Bryan Bulaga

The next Packer?

The Green Bay Packers are certainly in the market for tackles this offseason.

Both 2009 starters, Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, are free agents. While the Packers may re-sign them simply because they don’t want to rely on two young and unproven tackles, both are at the end of the road and need to be replaced, which brings us to the 2010 NFL Draft.

The National Football Post’s Wes Bunting rates four tackles as year one starters. The first two, Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung and Rutgers’ Anthony Davis, are likely to be off the board when the Packers pick at No. 23.

Okung is a potential top-five selection and Davis looks like a mid-first-round selection.

That leaves Maryland’s Bruce Campbell and Iowa’s Brian Bulaga, two players we looked at when the Packers’ season ended. Both are likely to go in the mid-to-late first round.

Of course, any of the four could rise up or fall down the draft board after the combine, which runs from Feb. 24 to March 2.

Currently, there are seven teams picking ahead of the Packers that could take a hard look at tackle. We’re not including the St. Louis Rams, who will presumably take Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with the No. 1 pick.

Those teams, followed by their draft position, are the: Redskins (4), Chiefs (5), Seahawks (6), Browns (7), Raiders (8), Broncos (14) and Steelers (18).

Fortunately, most of these teams have needs at several positions. Both Washington and Seattle will probably take a long look at the quarterback position. Seattle also needs pass rushers and an upgrade in the running game. Cleveland has holes everywhere and offensive line may not be a priority in the first round. Kansas City or Washington seem like good bets to grab Okung if he’s available.

The Raiders and Broncos seem to be next in line to grab a tackle. If Davis goes to Oakland at No. 9 and the Broncos take Campbell or Bulaga at No. 14, the Packers may be crossing their fingers the Steelers go for defense. While the Steelers offensive line was shaky and sometimes downright terrible in 2009, the team also needs an injection of youth on an aging defense.

Then again, discussing sensible potential solutions for the Packers first-round draft choice may be entirely moot. We are talking about Ted Thompson here.

Thompson clearly picked for need with the Packers top pick last season, when he selected defensive tackle B.J. Raji with the No. 8 selection. Other than that, Thompson’s top picks in recent years haven’t made a lot of sense.

In 2008, he took receiver Jordy Nelson with the Packers top pick even though the Packers were loaded at receiver. In 2007, he took relatively unknown defensive tackle Justin Harrell, who hasn’t done anything in a Packers uniform.

Still, in the wishful thinking department, the Packers will land a guy who can hold down one side of their offensive line for the next decade.