2012 NFL Draft: 5 Things the Green Bay Packers Should Do with Their Picks
With a disappointing end to the 2011 season, the Green Bay Packers have some glaring holes that need to be filled.
The Packers offense was first in points, averaging 35 per game. However, their defense had clear holes. They were last in passing defense and struggling getting to the quarterback.
Let's take a look at what the Packers need to do in this year's draft to get back to the Super Bowl.
1. Outside Linebacker
The Packers rarely put pressure on the quarterback last season. They were ranked 27th in the league in sacks with 29, which was the primary reason they could not stop the pass.
The previous season, the Packers were second in the league with 47 sacks. This ugly turnaround had the Packers scratching their heads and is something that needs to get fixed.
In the 3-4 defense, the outside linebacker is a key position when it comes to sacking the quarterback. They need to be able to run blitz schemes effectively and be quick off the line.
On the edge, linebacker Clay Matthews gets all the attention from offenses. He was routinely double-teamed, which made him ineffective. Other players could not get by the offensive line, which created time for the quarterback to pick apart the Packers secondary.
For the Packers to improve next season, they need to get their primary need, which is outside linebacker.
The good thing about the Packers defense is that it has playmakers. It led the league in interceptions and have plenty of ball hogs on the team.
Unfortunately, one of the Packers' best defenders, Charles Woodson, is nearing the end of his career.
The Packers need to prepare now for when Woodson does retire and start the developing process now. Sam Shields is a good cornerback but he is not the answer as of now to fill his place.
Another reason a cornerback need to be drafted is because of Nick Collins.
His status is still up in the air but will be known before the draft. However, the Packers still need to be concerned about his future. If there is a setback and Collins can't play, they have talked about moving Woodson to safety. This would take out a valuable player at cornerback, as well as putting Woodson in a position he has never played.
If the Packers do go to this, they will need to draft a shutdown corner to go along with Tramon Williams and Shields.
This might sound familiar, but if Collins is not healthy for this season, the Packers are going to need some help.
It was discussed already that Woodson may move from cornerback to safety, but if he doesn't make the move, the Packers will need a safety.
Charlie Peprah replaced Collins after his neck injury in Week 2. He was a decent replacement, racking up five interceptions that put him second on the team. However, he was picked on a lot and was a clear liability in the pass defense.
Even if Collins does come this year, drafting a safety will be a good idea for the Packers to add more depth at the position. Keeping Peprah and adding a safety to play behind Morgan Burnett would be a good fit for the Packers.
4. Running Back
A clear hole in the offense is there running game. The Packers were ranked 27th in the run last year, which featured running backs Ryan Grant and James Starks.
Both backs struggled for most of the year and made the Packers a one-dimensional team. The team has carried these running backs as far as they can go, and it's time for a change.
Grant will be a free agent this year and the Packers should not re-sign him. As for Starks, he can still be a good fit for the team—just not as the starting running back. If they want to use him for passing situations, that's fine.
However, in the first day of the draft, the Packers need to find a running back.
If any kind of run game is provided for this explosive passing attack, it could mean trouble for the rest of the league. If they are successful running the ball, it can create play-action passes and provide Aaron Rodgers with more time to throw the ball.
This is not a typo. The Packers need a quarterback and there is no getting around it.
Rodgers will still be the quarterback for next season. What needs to be addressed is the backup position. Matt Flynn showed that he was a quality backup and will most likely be leaving the team through free agency this season.
Most teams who have a franchise quarterback don't consider backups. That can cause problems for the organization. Look at what happened to the Indianapolis Colts. They lost Peyton Manning for the year and only won two games. The same team that routinely makes the playoffs with Manning under center.
Quarterbacks are one of the most vulnerable positions when it comes to getting hurt. Every team should be prepare with someone who can take over and do a decent job. The Packers did that with Matt Flynn but will need to do it again this upcoming draft.
Rodgers was sacked a lot last season and has been prone to getting hurt in his short playing career. In 2010, he was plagued with concussions, and in 2006 he broke his leg while replacing Brett Favre in a blowout win.
The Packers are not far off from where they were in 2010. If they make the right moves in the draft this year, they will find themselves in the Super Bowl again.