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Packers complete offensive-minded draft

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Asscociated Press
April 27, 2008
— Based on what he did in just two seasons at Texas, Jermichael Finley might have been able to play his way into a first-round pick if he had stayed in school for another year or two.

But Finley chose to enter the NFL draft, where the Green Bay Packers took him in the third round Sunday. Finley said having two young children didn’t have anything to do with his decision to go pro so early—he just felt the time was right.


“I was just ready for bigger challenges in life, on and off the field,” Finley said. “So I just decided to come out and join the NFL.”


Finley fills an immediate need for the Packers, who cut veteran tight end Bubba Franks in February and needed another tight end to complement up-and-coming player Donald Lee.


In all, it was an offensive-minded draft for Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who used seven of his nine total picks on offensive players over the weekend.


“It’s just the way it worked out,” Thompson said. “We weren’t really paying attention to that.”


Thompson’s most talked-about move of the weekend was drafting Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm in the second round Saturday, providing potential competition for starter Aaron Rodgers. The Packers added another quarterback Sunday, taking LSU’s Matt Flynn in the seventh round.


“He’s the kind of guy who just kind of grows on you, and we think he’s got a chance,” Thompson said. “It’s an important position to shore up in terms of depth, and we feel like adding these two guys helps our team.”


But Thompson knows drafting two quarterbacks won’t stop people from talking about the possibility of bringing Brett Favre out of retirement if something goes wrong with Rodgers.


Thompson said he doesn’t anticipate Favre coming out of retirement under any circumstances, but even he added, “I don’t think you can ever say never.”


“There’s all these what-ifs,” Thompson said. “Anything can happen, sure. But we have to deal with the present. We have to deal with getting our team ready to play.”


Thompson did make one move to help the Packers’ defense Sunday, deviating from his typically conservative draft strategy to trade up in the fourth round. His target was Wake Forest defensive end Jeremy Thompson, the brother of current Packers offensive lineman Orrin Thompson.


How about the prospect of two brothers facing off in training camp drills?


“That’ll be interesting,” Packers offensive line coach James Campen said. “It’ll be fun.”


Thompson wasn’t a dominant pass rusher in college, but is comfortable playing against the run and the pass. Packers scout Brian Gutekunst said Thompson has the potential to bulk up without hurting his athletic ability.


“He’s kind of a workout freak,” Gutekunst said. “He loves the weight room and he keeps his body fat pretty low. He eventually could grow into a 275, 280-pound guy.”


Green Bay then traded away the second of its three fourth-round picks to the New York Jets, and used its final pick in the round on Central Florida offensive lineman Josh Sitton.


The Packers traded down once again at the beginning of the fifth round, dealing the 137th overall selection to Minnesota—a trade with a divisional rival Thompson called “kind of weird” but said wasn’t a big deal—and dropping down to the middle of the round to take another offensive lineman, Louisville’s Breno Giacomini.


Sitton played mostly tackle at Central Florida, but the Packers have talked to him about playing guard and center. Giacomini, a former tight end, is expected to play tackle for the Packers.


Giacomini was a college teammate of third-year Packers guard Jason Spitz and quarterback Brian Brohm, who was taken by the Packers in Saturday’s second round.


Giacomini described himself as an “intense dude” — something that was evident when he flashed an obscene gesture to fans at Kentucky last season, an incident he had to apologize for.


“He is an intense player, he certainly is,” Campen said. “He plays with a lot of emotion and he will play to the whistle and then some. He’s a very physical player.”


Physical play is something the Packers also will be expecting from their new tight end, even if he isn’t quite built for it coming out of college.


Finley drew interest from the Packers relatively early in the draft evaluation process and had a feeling they would be calling on draft weekend.


“I thought for a long time it was probably going to be Green Bay,” Finley said. “I was excited from Day 1 that Green Bay wanted me because Green Bay is a real nice atmosphere, the town where it plays. So I’m going to love playing in Green Bay.’


Finley is considered more of a pass-catching tight end than a blocker, and gives himself only a “B-minus” when it comes to blocking.


“When I get down there, I’ll bust my butt and do what I’ve got to do to get that right,” Finley said.


Packers tight ends coach Ben McAdoo said Finley has the potential to put more weight on his 6-foot-4, 243-pound frame and can learn blocking skills.


“Jermichael, he’s got some scrappiness to him and I like that about him,” McAdoo said. “They don’t get a bunch of time to work on developing skills like we do at this level with them.”



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