We wrap our look at the needs of the teams from the NFC North by considering the state of the defending NFL champions.
It would be tempting to simply say “none” and move on.
OL: The Packers have had their share of struggles along the offensive line over the past two years. They need a long-term replacement for left tackle Chad Clifton. If it’s eventually Bryan Bulaga, they’ll need another right tackle. The interior of the line could benefit from another body or two, especially if Daryn Colledge leaves via free agency.
LB: The Packers have a surplus of talented inside linebackers. But they lack a quality complement to Clay Matthews on the outside. If they find one, the league eventually may re-name the Lombardi Trophy after Mike McCarthy.
DE: Cullen Jenkins most likely will be leaving due to free agency, Johnny Jolly most likely won’t be back due to the loss of his freedom, and B.J. Raji has found his niche at nose tackle. Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt would be an ideal fit, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll last until the bottom of the first round.
Overview: Unlike many recent Super Bowl champions, the Packers are generally stacked — and they seem to have plenty of room to improve. If the lockout wipes out the offseason, training camp, and the preseason, the Packers will be much better suited than other NFC teams to compete, given that they continued to meet and practice and play into February.
Even if the Packers had no draft picks, they’d be getting a significant infusion of talent from the return of the many players who finished last season on injured reserve. Thus, they can focus their picks on players who can help lay the foundation for the future without having to gamble on players who can step in and perform right away.