The Packers on Wednesday bade a fond farewell to their long-time safety Nick Collins. No doubt this was a tough decision for Ted Thompson and Co. on a personal level, Collins being a heckuva dude and all that, but it wasn’t a tough decision on a football level given Collins’ 2011 neck injury, the subsequent surgery and the resultant uncertainty over his future.
Normally I wouldn’t spend any time sweating over a Packer personnel move but this one does have potential ramifications for the Vikings. And no I don’t mean they should or will go out and sign Collins. This offseason has been all about dumping useless, injured old veterans, not picking up new ones.
No, the ramifications have to do with the draft. The loss of Collins opens up a big hole in the Packers’ defense, and we know the Packers don’t like filling holes with free agents, so the new safety is likely going to come through the draft. The Packers pick 28th overall which puts one safety prospect right in their sights. And that guy happens to be someone the Vikings are also possibly targeting with their own 35th overall selection.
Harrison Smith is the man in question. Numerous highly authoritative draft gurus including Mel Kiper have mocked Smith to the Vikes at 35. The only other real competition for Smith was believed to be New England who draft 27th and 31st, at least until Bill Belichick gets done trading picks around. But with Collins now gone for real, the Packers have to also be considered in the mix for Smith. In fact they may be the front runner.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to commit suicide if the Packers snatch Harrison Smith away from the Vikings. I think Smith is the smart choice at 35 if he’s there but other guys make sense too including Trumaine Johnson, Josh Robinson and perhaps even Janoris Jenkins. It’s just that, to me at least, Smith seemed like the surest bet to make an immediate positive impact on the wretched secondary, just given his experience and talent and the nature of the position, and it’s sort of annoying that now it appears the Packers will get him first.
But of course the Packers have other needs too besides safety. They could use a good pass rusher – or two, or three – or a defensive tackle or an offensive lineman. So it’s no lock that Smith will be the pick. But if he is the pick, well, that will just be one more thing for Viking fans to hold against the Cheeseheads. As if they didn’t already have enough.