This is the fourth installment of our Camp Countdown Questions series. Each day leading up to July 31st, we'll be posing a crucial question the Pack need to answer in training camp.
"With the 16th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select Justin Harrell..."
"...defensive lineman, Tennessee."
This was basically my reaction after hearing the commish announce the Pack's first pick that year. I had never heard of this guy before. I thought there were definitely other more pressing needs other than defensive tackle. And he only played in THREE games his last year at Tennessee before suffering from a torn biceps that ended his season. I certainly questioned Ted Thompson's decision to take Harrell (although I must admit, I wanted Brady Quinn at 16. I was a young, naive Notre Dame fan ready to take Brady and deal Rodgers. I know. I am ashamed).
But despite these reservations, I found a way to be optimistic about this beefy Harrell guy. Going into his senior year before his injury he was rated a top-10 talent. Greg Jennings was a pleasant surprise the year before (I wanted Chad Jackson), so I wanted to believe TT knew something no one else did.
Three seasons, only 13 games played and multiple injuries later, Harrell is arguably the biggest draft blunder suffered by the Packers since they took Jamal Reynolds number 10 overall in 2001. When he actually has been on the field, Harrell has been practically invisible. He can't get penetration and struggles to shed blockers. I'm shocked that Harrell is still on the team.
Jolly's suspension may be all that keeps Harrell's shot at a roster spot alive. If he can prove himself as a versatile rotational lineman, it's likely Harrell will avoid the chopping block once again. I think it's partly a matter of pride for Thompson and the guys who drafted him as well. It's hard to cut a guy that's done so little with so much invested in him.
Of course none of this matters if Harrell tweaks his back and ends up on the PUP/IR again. Which I believe is very likely. I don't wish injury on the guy and I hope he stays healthy and can finally contribute, but his body is too fragile for football. Justin Harrell will not make the cut this year and the Packers will finally move on without him.
Make sure to check out all other installments of the Camp Countdown Questions series!