If there’s one thing the Green Bay Packers have demonstrated in the past several years, it is their resilience and depth as a team.
This is a team that has been ravaged by injuries once again this season and has subsequently been forced to rely on backups, young players and even unsigned free agents to fill big shoes that have been sidelined.
The Packers can thank general manager Ted Thompson and his rare eye for drafting well for much of their depth. There have certainly been misses and rough patches, but overall Thompson has been able to build up the core of a team that will remain competitive for years to come.
In the 2013 NFL draft, the Packers will be looking to fill some offensive weaknesses and build up some additional depth defensively that will keep this already talent-rich team team competitive for years to come. Keep clicking for a peak at some prospects that might be of interest in the upcoming draft.
Regardless of whether Derek Sherrod is able to return from the broken leg he suffered against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Packers still need a lot of help along the offensive line. The backups who have taken over for injured starters this year are not ready to be starters. Some of them may never be able to take on the role of starter.
On top of that, they are also contending with age. Jeff Saturday is in the twilight of his career and will need to be replaced.
Barrett Jones offers the flexibility to train at multiple positions along the offensive line. He is capable of good run and pass protection right off the bat, and he’s intelligent enough to be the anchor of an offensive line for years to come.
The Packers need to look to the future and recognize that Ryan Pickett is 33 years old, and there is not a solid replacement waiting in the wings. Then there’s B.J. Raji, who will be a free agent in 2014 and whose price may be more than the Packers want to pay.
Replacing those two is going to be a tall order, and Ted Thompson would be wise to start preparing for Pickett’s certain departure and Raji’s potential one this year. Jerel Worthy may be able to slide into nose tackle, but that still leaves a hole at defensive end.
Margus Hunt could be an answer here. He is a tall, dangerous special teams weapon who has specialized in blocking kicks—a talent the Packers could put to use immediately.
Even better, after a slow start to the 2012 season, he has improved to be a strong defensive presence that makes fairly consistent impact plays. He would be a good fit in the 3-4 defense the Packers run and is certainly worthy of consideration.
With an early draft pickup of Barrett Jones and (fingers crossed) the return of Derek Sherrod, the Packers would be sitting better along the offensive line. This is still an area where they are thinner than they should be, though.
Oday Aboushi is a prospect who shows flashes of greatness. He lacks some consistency, but with a year or two as a backup, he has the potential to develop into a solid left tackle in the NFL.
There is pretty good depth in this year’s offensive line draft class, so projecting Aboushi to still be available in the third round isn’t much of a stretch.
The Packers field four linebackers, and while the current stable of players has been sufficient, they have not been remarkable. This has become painfully obvious as Clay Matthews missed time this season.
At this point in the draft, with most of his glaring needs addressed, it becomes time for Ted Thompson to really start looking for players who could be potential diamonds in the rough.
Bruce Taylor has been all over the field for Virginia Tech, putting up 65 tackles, a forced fumble and 5.5 sacks. He has plenty of raw talent to work with and could evolve into an impact player over time.
Greg Jennings is a free agent this season, and he may want more money than the Packers can pay him. Donald Driver likely won’t be coming back.
The Packers have tons of talent at wide receiver between James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, and they have Jarrett Boykin waiting in the wings to take a bigger role, but they will probably want to turn to the draft to start bringing in some new blood.
Marquess Wilson is a talented junior who has good hands and a nose for reeling in contested catches. He lacks the speed that would make him a deep threat, but the Packers already have that in other go-to options.
In addition to his lack of explosiveness, Wilson has also had some problems with the coaching staff at Washington State that may push him lower in the draft than his talent commands. Green Bay has taken in bad boy players in the past and had good success, though, so Wilson is certainly an option worth keeping an eye on.
After the latest pair of misses by Mason Crosby, it is clear that something has to change moving forward for Green Bay.
At this point in the season it seems unlikely that Mike McCarthy will look to bring in someone new since he has been consistently staunch in his insistence that Crosby is still his guy. In the offseason, however, all cards are off the table.
Crosby needs some serious competition in training camp this season if the Packers don’t cut him outright at the end of the season. Caleb Sturgis is an excellent kicker who should be able to give Crosby a run for his money and could grab hold of the opportunity to make himself a long-term solution in Green Bay.
With the final pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring in a young cornerback who could be developed over time. The Pack has plenty of young talent here, but the extra competition that a late-round draft pick can bring to training camp can’t hurt.
Taking a look at Trey Wilson from Vanderbilt wouldn’t be a bad idea. He is Casey Hayward’s former teammate, and they played well together, but Wilson played just as well this year without Hayward.
He has shown that he can be a disruptive force on the field, putting together a 2012 campaign with 31 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Although he is not a top talent, he could be developed into a nice acquisition with patience.