Then came shattering injuries to Tauscher and Clifton. Flanagan moved over to provide experience, Winters returned his leadership to the needy lineup and unknown backups had to step up, including free agent signee Kevin Barry and former Badger Bill Ferrario. Suddenly, the offensive line, which rarely uses revolving door substitutions needed depth.
Will the Packers take the "once burned, twice shy" approach and try to bulk up their line through the draft?
"Offensively, you always want to get another offensive lineman," Head Coach/GM Mike Sherman said. "If you can, get a quarterback, a running back. If you get somebody who can play defensive back or return - or get a running back who can be a return guy. Those are all players that I'm looking for."
That said, it's unlikely that the Packers would spend their first round pick on an offensive lineman, given the prospects for recovery their veterans combined with their needs in other areas. Also, the conventional wisdom on drafting offensive linemen says to strike early and the Packers do not have a second-round pick which limits their early options.
The 2003 draft will not boast the kind of offensive line talent seen in previous years, which marks another reason why the Packers are not spending early round picks shopping here.
The top tackle candidate is Jordan Gross of Utah. He's a former tight end with very good athleticism. He'll be long gone by the time the Packers pick at No. 29. The next lineman to go in the first round could be Eric Steinbach (Iowa) or Kwame Harris (Stanford). Steinbach is the most versatile lineman, according to NFL. Com, because he can play at all the positions. George Foster of Georgia has seen his stock slip and now may be a late-first round pick or even a second-rounder. Wayne Hunter of Hawaii will also go in that neighborhood or maybe sooner.