Oct 26, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier (2) gets a defensive signal from the sideline against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won 63-14. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft - Green Bay Packers Biggest Opportunities

Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

As an eternal optimist I am excited about the opportunities for the Green Bay Packers and the 2014 NFL Draft. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, the Packers have a luxury that only a handful of NFL teams possess, and that is they can primarily draft for depth.

Of course they have some positions where an upgrade is a must. For example, the safety position where Micah Hyde, who played in the slot in 2013 as a rookie, is now penciled in next to Morgan Burnett.

Hyde is a dynamic football player, but does he have the speed or even adequate size to be an every down safety? And at inside linebacker incumbents A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones often draw the ire of fans. It is safe to say the clock is ticking on both of their time in the Green & Gold.

Outside of those two spots it comes down to adding quality depth, guys who can step in should or when a starter goes down. In Green Bay, of course, the motto is “Next Man Up.” But as we know 2013 didn’t necessarily demonstrate that the Packers were prepared to deal with the inevitabilities of the NFL.

Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been one to get too worked up in assuming who the Packers may select on draft day. Ted Thompson loses a lot of sleep and makes a plethora of sacrifices to bring aboard the next round of Packer hopefuls. But from my view from the couch, there are certainly some needs to be filled.

I would be super excited to see C.J. Mosely become an inside linebacker for the Packers. Nor would I be disappointed if Ryan Shazier wore the Green & Gold. I like A.J. Hawk, he’s solid and stable, a glue guy, if you will. Beside him the Packers need a dynamic athlete who can make plays in space, cover an agile tight end or running back in the passing game, a guy who can get home on a blitz and stuff the run – point blank … a difference maker.

It’s funny how the opinion has changed during the offseason on the Packers’ biggest position of need. Following the playoff loss to the 49ers the consensus was the Packers needed an upgrade at safety. Heading up to the draft many argue that inside linebacker is the priority.

Louisville Cardinals safety Calvin Pryor Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Louisville Cardinals safety Calvin Pryor
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Fortunately or unfortunately many mock drafts reveal situations in which the Packers may have to choose Mosley or Shazier over a safety such as Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. That is a tough call. If it were mine to make I would, with some hesitation take Mosley or Shazier.

Knowing that Casey Hayward will return in 2014 and that the Packers have relative depth in the defensive backfield opens the door to the Micah Hyde-at-safety experiment. Therefore the opportunity to draft a potentially game-changing inside linebacker seems too good to pass up.

As we say in Packers Nation, In Ted We Trust. And draft day is when our faith is renewed.

Here’s looking at you, Ted!

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft C.J. Mosely Green Bay Packers Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Ryan Shazier

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