There is no denying the fact that the Green Bay Packers have their biggest needs on the defensive side of the ball. This is especially true along the defensive line and the safety position. Heck, even national media, like John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, understands the Packers need to add defensive players (h/t Midday 180):
And it's hard to argue with the Packers using the 2014 NFL draft to reload their defense. However, simply drafting defensive player after defensive player might not be the best way for Green Bay to attack this year's draft.
No, the way that the Packers need to go into this draft, like they have in years past, is to be ready to draft the best player available in each round. Even if that forces the Packers to select a handful of offensive players in the earlier rounds, it's still the best choice of action.
Let's break down exactly why the Packers must take the best-player-available approach in the draft.
Best Player Available May Be Defensive Player
For some reason, whenever someone hears that a team has to take the best-player-available approach in a draft, he or she thinks it has to involve an offensive player. That's simply not true at all.
It's absolutely possible that when the Packers are on the clock with the 21st pick of the 2014 NFL draft that the best player available will be a defensive player. It just might not be a defensive lineman or a safety, the two biggest positions of need.
One example of this would be the Packers selecting a player like inside linebacker C.J. Mosley or cornerback Justin Gilbert in the first round. Both players are the two best players at their individual positions, and both could certainly be available when the Packers draft in the first round.
While inside linebacker and cornerback aren't their biggest needs, it'd be hard for the Packers to pass on talents like Mosley or Gilbert. That's what we mean by the Packers taking the best player available.
While it's certainly possible that the best player available when the Packers pick is an offensive player, it's also a possibility that the player is a defensive player at a less-needed position.
Too Deep of a Class
Here's the real reason why the Packers need to draft the best player available: This is one of the deepest draft classes in years. Mike Mayock, NFL Network's draft guru, called this the deepest class in the past 10 years (h/t Rich Cimini of ESPN):
NFL Network's Mike Mayock, in pre-combine conf call w/ media, calls this probably deepest draft he's seen in 10 yrs. Especially deep at WR.— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) February 18, 2014
What a deep draft class means is that teams like the Packers will be able to get better players later in the draft. For example, a player who might have been a first-round talent last year might only be a second-round talent this year.
One position that Mayock points out as being especially deep is wide receiver. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has the following receivers ranked as top-32 players in this year's draft:
|Name||School||Overall Player Ranking|
|Sammy Watkins||Clemson||No. 2|
|Mike Evans||Texas A&M||No. 12|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||LSU||No. 20|
|Brandin Cooks||Oregon State||No. 26|
|Allen Robinson||Penn State||No. 28|
Via Bleacher Report
That's a ridiculous amount of receiving talent graded out as first-round talent. So, if a player like Odell Beckham Jr. falls to the Packers in the first round, would it be foolish for them to draft him despite having little need at that position? Absolutely not.
Should the Packers draft the best player available regardless of position?
Adding a potential No. 1 receiver late in the first round would only make the Packers offense more dangerous. And let me tell you, giving quarterback Aaron Rodgers more weapons simply cannot be a bad thing.
The ultimate point here is that the Packers don't need to hone in on only defensive players in the draft. Is it possible that the best player available is a defensive player? Of course. Should the Packers pass on an elite talent on the offensive side of the ball like Beckham Jr. or tight end Eric Ebron if they're available? Of course not.
Yes, the Packers need loads of help to improve a defense that struggled mightily last year. However, those needs on the defensive side of the ball shouldn't keep the Packers from adding the best player available when the draft rolls around in May.