Which Way Do the Packers Go in the 1st Round of the 2013 NFL Draft?
Free agency is behind us, which isn't really all that different for Packers fans than any other time of the year.
The Packers, as is also very common for them, are once again picking deep in the first round at No. 26.
For a team which has been a recent Super Bowl Champion and a yearly participant in the playoffs for some time now, this is actually a team that has multiple needs which could be addressed in the first round.
Since nobody knows what Ted Thompson will do (not even what he'll eat for lunch today), I thought a little crowd sourcing was in order.
Today we'll talk about what I feel are the three most likely positions the Packers can attack in the first round. I'll state the case for each and also mention at the end which one I would do.
The Case for the Trade Option
Should the Packers trade back out of the first?
I'm willing to bet we see an onslaught of effort to get back into the first round by teams in the early second. It may all depend on who drops.
Who that could be is nearly impossible the tell, as is how far. The only consistent note I've heard from people (both media and scouts) is that every team's board has a different top quarterback.
So any number of players could be there for the 26th pick—which means that any number of teams could be interested.
Now, of course the Packers have needs to fill and the quality of player at No. 26 is better than the ones they will find if they wait until the late second round.
However, having the aforementioned multiple needs, the Packers can really use all the picks they can get, and one of those is probably an early second rounder.
The drop-off from late first to early second isn't all that far and more than likely, the Packers will get a very good player to fill a need, as well as more picks.
The Case for Offensive Line
More than likely this would be a guard, but I could see a tackle still here—perhaps Alabama's D.J. Fluker—especially since I think T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton are perfectly fine at both guard spots. However, they need some more depth.
I don't love Evan Dietrich-Smith in a full-time role. Derek Sherrod is still an unknown and the team needs better than Marshall Newhouse at left tackle.
The big question is, will there be a worthwhile player there? Could they draft a guard and shift Lang to tackle full-time and move a healthy Bryan Bulaga?
Of the three I feel this is the hardest to see panning out—the line needs improvement, but there is a good chance we will see a lot of tackles and guards gone, so 26 may be a no man's land for those positions.
The Case for Edge-Rusher
Jerel Worthy could start the season on the PUP list, while the jury is still out on Nick Perry.
If a defensive end or outside linebacker is sitting at No. 26, it'd would be awfully hard to let him slide by.
There should be plenty of players to choose from as well, though there are likely to be more linebackers than defensive ends from what I've heard (of course, it is smokescreen season).
The Packers improved their pass rush, but too much of that was reliant upon Clay Matthews. There have to be other options for the team and the end of the first round will have many options to choose from—all of whom have a tremendous amount of potential.
The Case for Safety
I'll admit—I was not a proponent of this plan for a while. There were a few reasons for this.
First, I happen to really believe in M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian. I believe both players can continue to develop into excellent safety options and, when paired with Morgan Burnett, be really effective.
The second issue I had was that I really didn't love the top safety options. Matt Elam and Jonathan Cyprien are good safeties but I wasn't sold on them at the end of the first.
Then I started watching games for both players and really changed my mindset.
While I am still bullish on Jennings/McMillian, I can also see the attraction to both Elam and Cyprien.
Elam is a really physical safety who I think would be a big help in run defense, and can make some game changing plays against the pass (though he does get too aggressive). Meanwhile, Cyprien flashes the better ball skills but can be a sloppy tackler, despite a willingness to hit.
The question is, would the team be better served waiting a round and grabbing a guy like Shamarko Thomas? How great is the drop-off from Elam or Cyprien to the next tier?
Barring a trade, what should the Packers take at No. 26?
I've come 180 degrees here—from being wholly committed to "edge rusher or bust" to feeling as though Elam or Cyprien at safety is the smarter call.
My preference would be to trade out but barring that (and assuming talent is available for any position) I say that safety is the direction.
There are some very good pass-rushers in the second round, but I feel it's a lot riskier to wait on a safety.
What are your thoughts? Vote in the polls (both of them) and add your thoughts below—including if there is a position you feel isn't on here which should be.
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