I tried three different introductions for this post, but I simply cannot find the words to describe this:
Ok, it might not be Andre Smith, but it might as well be. And that's what scares me. Read on. Chime in. Bark twice if you're in Milwaukee.
First off, some background.
We all know the situation up in Green Bay. Chad Clifton is coming off of an injury-riddled season, two minor knee surgeries, and is generally considered to be on the decline. Mark Tauscher tore his ACL and may or may not be rehabbed in time for training camp, and even then he might not be at the same level he was.
In short, Green Bay needs to replace Clifton and Tauscher soon.
On the roster right now, the Packers have two players that are being considered for those spots: Daryn Colledge and Breno Giacomini. Colledge played tackle in college, but has played guard most often during his pro career. He is extremely versatile Giacomini, a rookie last season, is a converted TE who has outstanding size and athleticism and, if he learns the technique right and keeps getting stronger, is a prototypical LT in the NFL. However, these two players are just that: two players. If they both pan out and become valuable starters, then the team needs depth behind them. If one or both can't fill the role, then the team needs someone else able to step in and challenge for the position(s).
In short, Green Bay needs to bring in a rookie or two to compete for the bookend spots.
With the ninth spot in the draft, Green Bay has a number of options. They could take a defensive end or outside linebacker to help with the 3-4 transition. They could take Malcom Jenkins, widely considered the best defensive back in the draft, to help fill the void created by Woodson and Harris' inevitable retirements. Or, they could take an offensive tackle to address the needs stated above: replacing Clifton and Tauscher. There are a number of offensive tackle prospects in this draft that will likely be available at the ninth pick. Baylor's Jason Smith, Virginia's Virginia Monroe, and Mississippi's Michael Oher are all highly regarded players that project to be strong candidates for starting tackles in the NFL.
In short, Green Bay will likely be able to draft a tackle at the ninth spot. But the question remains: which one will they pick?
While a case can be made for any of the aforementioned trio of tackles, ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert brings up a somewhat controversial topic: what about Alabama's Andre Smith?
And it's a valid topic to bring up. Smith was a beast during the college football season. He played offense like Albert Haynseworth plays defense. In his senior year of high school, he had 88 pancake blocks. At Alabama as a freshman, he had 62 pancake blocks. He was a consensus All-American and winner of the of the 2008 Outland Trophy winner. There was legitimate conversation regarding Detroit selecting him with the first overall pick and anchoring their line for a decade. Andre Smith simply had it made in the shade.
But what happened since then? It seems that, in my judgement, Smith plain lost his damn mind. After recieving a suspension for the Sugar Bowl and subesquently declaring for the NFL Draft, it's all been downhill. He showed up at the NFL Combine unprepared and out of shape, plus he performed terribly in interviews. I picture it going something like this:
To make matters worse, Smith eventually left the combine...without telling anyone.
Ok, fine, rookie mistake. He wanted to make a set appointment with his trainer to get ready for Alabama's Pro Day, where he would really show everyone what he was made of...
Huh...people can be made of Jello now. While removing the shirt was at least an explainable mistake, I'd love to hear the reasoning behind the decision to run the 40-yard dash topless. Scouts said that it wasn't pleasant to see. Scouts these days are far too generous. Can you imagine the ripples of fat that would result from this guy sprinting?
Smith was once considered a top-5 pick. Now, he's lucky to get out of the first round. But, as Kevin Seifert says, Green Bay has to at least consider him at the ninth spot. To sum it up best:
From a football perspective, Smith is as talented as any offensive lineman available in the draft. That leaves the Packers facing less of a football decision and more of a character evaluation.
What do you think? Is Smith worth the risk if he's available at No. 9? Or is that too high of an investment to make on a prospect who is in freefall?
I will personally reserve judgement for a later date. Until then, I hope that Andre can follow the footsteps of his idol and discover the gym.
So what do you think? Is he worth the trouble? Or is he more concerned with pancake batter than pancake blocks?