Despite posting a franchise-best 15-1 record last season, the Green Bay Packers have several draft needs.
The Packers struggled getting to the quarterback last season after the departure of defensive end Cullen Jenkins via free agency following Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV victory. The Packers were third to last in the league with a dismal 29.0 sacks after their incredible 47.0 sack season in 2010. Clay Matthews was double and sometimes even triple teamed on plays because the offense knew no other player posed much of a threat. There is no question Green Bay’s biggest need going into the 2012 season is to find a consistent pass rush.
It is imperative the Packers use their first few draft picks on defensive players, preferably pass rushers. I have already selected Green Bay to draft Nick Perry out of USC in the first round of Rant Sports 2012 NFL Mock Draft. Perry is a solid pass rusher who will line up opposite of Matthews as the other outside linebacker. The two will form a dangerous tandem and wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Perry has a relentless motor, just like Matthews, and will not stop attacking until the job is finished.
Green Bay will have to draft defense for a few rounds, preferably defensive lineman with a natural ability to rush the quarterback. The Packers will be looking not only for defensive ends who can rush on the outside, but more importantly, lineman who can apply pressure up the middle.
The problem Matthews and the Packers had last season was too many opposing quarterbacks had the option to step up into the pocket. This would allow the offensive lineman to put up a protective barrier around the quarterback, shielding him from the outside rushers. Jenkins was phenomenal at applying pressure in the middle which forced the quarterback backwards, therefore, allowing Matthews to rack up the sacks.
Believe it or not, Green Bay has other needs than just successful pass rushers. The Packers will be looking to draft a safety at some point with the uncertainty surrounding Nick Collins’ career. They will also be looking for potential cornerbacks to learn under Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams with the idea of eventually taking over one of the positions down the road if necessary.
On offense, Green Bay will be looking to draft a center in one of the earlier rounds to replace Jeff Saturday once his two-year deal expires after the 2013 season. This reason alone is why many experts have the Packers taking a center in the first round, but I personally do not see that happening with the obvious needs on defense. Green Bay will also need to draft a running back as the Packers seem content with Ryan Grant leaving via free agency, despite currently having James Starks and Alex Green on the roster. They will add a third and possibly even fourth running back to the mix to fill out the rotation.
General manager Ted Thompson is known for taking the best players available so look for him to add wide receivers and tight ends to the mix at some point in the draft. There is nothing wrong with picking up another Randall Cobb as it worked out well for the Packers last season.