Wolf coducts final draft with Green Bay
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- With barely a hint of emotion, general manager Ron Wolf drafted his last Green Bay Packers players Sunday before heading for retirement content the team had improved.
"I already had my emotional day and I think that is over with," said the man who was the architect of teams in the 1990s that restored the title to "Titletown."
"I was real excited coming in here. I was hoping we would be able to take the player we took and I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that there wasn't any way he would be there," Wolf said.
But he was: Wisconsin lineman Bill Ferrario, a 313-pound Pennsylvania native built so square that Wolf described him as a "big old safe."
A look of joy filled Wolf's face in one of his final accomplishments, getting his beloved tough guy, whom he called a "diamond in the rough."
"You say to yourself, 'Wow!' How does that happen?'" Wolf said. "It is exciting when you get him."
Wolf, general manager since 1991, helped lead the Packers to two Super Bowls in the 1990s, putting his name alongside Packers greats like Vince Lombardi in hero worship in Green Bay. He turns the job over to head coach Mike Sherman on June 1.
The entire Packers staff watched Wolf make his final pick, an unheralded receiver in the seventh round.
"It's hard to get too sentimental with Ron," Sherman said. "I checked his house this morning and he didn't have the moving van out there just yet."
Wolf, 62, started his professional football career in 1963 as a talent scout for the Oakland Raiders. He worked for Tampa Bay and the New York Jets before joining the Packers.
"I can't even begin to tell you what I learned from Ron Wolf the last couple of months," Sherman said.
The Packers, who finished 9-7 last year and did not make the playoffs for the second consecutive season, took three defensive players and three offensive players in the weekend draft.
Wolf declared it a success.
"We needed to get somebody who could attack the quarterback. We are confident we did that," he said. "We wanted to get a big-time, a big receiver that could function in this offense. We did that. We wanted to solidify our offensive line with a quality player. We think we did that."
And the team added some depth at linebacker, Wolf said.
Sherman agreed, saying the team was better, but not as good as the 1996 championship team. "I think we may have a couple of future stars in these draft picks."
The Packers' top pick at No. 10 was Florida State defensive end Jamal Reynolds, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound pass rusher who won the Lombardi Award last season as the nation's top collegiate lineman.
The fact Reynolds, who finished his collegiate career with 23 1/2 quarterback sacks, didn't get a sack against Miami last season is misleading, Wolf said.
"In the biggest game against Miami, he doesn't have a sack. The guy must be a stinko. That's not the case," Wolf said. "He had a badly sprained ankle and should not have played that game."
The team also took wide receiver Robert Ferguson of Texas A&M, a talent Wolf said would have been a cinch first-round choice had he stayed in college another year; Bhawoh Jue, a cornerback from Penn State; and Torrance Marshall, a linebacker from national champion Oklahoma.
The Packers used the 198th pick in the draft to select wide receiver David Martin of Tennessee, where he finished with 46 catches for 543 yards and five touchdowns. The Packers said Martin would be used as a tight end.
"He is a project," Sherman said.
Ferrario comes to Green Bay as an ironman, only the third player in Big Ten Conference history to start 50 consecutive games in his career.
"I have really fallen in love with the state and love the fans out there so I am definitely pleased to be able to stay in the state of Wisconsin to play football," Ferrario said.
In four years at Wisconsin, Ferrario blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher each season, the only player in school history to do that.
A year ago, the Packers drafted former Badgers offensive tackle Mark Tauscher and he became a starter.
Larry Beightol, the Packers' offensive line coach, was delighted to get Ferrario.
"He is a young fella that is going to come in here and compete for a position and possibly maybe even a starting position at left guard," Ferrario said.
Wolf joked that in his final draft he did little more than sit in the team's war room, chew bubble gum and watch players on the draft board.
He left Sherman some unfinished business.
"There are some other holes we are going to have to fill," Wolf said. "I would like to see us get a linebacker. I don't think we have enough linebackers. I would also like to have competition for our punter."