The Packers enter the 2012 offseason looking like a team who can compete for a title year in and year out for the near future. They have a strong core of talent, headed by Pro Bowlers like Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings and of course, your NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.
Packers’ fans have good times to look forward to on the horizon, as this cheese head team should only get better in the upcoming years with all their youth.
No team is perfect, however, and the Packers have some noticeable holes on the defensive side of the ball. Outside linebacker has been an issue ever since Green Bay switched to a 3-4 defense, and Cullen Jenkins left a monstrous hole at defensive end that led a horrible Packers' pass rush in 2012.
The Packers don't usually land big name free agents during the offseason, so it will be important for Green Bay to patch up some major weak spots through the draft this season.
All of the following youngsters have the potential to be contributors in Green Bay, and should be seriously considered by Ted Thompson come April.
As much as Green Bay needs an outside linebacker, Jerel Worthy would be good value at the end of the first round and help fill another major hole on the defensive line.
The Packers struggled to get any pass rush up the middle this season, and the loss of Cullen Jenkins really seemed to hurt B.J. Raji, who had a great year rushing the passer in 2010.
Worthy would give the Packers a disruptive presence up the middle that could collapse the pocket and make life easier for Clay Matthews and company. At 6'5'', 310 pounds, Jerel has perfect size for a 3-4 defensive end, and while his motor has been a question at times, Worthy had the ability to dominate a game in college.
Green Bay needs another dominant player in the front seven to put their pass rush on the map, and Worthy has the potential to be that guy.
With a little coaching, this kid could become the guy Mike Neal was supposed to be and more.
Green Bay: trades AJ Hawk, 2012 second-round pick and 2013 future fourth-round pick
Panthers: trades 40th overall pick of 2012 NFL draft and their sixth-round pick of the 2012 draft
Green Bay needs to be aggressive in this year’s draft to make up for some poor moves during last offseason, and Thompson capitalizes here by trading up to grab a good, young pass rusher in Vinny Curry.
With 11.5 sacks last year, there's no doubt Curry knows how to get after the quarterback. He had an outstanding season for Marshall, winning Conference USA defensive player of the year in the process.
Ted Thompson has had a history of success drafting players from small schools, and that will continue if he is able to trade up and land Curry. Vinny would start immediately in this Packers defense, and he, and Jerel Worthy, could turn around this Packers defense overnight.
Both are talented players, and combined with B.J. Raji, Desmond Bishop and Clay Matthews, this Green Bay pass rush could become as dangerous as it was in 2010.
After drafting a running back in the third round last year (Alex Green), the Packers come right back around and do it again in 2012.
Except this time, the player they are drafting has a little more star power.
Green Bay lands one of the most explosive players in this year's draft: LaMichael James.
There are some questions around James' ability to play consistently at the next level, but there's no denying the kind of pure ability that this kid has.
James has enviable speed that at times has been clocked in the 4.3's during the 40 yard dash. He's quick in and out of breaks, and he has a burst that can leave opposing defenders in the dust.
He can catch pretty well, and he was one of the most productive backs in college football throughout his tenure at Oregon.
While this all sounds great, James has noticeable limitations that will hurt his draft stock in April. His size (5'9'', 190 pounds) and durability aren't up to par for an every down back in the NFL.
In Green Bay, however, he could become the explosive third down back that the Packers have been looking for. He would be a nice compliment to James Starks, becoming a more explosive version of Ryan Grant.
James would be able to contribute right away to an already star-studded Packers offense.
With Nick Collins' NFL future in question after suffering a devastating neck injury against the Panthers last season, Green Bay needs to add some depth at safety whether Collins is able to return or not.
Taking Thope here in the fourth round gives the Packers a security blanket for the future if Nick can't make a comeback next season. Green Bay knows that Charlie Peprah isn't a long term option as a starter, after playing poorly most of last season, but Thorpe certainly has the ability too.
Nieko's large frame (6'3'', 200 pounds) allowed him to make all kinds of plays for Auburn's defense last season. He had 94 tackles throughout last season, playing well in run support throughout the SEC season.
The converted corner can also cover pretty well in the back end, and he has good enough size and speed to cover elite NFL tight ends.
While Thorpe is far from a finished product, he has the potential to be a quality starter in the future.
In most cases, I don't think it would be logical for the Packers to grab a backup quarterback this high in the draft.
However, if Kirk Cousins falls this late to Green Bay, it would be great value at (sort of) a position of need. Matt Flynn will make his undeniable departure this offseason, leaving the Packers a bit soft behind Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
It's becoming more important for a team to have a quality backup signal-caller that they can rely on (See Chicago Bears), which would make Cousins a valuable addition to this Packers squad.
Kirk has the mobility and arm strength needed to play at the next level, and with a little coaching, he could become the next Matt Flynn in Green Bay.
I've liked Blanton to Green Bay in the late rounds for a while now because it really seems like Robert would be a perfect fit for the Packers.
Blanton has great size for a corner, and he has shown the ability to disrupt receivers off the line in recent games.
At 6'1'', 200 pounds, Blanton made life miserable for wideouts at the Senior Bowl. With his long arms and solid frame, Robert has the ability to jam bigger wide receivers and knock them off their routes.
While his natural ball-hawking instincts have been a concern in the past, Blanton would bring the size and physicality the Packers cornerbacks have lacked since Al Harris left town.
Green Bay's defensive backs got bullied by large wide receivers this season (Vincent Jackson, Calvin Johnson, Hakeem Nicks, etc.), so drafting Blanton late to help improve the Packers' secondary could turn out to be a big steal.
The Packers have had a lot of success drafting and developing late round offensive linemen in the past, as four of their five starters last year were drafted in the fourth round or later.
With Chad Clifton nearing the end of his career, the Packers need to bring in an offensive tackle that can provide depth and competition to Derek Sherrod and Marshall Newhouse next season.
Carmon's a guy who could fill that role, as his size (6'7'', 320 pounds) and quick feet are optimal for an NFL tackle. James has dealt with some injuries in the past, which will make him a late-round pick during this year’s NFL draft.
That concern shouldn't stop Green Bay from taking a chance on him, however, as Carmon has the ability to be a nice starter down the road.
With Derek Sherrod and Marshall Newhouse both looking like below average options at left tackle during this point in their careers, drafting Carmon in the late rounds could be a God-send in the future.
Sending AJ Hawk to the Panthers leaves a bit of a hole at inside linebacker, and while I think D.J. Smith without doubt has the ability to become the starter, adding some depth could never hurt.
With their last pick, Green Bay goes after a highly productive inside linebacker from TCU in Tank Carder.
Carder has some limitations athletically, which will cause him to fall late into the draft. However, it's hard to just throw out all of his great play in college just because he doesn't have the fastest 40 time.
The two time Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year had 230 tackles, six sacks, and three interceptions returned for touchdowns during his career with the Horned Frogs.
The production's obviously there for Carder, and his instincts are some of the best in the country at his position. While he will probably never be a star in the NFL, Tank would provide the Packers with quality depth and special teams play.