Not that any of this will be valid on Monday morning…
I won’t bore you with who I think the Packers’ should select in the first round, or any round. You have great resources all over the net for that. (Some personal faves here, here and here) I would, however, like to engage in The Great Taking A Tight End In The First Round Debate that is raging over at PackerGeeks. (Raging, Aaron? Yes, dear reader, raging.)
While both Andy and Steve make valid arguments, I think they, along with Greg Bedard over at JSOnline, (sorry, sub required) are missing a key point when assessing if a player or position is or isn’t “worth” the Packers first round pick, and the point is tied up in that very word, “worth”. Ted Thompson, as we speak, has his board assembled and knows exactly what worth he places on each player in relation to each other, regardless of whether it’s a tight end, cornerback, offensive lineman, ect. The position the player plays is immaterial next to his perceived value in relation to all the other players on the board. (Confused? Good.) Now, of course, the position each player plays has been taken into consideration when making up the board, but the day of the draft, he doesn’t look at it like you and I, or most anyone who writes about the Packers. If the 30th pick comes up, and the next player on his board is a tight end, he’ll take him. In his mind, it’s the best football player available, and he wants the best players possible on his team. Period. As Thompson said:
I just think the draft is a long-term investment, especially the early round picks. … If you know Player A is a better player and you wind up taking Player B because he happens to play a different position, I think that’s a mistake.
Now, as to the merits of taking a tight end early in general, I think Steve and Greg discount the scheme the Packers run when evaluating whether a tight end is “worth” taking in the first round. At no point since the Packers resurgence that started with Ron Wolf’s hiring have the Packers been more potent on offense than when they had Keith Jackson and Mark Chumura playing at tight-end. (One could argue that if Jackson had stuck around one more year, that whole Denver nightmare would never have happened…) The Packers have one of the Top 15 tight ends in the game in Donald Lee. Pairing him with another end that could motion into and out of the backfield and split seems in the middle of the field, well, the avenues that opens up are worth a first round pick to me. Yes, as Steve and Greg both point out, good tight ends can be, and have in the recent past, be found in the latter rounds. But that’s why they pay Thompson and his staff all that money. They’re the professionals. So if Goodell calls out a tight end’s name for the Packers first round pick, exhale, and know that Thompson and the Packers know more about him than you do, and he must be the best football player currently available. Or you might end up looking like this.