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Safety first, now what?

by Mark Daniels

Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson said a week before the draft it's an ideal world if you can marry the best player available with a pressing need. He believes the daily double arrived with pick number one Thursday night in Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix. The 6-1, 208 pound junior is expected to jump into the fray as a defensive starter as soon as he sets foot in Titletown for the rookie orientation camp next weekend. Sure, there were a couple of tense moments for Thompson as his preferred defensive playmakers were plucked off the board at 15, 17 and 18. Dix survived when Miami and New Orleans went offense. On Thompson's to do list this weekend, he checked off safety on opening night.

Now what?

The Packers return to the draft room for rounds two and three tonight, picks number 53, 85 and the Greg Jennings compensatory pick at 98. That late third round pick can't be traded but the second and their own third rounder can. Would Thompson consider dealing that 53rd choice to stock up later tonight or tomorrow in the 4th through 7th rounds? This has been considered one of the deepest drafts in the past few years. If he stands pat, here's the direction he could lean with a few names to consider.

Need number 2 is inside linebacker. After Ryan Shazier and C.J Myles came off the board, along with Louisville's Marcus Smith at 26 to the Eagles, three players with day two grades remain, including Wisconsin's Chris Borland. Thompson has yet to draft a Badger, Ron Wolf took only one, a pretty good one in Mark Tauscher. Forget the 40 times, arm length and the like, Borland was awfully productive in Madison. Shayne Skov of Stanford and Max Bullough of Michigan State, the grandson of former defensive coordinator Hank Bullough are still available, Bullough more like a Saturday prospect.

Only one tight end was grabbed Thursday night, Eric Ebron of North Carolina to Detroit at number 10. Jermichael Finley's iffy post operative neck may force the Packers' hand. Jace Amaro had first round talent according to some and the Texas Tech standout is out there, as is Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington and the bulkier Troy Niklas from Notre Dame and C.J. Fiedorowicz of Iowa. This might be tempting at 53.

The deepest position going in was wide receiver and that group got thinner with James Jones off to Oakland. Chris Mortenson of ESPN reported the Pack was not going to let Marqis Lee of USC slip past them if their top choices were gone and he was still available. Well, he's still available, along with Odell Beckham's speedy LSU teammate Jarvis Landry.

As of now, Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly are not under contract, they might not be back and some new beef might be on the shopping list. Defensive tackles Ra'Shede Hageman of Minnesota, the hefty Louis Nix of Notre Dame and Timmy Jernigan of Florida State are waiting for a phone call.

Already knowing they'll be starting a 4th center in as many years, an offensive lineman might arrive on day 2. The top rated centers, Marcus Martin of USC and Weston Richburg of Colorado State are on the board. Martin may not make it through the second round, Richburg might be there in the third.

Thompson has landed some beauties in his second round history. Nick Collins in 2005, Greg Jennings in 2006, Jordy Nelson in 2008, Randall Cobb three years ago and last year, he reeled in the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in Eddie Lacy. While the number one pick gets the sizzle, tonight's round two choice will have to be just as meaty.