Jerry Hughes

Jerry Hughes will eat your lunch.

We’ve previously discussed the possibility of the Green Bay Packers opting for a pass rusher in the first round of the NFL Draft simply because the top-flight offensive tackles may be off the board by the time the Packers pick at No. 23.

Although there are likely only four or five tackles with first-round talent, the 2010 offensive line class looks deep overall. The same can be said for the 2010 class of pass rushers – there are plenty of quality guys to be had in the first round and beyond.

We took a look at Pro Football Talk’s outside rusher rankings, which features eight players (of 15) who could play outside linebacker in the Packers’ 3-4. Those players and their rankings are as follows.

Michigan’s Brandon Graham (3)
TCU’s Jerry Hughes (4)
Texas’ Sergio Kindle (5)
Virginia Tech’s Jason Worilds (10)
Clemson’s Ricky Sapp (11)
South Carolina’s Eric Norwood (13)
Utah’s Koa Misi (14)
Wisconsin’s O’Brien Schofield (15)

The rankings are, of course, subjective. Some scouts rank Graham and Kindle as top 15 picks, while PFT suggests each will go late in the first round, with Hughes and Sapp going in the second and everyone else going later.

This signals two potential possibilities for the Packers.

First, a top-of-the-line pass rusher who could complement Clay Matthews may fall to the Packers in round one. Second, and something we consider more likely, is the offensive lineman and pass rusher Ted Thompson wants are both off the board at pick No. 23 and Thompson decides to trade back for additional choices.

It’s perfectly conceivable the Packers could land someone like Hughes in the second round. It’s also conceivable Thompson is content to go into the season without addressing the tackle position immediately, instead investing in some mid-round pick who may or may not develop into a player down the line and betting that broken down veterans Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher can somehow keep Aaron Rodgers off injured reserve for another year.

Thompson has only traded up once in his tenure as general manager – last year to select Matthews – while he’s traded down more times than I can count.

While it’s impossible to understand the shear genius and unmatched brilliance that is Ted Thompson, history suggests if Thompson’s perfect player isn’t available at No. 23, the Packers will exit the first round without choosing anyone.

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