It was a long draft day for Green Bay Packer fans, but in the end general manager Ted Thompson delivered the goods in the third and fourth rounds by answering two more of the teams pressing needs.
Instead of taking a defensive end (the predicted pick in the second round), Thompson chose the route of the path less trodden, by selecting two offensive players in wide receiver Randall Cobb and running back Alex Green.
It is hard to find a flaw in either players performance right now. Cobb has the skills necessary to flourish into an elite receiver alongside Greg Jennings one day, and although Alex Green may be warming the bench for the time being, the Packers secured a player who has corrected many problems since graduating from Hawaii, such as a high pad level.
Yesterday, the Packers received an A- on their round one report card. Today, Green Bay receives a B+, and here's why:
With the 32nd pick in the second round, the Packers answered their wide receiver need in two words: Randall Cobb. Clearly, Cobb was a liability pick among other things, as James Jones continues to dance with the free agency devil, and Donald Driver is now considered "elderly".
But Cobb's pick means much more than a safety net at the wide receiver position, plus another target for Aaron Rodgers.
As Mel Kiper Jr. pointed out, Cobb is a fantastic punt returner. He has the speed which will allow cornerback Tramon Williams a well deserved rest on the bench, while he also has the ideal height (5 foot 11) to finally create some consistency and reliability in the return game.
The Packers scored just one touchdown off of punt returns last season. Green Bay haven't been known for their return ability recently, but it will be nice to see the Packers potentially feature a lethal return game to rival that of Devin Hester in Chicago.
The other happy part of this particular pick, was Cobb's familiarity with the wildcat formation. At Kentucky he mixed and matched between wide receiver and quarterback, showcasing his natural talent. Don't jump to conclusions -- this play style probably isn't in the Packers wildest dreams. But one likes to daydream.
The bottom line remains the same: the Packers are still without an outside linebacker and a defensive end.
Selecting Alex Green in the third round made some slight sense on Friday, however, the pick was far from a necessity. If there's any positive side to this story, it may actually cause both Dmitri Nance and Brandon Jackson to pull their weight next season, due to the crowded space at the running back position.
But Green's pick is obviously a move for the future. Packer fans can't hold their breath on James Starks just yet, and nor can Ryan Grant's future be taken for granted with his contract expiring at the end of the 2011 season.
So that's where I get off on the selection of Green. It seems like the Packers could have received the exact same result in a later round, while still securing a solid defender in the process.
Then again, perhaps Ted Thompson knows something we don't. He sees talent from a mile away, and it is surprising to see three rounds sail by without a single trade from the Packers, ending his consecutive trade streak at 16.
Maybe tomorrow will be different. It definitely needs to be.
I recall feeling the same way about James Starks last year. I welcome Green to prove me wrong this season.
The Remaining Needs
Aside from the outside linebacker and defensive end spot, the quarterback position is also of need. The New England Patriots were quick to cement their dynasty by selecting Ryan Mallet on Friday, so now you know why New York Jets fans fell mute for a few minutes.
Other needs include safety and nose tackle, although they can wait for another year.
Tomorrow we do it all again. Hopefully with a defensive end in hand this time.