Top 5 Most Pressing Needs for the Green Bay Packers Post-Free Agency
Another frantic first week of free agency has come and gone and, as per usual, the Green Bay Packers were as far from the center of the action as you can get.
They made a few tentative inquiries, but ultimately, they wouldn't move past their price point and ended up not doing much of anything.
Which is merely par for the course.
All this is likely a good thing, by the way, as the team can roll over cap space to next year to help deal with some potentially enormous contracts which will be coming up.
That does leave a few areas of need that haven't been dealt with. Let's take a look at the five most pressing.
5. Wide Receiver
I'd imagine some have a receiver higher on the "to do" list, while others might not have it on the list at all.
The Pack has Randall Cobb coming off an incredibly productive second season, James Jones coming off his best year as a pro and Jordy Nelson coming off an injury-filled 2012.
After that, there isn't really much of anything, and while three very good receivers is enough, we saw last year that sometimes it isn't. Greg Jennings left for Minnesota (though he was rarely injury free the last two season) and Donald Driver retired, so if Nelson can't shake the injury bug or Cobb/Jones get hurt or regress, there isn't a replacement.
The upcoming draft has a lot of excellent receivers to chose from, so expect them to address this need early in the draft rather than reach out to one of the few remaining free agents still casting about for a home.
Here's another position that I seem to differ a bit on with others.
With Morgan Burnett, plus the combination of M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian, I don't see this as a desperate need. I happen to believe in both of the young players, especially with the support of a player like Burnett.
That said, it's a position they could and should continue to look at, and if the right fit comes along—via draft or free agency—they should jump at the opportunity to add more consistent depth.
3. Running Back
DuJuan Harris is the guy I point to when Packers fans get upset about missing on Steven Jackson.
I'm a big believer in Harris and his ability to carry the ball a ton for the Packers. I like Alex Green in a reserve or backup role and I don't trust James Starks to stay healthy or effective.
So I'm a bit split on this. On the one hand, I am confident in Harris' ability to be the main guy. On the other, I'm not confident in the backups. Beyond that, having another back who compliments Harris' tough running style is smart. Get a guy who is a "home run" hitter with a little more dynamics.
This is going to require a dip into the draft because as much as a guy like Ahmad Bradshaw looks good on paper, his history of foot injuries is a huge red flag.
Unfortunately for so many fans who would like to see Alabama running back Eddie Lacey in a Packers uniform, GM Ted Thompson doesn't spend early picks on backs.
So expect a back no earlier than Day 2, though there will definitely be one during the draft.
2. Defensive Tackle
With Raji's contract up at the end of this season, it's just good business to plan for the future without him. Even if he returns there's no depth behind him.
Beyond that, the middle of the field was susceptible to run plays and that has to stop. Overall the defense improved over their 2011 effort (how could it not?), but it still fell short of expectations, especially against the run.
A tackle who could not only stop up the run, but rush the passer on occasion would be ideal— especially as the pass rush continued to be an issue for the Packers' defense last season. This only takes on more importance with second-year defensive end Jerel Worthy likely to be on the PUP to start the season. A tackle who could also pressure the quarterback would be a big help.
1. Offensive Line
There probably won't be a surefire offensive lineman worth Green Bay's pick in the first round. That said, if there is, they should pounce.
Evan Dietrich-Smith was OK at center, but overall fits better as a utility swingman. Meanwhile, Marshall Newhouse improved at left tackle, but not enough.
This offensive line gave up an extraordinary amount of sacks last year, and while some of that is on Aaron Rodgers for holding the ball too long, a ton of it falls on the line. If you watch the games closely, there are huge stretches where it almost doesn't matter how quick Rodgers gets the ball off before the defense gets hands on him.
While there certainly won't be a center worth a first-round pick, it's possible a tackle might fall into their lap—perhaps a D.J. Fluker—who could provide an upgrade on the line.
Even if the Packers have to wait for a round or so, they need to do something about the offensive line which, while it has some very good players, struggles too much as a whole.
Where do you think the most critical needs are? What should they target in the draft and when? Let me know down in the comments.
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