Options to Fill the Green Bay Packers' Biggest Offseason Needs
This is the first year in a long time where the Green Bay Packers have a number of large offseason needs that they must address. Most of those needs are on the defensive side of the ball, but there are also some offensive areas that could use improvement.
The good news for the Packers is that there are a number of options at each position of need. For example, Green Bay could look at their own roster or turn to free agency to fill a position. There is also the 2014 NFL draft that could be used to improve the overall roster.
Today we're going to look at one draft, free agent and in-house option for each of the biggest offseason needs for the Packers.
Draft Option: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
The only thing working against Amaro for the Green Bay Packers is that they'd have to draft him early. With tight end not being as big a need as other positions, the Packers may be hesitant to pull the trigger on Amaro.
However, if their other top options are gone and Amaro is the best player available, he'd be a huge upgrade over any other tight end currently on the roster. Amaro's an extremely athletic prospect with great hands and the ability to make plays in the open field.
He'd instantly add a new dynamic to the Packers offense. If Amaro falls to the Packers, don't be surprised to see them draft him in order to boost their offense.
Free Agent Option: Fred Davis, Washington Redskins
Yes, Davis has some off-field issues, but there is no denying the potential talent that he can bring to the field. Maybe a change of scenery is exactly what Davis needs to get his football career back on track.
Davis is a similar player to Jermichael Finley in regards to athleticism and potential. And like Finley, Davis has struggled at times with consistency and staying focused on the game.
As long as Davis can prove to Green Bay that he's truly ready to be a football player, he could become quite the bargain in free agency.
In-House Options: Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick
Neither Quarless or Bostick are talented enough to be the sole option at tight end. However, their talents combined would give the Packers a nice one-two punch to work with.
Both Quarless and Bostick flashed enough last year in limited time to intrigue Green Bay. Both have good hands and some playmaking abilities. However, neither is going to be the focal point of a defense like Amaro or Davis could eventually become.
This would be the cheapest option and probably the most likely due to the bigger needs at other positions.
Draft Option: Shayne Skov, Stanford
There's a lot to like about what Skov would bring to the field for the Green Bay Packers.
For starters, his ability to get pressure on the quarterback as an inside linebacker is something that Green Bay doesn't currently have on its roster. Secondly, Skov also can drop into coverage and play the run, making him a complete linebacker.
Adding a player like Skov would instantly make the Packers defense a better all-around unit.
Free Agent Option: Karlos Dansby, Arizona Cardinals
If the Packers decide to look to free agency for an inside linebacker, a player like Dansby would make the most sense.
The reason for this is because Dansby is an experienced 3-4 inside linebacker. He's also coming off one of his best seasons where he posted 122 tackles, 6.5 sacks and four interceptions.
Now Dansby certainly isn't going to be the cheapest option in free agency, but if the Packers want a player who can step in right away while they develop some younger players then Dansby is their man.
In-House Option: Jamari Lattimore
Lattimore is currently a restricted free agent, so the Packers would first have to decide to re-sign him if they wanted him as their in-house option. Considering Lattimore will likely be a cheap option, it makes sense for the Packers to bring him back.
Lattimore flashed just enough potential in limited time last year to be given a shot in the offseason to win a starting job. While there's still plenty of room for Lattimore to grow, his motor and athleticism make him an intriguing young player.
Of all the options, Lattimore would be the least expensive. So, if the Packers want to save money in order to spend it at other positions then re-signing Lattimore would be the way to go.
Draft Option: Kyle Van Noy, BYU
The Green Bay Packers just spent a high draft pick on an outside linebacker two years ago. However, they tried to convert a defensive end in Nick Perry and that hasn't worked out very well so far.
Drafting a player like Van Noy would give the Packers a true pass-rushing outside linebacker to pair with Clay Matthews. Van Noy is already familiar with the position and is an NFL-ready prospect from day one.
Another aspect of his game that is attractive to the Packers is his ability to diagnose run plays and make the stop. Green Bay would have to commit to Van Noy early in the draft, but if it decides to do that then he'd be a great addition for the Packers.
Free Agent Option: Shaun Phillips, Denver Broncos
Phillips played defensive end for the Broncos this past season, but he also has years of experience as an outside linebacker when he played for the San Diego Chargers.
While Phillips is a little old (he'll be 33 years old in May), he's also coming off a 10-sack season for the Broncos. His consistent ability to get after the quarterback is something that the Packers greatly lacked last year.
Now Phillips wouldn't be a long-term answer for Green Bay at outside linebacker, but he'd definitely be able to make an impact right away for the team.
In-House Option: Mike Neal
Neal is a free agent this offseason, so the Packers would need to re-sign him first before he became their in-house option. However, Neal displayed just enough potential last year for Green Bay to give him another shot.
Neal made the switch from defensive end to outside linebacker in 2013. While there were some growing pains at times, Neal was easily a better player than Perry was for the majority of the season.
The overall upside for Neal isn't extremely high but if he continues to develop at the position he could be a solid starter for a number of years in Green Bay.
Draft Option: Aaron Lynch, South Florida
Defensive end is a pretty big need this offseason, so it wouldn't be surprising for the Green Bay Packers to look at a number of options at this position. One way they could go would be to draft a late-round prospect with a ton of upside like Lynch.
Lynch struggled in his most recent season at South Florida, but anyone who watched him early in his career knows this kid can absolutely play. The big thing with Lynch is going to be keeping him motivated enough to keep getting better.
If the Packers feel they can do that, then Lynch could end up being the steal of the draft.
Free Agent Option: Jeremy Mincey, Denver Broncos
Mincey had a rather interesting 2013 season. He was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars in December before getting picked up by the Broncos a few days later.
Mincey actually played pretty well for the Broncos in the limited time he had with the team. His best game came in the divisional round of the playoffs where he had three quarterback hurries and a sack against the San Diego Chargers.
While Mincey might not be the best all-around free agent at defensive end, his ability to get pressure on the quarterback is exactly what the Packers need.
In-House Option: Johnny Jolly
Few people (myself included) expected Jolly to be able to come back and make an impact as quickly as he did last year. However, that's exactly what Jolly did.
He was arguably the best defensive end that the Packers had last year. While he wasn't necessarily great in any one area of the game, he played solid all-around football while he was on the field.
Jolly is a free agent, but he should be rather inexpensive for the Packers to re-sign. As long as they decide to bring him back, Jolly should have a great chance to earn a starting job for 2014.
Draft Option: Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Hageman is a popular name in connection with the Green Bay Packers. He's got the athleticism, speed and size to be a game-changing player at defensive tackle.
And a game-changing player is exactly what the Packers need along the defensive line. Now Hageman still has plenty of growing to do as a player, but it's hard not to fall in love with his overall potential as an all-around prospect.
The Packers would likely need to spend a first-round pick on Hageman. As long as one of the top safeties in the draft aren't available, drafting Hageman would be the best first-round pick they could make.
Free Agent Option: Terrence Cody, Baltimore Ravens
The problem with bringing Cody in is really two-fold.
First, Cody seems to be regressing a little bit as a player. After taking a big leap forward in 2012, Cody's play and production dropped in a major way this past season. Secondly, Cody is probably going to demand a good chunk of money since he's only 25 years old and there is still plenty of time for him to grow into a dominant player.
Cody's massive 6'4" and 349 pounds is exactly what the Packers need in the middle of their defensive line. If they feel confident he just had an off-year last season, then the Packers should sign him rather quickly.
In-House Option: Josh Boyd
Should the Packers choose to stay in-house at defensive tackle, their only real option would be second-year player Boyd. They could technically re-sign Ryan Pickett or B.J. Raji, but neither of those moves seems very likely at this point.
While Boyd didn't play much in his rookie season, he did a few nice things to give the Packers hope for the future. Even if he isn't a full-time starter in 2014, Boyd should definitely see an increase in playing time.
Draft Option: Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Safety is easily the biggest offseason need for the Green Bay Packers. And if the Packers really want to improve their defense then they should be all-in on getting the best safety prospect available in Clinton-Dix.
Yes, that'd likely include the Packers moving way up in the draft, but Clinton-Dix is the type of player who is worth that commitment. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares him to All-Pro Eric Berry in the video above and Clinton-Dix certainly has the all-around ability to get to that level of play.
Adding Clinton-Dix to the secondary would also allow Morgan Burnett to move back to strong safety, his more natural position. While it won't be easy to get Clinton-Dix, it's a move that would quickly get the Packers back to fielding an elite defense.
Free Agent Option: Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills
Like Clinton-Dix, Byrd is a sort of mythical creature for the Packers. Many believe he'd be too expensive for Green Bay to sign this offseason, but everyone knows that he'd be the perfect fit for the Packers defense.
The Packers are ready to spend money this offseason according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. That means a player like Byrd might not be too crazy of a thought after all.
If the Packers decide to spend money on a big-name free agent, Byrd is the one player who makes the most sense. He'd instantly step into the starting lineup and make the Packers defense a much better overall unit.
In-House Option: Sean Richardson
The Packers don't have many in-house options at free agency, so Richardson gets the nod here by default.
While Richardson was one of the better safeties last year for Green Bay, that isn't really saying much. Richardson is also a strong safety which means that Burnett would have to keep playing free safety.
Richardson will definitely be on the roster next year and see some playing time, but it's unlikely that he'll be starting.