Ranking the Packers Draft Needs Post-Free Agency

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San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) scores a touchdown as Green Bay Packers safety M.D. Jennings (43) tackles. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) scores a touchdown as Green Bay Packers safety M.D. Jennings (43) tackles. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

 

1) SAFETY

It’s clear at this point the Packers will wait until the draft to address their need at safety.

They decided not to enter the high-priced bidding of top free agents Jarius Byrd and T.J. Ward, which comes to no surprise considering Ted Thompson‘s offseason tendency to avoid overpaying for any players in March.

The Packers didn’t even make a move for a veteran safety, like former Dolphin Chris Clemons, and let last year’s starter M.D. Jennings walk and be picked  up by the Chicago Bears in free agency.

It’s amazing considering heading into camp last summer it appeared the starting strong safety position came down to a battle between Jennings and Jerron McMillian–neither with the team currently.

Simply put, the Packers need more impact plays from their safety position. Their safeties laid a goose egg in the interception department last season, and even Morgan Burnett was surprisingly invisible in the secondary for a majority of the season.

Washington State Cougars safety Deone Bucannon. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports 

DRAFT OUTLOOK

Burnett’s versatility to play either free or strong safety does give the Packers some flexibility when drafting a safety, however.

They can go after a hard-hitting downhill player, like Louisville’s Calvin Pryor or Deone Bucannon from Washington State, or they could target a deep roaming center fielder who excels in coverage, like Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Florida State’s Terrence Brooks.

Northern Illinois’s Jimmie Ward is a balanced safety who could play either position, like Burnett, and also be found in an early round.

If the Packers don’t see the value there and pass on a safety in the draft, then we can assume their plan is to play Micah Hyde at free safety and start Burnett as their strong safety next season.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Draft Team Needs Green Bay Packers

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