Last month, I wrote about the Packers' need for a true 3-4 defensive end. In the article, I stated that the Packers need to fill the hole at that position on day one of the NFL Draft. Offensive tackle, nose tackle, and outside linebacker seem to be the other holes worthy of being filled on day one.
Today, I will sort out what the Packers really need and who they should be looking at when it's their time to draft at No. 9.
I will start with outside linebacker. While many people will tell you there isn't one true 3-4 outside linebacker on this team, I will tell you it doesn't matter right now.
Aaron Kampman will be moving from the D-line to the pass-rushing linebacker position in the new scheme. Also, mainstays Nick Barnett, AJ Hawk, Brady Poppinga, and Brandon Chillar will fill out the main part of the linebacking corps. This gives Dom Capers a talented and deep group. He can fit them where they need to be and play to their strengths.
Also, there are numerous OLBs to choose from in later rounds. With that being said, I remove 3-4 outside linebacker from the "biggest hole to fill" list. As we all know, outside linebacker is not THE foundation for a good defense.
That title is left to the defensive line where two needs are present: nose tackle and defensive end.
Currently, Ryan Pickett is penciled in as the starter at nose tackle. He's a good player, but he can't do it all on his own. They'll need to find someone to rotate in sometimes. BJ Raji is the best nose tackle available, but not the only one.
Moving on to defensive end, Cullen Jenkins resembles the only true 3-4 type on this team. Justin Harrell, Johnny Jolly, and Mike Montgomery will also gets reps there, but none of them has the body for the position.
Tyson Jackson and Evander Hood are 3-4 DEs expected to be selected in the first round, with Jackson drawing more and more interest every day.
Both nose tackle and defensive end will compete for the No. 9 pick.
On the other side of the ball, only offensive tackle is a serious need for the Packers. The Packers need both a starter and depth, meaning they will probably look to draft multiple guys at this position.
Chad Clifton looks older every day and Mark Tauscher appears to be one knee injury away from never playing again. After that, a few unproven youngsters like Tony Moll and Breno Giacomini are left.
This means the Packers will be looking at guys like Andre Smith and Michael Oher in the first round. Smith will likely be available at No. 9 and merely two months ago was the best prospect at the position.
Offensive tackle might be the biggest need on this team and will compete with the defensive line for top billing.
That leaves the choices looking like this:
OLB - Everette Brown
NT - BJ Raji
DE - Tyson Jackson
OT - Andre Smith, Michael Oher
As I stated before, OLB is not the most pressing need for a first round pick, so I remove Everette Brown and all other OLBs from the discussion. Look for the Packers to pick a linebacker in the second round or later.
Raji is the best defensive lineman in the draft and will draw serious consideration from the eight teams slated to pick before the Packers. I can see him not being available either because one of those teams drafted him or someone trades up to get him.
On most draft boards I've seen, Tyson Jackson rounds out the top 15 players. While in my mind it wouldn't be a reach to select him at No. 9, if Ted Thompson has him rated as the 15th best, then he won't select Jackson.
Andre Smith and Michael Oher are two offensive tackles who, only two months ago, were predicted to be drafted somewhere in the first five selections. Smith is the better of the two and should be a great choice at No. 9. He can be a starter on most teams and will have many Pro Bowl-type years.
Therefore, I believe the Packers should narrow their choices to these three players: BJ Raji, Tyson Jackson, and Andre Smith. There is a great chance that one of them will be available. They are the safest and best choices in my opinion and will have an immediate and lasting impact on this franchise. Good luck Packers!
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