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Packers draft wide receiver, quarterback, cornerback

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Associated Press
April 26, 2008
— As if trying to fill Brett Favre’s shoes wasn’t tough enough, Aaron Rodgers now must try to do so with a highly regarded rookie quarterback right behind him.

After trading out of the first round of the NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers took Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm with the second of their three second-round picks Saturday.


Packers general manager Ted Thompson said the team made it clear to Brohm that he’s coming in to learn the position as a backup. And Thompson didn’t feel it was necessary to call Rodgers right away to reassure him that his job was safe.


“He’ll be fine,” Thompson said. “Aaron’s a pro. He knows this is his gig now.”


Of course, that won’t stop Brohm from trying to compete.


“I’m just going to keep going about my business and work as hard as I can and let the coaches make those decisions,” Brohm said. “All I can do is go in there and learn the playbook, do the best job that I can do to show the coaches what I have.”


The Packers passed on a pair of chances to get a much-needed insurance policy at quarterback and still managed to come away with one.


Green Bay traded out of the first round and took a wide receiver, Kansas State’s Jordy Nelson, with the second-round pick they received along with a fourth-rounder from the New York Jets.


Brohm, who returned to Louisville despite projections that had him going in the first round last year, wasn’t as impressive as a senior but still wasn’t expected to last deep into the second round.


Thompson said he considered taking Brohm with the pick they used on Nelson, and said the Packers tried to trade up throughout the second round to get Brohm. But Brohm slid all the way to the 56th pick, and the Packers grabbed him.


“It was a long wait, but I’m just excited to be in the NFL, to be a Green Bay Packer, kind of excited and relieved,” Brohm said. “I’m just pumped up and fired up right now.”


The Packers then took Auburn cornerback Patrick Lee with their final second-round pick, the 60th overall selection.


Although Brohm could quickly become a fan favorite if Rodgers struggles to fill in for Favre — who retired last month but continues to hint that his decision might not be 100 percent firm — Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers is confident in his place on the team.


“Aaron’s fine,” McCarthy said. “He knows how we feel about him, he knows what his role is on our football team, and he’ll be given every opportunity to be successful here.”


Saturday wasn’t all bad news for Rodgers. He did get a new receiver.


Thompson stuck firmly to his draft philosophy earlier in the day by trading down and taking Nelson, an All-American for the Wildcats last season.


Thompson believes in trading down to acquire more picks and isn’t afraid to take the player he and his staff deem the best available — even if the player isn’t a household name and doesn’t fill an immediate need.


Wide receiver appears to be one of the Packers’ best-stocked positions. But defensive tackle was a strength last year and that didn’t stop Thompson from using his first-round pick on a player at that position, Tennessee’s Justin Harrell.


Thompson’s conservative philosophy earned him jeers last year from the Packers faithful gathered for a draft party at Lambeau Field. And his decision to trade down and take a receiver apparently didn’t go over very well this year.


“I’ll be darned if they didn’t boo me again a little bit,” Thompson joked. “I’m going to have to quit going down there.”


Packers wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said he wasn’t surprised that the team would use its first pick on a position where the team already has considerable talent.


“We’re looking for great football players, and guys that are good people,” Robinson said. “And whatever position it happens to be, if we feel like that’s one on the board that’s there at the time we pick, that’s certainly not my call but that’s what Ted does.”


Nelson doesn’t have overwhelming speed, but has good size for a receiver — 6-foot-2, 217 pounds — and can run for yards after the catch, a critical part of the Packers’ offense.


“I know they have a good crew, a core group of receivers, and I’m just looking forward to working with those guys and hopefully mesh and become one of the best tandems in the league,” Nelson said.


Nelson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at the NFL scouting combine, making him a step slower than the NFL’s elite receivers. Packers scout Lenny McGill conceded that Nelson’s timed speed is “probably average,” but said that won’t stop him from making plays.


“When you’re 6-2 and as big as this kid is, I think 4.5 is good enough speed,” McGill said. “The one thing about him is he lined up in the Big 12 conference against pretty good competition, and week in, week out, the kid made plays.”


After taking Brohm, the Packers tried to address a long-term need with the selection of Lee, who wasn’t a full-time starter until last season but has shown an ability to play the bump-and-run coverage used by Green Bay’s defense.


“He’s a tough guy,” Thompson said. “He likes to play bump-and-run. I think he’s going to fit well with what we try to do on defense in terms of putting these guys in lockdown situations.”


Oh, and one last thing: Did the Packers field any trade offers for the rights to Favre?


“No,” Thompson said, chuckling.


PACKERS DRAFT AT A GLANCE


GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The players selected by the Green Bay Packers on the first day of the 2008 NFL draft on Saturday:


NAME: Jordy Nelson, wide receiver.


ROUND SELECTED: Second (36th overall).


COLLEGE: Kansas State.


AGE: 22.


SIZE: 6-2, 217 pounds.


ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2007: An All-America and All-Big 12 selection after catching 122 passes for 1,606 yards. Averaged 13.2 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns. His average of 133.83 yards receiving per game was second in the nation. Caught 10 passes or more in six games.


CAREER STATS: 206 catches, 2,822 yards, 20 touchdowns.


PERSONAL: Was a walk-on when he came to Kansas State and was a safety on the scout team his first two years there before he was asked to move to receiver. Was a quarterback and defensive back in high school.


QUOTE: “I think I’ll be able to fit in real well, and I’m excited to get started” -- Nelson, on joining the Packers’ talented group of wide receivers.


———


NAME: Brian Brohm, quarterback.


ROUND SELECTED: Second (56th overall).


COLLEGE: Louisville.


AGE: 22.


SIZE: 6-3, 228 pounds.


ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2007: Ranked fourth in the country with an average of 335.33 yards passing per game. Season total of 4,024 yards passing was sixth-best season in NCAA ranks. Set a school season record with 30 touchdowns, while throwing only 12 interceptions.


CAREER STATS:


PERSONAL: Was the fourth member of his family to play at Louisville. His father, Oscar, and brothers Greg and Jeff also played for the Cardinals.


QUOTE: “I don’t regret it. It’s a decision that I kind of made with my heart.” -- Brohm, on his decision to return to Louisville for his senior season.


———


NAME: Patrick Lee, cornerback.


ROUND SELECTED: Second (60th overall).


COLLEGE: Auburn.


AGE: 24.


SIZE: 6-0, 200 pounds.


ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2007: Started 13 games, with four interceptions, 10 pass deflections and 55 tackles. Returned 11 kickoffs for 284 yards.


CAREER STATS: 48 games, 22 starts, five interceptions, 103 tackles.


PERSONAL: Graduated in December 2006 with a degree in criminology.


QUOTE: “He’s a tough guy. He likes to play bump and run. I think he’s going to fit well with what we try to do on defense.” -- Packers general manager Ted Thompson.



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