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Can Green Bay Packers land impact player at No. 32?

Apr. 24, 2011
 

We're No. 32

The last 10 players taken with the 32nd pick in the draft were:
2010: New Orleans (Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State)
2009: Pittsburgh (Evander Hood, DT, Missouri)
2008: Miami (Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson)*
2007: Indianapolis (Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Ohio State)
2006: New York Giants (Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Boston College)
2005: New England (Logan Mankins, G, Fresno State)
2004: New England (Ben Watson, TE, Georgia)
2003: Oakland (Tyler Brayton, DE, Colorado)
2002: Washington (Patrick Ramsey, QB, Tulane)
2001: San Diego (Drew Brees, QB, Purdue)*
* Second-round pick because there were only 31 first-round selections

Last in line

Recent first-round picks by defending Super Bowl champs:
2010 New Orleans: Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State, No. 32 overall
2009 Pittsburgh: Evander Hood, DT, Missouri, No. 32
2008 New York Giants: Kenny Phillips, S, Miami, No. 31
2007 Indianapolis: Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Ohio State, No. 32
2006 Pittsburgh: Santonio Holmes, WR, Ohio State, No. 25
2005 New England: Logan Mankins, G, Fresno State, No. 32
2004 New England: Vince Wilfork, DT, Miami, No. 21
2003 Tampa Bay: No first-round pick
2002 New England: Daniel Graham, TE, Colorado, No. 21
2001 Baltimore: Todd Heap, TE, Arizona State, No. 31

2010 picks

Round 1: No. 23 overall Bryan Bulaga » T, Iowa
Round 2: No. 56 Mike Neal, DE, Purdue
Round 3: No. 71, Morgan Burnett, S, Georgia Tech
Round 5: No. 154, Andrew Quarless, TE, Penn State
Round 5: No. 169, Marshall Newhouse, G/T, TCU
Round 6: No. 193, James Starks, RB, Buffalo
Round 7: No. 230, C.J. Wilson, DE, East Carolina

Class of '10

Two of the seven draft picks started Super Bowl XLV. Bulaga held up just fine at right tackle and will start there again next season. Starks was a late-season addition off the physically unable to perform list and gave the Packers their best running threat in the postseason. Another rookie, undrafted free agent Frank Zombo, also started the game at outside linebacker. A second undrafted rookie, Sam Shields, was the nickel cornerback. Safe to say, it was a productive rookie class. What’s more, Neal and Burnett might be starters next season. Neal missed most of his rookie year because of a shoulder injury but is perhaps the leading candidate to replace Cullen Jenkins as a starting defensive end. Burnett opened the season as a starter, but his season ended in Week 4 because of a torn anterior crucicate ligament. Quarless has Jermichael Finley-type potential. Newhouse and Wilson still need to develop.

First-rounders

Here are the Packers' last first-round picks at each position:
Tackle: 2010 (Bryan Bulaga, No. 23)
Defensive tackle: 2009 (B.J. Raji, No. 9)
Linebacker: 2009 (Clay Matthews, No. 26)
Quarterback: 2005 (Aaron Rodgers, No. 24)
Cornerback: 2004 (Ahmad Carroll, No. 25)
Receiver: 2002 (Javon Walker, No. 20)
Defensive end: 2001 (Jamal Reynolds, No. 10)
Tight end: 2000 (Bubba Franks, No. 14)
Safety: 1999 (Antuan Edwards, No. 25)
Guard: 1994 (Aaron Taylor, No. 16)
Running back: 1990 (Darrell Thompson, No. 19)
Center: 1967 (Bob Hyland, No. 9)
Fullback: 1966 (Jim Grabowski, No. 9)

The last time

The last time the Packers picked 32nd in the first round was 1995. They were supposed to have the 22nd pick that year but traded with the expansion Carolina Panthers, who had the last pick of the round as a supplemental choice. With that pick, the Packers took cornerback Craig Newsome from Arizona State. Newsome went on to play in 46 regular-season games for the Packers and was a starter in Super Bowl XXXI.

More

So you’re sitting there with the Lombardi Trophy still basking in the glow of the Super Bowl, then comes the reality of the NFL.

It’s draft time, and now you have the last pick in the first round.

It’s one of the ways the league tries to enhance competitiveness, but picking at the end of the round, which means having to wait for 31 teams to select, doesn’t necessarily ensure that the rich won’t get richer.

“I think the really good draft teams, let’s face it, they’re usually the ones drafting at the end of the first round,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said this week.

A study of the last 10 Super Bowl winners proves him correct and should give the Green Bay Packers hope that even though they will be picking at No. 32 in Thursday’s first round, unless they trade up or down, they stand a decent chance to pick up an impact player. In the last decade, the defending champs that stuck with the final pick of the first round still managed to pick up productive — and sometimes even Pro Bowl — players.

Consider the following recent first-round selections by defending Super Bowl champs that didn’t trade up: Safety Kenny Phillips (New York Giants, 2008), receiver Anthony Gonzalez (Indianapolis, 2007), guard Logan Mankins (New England, 2005) and tight end Todd Heap (Baltimore, 2001).

Mankins and Heap turned into Pro Bowl players. Phillips is a full-time starter for a competitive team. If Gonzalez could ever stay healthy — he has played in just three games the last two seasons — he has the talent to be one of Peyton Manning’s favorite receivers.

Phillips and Heap were picked at No. 31 because there were only that many first-round selections in those seasons. The others were taken at No. 32.

The last four Super Bowl winners stood pat and picked at their assigned spot. Last season, the Saints took cornerback Patrick Robinson, who played sparingly as a rookie but could be the nickel cornerback this season. The year before, the Steelers took defensive tackle Evander Hood, who has been a solid contributor and might one day be a starter.

“I think they always have a couple guys in their back pocket, that if all hell breaks loose, they get a good, safe guy,” Mayock said of the Super Bowl winners.

“I’ll use Logan Mankins as an example. The Patriots were looking for a defensive guy that year, but the entire defensive side of their board was decimated, so they took a guy that a lot of people thought was a mid-to-late two or an early three. But they took him because they knew he would be there, and he was in the back pocket as a worst-case scenario, we know we’re going to get a solid player. All those teams have a couple of those guys in their back pocket.”

Or they trade up.

The Steelers did that in 2006 after winning the Super Bowl. They jumped seven spots to No. 25 to take receiver Santonio Holmes. Two years earlier, when the Patriots were the defending champs, they picked nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who would go to Pro Bowl status, but they had previously traded for Baltimore’s first-round pick, which was No. 21. The Patriots also moved up when they were the defending champs in 2002 and took tight Daniel Graham at No. 21 overall, which had been Washington’s pick.

The only team that didn’t have a pick following its Super Bowl victory was Tampa Bay in 2003. The Buccaneers had traded that pick to Oakland for coach Jon Gruden.

Strictly looking at players taken at No. 32 over the last decade, whether by a defending champ or another team that acquired that pick, and the results are mixed. The best one was Drew Brees in 2001, when that pick was the first of the second round. It was San Diego’s pick, but Brees would go on to quarterback the Saints to their Super Bowl title.

So what can the Packers realistically expect if they stay at No. 32?

Mayock thinks it could be something good.

“If you’re Green Bay, and you’re sitting there at 32, you’re going, ‘OK, we’ve got offensive line issues, so will Danny Watkins from Baylor be there?” Mayock said. “He can play tackle or inside. What about (Alabama running back) Mark Ingram? Will he be there? The running back position’s been devalued. This kid on my board, I think I’ve got him 16 or 17, and I’m not even sure he’s going in the first round. So he’s another guy you stick in your back pocket. They’ve got some defensive line issues. Will (Oregon State defensive end) Stephen Paea be there? Probably. Most people think he’s a mid-second-round pick. But if you take Stephen Paea, you get a real solid football player.

“So you look at different players out there, and you have two or three in your back pocket in case your board gets decimated, and I think Green Bay will.”

Reach Demovsky at rdemov@greenbaypressgazette.com or at www.twitter.com/RobDemovsky.

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