The Green Bay Packers have won 26 regular season games since 2011 and possess one of the game's top quarterbacks, but there's fear their roster has fallen behind other NFC heavyweights.
As the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks stockpile assets in the NFC West, and the Atlanta Falcons reload for another run, the Packers can only look forward to the 2013 NFL draft for roster help. Thanks to general manager Ted Thompson's reluctance in free agency, the draft will always be Green Bay's best avenue to fill needs.
Thompson will enter this month's draft with eight picks in his holster—one in each round and a compensatory pick in the fifth.
In the following slides, we'll provide a one-stop shop for all the Packers news, reports and rumors regarding the 2013 NFL draft. The tracker will update consistently over the next three weeks as the draft approaches, so stick here for everything you'll need.
April 21: According to Ty Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Packers met with Georgia defensive lineman Kwame Geathers at the NFL combine. A 6'6", 335-pound mountain of a man, Geathers is expected to be a Day 3 pick.
April 18: According to Jason La Canfora, the Packers have "done a lot of work" on Georgia Southern safety J.J. Wilcox. La Canfora predicts the fast-rising safety will be off the board by the third round.
April 14: In his mock draft at the Chicago Tribune, Dan Pompei calls SMU defensive end Margus Hunt a type of player Packers general manager Ted Thompson would like. He mocked Hunt to the Packers at No. 26 overall.
April 14: Gil Brandt of NFL.com believes Florida State's Menelik Watson, a popular mock-draft pick for the Packers, can play left tackle in the NFL. He ranks as Brandt's 23rd best player in the 2013 draft.
April 10: Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opines that the Packers would be "smart to strike" on Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker if he's available at No. 26 overall.
April 7: Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette opines that versatile San Jose State offensive tackle David Quessenberry "fits the profile" of a Packers draft pick.
The following players have visited or will visit the Packers: DL Byron Jerideau, South Carolina; OLB La'Gared Davis, SMU; OLB Andy Mulumba, Eastern Michigan; WR Eric Rogers, Cal Lutheran; FB Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard; CB Rashaan Melvin, Northern Illinois; WR Charles Johnson, Grand Valley State; S Don Jones, Arkansas State; FB Ina Liaina, San Jose State; WR Kevin Dorsey, Maryland; G Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State; OLB Nate Palmer, Illinois State; CB Jumal Rolle, Catawba; DE Mike Catapano, Princeton; RB Michael Hill, Missouri Western; C Patrick Lewis, Texas A&M; S Jakar Hamilton, South Carolina State.
ESPN (Mel Kiper, Jr., 4/4): RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
The Packers caught lightning in a bottle with the unknown DuJuan Harris late in 2012, but this is still an offense that has struggled to run the football for most of the last three seasons. Adding a back that can take some heat off Aaron Rodgers is still a big need.
ESPN (Todd McShay, 4/10): OL Justin Pugh, Syraucse
There's no doubt that the Packers have question marks at tackle, especially with Derek Sherrod still recovering from a nasty 2011 leg break. But this is a deeper position than most realize, with four capable options in Marshall Newhouse, Bryan Bulaga, Sherrod and Don Barclay.
Sports Illustrated (Don Banks, 4/5): TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Jermichael Finley is making nearly $9 million in 2013, but the position is shaky following next season, when Finley will be an unrestricted free agent. There's very little in terms of playmaking ability behind him.
National Football Post (Russ Lande, 4/3): RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
A battering ram with deceptive speed, Lacy is considered by many to be the draft's top back.
CBS Sports (Rob Rang, 4/2): S Matt Elam, Florida
The Packers have struggled to replace former Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins. The hard-hitting Elam could be an immediate starter next to Morgan Burnett in 2013.
April 22: Bill Huber of Packer Report was told by a source that the Packers "might" be willing to move down in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. While hardly a rock-solid report, it does highlight the talent level in this draft, especially in the late first-round range. The Packers likely feel they can get a similarly-talented player at, say, No. 35 overall as they would at No. 26.
The question is a legitimate one.
The Green Bay Packers have a number of needs, but running back is almost certainly situated at or near the top of those needs. But as the running back position has waned in value, so has the propensity for the position to be drafted high.
And so the Packers are now stuck with a draft decision: At No. 26 overall, does Ted Thompson pull the trigger on a potential difference-making running back?
Alabama's Eddie Lacy ranks as the top back on the draft board of many, and he'd be the kind of inside-the-tackles bruiser that the Packers haven't possessed in some time. He'd also be an ideal complement to DuJuan Harris, last season's unknown dynamo that quickly carved out a role in the Packers offense.
But for the Packers to acquire Lacy, it will likely take the No. 26 pick. Thompson and the rest of the Packers staff will have to decide what kind of value fixing the running back position will bring to the Green Bay offense in 2013 and if it's equal to a late first-round pick.
The last time we saw the Packers defense, Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers were approaching 600 yards in a 45-point rout of Dom Capers' unit. While that side of the football clearly made strides for Green Bay in 2012, the Packers would struggle to argue they possess a championship-quality defense.
A quick scan over the defensive roster reveals clear needs, including a disruptive 3-4 defensive end, starting safety and depth at outside linebacker.
UCLA's Datone Jones and SMU's Margus Hunt are potential first-round options at defensive end. The 2013 class is littered with potential starting safeties, including FIU's Jonathan Cyprien, Florida's Matt Elam and LSU's Eric Reid. Later in the draft, several pass-rushers make sense as depth behind Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Dezman Moses.
But just how heavy can Ted Thompson afford to go on defense later this month?
The Packers used their first six picks last April on the defensive side of the ball, but there's enough offensive needs to assume such a scenario won't repeat itself in 2013. The Packers might have to get creative to fill the many needs on both sides this April.