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Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers wins, cornerbacks lose in draft

May 4, 2011
 
The Green Bay Packers' failure to draft a safety this year is good news for Jarrett Bush, left, while backup cornerback Brandon Underwood will feel the heat from fourth-round pick Davon House.
The Green Bay Packers' failure to draft a safety this year is good news for Jarrett Bush, left, while backup cornerback Brandon Underwood will feel the heat from fourth-round pick Davon House. / File/Gannett Wisconsin Media

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The Green Bay Packers stocked their roster by drafting 10 players last week, which will leave some veterans either out of work or demoted come September.

Thatís the nature of the NFL, where competition and General Manager Ted Thompsonís constant quest for improvement keeps the revolving roster door spinning. The draft created clear winners and losers among returning players:

Winners

• The Packers showered quarterback Aaron Rodgers with gifts. He received new offensive weapons in the form of receiver Randall Cobb and running back Alex Green, and extra protection with first-round tackle Derek Sherrod. Life is good for the reigning Super Bowl MVP.

• C.J. Wilson was an unsung seventh-round draft choice last year but has the chance to play a significant role on the defensive line. The expected departures of Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly already provided a window of opportunity. But it got even better for Wilson when the Packers ignored a college talent pool rich in defensive ends until the seventh round. Third-year defensive end Jarius Wynnís career prospects also went up.

• Graham Harrell isnít ready for prime time, but with Matt Flynnís contract expiring after the season and no competition coming out of the draft, the Packersí third-string quarterback has the chance to eventually climb the depth chart.

• The Packers waited until the sixth round to draft an outside linebacker, which is a huge vote of confidence for Frank Zombo, Erik Walden and Brad Jones. One of those players likely will be in the starting lineup opposite Clay Matthews in the season opener.

• The selection of Cobb, who doubles as a return man, means Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback Tramon Williams no longer needs to sacrifice life and limb returning punts. The Packers risked Williamsí health last season on special teams because there was no decent alternative. Williams can get back to focusing on what he does best, which is shutting down opposing receivers.

• Jarrett Bush, formerly one of the most criticized players on the team, proved his worth on special teams last season and in the secondary with an interception in the Super Bowl. The Packers didnít draft a safety, which should allow Bush to stay for another year.

Losers

• Itís conceivable, maybe even likely, that Pat Lee and Brandon Underwood will make the roster, but their chances of earning more playing time were reduced when the Packers drafted cornerback Davon House. What formerly was a two-man scramble for cornerback duty behind Charles Woodson, Williams and Sam Shields has become a three-way battle.

• The presence of Green, the third-round pick from Hawaii, could knock Brandon Jackson out of his third-down running back role, or make the Packers less inclined to give Jackson a new contract. If Green produces a big splash, it also could pave the way for the departure of Ryan Grant after this season.

• The Packers wonít feel as hard-pressed to re-sign James Jones now that Cobb, the second-round receiver from Kentucky, is in the fold. Even if Jones stays, he likely wonít see as many balls thrown his way.

• Conventional wisdom suggests the drafting of two tight ends will spell trouble for Tom Crabtree. But itís possible the Packers will keep four tight ends at the expense of the fullback position. While the versatile and productive John Kuhn is a good bet to stick, the same canít be said for Korey Hall or Quinn Johnson. One or both might have to go.

• Itís almost a given that Sherrodís arrival will hasten the departure of tackle Mark Tauscher. But veteran guards and potential free agents Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge also could be on their way out the door if young and hungry linemen like T.J. Lang, Nick McDonald or sixth-round draft pick Caleb Schlauderaff develop.

Reach Vandermause at mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com or at www.twitter.com/MikeVandermause.

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