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NFL Green Bay Packers

2014 NFL Draft: Ranking the Green Bay Packers’ Top Five Needs

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2014 NFL Draft: Top Five Needs For the Green Bay Packers

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the fact quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed seven games with a collarbone injury, the Green Bay Packers still won the NFC North in 2013 and earned a playoff spot with an 8-7-1 record.

The Packers have plenty of star power, with Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews and running back Eddy Lacy, but a lot of key players are headed for free agency and general manager Ted Thompson will likely be looking to May’s draft to bolster the depth on the roster and add talent to some very specific areas.

Green Bay rarely spends big in free agency, and based on that alone they are likely to lose some roster depth and a few notable starters (cornerback Sam Shields, defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett) from the league’s 25th-ranked defense last season (372.3 yards per game).

The 2013 NFL Draft yielded a solid return for Green Bay, highlighted by Lacy, but offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (16 starts at left tackle), defensive lineman Datone Jones and cornerback Micah Hyde also showed some promise as rookies and look like future contributors.

The Packers allowed 45 sacks last season (ninth-most in the league), and they may lose some offensive line depth with Evan Dietrich-Smith and Marshall Newhouse scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. The healthy return of offensive tackle Brian Bulaga after he missed all of last season with a torn ACL will help, but adding some talent along the offensive line is still a potential need for Green Bay this offseason.

Here are the top five areas of need for the Green Bay Packers as we look ahead to May’s draft.

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5. Offensive Line

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I don’t think the Packers will use a early pick on an offensive lineman with more pressing needs elsewhere, but after finding Bakhtiari in the fourth round last year an attempt to find another potential starter in the later stages of the draft looks possible.

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4. Tight End

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Jermichael Finley is a free agent and his status going forward is up in the air after a severe neck injury last season. Andrew Quarless also looks certain to sign elsewhere, so Green Bay’s tight end depth is looking depleted right now. A free agent signing is possible here, but I think using a second day pick on a tight end is a strong possibility.

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3. Outside Linebacker

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The Packers have been trying to find someone to form a formidable pass-rushing duo with Clay Matthews for what seems like forever, and I expect them to take another shot at it in the early rounds of this year’s draft.

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2. Defensive Line

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If Raji, Pickett and Johnny Jolly all sign elsewhere in free agency, the need for starters and depth here will be great. If the right player is available at 21st overall, the Packers may use their first-round pick on a defensive lineman.

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1. Cornerback

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Green Bay had just 11 interceptions last season, and Shields led the team with four, so finding a ball-hawking corner that can start immediately may well be the team’s top priority in the draft.