Packers’ GM catches lightning in a bottle when he drafts WRs

LSU’s Beckham Jr. would be imposing addition to unit
When most Packers fans consider which player their team should select in the upcoming NFL draft they focus on defense. They debate which safety will be available at No. 21? They wonder if an inside linebacker might solve their shortcomings against the run? Ultimately, they ask, “Might there be a pass rusher still on the board?”
The truth is the Packers’ greatest challenge is improving the defense, but the surest way to accomplish that is by upgrading the passing attack. Aaron Rodgers without receivers is like a ton of dynamite with no fuse. So who supplies the spark? James Jones is gone to the Raiders via free agency so he won’t be around to underrate.
Jordy Nelson is one of the NFL’s best receivers and Randall Cobb is one of its most explosive. Both are looking at multi-year, mega-bucks contract extensions between now and next offseason.
The Packers may be able to re-sign both, but I doubt it. Jarrett Boykin is a nice No. 4 receiver, and perhaps a good No. 3. But if either Nelson or Cobb is injured the Packers aren’t talented enough or deep enough with Nelson or Cobb, Boykin and a question mark.
Furthermore, the Packers’ punt and kick return game is still in the hands of a player-to-be-named. Safety Micah Hyde showed flashes, but he’s better at returning punts than kicks, and he’ll be busy on defense. Also, Cobb’s days as a return specialist should (better) be over. That’s why a receiver makes sense with the 21st pick.
In particular, LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. would be a tremendous addition. Beckham Jr. is 5-11, 198 pounds. Picture a slightly taller, slightly thicker and faster, more explosive Cobb. That’s Beckham Jr. He would upgrade the Packers’ return game the first day of training camp. He also would represent a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses. Nelson, Cobb, Beckham Jr., a tight end and running back Eddie Lacy would be among the NFL’s most explosive units, especially with a solid offensive line and Rodgers pulling the trigger.
The Packers’ defense would be assisted by playing with a lead more often than not, or at least more often than it did last season. It could be argued that defense is the priority, and if the Packers want a receiver they can take one in the second or third round. This is reputed to be a very deep draft at receiver.
While this may be a deep draft at receiver, there is no question that Beckham Jr. is a special player who makes an immediate impact. The odds of getting such a player evaporate with every round. Also, the Packers wouldn’t be drafting to complement Nelson and Cobb. They would be drafting to replace either Nelson or Cobb.
To those fans still yearning for a defensive player here’s a compromise:
The Packers select Beckham Jr. at 21. They follow that up by packaging their second- and third-round picks to move up and draft Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward early in Round 2. The addition of Beckham Jr. and Ward would be immediate upgrades in team speed, playmaking ability and athleticism. The receivers, defensive backs and special teams’ return units would get an infusion of skill.
What position group has been Thompson’s best in the draft? Obviously, that’s quarterback with Rodgers. A close second would be receiver, with safety at or near dead last.
Thompson’s best pick at safety was his first when he chose Bethune-Cookman’s Nick Collins in the second round in 2005. After that, it has been Marviel Underwood, San Diego State, 4th, 2005; Tyrone Culver, Fresno State, 6th, 2006; Aaron Rousse, Virginia Tech, 3rd, 2007; Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech, 3rd, 2010; and Jerron McMillian, Maine, 4th, 2012.
Thompson has been much more proficient selecting receivers. His first pick, Terrence Murphy of Texas A&M, was a promising talent when he sustained a career-ending neck injury as a rookie. Since then, Thompson has nailed it with Greg Jennings, W. Michigan, 2nd, 2006; James Jones, San Jose State, 3rd, 2007; Jordy Nelson, Kansas State, 2nd, 2008, and Randall Cobb, Kentucky, 2nd, 2011.
If the Packers select a receiver with the 21st pick don’t moan and groan. Be happy. It’ll be the most recent example of Thompson looking ahead, and realizing the importance of maintaining and likely upgrading the team’s greatest strength – the passing game.

Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio ( Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.