I'm here to talk LB's, but before I do so, my system must relinquish itself of my desire to draft Kevin O'Connell. The more I watch him, the more I like him. I think he has superstar potential. His mobility is terrific. I love the way he throws on the run. He has a sparkling personality yet he's humble. He's a must for the Packers in the '08 draft. I'd rank him and Joe Flacco as numbers 1a and 1b at the QB position in this years draft. I'd rather have both of them than Chad Henne, Brian Brohm, and Matt Ryan. But, that's just me and I've been wrong before.
As for LB's in the '08 draft, I believe that you can find value in the mid-to-late rounds. But, I don't think you'll see the Packers draft a LB this year. In fact, at this stage, we have more LB's than we can keep. An NFL team carries 5 or 6 LB's. As of right now, the Packers have Nick Barnett, AJ Hawk, Brandon Chillar, Brady Poppinga, Desmond Bishop, Abdul Hodge, Tracy White, and Spencer Havner. Barnett, Hawk, Poppinga, Chillar, and White are locks to make the '08 roster. I would be shocked if Bishop is not on the roster, which means that Hodge and Havner will be casualties.
As for the '08 draft class, at Outside LB, Keith Rivers will be off the board before the Packers pick. Erin Henderson has good bloodlines and has been a performer. He's got 2nd round value.
Xavier Adibi was a rock for Virginia Tech. He's intimidates and will have great special teams value for some NFL team. The same can be said for Phillip Wheeler and Tavares Gooden. I hear Gooden is flying up draft boards.
Ezra Butler has tons of value but he's best suited for the 3-4.
Geno Hayes is a potential steal. I don't see much of a difference between him and Ernie Sims. Sims was a 1st rounder. I have witnessed Hayes dominate games. Two years ago - when FSU played the 'Canes at the Orange Bowl - I was sitting at the 15 yard line, 35 rows up. Geno Hayes was the best player on the field. He dominated the game. He shut down Greg Olsen. Frustrated him and knocked him off his routes. He was in Kyle Wright's face. Charlie Jones and Javarris James were the Canes RB's. Neither was productive. On that day, Geno Hayes showed top-10 potential. Last year against the Matt Ryan led Boston College Eagles, as Ryan was trying to lead a comeback, Geno Hayes stepped in front of a Ryan pass and returned it for a TD. Hayes as a 3rd rounder makes my mouth water. If, that is, he can keep himself out of trouble.
Shawn Crable is an exciting prospect that would fit into our system. If we had not signed Chillar, I might want to draft Crable in the 2nd round.
Ali Highsmith was a terrific performer for LSU. His combine was rubbish. His LSU pro-day was pathetic. And now he's basically become a 4-6 round prospect.
Wesley Woodyard is a guy that I'll follow on draft day. The same can be said for Larry Grant.
I'll be curious if Kelly Poppinga gets drafted. He's Brady's brother. He, too, went to BYU.
Curtis Johnson is the small school prospect that I've got my eye on. He's undersized. He's a pass rusher. He had 13.5 sacks last year and 27 tackles for loss. In his career, he had 39.6 sacks and 81.5 tackles for loss. Off production alone, it is worth taking note of CuJo.
With regard to ILB, I'm hoping that Jerod Mayo is drafted before #30. Before we signed Chillar, I was considering Dan Connor with the #30 pick. Connor can play both ILB and OLB. Now, I'm hoping he's drafted before #30 as well. That way, a player we may consider drafting such as a WR/RB may fall to us.
I think Curtis Lofton is overrated.
When I watch Beau Bell highlights, I do not see someone that drives you backwards. I see a guy that patiently waits before he pursues. When he hits you, he's driving his shoulder into you and slapping at the wrist. I like him and I'll be curious to see where he lands.
I think Jonathan Goff is better than what his being discussed of him. He did a little of everything at Vanderbilt. He was found in the backfield. He picked off passes. He was always around the football. At worst, in my mind, he'll be an above average special teams player. I'll watch where he gets drafted as well.
Vince Hall will be strictly a special teams player in the NFL. I don't think he has the game to make it as an every down LB.
Ben Moffitt could be a surprise pick in this years draft. When South Florida hosted West Virginia, I was in attendance. On that day, Ben Moffitt was the best player on the field. He was overly impressive. He made a game changing interception and returned it for a TD. He's a hard worker. He has a "Never Say Die" mentality. He has a life in the NFL.
J Leman is an interesting NFL prospect. All heart. Your classic Midwestern, Big 10 LB. He's all heart and soul. Lives for football. Nobody will work harder. Nobody cares more. Smart guy. I enjoy listening to him speak. Leads by example. Is he athletic enough?
Marc Magro: See J Leman. Magro is a maniac. On occasion, Magro would have Owen Schmitt break his nose before games. It was the Chuck Cecil mentality. Tough guy. Fights until the end. Blood, sweat and tears are left on the field every time he plays. A good guy to bring into training camp.
Teams will be able to bring competition into camp through this year's LB crop. And they'll be able to find this depth in the mid-to-late rounds. I hope the Packers do not draft a LB. We have no need.
Next Up: Defensive Backs.