Yes, going through the Packers’ draft needs position-by-position is mostly an exercise in rehashing things we’ve already written and other things that every good Packer fan already knows. However, if we are going to set this up right and do a comprehensive analysis of the upcoming Packer draft, then we have to get this out of the way first.
We’ve already established that the Packers should approach this draft with the philosophy of taking the best player available, which is Ted Thompson’s mantra anyway. However, we’ve also admitted that obviously some positions need more help than others, and Thompson would be wise to address those positions of greatest need at some point, whether through quality or quantity or preferably both.
1. Inside Linebacker
Some have argued that Clay Matthews is a better outside linebacker and needs to go back there. I would argue that those people apparently have not kept up with current events. In 2014, Matthews was by far the more impactful player when he played inside. Matthews’ agility is best used in the middle where it can impact the entire field instead of just one side of it. Ball carriers have the tendency of going down immediately when Matthews hits them, which is a quality that the Packers sorely lacked at that position before Matthews and Sam Barrington took over. Furthermore, Matthews can actually cover people as well, which is unheard of for an inside linebacker around these parts in quite some time.
Secondly, Matthews can still rush the passer on obvious pass rushing downs, and he did so with great proficiency last season. His sack total actually skyrocketed AFTER he was moved inside.
The only reason to not play Matthews primarily inside is if he refuses to do so, and frankly, that better not be the case and I’m going to assume it isn’t until I have no choice but to believe otherwise.
However, even if you leave Matthews inside, that still leaves the Packers with Sam Barrington as the other starter and no depth behind him. Injuries at this physical position are common. The Packers must address the depth here even if they don’t get a starter.
2. Tight End
The Packers have a presumptive starter in their single tight end set with Richard Rodgers. However, with the legend of J-Mike collecting his insurance and the living-in-infamy Brandon Bostick now a Viking, the Packers could use a receiving tight end more capable of stretching defenses. Even if Rodgers remains the starter, I would love to see the Packers utilize the two tight end set more often, and a big play tight end to pair with Rodgers would probably convince the Packers to do exactly that.
The Packers could also use depth at this position. Andrew Quarless is the only other tight end on the roster to have started an NFL game.
Tramon Williams and Davon House are gone, and Sean Richardson is likely to be as well. If Richardson goes, that means the Packers need Micah Hyde even more as a safety. Hyde right now is the Packers presumptive third corner.
Plus, the Packers aren’t even sure what they have at the second corner position. Casey Hayward has been a slot corner since he was drafted, and none of us know how he’ll hold up as a full time outside starter. If he can’t hold up, then the Packers’ season is in jeopardy unless they have a quality back up who can ride in like the calvary, or like Malcolm Butler, and save the day. That puts this position high on Ted’s radar for the draft.
4. Outside Linebacker
As long as the Packers stay in this style of defense, the outside linebacker position will always be a vital one for the defense. You can never have too many good pass rushers. Plus, neither Julius Peppers, Mike Neal nor Nick Perry are under contract beyond 2016. Are Neal and Perry good enough to extend? If not, then the Packers better be ready to reload at this position.
5. Defensive Line
I’m going to lump the defensive tackles and ends together because they seem nearly interchangeable in this defense anyway. The Packers haven’t been very good against the run since 2010, and both BJ Raji and Letroy Guion are only on one year prove it contracts. If they don’t prove anything, then the Packers will need to go in a different direction. The Packers are in decent shape at the ends with Mike Daniels and Datone Jones, but Daniels will be looking for big money two years from now. The depth is Josh Boyd and Khyri Thornton, and I’m not exactly doing cartwheels over that.
6. Wide Receiver
As long as Aaron Rodgers is in town, the Packers need to be loaded at this position. They have three proven commodities right now. Jared Abberderis is coming back from an ACL, which is not an easy task. Jeff Janis makes plays in practice. Practice? Yeah, enough said.
It would have been nice if Charles Johnson was still on this roster, but shit happens. The Packers may want to draft for this position again if they don’t feel strongly about anyone on their practice squad.
7. Running Back
The Packers are in good hands with Eddie Lacy and James Starks, but injuries can happen quickly at this position. Plus, the unfortunate retirement of Johnathan Franklin and the departure of DuJuan Harris has left the Packers without a speed option at the position. The Packers may want to draft one and mix it up a little.
The Packers have their starters here, but injuries can and do happen. If Sean Richardson becomes a Raider, then Micah Hyde and Chris Banjo are your only depth. And Hyde is your slot corner as of right now. The Packers do have the ability to bring Jarrett Bush back to help seal up this position, however.
I am not ready to crown Scott Tolzien anything, and the Packers will at least want another arm for camp and their practice squad. They may draft one for once.
10. Offensive Line
The Packers are more set at this position than any other on their roster, with Don Barclay, Lane Taylor and JC Tretter providing back up.
I don’t rank this position last because improvement is less needed than at other positions. I rank it last because the Packers don’t need to draft guys to improve it. Mason Crosby sewed up his role with the Packers by nailing a 48 yard field goal to force overtime in the NFC Championship Game. Micah Hyde should return punts because he’s good at it, and I don’t give a shit that it increases his risk of injury. See Antonio Brown, Steelers, or Julian Edelman, Patriots, thanks.
I would love to see Tim Masthay replaced by someone who can replace Crosby at kicking off. However, knowing this jackass, he’ll excel during training camp and the preseason just to keep his job. Obviously, the Packers need a new kick returner to down touchbacks.
It is certainly anticlimactic to sit through 5 hours of draft coverage only to have the Packers trade down from 30, but with this crop of equally talented players from 20-50 I could see TT doing this to pick up a 3rd or a 4th. Some team may want to grab the UCLA QB in the 1st for a 5 year contract option. Jordy arrived early in the second and that worked out OK. Need CB then ILB.
Sewed, not sowed. I think that CB is more essential than TE at this point – at least from the perspective of who will TT draft.
That’s a ton of holes for an almost Championship caliber team
All depth concerns. Not starting concerns.
Every team has depth concerns.
“However, knowing this jackass, he’ll excel during training camp and the preseason just to keep his job.”
Why criticize him when he’s played well every season except for last year when he fell apart, especially in the latter portion of the schedule? C’mon, as you appear to play poorly so he loses his job? Not original, insightful or smart writing.
Hayward does not have the size and speed to cover Megatron and other big receivers on the outside. We’ve lost a lot of size and speed in losing Williams, House and Richardson. I think we’re going to have to go for corner in first round if a first round quality one is still on the board at 30. If not, we’re going to have to take ILB. I don’t think McKinney or Anthony are going to last into the second round at 60 and we have to have one of those guys. Those guys are CM3 type of size and athleticism guys we must get to shut down the run and cover monster TE’s. Looks like another 3rd round TE for depth.
Did J-Mike actually collect on his insurance? It wasn’t just a “choice” of playing or collecting 10 million like he portrayed. It doesn’t work like that. I haven’t read or heard anything that he actually collected. He may have i guess, but i’m thinking it would have been reported, somewhere.