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Packers' First-Round Draft Targets: The Baker's Dozen

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Packers' First-Round Draft Targets: The Baker's Dozen

INDIANAPOLIS––Just because the Green Bay Packers took defensive players with their first six draft picks last year doesn't necessarily mean they're going to go heavy on offense this time around.

The Packers have plenty of needs on both sides of the football. Outside of quarterback and cornerback, it wouldn't be particularly surprising if they addressed a need at almost any other position in the first round.

To be sure, certain positions might make more sense than another. And it all depends upon who's available when they're on the clock with the 26th pick come April.

If the Packers stay put at 26, and there's no guarantee they will, they'll potentially be considering a list of players that contains several names from the group comprised here.

A few of these players may already be gone, and seeing as this list is being created pre-Combine, it's possible a one or two can drop entirely out of first-round consideration with a poor workout, medical exam or interview.

Without further ado, here's the second annual NFL Combine edition of the "Baker's Dozen"...

  1. Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones––As we saw in Sunday's mock draft survey, Jones is a name frequently popping up as going to the Packers. But does Alabama's team success and Jones' name recognition overshadow that he was less of a force than his teammates on the Crimson Tide offensive line? Jones has the ability to play any position on the offensive line, but the Packers would have to consider him their starter at center if they'd take him in the first round. Being versatile is simply a bonus.
  2. North Carolina interior offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper––Cooper has been a guard during his college career, and a darn good one at that. Behind Alabama's Chance Warmack, he's the second-best guard in the Draft and has future Pro Bowler written all over him. But can he play center? The Packers have a lot of money invested in their guards, T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton. But Cooper simply might be too good to pass up. Even though many guards don't go in the first round, it could be a situation like 1994 when the Packers couldn't afford to let Notre Dame's Aaron Taylor slide any further. Look for the Packers and other teams to find out if he can play center if he lasts until No. 26.
  3. Wisconsin interior offensive lineman Travis Frederick––Jones might be a hot name because he was a part of three national championship teams, but Frederick is the center the scouts love. "As far as Travis Frederick at Wisconsin, the center, he's similar to Barrett Jones a little bit from Alabama, my No. 1 and my number three centers," said the NFL Network's Mike Mayock on a recent conference call with reporters. Former NFL executive and current SiriusXM NFL Radio host Gil Brandt has the Packers taking Frederick in the first round as a junior entry.
  4. Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert––The John Mackey Award winner as the nation's top tight end, Eifert didn't have quite as good of a season as senior (50 catches, 685 yards, four touchdowns) as he did as a junior (63 catches, 803 yards, five touchdowns), but Notre Dame's success as a team in 2012 was obviously much improved, and Eifert was a big part of it. At 6-6 and 251 lbs., Eifert is part of the next generation of hybrid tight ends but still has the size to play in-line. His blocking needs help, however.
  5. Stanford tight end Zach Ertz––With almost the exact same frame as Eifert, Ertz is another tall tight end known more his receiving skills than his blocking. After just 16 and 27 his freshman and sophomore seasons respectively, Ertz exploded onto the scene as a senior with 69 receptions for 898 yards and six touchdowns. His season  highlights included a touchdown in the upset over No. 1 ranked Oregon that sent the game into overtime and game-winning touchdowns against No. 2 USC and No. 13 Oregon State. Ertz enters the draft as a junior.
  6. Alabama running back Eddie Lacy––Like Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson before him, Lacy looks to become the next Alabama running back selected in the first round for a third consecutive year.  Ingram and Richardson entered the NFL as juniors, and Lacy will too. There's always the question of whether it's worth it to draft a running back in the first round when good ones can be found later in the draft (or even after the draft), as well as the Packers should invest in a running back when they're offense is so heavily predicated on the pass. If the Packers determine that Lacy is a Pro Bowl talent, however, he'd be hard to pass up no matter what reservations there might be.
  7. Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien––Josh Norris of NFL.com is leading the charge on the Johnathan Cyprien bandwagon, having him going as early as No. 21 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. Most mock drafts don't have Cyprien going that high, but Norris might be onto something. After an impressive Senior Bowl, observers are starting to catch on. The range displayed by Cyprien to get sideline to sideline is impeccable, and he can play either strong or free safety. With Charles Woodson gone, the Packers may look to find a starter in the first round.
  8. Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro––It's not as if Vaccaro isn't a good safety, but whether he's a top 10 overall draft choice, like some have him going, is debatable. He's helped by the reputation of Texas sending good defensive backs into the NFL, but this is a guy whose highest interception total in a single season is two. Interceptions are not the be all and end all metric for safeties, but with a first round draft pick, you want the complete package. If Vaccaro slips into the twenties, the Packers will consider him.
  9. North Carolina State defensive back David Amerson––Perhaps the wildcard of the bunch, Amerson is not being considered as a first-round cornerback, but he could be if considered at safety where he'll be able to keep everything in front of him. In a recent online conversation with Chris Steuber of Ourlads.com, Steuber compared Amerson to Ed Reed. Comparisons like that are not thrown around lightly. After leading the NCAA in interceptions with 13 as a sophomore, Amerson came back to earth with five interceptions as a junior. At 6-3, he's probably better suited for free safety at the next level.
  10. LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter––Taking an inside linebacker in the first round might depend upon what the Packers do with A.J. Hawk. But if he's released, the Packers might look to become more athletic at the inside linebacker position. Alec Ogletree of Georgia and Manti Te'o of Notre Dame are also possibilities, but each has off-the-field concerns that will likely push them out of first-round consideration. Minter was a tackling machine at LSU where he racked up 130 tackles, 15 of them for a loss in his junior season. He's an early entrant.
  11. Ohio State defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins––At 6-3 and 335 lbs., Hankins moves with more sudden movement and explosiveness than most men of his size. He enters the draft as a junior and might not last until No. 26. But if he does, the Packers might look to add depth on the defensive line knowing that Jerel Worthy has undergone offseason knee surgery and might not be ready in time for the start of the season.
  12. Georgia defensive lineman Jonathan Jenkins––Jenkins is even bigger than Hankins. Both are 6-3, but Jenkins carries roughly 350 pounds on his frame. He's a space eater and could do a good job plugging holes in the Packers' 3-4 scheme. Jenkins moves pretty well for his size, but the criticism is that he can turn his motor on and off and can get worn down late in games.
  13. Alabama defensive lineman Jesse Williams––This barrel-chested Australian has more brute strength than most other players in the Draft. However, he offers little pass rush. With Ryan Pickett being the oldest player on the Packers' roster at 33 years of age, the Packers could take his eventual replacement in Williams and get essentially the same player, a run stuffer who will come off the field on passing downs.

 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (77) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

bryce's picture

Good summary. I have the feeling that the Packers have a lot of holes that need to be filled in the draft. The nice part about that is, no matter who they take it'll probably fill a need. The bad part is that they'll depend on a lot of rookies again next year.

mark's picture

Bravo CHTV, I love draft posts like this.

Here are the guys I'd love at 26 (in order).

Manelik Watson - huge guy/fast. reminds me of nate soldier (Pats). played bball so you know he's athletic. who knows what packers have in sherrod. protect the franchise.

Matt Elam - this is the safety i love in this draft. saw a bunch of UF games last year, and every time Elam would jump out at me. Big hitter, great instincts. Want to pick a point in time when the Packers D went inconsistent? How about the loss of Nick Collins? This team needs a QB/tone-setter on defense.

Alec Ogletree - Being soft and weak in the middle (for years), this guy plays real mean--something the Pack desperately needs. I don't love his baggage. But if he interviews ok, I might roll the dice.

Tyler Eifert - Finley may be back this year, but even if he is, it'll likely take a pile of money to keep him for the next season and beyond ($ we might not have). Eifert would add a nice weapon to the O.

DJ Fluker - just love this guy's energy/toughness. He's a mauler. I remember a game when Alabama was playing lethargic. He freaked out on his teammates in the huddle. And everyone responded. Leader.

Eddie Lacy - heard John Clayton talking about Steven Jackson to the Packers. I don't see it. One, because I like the RBs we have. And two, because if the team sees RB as that much of a need, I'd rather we add a youngster without all the miles. Lacy fits the bill.

Tundraboy's picture

I would go with that. Makes perfect sense.

Better yet maybe you should be in the Draft room too!!! Get Ted on the Phone. Especially about Watson Ogletree, Fluker and Lacy.

Eifert would be a bonus

fipp's picture

Really like the safeties in this class. Elam, Vaccaro, Swearinger and especially Cyprien. These guys can hit people.

Evan's picture

Apparently it's a great draft for safeties - which is great news for the Packers. I'd expect to see one drafted within the first 2 rounds.

Stroh's picture

Agree we need a Safety pretty high, 1st or 2nd IMO. I like Vaccarro, Reid and Thomas and think anyone of them would be great next to Burnett. Vaccarro and Reid especially bring a physical element that the Packers secondary needs BADLY! Reid especially plays w/ alot of aggression and physicality. Thomas not quite as much physicality as the other 2, but he has terrific balls skills and he and Burnett would be completely interchangable. Thomas is more a 2nd, Vaccarro is clearly a 1st and Reid is kinda all over the board from mid 1st to mid/late 2nd.

Mojo's picture

We don't need no stinkin TE's or RB's. Draft the big uglies(offense or defense) or someone for the LB corp or secondary. I will be disappointed if they were to take any of the TE or RB prospects in the first round. The Pack needs to get tougher on the lines. Didn't we learn anything last year?

bryce's picture

We need an RB, to be able to milk the clock, and to make defenses respect our play action.

Mojo's picture

If you get better O-lineman, the RB's we currently have will be fine. In addition, QB1 doesn't take as much punishment. Seems like a win-win to me.

The only thing we don't know right now is; will Sherrod ever be a respectable tackle. If so, then we might only need to target an inside blocker. The Pack could have a pretty good starting group with a little tinkering and luck (Sherrod), while holding above average backups (EDS, Newhouse, Barclay). What has been a weakness could easily become a strength.

bryce's picture

Agree. It all hinges on Sherrod.

Tundraboy's picture

Could not put it any better!!!

Tundraboy's picture

I would take a shot on Lacy though. We are due for some luck on a RB

greenbowl's picture

Agreed Mojo. I think the packers are on board with not drafting a RB/ TE in the first round...

MarkinMadison's picture

None of the DL listed fit what the Packers are allegedly looking for - someone in the 6'5" range to play DE. They all look more like NTs. Which is fine if you think Raji is better at DE, but I don't think he is.

Unless you think C is the biggest need on the OL, or you think the Packers don't really like Lang none of these lineman do much for me.

I love Vaccaro. Said it before so I'll move on. The wealth of safties make me wonder if TT won't go a different direction in round 1.

Not a big fan of picking a TE in round 1. I don't think the need is that critical, and I don't think the prospects are that phenominal. I have the same feeling about the ILBs - except Ogletree. He might be special.

Is Lacy special? No OLBs on this list. No real DEs on this list. Those positions have to be strongly considered. Is there no one worthy at those positions who might be around?

xuyee's picture

Margus Hunt?

Stroh's picture

God no... Hunt is more like Jared Allen (6'6 270) than he is Richard Seymour (6'6 310). And he is NOTHING like Calais Campbell. Thats a comparison made only on height. I've watched Hunt and his sacks come from rushing the edge, a la Allen, not from going up the middle. He gets thrown around vs the run and we NEED DL that are tough run stuffers, not pass rushers so much. We need more toughness and physicality on the DL. He's a 43 DE, not a 34 DE.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Just a quick fix update. The Packers took 6 defensive players last year with their first 6 picks.
Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, Casey Heyward, Jeron McMillan, Mike Daniels, Terrell Manning...

CSS's picture

Even though I do believe he needs a lot of coaching with his footwork in pass-pro it is flippin' unbelievable that Fluker's arms measured 36 3/4 inches. I had to read that 4 times. Crazy....

Matt's picture

This years draft seems deep without a ton of top flight guys, so I see tt going back to his roots by trading out of the 1st round to a team looking to get back in the 1st to get their qb. The guy I think he will go after early in the 2nd is Robert Woods, WR, USC. nelson & jones are deep threats, cobb is the speed receiver, and woods can take over as the physical over the middle 1st down machine finley was supposed to be after jmike leaves next year.

Evan's picture

Knowing nothing about Robert Woods, I would think Nelson (6'3", 220) and Jones (6'1" 208) are more than capable of being physical, over-the-middle guys as well as deep threats.

mark's picture

I love Robert Woods. Would not be mad at a trade back to get him.

PadLevel's picture

For god sake, do not pick an offensive lineman in the first round unless you are picking in the Top 10. Teddy T's track record when picking linemen in the late first round has been abysmal (Sherrod is the classic example). I would rather he pick a skill player (TE would be great) or maybe a linebacker. And absolutely never draft from The Ohio State (should have learned that lesson from AJ Hawk)

Evan's picture

"Teddy T’s track record when picking linemen in the late first round has been abysmal"

It's happened all of two times. You say Sherrod and I counter with Bulaga.

PadLevel's picture

The fact that Barclay could replace Bulaga at Right Tackle rightwaway should tell you something. Hope you remember that the first legit Rushing touchdown we had last season was around the Right Tackle - when Barclay was starting at that position. Bulaga is average at best for Run blocking and may be OK at pass blocking. He is not at the level of talent you should expect from a First round pick (see 49ers first round offensive linemen)

Evan's picture

"The fact that Barclay could replace Bulaga at Right Tackle rightwaway should tell you something."

That TT is also skilled in finding undrafted offensive linemen?

PadLevel's picture

Precisely my point. If he is so skilled at finding equally skilled undrafted offensive linemen, why waste a first round pick on them?

Evan's picture

I disagree that Barclay is "equally skilled."

mark's picture

"The fact that Barclay could replace Bulaga at Right Tackle rightwaway should tell you something."

...that you are high on crack cocaine?

Brian Carriveau's picture

LOL. +2

PadLevel's picture

Very informative post Mark!. Best way to make a counter argument

mark's picture

Sorry padlevel, my bad. Just joking with you. No ill intent.

Stroh's picture

You mean the Barclay that needed help almost every passing down? Barclay can't hold up at OT w/o alot of help. He belongs at OG... Bulaga was disappointing last year, but other years he was very good.

PadLevel's picture

Stroh,
Barclay did not need help on every passing down. In fact the coaches were surprised that he did not need help. Rodgers even mentioned that after the Vikings game (see Tyler Dunne's article on Dec 02 2012). Bob McGinn had also made the same point in another column. Anyway, my original point in this long thread was that Packers should not waste a first round pick. We have to get a difference maker (ala Claymaker or Freezer) with that pick. Time for Teddy T's drafting genius to get us that talent.

Franklin Hillside's picture

How is Sherrod a classic example? Of not being able to predict injuries?

PadLevel's picture

I am talking about Sherrod's performance before he sustained the gruesome injury.

MarkinMadison's picture

My gut is that Bulaga had an injury before he was lost for the year. Last year was clearly (to me) his worst year. I'd bet that PFF sees his career the same way.

Sherrod's performance pre-injury was screwed up by the Packers screwing around with him at guard. He can never be a guard. He has the footwork of a legit LT, assuming that the double fracture does not take something out of him. I think he just needed to work the weight room.

PackerBacker's picture

You can't count that. It was his rookie year and they tried him at guard as an experiment.

Mojo's picture

He had limited action in five games before getting hurt. Too little a sample size to know if he will ever be an above average tackle.

I remember Mike Wahle getting yanked early in his career. It took Lang years before he became the starter. Sherrod showed good athleticism at the combine and of all the Packers has the most natural body type to play tackle.

I don't know if Sherrod will be any good, but it's way too early to pull the plug on his career, or call him a bust.

Franklin Hillside's picture

Exactly, Mojo.

Lars's picture

Pretty dang good list. Well done, Carriveau!Outside of Cyprien I think any one of these is a possibilty in one and some would work at the top of two in a trade-down.

(And, no bad fits like we've been seeing in mocks like Ogletree and Fluker.)

MarkinMadison's picture

Ogletree looks too light for me at 230 lbs. But he has speed/coverage ability, something the Packers really lack from their ILBs. So I don't know. He might be the type of guy they need.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I could've swore NFLN had him at 240-245...

Man, the kid looks like a damn playmaker (11 or so sacks last year, did I hear that right?), would be nice to see another one in there with Bishop.

Stroh's picture

Ogletree is just like Daryl Washington coming out of college. DWash is at 240 now... Ogletree is only 21? and can easily put on another 5-10 lbs w/o affecting his athleticism just like DWash did. He is the only true playmaker and explosive athlete among the ILB in this draft. Te'o sounds just like Hawk did coming out and won't even test as well as Hawk did. Minter is a 2 down LB, he isn't quick or athletic enough in coverage.

Tundraboy's picture

Just do not think it is the year to be conservative and find the perfect character, role model type. It is football. Unless you like seeing AJ trying to catch up to people. Definitely need some speed there

Stroh's picture

Dont get me wrong. I think it would be a good idea go step out of character in this case. I just don't think Thompson will do it. Totally out of character.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I think I'll go as far as guaranteeing Cyprien will be a first-round draft pick. Time to get on the bandwagon.

Denver's picture

Would you take him if you were the Pack and he's there at 26, though?
I'm really hoping the Pack takes a S pretty high, just not sure I want to see them take one in Rd. 1. Seems to be quite a few decent Safeties available this year from what I'm seeing.

Brian Carriveau's picture

Well first of all, it depends on who else is available. And also, ask me again in April after the Combine and pro days are over. But seriously, you're going to start seeing Cyprien listed as a first-rounder in a lot more places in the next few weeks and months.

redlights's picture

Packers' priorities (IMHO):
NT - reduce Pickett's snaps this year to extend his career, then take over after that.

ILB - Either Hawk or Jones will be #3; too much risk returning others from injury.

DE - Yeah, more big uglies. We do need to learn from last year, and Worthy may start on PUP.

WR - looking for Jones' replacement.

Safety - TT thinks that McMillan will progress; but if he doesn't or if Burnett gets too expensive to renew, this works out well.

Oline - take one every year. Hopefully, MM keeps more than 7 on the roster next year.

Bigb's picture

Not to get too off topic here, but it'd be fun to hear everyone's take on Te'o if he plummets. Before the national title game, I woulda said yes a million times... but even after, he still made plays for an entire year against a tough schedule, which is just what we need from the position.

Of course, there are other issues, like the rest of the North making fun of us... but I suppose this isn't middle school.

mark's picture

No.

This D needs to get mean, not soft.

Tundraboy's picture

o line too

mark's picture

True that, but I think most of the guys we have can be coached up in the "nasty" department. Not sure we have to go elsewhere to get that nasty.

Tundraboy's picture

Good point. The last game should have left them in a very bad mood. That has got to be motivation enough

NashvillePacker's picture

Datone Jones

cow42's picture

really starting to like this guy.

lmills's picture

Jones is my 1st round pick too.

mark's picture

Stop for a second and imagine Bishop and Ogletree patrolling the middle with Clay and Perry on the edge.

"Dios mio, man" - The Jesus

FITZCORE1252's picture

Dude... I'm sayin'!

Stroh's picture

I Love OGletree. My favorite player in the draft, off-field aside. I think he is EXACTLY what the Packers need at ILB. After the DUI last weekend I just don't think Thompson will ever take him in the 1st round and would be a little surprised if he would take him in the 2nd too.

Not listed...
Kawann Short IMO could be a very good fit at 5 tech DE. He is physical and stout vs the run, has some pass rush and while not ideal height, he has alot of length and knocks quite a few passes down and disrupts passing lanes.

Not a need, but if Kenann Allen the WR from Cal is there at 26 he's got #1 WR written all over him!

I like Reid at Safety alot too. He bring the physicality and aggressiveness the Packers secondary SORELY needs. Vaccarro is probably gone by 26 but would like him too. Given how much the Packers like playmakers in the secondary, Phillip Thomas strikes me as the perfect fit in the 2nd.

Tundraboy's picture

That would be a dream come true

Paul Ott Carruth's picture

If Ogletree is there at 26 and the Packers intend to use the pick Ogletree needs to be the guy. It was a DUI folks. Poor judgement by a college aged kid. Big shocker. Two names.....Warren Sapp and Randy Moss. Lesson learned from those draft years......you don't pass up difference makers that impact your team on day 1 due to isolated incidents. Ogletree stengthens the interior of the defense and also provides flexibility due to his athleticism. Te'o is soft. He disappeared against Stanford, Pitt, BYU, and Alabama. Common thread of those teams? Solid to strong rushing attacks.

Stroh's picture

Its not just the DUI. He was suspended as a freshman for a game and then started last year w/ a 4 games suspension for violating failing a drug test. Don't know if it was recreational drugs or PED's. So its more than just a DUI. It might be just a young kid making a mistake or 2, but it could just as easily be a major problem. I love his game, but we'll have to see how the interviews go for him.

packsmack25's picture

Doesn't matter who it is, they'll be out for the year.

Mike's picture

How true.

Tundraboy's picture

Which is why you can not rely on Bishop being fully ready, Sherrod or Bulaga.

O line, LB and of course Safety. BPAs all the way at these spots

ted, of bill and ted's picture

how would y'all feel if we snagged marcus lattimore if he fell past the fourth?

his knee's have been bad but maybe in a two back system he could handle half the load...he's a complete back and his size would be an excellent complement to harris' shiftyness imo

Stroh's picture

If Ball and Michael are gone before the 4th and Lattimore is sitting there in the 4th, I would take a shot on him.

mark's picture

If Lattimore is there in the 4th and we pass, I'm jumping off a bridge.

packsmack25's picture

Reminds me a lot of Frank Gore's situation. Gore had bad knees throughout college, I believe blowing both out, and went in the third. McGahee from the same school comes to mind as well, with his knee injury directly preceding the draft. He went in the third, too. Based on those guys, I really doubt Lattimore makes it past the third.

Bill's picture

Mike Mayock has just said a couple of really interesting things regarding this year's draft:

1) All the playoff teams are laughing right now because the difference in quality between the 5th pick and say the 25th pick isn't that great. In other words, the packers should be able to get really good value picking 26th this year compared to previous years.

2) While the quality of player likely to go in the top 10 this year is probably the weakest its been in quite some time, the overall depth of the 2013 draft class - as many people have already said - is the strongest its been for a looong time.

Stroh's picture

The reason there isn't much difference is because there aren't any TRULY elite players like in other drafts. No QB's worth drafting. No stud RB's in the draft. Really only 1 WR that I would take (Keenan Allen). The DB's that go in the top 20 are bout the same as the DB's that go in the next 20. Its a weaker draft class. Really its a draft that is very soft at the top but good depth. The players at the top just aren't that much better than the players at the end 1st.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Mayock and Polian, that was good shit!

I had no idea Scott Hanson played college ball... Interesting.

Jamie's picture

Kevin Minter = overrate

Tundraboy's picture

Versatile and all the other terms used to describe Jones scares the hell out of me.
Coming from a great team just makes you wonder if it was more all the talent around him.

That and the words 1st round pick mean bust to me.

And the braces!

I know they like versatility in general but seems like we need some specialists!

Mojo's picture

Just got done watching Georgia's Jonathan Jenkins over at Jersey Al's. http://jerseyal.com/GBP/packers-nfl-draft-prospect-videos/packers-draft-...

He was often double-teamed, but when he was single-blocked he really didn't impress me. Was most often easily steered one way or another by the o-lineman. And at times he's so slow to react, a RB runs right by him even though he's only an arms length away. I think he's going to be overdrafted if he's taken in the first round. What is interesting from that clip is you can review Alabama's Barrett Jones and Eddie Lacy also. Lacy was OK, but I thought Jones was a better prospect. I'd be OK with the Pack taking Jones in the first but not the other two.

PackRat's picture

Would love for them to take care of LT in free agency (I know I'm dreaming) to allow Newhouse to compete with Lange, Bulaga and Sherrod for the remaining two spots.I volunteer AJ Hawks 6.5 million towards that LT.

Safety, DE and ILB then become high value picks at their position in the draft. And don't forget a TE.

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