Evan Dietrich-Smith took over the center position from Jeff Saturday late last year. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Packers still need improvement up the middle

Heading into the NFL Draft last week, the Green Bay Packers had many holes to fill, but with only eight picks at their disposal at the start – which grew to 11 – all of them, of course, couldn’t possibly be addressed.

While the Packers and GM Ted Thompson have been commended for their work in addressing several areas of need last weekend, there are still some areas on the team that need attention – most of which are right up the middle.

Any baseball fan knows the importance of a strong middle core – a competent unit of players starting with the catcher and moving outward to pitching, shortstop, second base and center field. Having a strong middle will keep any team together.

Aaron Rodgers will continue to call signals for at least the next five years.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the same for football. The Packers solidified its offensive backfield and we already know what they did when they extended Aaron Rodgers’ contract – they guaranteed that the best quarterback in the league stays in Green and Gold for at least the next five years. However, when it comes to center and safety – and even inside linebacker – there are question marks on how best those positions will be filled in 2013.

Yes, the Packers did re-sign center Evan Dietrich-Smith to a restricted free agent contract, but Mike McCarthy would surely like to see some competition for that position. When the Packers drafted David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter, they did a nice job of bringing in players who might be moved inside to either guard or center. But whether they fit in those positions won’t be known until they actually hit the field during rookie orientation and OTAs.

Many also question why Ted Thompson didn’t draft a safety in this year’s draft. While the strong safety position was manned most of last season by M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian because Charles Woodson was injured for the greater majority of the season, the jury on their play is still out. No doubt both of these players will continue to grow into the position, Thompson has indicated he’s confident in them.

One might wonder if the Packers would consider bringing Charles Woodson back (at their price, of course) at least for one more season to solidify the strong safety position. Woodson is still unemployed and hasn’t drawn much interest among other NFL teams. Whether the Packers want to go that route won’t be pursued unless there is a clear need. While McMillian and Jennings are adequate, the Packers may consider, at the very least, bringing in some competition.

So up the middle there are still many issues yet to be decided. In which direction the Packers go will be interesting to watch.

Stay tuned …

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Tags: Center Green Bay Packers Safety

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