Green Bay Packers 2009 Outlook

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Green Bay Packers 2009 Outlook
(Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

The draft is in the books.

Rookie orientation: done.

Undrafted free agents: signed.

Needs met? Not quite.

The 2009 Green Bay Packers will look very competitive on paper, but will they produce on the field?

We will find out starting in 129 days and throughout the 16 weeks after that.

The Packers had some glaring holes to fill via free agency and/or the draft.

The team is transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, which before the draft had plenty of holes. Who would compliment Aaron Kampman, who is transitioning from a defensive end to an outside linebacker under Dom Capers scheme?

Who will shore up the defensive line besides Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, who is returning from a torn bicep, the oft-injured Justin Harrell, and the possibly suspended Johnny Jolly?

Veteran free agent and long-time right tackle, Mark Tauscher, will probably not be re-signed this offseason due to a slow recovery after surgery for a torn ACL. Who will replace him on the o-line?

Ted Thompson answered those questions by doing what he does best: build through the draft.

In the first round he picked DT/NT B.J. Raji with the ninth overall selection and made the splash of the draft by trading back into the first round and selecting Clay Matthews III, grabbing him with the 26th pick.

Thompson also addressed the needs along the offensive line by drafting OTs T.J. Lang in the fourth round and Jamon Meredith in the fifth round. Both guys are versatile and should develop nicely for the Packers.

The potential in the selections made in this year's draft could turn out to be Thompson's defining class, having drafted for both need and getting value out of his pick. Only time will tell how good this class will be.

But the draft could be as good as it gets for the Packers this season.

With every player on the defensive side of the ball learning a new system and new roles, the defense could turn out to be as big of a liability as it was in 2008.

However, the biggest weakness for the Pack may not be the defensive transition, but inexperience.

The offense should do as well, as it did in '08, under second-year starter Aaron Rodgers, but will need a better performance from running backs Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson.

Due to character complaints by former coaches, fifth-round pick Jamon Meredith saw his stock plummet from his original projections and he fell into the Packers lap on the second day. He could be a potential first-year starter.

The holes filled by the potentially strong draft class and position battles could help the Packers improve, although not enough to get them back to the post season.

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