The Green Bay Packers went defense on day 2 of the draft, selecting Purdue defensive end Mike Neal and Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett with their 2nd and 3rd round selections.
When you include first round pick Bryan Bulaga from Iowa on day 1, the Packers served notice to the veteran players on the football team that there’ll be some competition for jobs in the upcoming training camp. They also let the organization’s fans know that they’re adding depth because of uncertainties at the various positions.
In Bulaga, the Packers shored up the depth problem at offensive tackle. Bulaga will compete to start, but if he doesn’t beat out Chad Clifton or Mark Tauscher this season, he’ll be one of the cornerstones of the future at tackle and will provide considerably more depth then the Packers were able to count on in the past.
Mike Neal (DT-Purdue), who the Packers see as a defensive end in their system, is a player that will be able to help stuff the run and provide some more pass rush. General manager Ted Thompson said versatility is important.
But more importantly, Neal provides some much needed depth. The Packers will find out later this summer if 2007 first round pick Justin Harrell will be able to make it back from chronic back problems. Plus, the Packers don’t know what will happen with Johnny Jolly and his ongoing legal problems in Houston. Not to mention, Jolly and veteran Cullen Jenkins will be able to hit the free agent market after this season.
One of the more intriguing picks is that of 3rd round safety Morgan Burnett. General Manager Ted Thompson (pictured) doesn’t like to give away draft picks, but he coughed up his 4th round selection to trade up in the 3rd round and guarantee his ability to land Burnett, who leaves Georgia Tech after three seasons with 14 interceptions.
Burnett has the ability to play the run and pass very well and will push Atari Bigby for the starting job, although Thompson said Burnett’s selection is not a knock on Bigby.
If Bigby fends him off, the Packers at the very least have created some depth that they didn’t have last year when Bigby missed time due to injury.
In all three cases, the Packers have improved the depth andthey’ve served notice to the veteran players that they had better be ready to compete for their jobs when training camp rolls around.