The Green Bay Packers will use the NFL Draft in April to bring in some additional talent to fill holes that left the team just short of making another Super Bowl run in 2011.
By addressing these team needs, the Packers should be in great position to be Super Bowl favorites again following their spectacular 15-1 regular season last year.
It is still early in the offseason, and free agency could certainly change the Packers' needs going into the draft. With so much talent on the Packers' roster already, this offseason will most likely disappoint those looking for the Packers to make a big splash.
One of the names most mentioned when discussing the Packers' lack of production from the defensive line is Cullen Jenkins. Although it has been stated numerous times, the Packers never recovered from Jenkins' absence.
With such poor play on the defensive line, that is probably the Packers' biggest off-season need, with an outside linebacker a close second. This draft class features a surplus of talent at outside linebacker, so it wouldn't be a shock to see the Packers sit back and still get talent in the second round.
The Packers need a player who can come in and contribute to the pass rush alongside B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett on the defensive line. Improvement on the line should help Raji get to the quarterback and also alleviate some of the issues at outside linebacker.
The most glaring hole of the Packers defense was opposite league-wide star Clay Matthews at the right outside linebacker position. The Packers were able to mask their deficiencies at the position only so along before opposing offenses took advantage.
Erik Walden played the most snaps at the position, but Frank Zombo, Brad Jones and Vic So'oto all saw time at the position as the Packers did everything they could to find a player that could stick at the position.
That never happened in the 2011 season, and now the Packers will turn to the draft in order to find that player.
Most mock drafts have the Packers selecting an outside linebacker in the first or second rounds of the draft. Being a deep draft at the position, this could be a likely scenario, but it also wouldn't be a shock to see Ted Thompson trade up in an attempt to get Courtney Upshaw out of Alabama.
Uncertainty surrounds the Packers secondary with Nick Collins' playing status still up in the air after a neck injury ended his season in Week 2. Collins will meet with doctors in March to determine whether the standout safety will be back on the field in 2012.
If Collins is unable to return, safety becomes a big need for the Packers as backup-turned-starter Charlie Peprah struggled throughout the season. The Packers have an up-and-coming safety in Morgan Burnett who would highly benefit from having Collins, or another talented safety alongside him.
If Collins does return, safety isn't as big a need for the Packers, but the team could still benefit from depth at the position with Peprah, M.D. Jennings and a rookie competing for roster spots.
With free agency set to begin the next few weeks, the Packers have a decision to make regarding their starting center Scott Wells. The 31-year-old Wells has been the most consistent offensive linemen for the Packers over the last few seasons, but the team and player must come together or Wells could be gone.
If the Packers let Wells walk, they will quickly be in search for a replacement. Evan Dietrich-Smith has spent time playing the position and could fill in for Wells, but the Packers would most likely draft a successor in April.
Even if Wells is brought back, it may be time for the Packers to start grooming a potential successor for him.