3. Make an investment at middle linebacker
Ted Thompson essentially ignored the middle linebacker position when he was the team’s general manager. After making a poor selection with A.J. Hawk at number five overall in 2006, and picking Abdul Hodge later in that same draft, the Packers never made another draft investment at middle linebacker higher than the fourth round.
Former defensive coordinator Dom Capers and Mike McCarthy deserve criticism for their inability to improve the team’s suspect defense year after year, but there is only so much they can do when the players in the teeth of the defense are undrafted rookies or late-round draft picks that aren’t ready to man an entire position group.
D.J. Smith, Jamari Lattimore, Brad Jones, A.J. Hawk, Sam Barrington, and Nate Palmer are what McCarthy was given to work with. This forced McCarthy to eventually move Clay Matthews to middle linebacker midway through the 2014 season, hurting the team’s already average pass rush.
Blake Martinez, who is coming off an impressive second season in Green Bay, may be the team’s first hit at the position in forever, but Brian Gutekunst will have to find another body to upgrade over former fourth-round pick Jake Ryan.