in training camp and my guess is Burnett is already the favorite to start opposite Nick Collins at safety. Current starter Atari Bigby can be written off if you ask me. Burnett or somebody else starts this year, Bigby is done, a one-hit wonder if there ever was one.
After that I’m as confused as the next guy. We didn’t really need a tight-end but Andrew Quarless could give the Packers their best tight-end tandem since the glory days of Mark Chmura and Keith Jackson. Spencer Havner had a great run, but it’s over. Donald Lee makes three. Of course Quarless is not likely to be that guy this year so D-Lee will be the backup to Jermichael Finley this year and see most of the playing time.
Marshall Newhouse is an interesting selection. Solid college career, bloodlines being the cousin of Robert Newhouse, the bruising fullback of the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s. That Newhouse went to three Super Bowls, hopefully ours does the same. One thing is sure, competition on the offensive line is about to heat up big time. My guess is Daryn Colledge signs his tender real soon, however the Packers might be hoping he doesn’t. If Colledge were to win a starting job again this year the Packers are doomed to failure.
The last two picks, running back James Starks and defensive end C.J. Wilson will have uphill battles to see any playing time if they even make the team. Starks might have a chance because the Packers still don’t have a legit third-down back and it looks like Brian Westbrook will be signing elsewhere and the Packers appear to have no interest in re-signing Ahman Green.
But here’s the thing – the Packers didn’t need a huge impact player this year. I know cornerback is probably the biggest hole to be filled and the Packers were not able to address that in the draft or free agency, but the offseason still has three months to go. Al Harris will be available at some point but I think Tramon Williams will be the starter opposite Charles Woodson regardless. That isn’t exactly the end of the world. An increased pass rush would make them all Pro Bowl players.
All-in-all I thought it was a good three days for the Packers. The Packers aren’t a player away from the Super Bowl, they are home-field advantage away from the Super Bowl. Just like they were going into the 1996 season. The Packers hopefully made sure that they can overcome the ups and downs of a season with much needed depth where they needed it most, albeit one exception.
The Packers did well in the draft. Confidence is high.