Draft needs: Green Bay Packers

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The 2013 Packers had a championship-caliber offense, at least when Aaron Rodgers was healthy, but one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Unsurprisingly, our look at Green Bay’s draft needs focuses on the defense before turning our attention to the support the Packers will need to give Rodgers.

Safety: Green Bay had a glaring need at safety from Week One, when the secondary was abused by 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin, and that glaring need was apparent all season. The biggest disappointment was starting strong safety Morgan Burnett, who got a big new contract last season and responded with a bad year. With bad play from the starters and not much depth, the Packers have to find at least one safety in this year’s draft. Maybe more than one.

The best safeties in this year’s draft, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama and Calvin Pryor of Louisville, probably won’t be available when the Packers are on the clock at Pick 21. If one of them falls out of the Top 20, that would be great news in Green Bay. And the need at safety might even be great enough for the Packers to trade up and draft one of them. Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois is another option in the first round, although he might be a bit of a reach at 21.

If safety isn’t addressed in the first round, it must be addressed on the second day of the draft. Deone Bucannon of Washington State and Lamarcus Joyner of Florida State could be options in the second round.

Inside linebacker: A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones are the current starters on the inside, but a good rookie could push Jones out of the base defense. The best inside linebacker in the draft, C.J. Mosley of Alabama, may not be available at No. 21, but if he is he could immediately contribute to the Packers’ defense.

An interesting second-day selection could be Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough. He had a pre-draft visit with the Packers and looks like he’d be a good fit as an inside linebacker in their 3-4 defense. Other possibilities include Chris Borland of Wisconsin and Preston Brown of Louisville.

Outside linebacker is less of a need for the Packers after they signed Julius Peppers to line up opposite Clay Matthews, but if they do address their needs on the outside, Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo is an option. He also had a pre-draft visit to Green Bay.

Center: Last year’s starting center, Evan Dietrich-Smith, left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The Packers used a fourth-round pick on center JC Tretter last year, and at the moment he’s first on the depth chart. But Tretter suffered a broken ankle in training camp last year and never got on the field, and the Packers will be going out on a limb if they go into the season with only the unproven Tretter (who played his college football in the Ivy League at Cornell) as the man snapping to Rodgers.

There probably won’t be a center selected on the first day of the draft, but on the second day there are a few options, including Marcus Martin of USC and Travis Swanson of Arkansas. Virginia’s Luke Bowanko, who played both guard and center, visited Green Bay and could be an option on Day Three of the draft.

Tight end: Green Bay could use an upgrade here: Jermichael Finley opened last season as the starter and played well, but he suffered a season-ending neck injury and is now a free agent. Andrew Quarless, who replaced Finley in the starting lineup, finished the season with 32 catches for 312 yards and wasn’t the same threat in the passing game that Finley has been.

The best tight end in the draft, Eric Ebron of North Carolina, probably won’t be available at No. 21. So it would be a surprise if the Packers used a first-round pick on a tight end. But Jace Amaro of Texas Tech is at least a conceivable pick in the first round, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington could be a Day Two option.

Quarterback: Maybe the Packers will be satisfied going into the season with Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien as the backups to Rodgers. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see Green Bay draft a late-round quarterback who could make the roster as a third-stringer as a rookie, while being groomed to be the No. 2 quarterback a year from now.

San Jose State quarterback David Fales is an interesting option on the third day of the draft, and so is North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen. Both of them had visits to Green Bay, and both of them could be options for the Packers — options the Packers hope they won’t need for many years to come.

64 responses to “Draft needs: Green Bay Packers

  1. Safety and ILB all day long, stack up. Hawk and Jones are way too soft/slow to react, we need to have guys are quick and as big as Bowman/Willis

  2. The needs are pretty well known. Safety is definitely at the top of the list. If neither Pryor, Dixon or Mosley(ILB and also a need) aren’t there I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ted trade down and take Ward.

  3. I’d put WR as a need waaay over another QB. I like our top 3 – Nelson, Cobb and Boykin but a fast WR who has kick returning abilities would be great for the Pack. Aaron Rodgers might be the most accurate deep ball thrower in the league and none of the top 3 are true deep threats.

  4. I am always game for round 1 drafting trench men. But I can see a trade back ala Jordy Nelson into the later 1st or early 2nd and drafting a WR in this deep class. Replenish weapons for ARod.

    Just a thought. But I trust in TT.

  5. It doesn’t feel like there’s going to be much “top tier” talent at the 20+ range in this draft. I’d imagine the Packer’s first choice would be to trade down and pick up another pick or two later in the draft. Or they could trade down and then trade back up to a place where “their guy” better fits.

    There seems to be a gap in each draft between about the middle of the first round to the middle of the second round where it becomes difficult to “hit” on a guy. And then you have later second round guys who can be absolute bombshells with zero fanfare attached.

    There aren’t but 6 to 10 really good prospects in this draft. I think we’ll see Ted trade out of the first with one of the teams that wants a QB but doesn’t want to waste a top 5 or 10 pick on a crapshoot kind of player.

  6. Titletown… meh.

    Titles are overrated. Winning is overrated.

    I’d much rather watch my collection of Vikings Pro Bowlers lose than have to endure the Packers’ collection of no-namers win.

    Names and Stars > Team Victories

  7. They also need another wide receiver as well. With nine draft picks they should be able to fill most or all of their needs. Now let’s hope that Teddy did his homework and he finds some diamonds in the rough as he usually does.

  8. Green Bay has drafted defense in the first round 3 years in a row now…

    Yet their defense is still ranked as one of the worst in the NFL.

    Nothing can fix this defense, let’s be honest.

  9. So what does it feel like to have a team in the league for 50 years and have 0 championships?

  10. 1st round take the best player there. The Packers needs can be taken care of in the later parts of the rounds as they aren’t positions that require high draft picks and they have players that can man those positions already. The Safeties seem to be like the QBs of this draft, the top guys have some question marks and will probably be drafted to high. Hyde and Richardson will also compete there. A fast ILB with some nastiness would be nice to pick up but don’t reach for one, again a position that can be had in almost any round. The Bills got a good guy last year late and there plenty examples of that.

    Tretter might be unknown to the fans and media but the coaches feel they have their center. EDS was allowed to walk because of how Tretter looked to them in practice to end the year. I am sure a linemen will be drafted but TT likes to take tackles and just let them compete for the positions. The best linemen in college are usually tackles and they can be moved around.

    Never have enough pass rushers. Peppers won’t be around forever, if more than a year or two, and this draft is flush with guys that can play OLB in a 3-4. Expect one of them taken in the first two rounds. Kyle Van Noy would be nice in the 2nd and I would like Mosley of Hageman if they are there. Also need a WR to start grooming. I like the local kid Abbrederis but I think he will be gone by the time the Packers address that position. I don’t expect TT to chase needs in this draft. They will be addressed but he has enough picks to be flexible.

  11. With the 21st pick in the 2014 NFL Draft the Green Bay Packers select: Hurt Knee, I.R., Helpless State University.

  12. If the Packers are the Jaguars masked by Rodgers, the Vikings are East North Dakota State…..masked by nothing.

  13. If they cant fix the defense, there will be no titles for Aaron Rodgers to win. And they have to find guys cheap cause a good chunk of their salary cap goes to Aaron Rodgers who has question marks if he can stay healthy or not. Defense and offensive line is where they need to look otherwise they wont be NFC North favorites anymore. Its anyones division. I like the bears or lions this year.

  14. Dear Ted

    No more first round busts!

    Only in turd bay you you would stay employeed!
    Then again, the national clown museum resides in Wisconsin!

  15. “That pic of Ted is from Superbowl XLV.”

    Funny thing that, it was Schneider that evaluated the talent. Too bad he’s building championships in Seattle now.

  16. Another 1st round Dline bust Ted? I wish I could be a GM, and be considered to be great because of Rodgers and Favre carrying my team to bare minimum .500 records.

  17. I must retract my previous typo, as it was in error. As we all know, the Packers won Superbowl XLV by a score of 31-25.

    Because Packer fans are known for their attention to factual detail, and hold themselves to a higher standard than unsuccessful franchises, I apologize to my fellow Packer fans for this error.

  18. The Packers are moving Micah Hyde to Safety. No matter what happens in the draft, I’ll be surprised if someone other than Hyde & Burnett is a preferred starter for opening week.

    With Bulaga back, Don Barclay seems capable of moving inside on the o-line. The Packers have 5 guys with significant NFL starting experience on the OL. If Tretter bombs, they’ll be fine– as things stand today.

    The worst thing they could do is focus on “needs”. Because the one true “need” when it comes to the draft is the need to avoid bust picks. If you draft a lesser player to fill a need, all you get is a lesser player. That’s not the path to success in the draft.

  19. The folks slinging insults at the organization, particularly when I see the teams they’re fans of, wish they were as “terrible” as the Green Bay Packers organization. That’s not being a homer. There are other teams like this as well. The team is a model of consistency. The injury to Rodgers in some respects was a blessing in disguise because the leadership was able to see holes in the team that are usually covered up bu #12, much like what happened when Manning went down a few years ago. The difference here, and really it is due to timing, is that Rodgers is still in the prime of his career. Excited to see how the Draft plays out and looking forward to a very competitive NFC North.

    Go Pack Go

  20. “Ha Ha Clinton-Dix”

    …seriously? This sounds like a joke the Republicans were making in the mid-1990s.

  21. Mosley and Dix will be off the board, Ryan Shazier at 21 brings value and fills a need. If we pass up Shazier, it’ll be a big mistake, that kid will be DROY and become a top 5 player out of this draft in the future. He’s gonna be Patrick Willis Navarro Bowman like, he’s gonna be a force as he progresses.

  22. Instead of best player available, they should look at drafting the least injured player available. They could have avoided last year’s Rd 1 draft bust.

  23. I was shocked Green Bay didn’t go after Thurman and/or Browner from Seattle. For that matter, shocked they didn’t go after Chris Clemons or J.Allen either.

    All too often teams who use the 1st round fill holes end up being forced to take the next bust.

    Rule of first day draft – take the best player on the board at that time.

  24. London Fletcher said on PFT today that Stanford LB Shayne Skov reminds him of CJ Mosely . The Packers should draft WR Brandin Cooks & RB D’ Anthony Thomas . Thomas can compliment Eddie Lacey in the back field. Both of these guys can fly and they can make the Packers offense lethal . Cooks can be DJAX with out the bagges and Thomas can be a young Darren Sporles and drive defenses crazy. The name of the Game is Touchdowns in todays NFL. On defense i would draft CB’s Stanley John Baptiste and Keith McGill. 2 big CB’s and one can be moved to Safety . I also would draft DT’s Daniel McCullers U Tenn . He is 6-7 348 and DT Deandre Coleman from Cal . 6’5″ 315 . They are both raw but with Mike Tragovac coaching them they could be very solid pros and help stuff the run .

  25. Given the state of the defense, picking TE in the first, or really any offensive player for that matter, is a luxury. So >> best defensive player on their board at 21 please … Mosely ILB would certainly be an upgrade, if there. So would trying to trade back 5-10 spots and taking Ward S.

    Pryor might be there, but has no real coverage skills, which is required of their safeties. Clinton-Dix has a little of that, but is more of a traditional over the top FS. So, I would be surprised if they took either one, and surprised if Clinton-Dix is still there. And to me at least, Shazier does not appear to fit their defense. He’ll be best as a Lavonte David-ish 4-3 OLB. Pass on Nix …

    The article and poll is therefore missing >> CB.
    They have 10 million into Shields, and Tramon Williams is 31 and a free agent next year. There is no way they will pay him similar $$ at that age and tie up 20 million of their cap at CB.
    House is a backup level player, Hayward is best suited for the slot, and Hyde looks to be going to safety, where he should thrive.

    They NEED a corner who A) can start outside next year and B) who won’t cost 8-10 million dollars.

    Corey Fuller has the talent and would be an excellent fit. So that’s who I hope they get.

  26. Team needs… An entire new defense, a new field that isnt frozen dirt and nasty brown by week 10, and a team barber for guys like matthews and the entire offensive line

  27. Packer needs:

    1) Offensive line. Pretty much the whole line.

    2) Defense. Pretty much the whole thing. Even need a backup for injury-prone Matthews.

    3) Wide-receiver. Steady losses there over the years.

    Lots of swings-and-misses by TT in the first-rounds the last several years has forced the Packers to make do with a lot of late-round picks, draft busts, and now elderly vets.

    How many top picks and big money to has-beens has TT blown trying to get a descent pass rush?

    And are Sam Shields and Tramon Williams really a $20m CB tandem? That’s a problem.

  28. Thompson should trade up for Pryor, then take Jordan Matthews WR from Vandy with next pick, Troy Niklas TE from ND with 3rd pick. After that, take the best LB on the board, maybe Borland from WI.

    Oh, we Packers fans can only dream. In reality, Ted will end up trading back and taking some mediocre no-name defensive players and leave it up to A-Rodg to carry the team once again.

  29. As others have, said WR is a need.

    I really wouldn’t be surprised if they took one in the first if it’s the best player available. Cobb/Nelson are getting to the end of their contracts, and Boykin is the only other WR with experience.

    That means they don’t have much depth now and could be worse in the near future.

  30. I agree with WR as a priority in the 2nd or 3rd round >> and like Matthews from Vanderbilt.
    Pedigree: size (6’3″)/speed (4.46)/and hands, is smart (highest wonderlic of WRs), already runs a complex route tree well. Gets open over the middle, and can go deep effectively at times.
    Like Jordy Nelson at KState, other (SEC) teams knew he was the only “go to” guy and still couldn’t stop him. Led/leads the SEC all time in receiving (!)
    His QB two years ago (best season) was Jordan Rodgers – Aaron’s younger brother. Vandy’s coach was formerly employed as a Packers WR coach. And he’s Jerry Rice’s nephew … Enough said.

  31. Hawk played the best year of his career last year. Jones and his inflated contract are the only things that needs to be replaced.

  32. Not sure how many ILBs or SSs one can draft w/out inevitably taking a look at Dom Capers’ scheme. At some point you have to look at the ‘ideology’.

    Getting burnt by high-calibre teams in the 2nd half isn’t on the players, it’s on the play-calling.

    Capers is likely on his last leg in ’14. And why have Kevin Greene and others already left that defense this offseason? Hmmm.

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