GREEN BAY – Need at cornerback and kick-returner have been addressed. Inside linebacker? Not yet.
“We’re going to address (inside linebacker) just like we address all of the other positions. I think it’s fine. I have confidence in the fellows we have. We’ll address it. This thing is a long way from being put to bed,” Packers General Manager Ted Thompson told reporters following the selection of Ty Montgomery in the third round of Friday night’s draft.
Through two days and three rounds of this year’s NFL draft, the Packers have yet to turn their attention to a position at which the team released last year’s two starters, A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones. TCU’s Paul Dawson was available when the Packers selected Montgomery, but Dawson was selected by the Bengals a few picks later and he’s now off the board.
So, heading into the final day of the draft, the burning question on the lips of Packers fans and media is how and who will address the team’s need at inside linebacker. Fans and media alike are worried. Thompson says he never worries.
“We want to get good football players and we think we got a couple more,” he said of Friday night’s selections of cornerback Quentin Rollins and Montgomery.
“Get good football players” would seem to be the theme of this draft.
Rollins was the big surprise on Friday. He came out of nowhere last season when he finished his four-year basketball career at Miami of Ohio by joining the football team, winning MAC defensive player of the year and climbing from obscurity to a place among the elite of college football.
What does it say about Rollins that he could make football look so easy?
“I don’t think this is an easy game in any way,” Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. “His rare ball skills are something special and he does make it easy to get the ball. Corner is a hard position to come in and play as a rookie.”
The Packers got hot on Rollins’ trail midway through last season, and then Rollins got hot and began moving up boards.
“He got hot late in the fall,” College Scouting Director Brian Gutekunst said. “Our scouts saw him and really liked him. I went in there and he was really, really impressive. He was probably their best player in Week 2. He was fairly easy to evaluate.”
“I think it’s big, especially when he gets into our system with our coaches,” Gutekunst said. “He’s a corner, but he easily could play safety. When the coaching staff gets their hands on him, those things will be decided.”
The Rollins and Montgomery picks follow the selection of Arizona State cornerback/safety Damarious Randall on Thursday. Randall, Rollins and Montgomery were not on the fans’ radar, which forced Thompson into somewhat of a defensive posture in his Friday meeting with the media.
Defend his picks? Only performance over time can do that. Success is the ultimate defense.
Whether the picks are popular or unpopular, what must be acknowledged is the Packers’ belief in the men they’ve selected. You don’t just pick these kinds of players off the board. They almost certainly were targeted. Their selections are the result of painstaking evaluation, and if you want to feel good about the first two days of the draft, you put your trust in Thompson and his scouts’ ability to evaluate talent. Their track record is pretty good.
It would also help make everyone feel a little better if the Packers were to draft an inside linebacker on Saturday.
Additional draft coverage - Day 2