With the first three rounds of the draft now history, it appears as if the Green Bay Packers will have to make do in 2010 with primarily the same cast of characters at cornerback and outside linebacker that were on the roster in 2009. That certainly doesn’t mean all is lost, but it does mean that youngsters Brad Jones, Pat Lee and Brandon Underwood are going to have to grow up in a hurry.
By not franchising Aaron Kampman or adding a significant outside linebacker through free agency or the draft, GM Ted Thompson is showing an awful lot of faith in Jones. “They really like the kid,” said a person close to the situation. “The fact that he was able to hold his own as a 235-pound rookie really impressed the coaches – especially coordinator Dom Capers. The feeling is that Jones will be a more consistent pass rusher once he gains some size and upper-body strength. He already has plenty of athleticism and tenacity.”
Lee and Underwood will likely open camp as the No. 3 and 4 corners, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them stay in those roles for at least the early part of the season. “At least one of those young players is going to have to step up,” said the source, “and the coaches seem to have more faith in Underwood being that guy than they do Lee. In fact, they believe Underwood is a better prospect than any of the corners that will be drafted on Saturday.”
It’s hardly surprising that the organization has so much faith in its young players. After all, that’s how Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy have built the Packers over the past four years. And that philosophy has worked more often than not. “Thompson has tremendous faith in his coaching staff’s ability to get the young guys ready to play,” said the source. “He firmly believed that when it came to Nick Collins, Greg Jennings, Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews and he was proven correct.” Of course he also believed that when it came to Allen Barbre and Jeremy Kapinos, so you really never know.