Packers: NFL Draft Priority Needs
Jrlombardi looks at Packers draft needs.
The following is a look at their greatest areas of need heading into the spring scouting season, which kicks off this week with the NFL scouting combine beginning Thursday in Indianapolis. Outside Linebacker–This year Thompson will select someone to possibly start opposite Clay Matthews in defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme. LB Jones flashed some pass-rush ability as a rookie in 2009 but has had durability issues his first two seasons and wasn’t as effective rushing when he played in 2010. Zombo and Walden proved competent – Walden is the more sudden rusher of the two – but it’s still a big step to being a playmaker. Offensive Tackle–Left tackle Chad Clifton bounced back surprisingly well from early-season knee problems and was remarkably sound even as a season’s worth of snaps accrued during the Packers’ stretch run. But he’ll be 35 this summer. Even if the Packers think he’ll be fine, their degree of confidence can be only so high, and his time is running out. Thompson drafted Bryan Bulaga in the first round last year as the left tackle of the Packers’ future. Bulaga had to play right tackle. Bulaga held up fine on the right side, but based on quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ comments late in the season, the Packers still see Bulaga as a left tackle. Thompson might spend a high pick at tackle, either left or right, to provide more options for those key pass-blocking positions. Cornerback–The Packers have one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL and two good young cornerbacks in Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. But cornerback Charles Woodson, one of the team’s best players, is 34 and has to slow down some time. The Packers need to prepare for that day, even if it’s a couple of years down the road, and have a quality player ready to replace him. Plus, as the Super Bowl showed when Woodson and Shields went down with injuries, cornerback depth is crucial. Pat Lee and Jarrett Bush gamely got the Packers through the fourth quarter, but that doesn’t mean they’d hold up for a stretch of games. Wide Receiver–This position of strength could erode fast. Donald Driver is a physical marvel but turned 36 earlier this month. His days of starting-caliber production can’t last forever. They might not need replacements for a year or two, but drafting one now provides the luxury of time to train him. Punt-Kick Returner–The Packers’ return game has been mostly a dud during Thompson’s six-year tenure as GM. Maybe a drafted wide receiver or cornerback could fill this hole, but if not, it might be time to consider using a valuable pick on someone strictly for the threat to change field position in the return game.
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