Thunderous Draft

As the first day of the 2009 NFL draft came to a close, I sat on the front porch watching lightening pulse behind a pattering wash of cold spring rain. The first good thunderstorm of the year, I thought. It has been a great, great day in Wisconsin, dear readers.

While Mooney took down shutters for repainting, I slogged around the yard, admiring the rhubarb plant that has been growing a few inches a day and planning for future tree plantings. With the rain coming I figured today would be a good time to throw down some fertilizer and weed killer. I don't care for a huge chunk of grass, but the grass I have I like lush, you know? Old as I may be, I still get a thrill out of walking around bare-footed in the yard.

Your yard is only as good as the soil you plant it in, and your run defense is only as good as your defensive line. With the new 3-4 scheme coming to town, it was imperative that we grab us a big old beast of a nose tackle in this draft, and I argued a few weeks ago that we should grab the best one available with pick number nine - BJ Raji. As Ted Thompson said today, he's a rare talent. You don't find guys like Raji growing next to your rhubarb patch.

So pick one down and we have a projected starting line of Cullen Jenkins, Pickett and Raji. That, as my cousin Walter says, is a lot of beef.

Figuring I'd have a good chunk of time until our second round pick, I starting fiddling around the kitchen-room, fixing some biscuit sandwiches and such, thinking about need versus wanting. Raji was no doubt high on Ted's list, but he also filled a need with that rare talent. Ted has been pegged as a trade-backer, a fellow who likes to sign 10 new rookies every year in the hopes that 5 will pan out. But maybe he's going another direction now, looking for starters over projects.

Loh and behold, he went and traded up to grab another impact player, confirming my suspicions and filling another need at outside linebacker. With Clay Matthews, we have the young kid from USC, AJ Hawk and Barnett in the middle, and Aaron Kampman on the other side, with Chillar and Poppinga and a few others providing depth and competition at the second line.

I said this was a thunderous draft and it wasn't just cause it was turning electrical in the dark night sky, here in Wisconsin, dear readers. It has been quite a while since we had two players taken on the first day that should step right into the starting lineup, and in two positions where a quality starter was far from set, due in part to our schematic shift. In other words, it has been a helluva first day at the draft. And although we gave up a few quality picks to accomplish this, we still have a few more picks on day two that can be used to fill some remaining weak spots.

I would like to see us take an offensive tackle with the fourth rounder, and maybe another in the fifth. Although Ted's future as the GM may be now tied to his pick of Matthews and the hoped improvement of the run defense, it could just the same be tied to how the offensive line plays next season, and competition will be important in bringing the level of play to the next level.

It is going to be hard to sleep tonight, dear readers, not because of the angels bowling upstairs, but because of the excitement of a tremendous boost to the team I love so dearly. Good night until tomorrow, then.