The Packers may have finished with an 8-7-1 record last season, but don't let the mediocre record fool you. They have one of the most potent offenses in the NFL led by one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Unfortunately, that quarterback was out for eight games, and a sub-par defense caught up to them.
The Packers are a talented team, but they have plenty of needs to fill in the offseason. Ted Thompson has been known to build his team primarily through the draft. In the coming slides, I will list the top players who the Packers should look at drafting in the early rounds of the 2014 NFL draft.
Chris Borland, LB: The Wisconsin linebacker would likely be an early fan favorite, and he certainly fits a need, but there are some concerns that he may not be able to stay on the field due to injury history, and with the injury issues the Packers have had in the past few years, Borland could be a cause for concern. However, his potential talent makes him hard to pass up if he is available in the second or third round.
Eric Ebron, TE: Ebron is no doubt a fantastic tight end prospect, and it fits a need. However, he will likely be a first-round pick, and with all the issues the Packers have on defense, drafting a tight end in the first round might not be wise. Still, Ebron is worthy of consideration.
Justin Gilbert, CB: Todd McShay has picked Gilbert to be drafted in the first round by the Packers. While Gilbert is another fantastic prospect, the Packers are fairly deep at corner, unless they move Gilbert or one of their corners to the safety position. If they lose Shields in free agency and move Micah Hyde to safety, perhaps Gilbert is worth considering.
Many mock drafts have picked Hageman to be drafted by Green Bay, and the pick would certainly make sense. The Packers have a need on the defensive line, especially with the potential exodus of free agents at that position, and Hageman has been touted as one of the best at his position.
Hageman's strength could be his tackling, which some Packers defenders have struggled with. Hageman is an athletic player with a high motor who would bring a much needed ferocity to this Packers defense.
With the exception of Clay Matthews, the Packers have an underwhelming linebacking corps, particularly on the inside. The Packers spent a lot of money securing Brad Jones, a mediocre inside linebacker at best, and A.J. Hawk has been solid but unspectacular.
Bringing in a guy like C.J. Mosley could greatly help the Packers improve their interior defense. Mosley has not only been touted by scouts as a high-character player, but he has also been talked about as one of the best linebackers in the draft, having supreme instincts and a great nose for the ball. He could certainly give the Packers defense a much needed upgrade.
If the Packers lose B.J. Raji to free agency, Louis Nix might be the perfect replacement. While Raji has dropped off in talent in the past few years, Nix has shown in college to be a great run-stuffer and an athletic enough player to be an effective pass-rusher.
The Packers could certainly lose a few of their defensive lineman in free agency, so they will likely need to invest an early pick to rebuild the position.
Safety is a huge need for Green Bay. With Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian all but proving they were not talented enough to comprise their safety corps, the Packers should be looking to fill the need in either free agency or the draft. If they decide to get a safety in the first round, Pryor might be their best bet.
Not only do the Packers have a chance of landing Pryor at the No. 21 spot, but Pryor is a hard-hitting safety who has proven to have a knack for forcing turnovers, which is exactly what the Packers need if they want to improve their secondary.
If the Packers shore up their safety position, they have a good enough cornerback group to perform as one of the better secondaries in the NFL, and Pryor can certainly put them on the map.
Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix will likely not be available when the Packers draft at No. 21 , but if he is, he is certainly the best safety prospect in the draft.
A playmaking safety out of Alabama, Clinton-Dix has shown that he might be everything the Packers need at that position. Safety is by far the biggest need for the Packers, which is why Pryor and Clinton-Dix take up the first two spots. If one of them is still available, the Packers would be wise to pick him up.