Who would have thought that four late-round selections could answer so many questions?
Certainly not yours truly.
But such is the case with the Green Bay Packers and the four players they took to close the 2010 NFL Draft. Each of those players, in their own way, will alter the Pack’s roster.
How so? Well, let’s take a look:
- Tight end Andrew Quarless’ selection in the fifth round means the end is near for either Donald Lee or Spencer Havner. My money’s on Lee.
For whatever reason, Lee hasn’t been the same since Brett Favre left. He just hasn’t shown the same confidence. The result of that is far too many dropped balls and Jermichael Finley surpassing him on the depth chart. Quarless – despite his numerous character issues - is a big target with very good speed for the position. He’s also, like Lee, primarily a receiving tight end. Green Bay has no need for three pure receivers on the roster. Lee also has a much higher salary than does Havner and, unlike Havner, Lee provides no special teams value whatsoever. Once Havner’s shoulder injury heals, my guess is Lee is released.
- Guard/tackle Marshall Newhouse’s selection in round five gives the Packers 12 offensive linemen, as of now. Green Bay will not keep that many linemen, meaning at least two players are on the way out. There are only a few candidates.
First, here’s who is 100 percent safe: Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, Bryan Bulaga and T.J. Lang. I’d say Jason Spitz, Daryn Colledge and Newhouse are 80 percent safe. That leaves three players, all of whom are in trouble: Evan Dietrich-Smith, Breno Giacomini and Allen Barbre. There is no way Giacomini and Barbre both stick on the roster. Both could get cut, but I think it’s more likely only one does. As of now, I’d guess Barbre is gone. We already know he’s terrible; Giacomini still has some potential because of his size. That leaves Dietrich-Smith as the other likely goner. But he’s got versatility and I could see a scenario in which the team tires of Colledge’s B.S. and ships him out for whatever it can get. In that case, ED-S sticks.
- Running back James Starks’ selection in the sixth round likely means the Packers will not get serious in their pursuit of former Eagle Brian Westbrook.
First, a disclaimer: I really had no interest in the Packers signing Westbrook. His best days are clearly behind him and he’s likely one hit to the head away from having to retire. Even if he avoids a concussion, he’d be a good bet to get hurt, in some form or another, much sooner rather than later. Starks appears to be an injury risk, as well, but at least he’s got youth on his side. And he fills the same pass-catching role that Westbrook would have at a much cheaper price (I think Westbrook still wants to get paid and isn’t going to settle for a veteran minimum, like some fans do).
- Defensive end C.J. Wilson’s selection in the seventh round means the team has likely all but given up on Justin Harrell. It also means the Packers understand both Johnny Jolly and Cullen Jenkins might not be back in 2011.
Wilson, along with Mike Neal, selected on day two, give the Packers seven non-Harrell players at d-line – Jolly, Jenkins, Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, Neal, Wilson and Jarius Wynn. The main four, plus Neal, are 100 percent certain to be on the roster. Wilson is likely an 80 percent certainty. That makes six, with Wynn likely the odd man out. Harrell first has to clear the medical hurdle (doubtful). Then, he’d have to surpass both Wynn and Wilson in order to make the roster (I highly doubt the Packers keep more than six linemen). In other words: See ya, Justin. As for the Jenkins/Jolly situations, I don’t think it’s an accident that Ted Thompson drafted two d-linemen when he just happens to have two linemen with expiring contracts (and, in Jolly’s case, pending legal trouble). He’s clearly setting the team up in case those two are gone. As I’ve written before, that’s a definite possibility for 2011…you know, if there’s football in 2011, that is.
That wraps up our day three coverage. I’ll return Monday with a look at the draft from a league-wide perspective.
Thanks for sticking with us throughout the past three days, gang. I hope you had as much fun as we did.