NEW YORK - With the 26th pick in the NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select ...
Football fans will be tuned into ESPN and The NFL Network tonight, Friday and Saturday for endless hours of the most publicized, most scrutinized non-action sporting event.
While Packer fans anxiously wait for Ted Thompson to fill a glaring need at running back, here are a few thoughts to consider:
You won't find the next Adrian Peterson or Barry Sanders in this draft. But just maybe, a team will find the next Terrell Davis (Denver Broncos' sixth-round pick in 1995, 7,607 career yards, including 2,008 in 1998).
Often times, running backs drafted in the first round play with caution rather than a sense or urgency. They get their big contract and stop playing hard.
But running backs taken in the middle rounds have a lot to prove, and their effort shows it. Some good backs will be taken in the middle rounds of the 2013 draft. Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina has injury concerns but always produces when he plays. Stanford's Stefan Taylor and Rex Burkhead of Nebraska could be good middle-round picks. Michigan State's LeVeon Bell is a good option in the second or third round. Zach Line of Southern Methodist is a late-round sleeper.
The Packers desperately need a pass rusher opposite Clay Matthews. Georgia's Jarvis Jones led the nation in sacks last season but probably will not fall past the late-teens in the first round.
Florida State's Cornellius Carradine is quickly rising up the draft boards. He's a boom-or-bust pick, a one-year starter coming off knee surgery with outstanding size and speed and a nonstop motor.
Every draft has intriguing players. One of this year's most intriguing is SMU's Margus Hunt. He was a world-class discus, shot put and hammer thrower while growing up in Estonia. Hunt was recruited for track but was talked into trying football in 2009.
Built like those guys you see in World's Strongest Man competition, Hunt is 6-foot-8, 277 pounds, with 4.6 40-yard dash speed. He owns the NCAA career record for blocked kicks with 17.
In this year's Hawaii Bowl, Hunt made three tackles for loss, two sacks - one for a safety - and forced two fumbles. Imagine what this guy could do when he learns how to play football.
Other intriguing players:
n Michigan's Denard Robinson, who has switched from quarterback to wide receiver. You don't have to tell Big Ten fans about Robinson's rare skills. For someone looking for a fourth- or fifth-round project, he could pay huge dividends.
n Wisconsin middle linebacker Mike Taylor is not highly regarded, even though his size, speed and production compare favorably to Notre Dame's Manti Te'o - and he's not as gullible. Look for Taylor to get drafted in a late round, make someone's roster as a special teamer and eventually start.
n West Virginia receiver Tevon Austin is lightning in a tiny bottle - 5-8, 174 pounds. Some teams will keep them off their draft board because he's so small. Others are enamored with his playmaking ability - back-to-back 100-catch seasons and 30 touchdown catches since his sophomore year.
Best player in the draft: Chance Warmack, 6-2, 317, guard, Alabama. This human road grader will watch 10, maybe 15 others get drafted ahead of him because guard is not a priority position. Teams covet left tackles (there are a bunch of blue-chippers in this draft), and pass rushers.
But Warmack led a Crimson Tide line which last fall was better than a lot of NFL lines. He'll piledrive a down lineman. When he pulls, he knocks a linebacker into next week, then goes after the secondary. He'll go down in history as one of the best NFL guards ever.