Packers 2021 pre-draft preview: Inside linebacker early?
Inside linebacker is often ignored by the Green Bay Packers early in the draft.
From Leighton Vander Esch to Patrick Queen to Myles Jack, the Packers have had plenty of opportunities in recent years to draft an inside linebacker early. Each time they’ve passed up the opportunity.
Is it time for that to change?
Free agency recap
The Packers made the decision to release Christian Kirksey just one year after signing him in free agency. Kirksey was signed to replace Blake Martinez in 2020.
Need in the draft?
Yes. If it was a need when Martinez signed elsewhere last year, it’s a need again now that his replacement is gone. Yes, Krys Barnes impressed in his rookie season and Kamal Martin could develop into a good player, but there’s a lot of uncertainty at middle linebacker for the Packers.
ESPN’s Mike Clay graded every position group on the roster, and by far the lowest grade was at inside linebacker. Only the Los Angeles Rams received a lower grade at linebacker.
Linebacker is an area the Packers should consider upgrading in the draft, and they could do so with talented players like Jamin Davis, Zaven Collins, or Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the early rounds.
The question for Green Bay is whether it needs to look for an inside linebacker early on or whether it can wait. There’s no doubt that cornerback is a more important position, so would the Packers be better off drafting a corner early and coming back for an inside linebacker later on?
It’s been a long time since the Packers had a game-changing talent at inside linebacker, but it could be exactly what they need to reach the next level on defense. A player who can help shut down the run and cover running backs and tight ends in the middle of the field.
To find that player, Green Bay might need to consider drafting a linebacker early.