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Saturday, January 24, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 31.0° F  Overcast
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Jared Abbrederis is rewarded with Packers pick in NFL draft
From Badger to Packer: Jared Abbrederis.
Credit:UW Athletic Communications

All right, fans, you can come out now. It's safe to turn on ESPN or local radio without hearing another day's yammering dedicated to measurables, motors and upside. America's biggest quasi-sports event is in the books for another year. We are off the clock. The NFL draft is over.

If you thought the league had perhaps jumped the shark a few years back when it moved the draft to Radio City Music Hall and literally began rolling out the red carpet to greet its newest stars, you would be wrong. Football lovers seem to have an unlimited capacity for this stuff. Sports Illustrated reported that a record 12.4 million fans tuned in for the first round. Round-the-clock coverage on ESPN and the NFL Network produced the largest three-day viewership in draft history.

Although it's hard to grasp how anyone suffers Chris Berman and Mel Kiper through more than a couple of picks at a time, the draft did produce some interesting stories. Locally, general manager Ted Thompson and the Packers finally lifted their odd moratorium against former Badgers, taking wide receiver Jared Abbrederis with the last pick of the fifth round.

Abbrederis is exactly the kind of player who used to make the draft marginally entertaining -- a small-town kid and former walk-on who outworks everyone else to make up for his average size and speed, and then is rewarded with a selection by the franchise he idolized during childhood.

As for the rest of Green Bay's choices, I agree with fans left wondering why the Packers spent more picks on offense than defense, given the struggles of the latter in previous seasons. Granted, Thompson's track record insulates him from knee-jerk criticism, and head coach Mike McCarthy promised that the defense would be better come September: "You can write that in big letters." If that performance remains decidedly lowercase, however, last weekend's draft will again inspire a tiresome conversation around Wisconsin.

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