With the upcoming NFL draft this Saturday, fans are eager in anticipation of players that could potentially make their team better for the next five years.
Coming off a disappointing 6-10 season, Ted Thompson looks to add players to Dom Caper's newly installed 3-4 defense. The Packers lost seven games by four points or less last year, and are not far away from their 13-3 season two years ago.
This offseason is an important one for Mike McCarthy and Thompson. Last season had few bright moments such as the emergence of Aaron Rodgers and budding superstar Greg Jennings, but a woeful defense and special teams kept the Packers from returning to the playoffs.
The most glaring holes on the roster Thompson needs to address include:
- a starting outside linebacker to compliment Aaron Kampman
- a 3-4 defensive end to complement Cullen Jenkins
- a nose tackle to help rotate Ryan Pickett
- a right tackle to replace Mark Tauscher, and a left tackle to eventually replace Chad Clifton
- a punter
Obviously, the biggest problem last year was the defense. With a team that not only blew many late game leads, the Packers were 26th in the league in rushing yards allowed (4.5 yards a carry), and failed to apply pressure with a paltry 27 sacks (25th in the league).
For Thompson, the small roster additions that have provided depth through free agency this offseason show the draft is where the most important players will be picked to help better the team.
With the ninth overall selection, Green Bay needs an impact player who will immediately start. This pick should not be chosen for depth purposes due to the few, but for large holes that need to be addressed this offseason.
If Green Bay had the first overall selection, I would not be surprising if Tyson Jackson were the player they would select.
- Matthew Stanford and Mark Sanchez would not be drafted for the sole purpose of being a backup quarterback.
- Aaron Curry would provide depth behind Nick Barnett and AJ Hawk at inside linebacker.
- BJ Raji would provide rotational depth behind Ryan Pickett, but has never experienced playing a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense.
- Michael Crabtree would battle for the third wide receiver slot with third year James Jones and second year Jordy Nelson.
- Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe, and Michael Oher would warrant strong consideration, yet the defense needs more help than the offense. Don't even bring up Andre Smith and his pathetic work ethic.
- Brian Orakpo would also deserve a serious look as well as Everette Brown and Aaron Maybin.
The reason Jackson makes the most sense is depth in the draft. At 6'5" and 290 pounds, Jackson is large enough to fill the void at defensive end.
What even makes him more valuable is the small amount of quality 3-4 ends in the 2009 draft class. Evander Hood is ranked as the second best 3-4 end, yet is a second round prospect.
It is important not to overestimate the value of a defensive end as well as overlooking important talents like Brian Orakpo, but this draft class is littered with quality outside linebackers that can be had in the second round—Larry English, Connor Barwin, Paul Kruger, and Clint Sintim.
The way teams view drafting is to not only draft the best players available, but players who can fill holes as well as the availability of prospects at certain positions in later rounds of the draft.
My argument is not for the Packers to draft Jackson just because of the large amount of outside linebackers that can be taken in the second round, but because Jackson fills an important hole that needs to be addressed and he has the necessary tools to be an impact player on the defensive line.
Even though the Packers don't have the No. 1 selection, I do believe they will select the player they would have wanted if they were in Detroit's position—Jackson.