Before I even begin, let it be known that history has shown whenever I predict something, Ted Thompson does the opposite.
But, I'm on the table right now that the Packers' first pick in the 2009 draft could be...should be...Tyson Jackson, the DE from LSU.
I know, I know...he's solid, but not spectacular. He's grading out to a mid-first round talent and may not be worthy of pick #9 pay.
I have three words for you. Supply and Demand.
It's not often I would encourage a reach in the draft (see: Justin Harrell), but value isn't always about measurables and interview questions. It's about what you need and how many options you have out there to get it.
Defensive end is pretty scarce in this year's draft crop, and players that project into a 3-4 DE position are almost non-existant at the top of the draft, other than Jackson. So many of these other defensive ends are more suitable to a 4-3 DE or into the 3-4 OLB spots. And if you're looking for a 3-4 OLB, there's no fewer than twelve prospects in this year's draft.
But the five-technique kid from LSU is the commodity at DE, and his stock is rising. Why? No less than 13 teams are running or switching to the 3-4 defense this year, and believe it or not, they are all looking for the same types of players that the Packers are. Stout nose tackles, stout defensive ends, and big rush OLBs.
Demand high. Supply low.
Jackson should be available at #9, but as time goes on, I'm getting concerned that he may not be available further back. Ideally, I'd love to see Sanchez fall to #9 and the Redskins make a trade with the Packers to move up and get the QB they so desire. This could garner the Packers another third-round pick and give Thompson five players in the first 83 picks.
Question is, though, will Jackson still be available at #13? I think he might be, and if so, the Packers should take him in a second. This is a guy you should be able to pencil in as your starting DE for 2009 and should only get better as time goes on.
If it were me, I'd also take Ron Brace (NT-Boston College) in the second round and have made a major infusion of talent in the trenches for 2009. Thompson would then have three picks in the third round to play with to upgrade a number of other positions, none of which are in as much dire need for upgrade as that defensive line.
There are a couple of players that would intruige me if still available at #9, namely BJ Raji and Malcolm Jenkins. However, I am believing more and more than Raji, the top 3-4 nose tackle available, is going to be just as sought after by those thirteen 3-4 teams, and will be gone by the time the Packers pick...likely from another team trading into the top ten.
And rumors are abounding that the Patriots, no stranger as late to making big moves, are plotting to move ahead of the Packers to take Jenkins.
But even if both are sitting there, my gut still says to take the player at the position of most need, which is DE.
Yes, there are those of you who think we absolutely have to draft one of the OLB hybrids, but according to Bob McGinn, there are at least twelve available. No, we might not get Orapko or Smith, but a kid like Connor Barwin seems like a player that Thompson loves to take late in the first-day...a backer from Cincinatti that is a little raw but full of potential and upside.
The other two third-round picks? Now you can look at CB or OT. Remember that Al Harris and Scott Wells are rumored to be on the block and could easily be bundled with a Day 2 pick to move up and get another pick on the first day.
This draft has a lot of potential to be one of the best drafts that Thompson has had, despite being perhaps one of the flattest draft classes. As other teams drool over the star power of players like Sanchez and Jenkins, Thompson could come out with many players ready to contribute and fall right into the climate that Mike McCarthy is trying to create.
1. (trade back to #13) Tyson Jackson
2. Ron Brace
3. Connor Barwin, Troy Kropog (OT), and Thompson's traditional wide receiver taken in the first three rounds.
However, I can see taking Jackson right at #9. Supply and demand still operates in the real world, even if the economy is still in the tank.