Defensive line? Outside linebacker? Offensive line? Running back? Cornerback or safety? Quarterback?
The answer to all of those questions for the Packers is a resounding yes.
All of those positions must be addressed in some manner. Just how general manager Ted Thompson, the man of the hour, will deal with it remains to be seen. He’s surprised us in the past with moves like he made with Clay Matthews. He’s also fallen flat with first round selections such as Justin Harrell. I remember the collective shout of “who?” that resonated across Packers Nation when that pick was announced.
Overall, Thompson has struck gold in his effort to concentrate on the concept of building a team with good football players and I suspect his strategy again this year will be similar.
While he has said many times that he doesn’t target specific players and specific positions, but rather selects the best player on their board, this year might be a bit different.
Clearly, the Packers need to draft defense. Last year’s embarrassment on that side of the football has got to be echoing strongly in Thompson’s ears and if the shouting from fans and head coach Mike McCarthy isn’t strong enough, the general manager might be experiencing a revolt if his first two or three picks aren’t made on that side of the ball.
Will a Quinton Coples or Courtney Upshaw be available when it comes time for the Packers? No. However, a player such as Vin Curry, Andre Branch or a Chandler Jones just might be. Peter King thinks the Packers will draft Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, but should be drafting a running back with the first round selection. I beg to differ. The Packers are a throw first team and I think Thompson has enough confidence in his current backfield to keep him from pulling the trigger on a ball carrier.
What I would like to see Thompson do is trade up six or seven spots – give up some of those late round picks – in an attempt to get Nick Perry, the DE/OLB out of USC. If there’s one weakness on the Packers’ defense, it’s that OLB position opposite Clay Matthews. The experts were saying before the draft last year that the Packers needed to shore up that position to take pressure off Matthews. Thompson didn’t do it and it came back to haunt him last year.
So, if Thompson can unload some picks to get a quality first round selection in the mid-20s, as well as keep the number 28 pick, he will have two first-round selections that will have an immediate impact.
From that point, he will have several other selections across the board to pick an offensive lineman, a quarterback, a running back and maybe one or two defensive backs.
This is a crucial draft for the Packers. They are one season removed from a Super Bowl championship and to get back to the big game they need to address the glaring needs that kept them from that goal in 2011.
I wouldn’t relish Thompson’s job. No doubt he will be criticized by many no matter what he does. But if he keeps the focus on the goal of improving the overall team concept, the Packers will continue to be a Super Bowl contender for years to come.