Protecting the Franchise QB Was Top Priority

Maybe you're like me. As the back half of the first round began to unfold and Mark Ingram started to drop, I began to fantasize about plugging a dynamic running back into the Pack's offense--forgetting about his troublesome knee and imagining a Thurman Thomas-type ending.

But when the Saints jumped back into the first round, Ingram's fate was sealed and I turned my attention to Cam Heyward, a guy who could step in and replace Cullen Jenkins. But the Steelers ended that notion by grabbing the former Buckeye at #31.

So Ted Thompson fielded some calls about moving out of the first round but ultimately grabbed his second offensive tackle in as many years in Derek Sherrod, of Mississippi State. The fifth of five first round tackles, many scouts saw very little separation among any of them. Sherrod played in a spread offense, which is far different from the pro-style offense, but his size, quick feet and upper body strength have most convinced that he can be a ten-year left tackle in the NFL.

With Clifton's knees like a ticking time bomb, there's no way to know how quickly he'll be asked to protect Rodgers' blind side. The Pack may elect to move Bulaga to the left side and put Sherrod on the right side, once Clifton hangs 'em up. Who knows? Sherrod may get a shot at the LG spot this season if Darren Colledge moves on.

What we do know is the Pack did not have a second legit tackle of the future before this draft started. Now they do. The biggest asset this team has, Aaron Rodgers, will sleep well knowing that the Pack has prioritized the offensive line, adding another blue chipper at one of the game's most vital positions.

It's a very solid start to the Packers' 2011 draft. With two picks on Friday, expect them to grab at least one defensive player and maybe a wide receiver.

Other observations from the first round: The Lions could have the best D-line in the league next season. Pairing Nick Fairley next to Suh is frightening. I like what they're doing over there. The Bears have to be ecstatic that Gabe Carimi fell to them. Huge upgrade at a huge position of need. Badger fans are going to have a tough time with this one.

As for the Vikings, I give them credit for reaching for a QB and rolling the dice. They were convinced they couldn't wait till round two and were unable to move down so they just took the guy they liked, even if Christian Ponder wasn't considered a top 20 talent. But if Ponder doesn't deliver in 2012, the franchise will be set back for years.


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