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Friday, April 2, 2010
Digging in at No. 23

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

I had an interesting conversation Thursday with a friend who posed this question: What does Green Bay do with the No. 23 overall draft position if the top four offensive tackles are already off the board?

(Yes, I know. I lead a really fascinating life.)

Seriously, I think it's an interesting and relevant debate with the draft three weeks away. We've discussed the Packers' clear need for a depth infusion at both tackle positions, where starters Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher will be 34 and 33 years old, respectively, when the season begins. But take a look at Mel Kiper's offensive tackle rankings Insider as they stood Thursday:

1. Oklahoma State's Russell Okung
2. Oklahoma's Trent Williams
3. Iowa's Bryan Bulaga
4. Rutgers' Anthony Davis
5. Indiana's Rodger Saffold

It's not out of the question that Okung, Williams, Bulaga and Davis all will be taken before No. 23. But there seems to be a consensus among media analysts, at least, that the drop-off after Davis is significant. Scouts Inc. ranks Safford as a mid-second round pick. The same goes for Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell, whose draft value varies wildly depending on who you listen to.

The Packers could go with Campbell at No. 23. Or, if they like both him and Saffold, they could probably trade down and get one of them in the second round.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson has a well-earned reputation for the trade-down model. But what if he doesn't move? Where do the Packers go at No. 23 under this scenario?

I don't disagree with what Green Bay linebacker Nick Barnett tweeted Friday morning:
Here is what is going to happen in the draft i think.. We will draft one or two things... Olb or o lineman... It depends which is avalible.

Yes, the Packers could also use an outside linebacker to replace the departed Aaron Kampman. Here are Kiper's top five outside linebackers:

1. Texas' Sergio Kindle
2. Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon
3. TCU's Jerry Hughes
4. South Carolina's Eric Norwood
5. Penn State's Sean Lee

Kindle would be quite a coup for the Packers at No. 23, especially considering his apparent aptitude for a 3-4 defense. Will he be available? It would only be a guess, but typically, anyone with elite pass rushing potential usually goes in the top half of the first round. I wouldn't want to speculate on which linebacker the Packers might like after Kindle, but the list above at least gives you an idea of the players who might be available.

Feel free to weigh in below.