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Should the Packers Draft a Cornerback in the 1st Round of the 2014 NFL Draft?

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Should the Packers Draft a Cornerback in the 1st Round of the 2014 NFL Draft?
Sue Ogrocki
If cornerback Justin Gilbert is available in the first round, should the Packers draft him?

There are definitely a number of needs the Green Bay Packers have heading into the 2014 NFL draft. Safety, inside linebacker and tight end would be considered the most important needs to address, and it isn't a stretch to think of the Packers selecting either of these positions in the first round.

One position that no one is talking about the Packers selecting in the first round is cornerback. And that's probably wise due to the fact that Green Bay already has Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Casey Hayward at the position.

However, what if the Packers did draft a cornerback in the first round? More importantly, what if it was the best move to make for Green Bay?

The biggest deterrent from people thinking that cornerback is a need is the fact that the Packers already have three solid cornerbacks. They'll point to Williams, Shields and Hayward and say that Green Bay doesn't need more than three quality cornerbacks.

The only problem with this line of thinking is determining just how quality Williams, Shields and Hayward are. Now, we can't dissect Hayward's 2013 season due to injuries, but look at how Shields and Williams fared last year, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required):

2013 Season for Williams and Shields
Coverage Grade Catch Percentage TDs Allowed QB Rating
Williams 0.4 60.7 4 88.1
Shields 0.3 50.0 4 72.7

Pro Football Focus

Nothing about those numbers make you feel like Williams or Shields are true shutdown cornerbacks. As for Hayward, he's going to make his living as a slot cornerback, not on the outside locking down the opposing teams' No. 1 receiver.

So, should the Packers really feel comfortable without an elite cornerback on the roster? When receivers like Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Cordarrelle Patterson are seen twice a year, who is going to slow them down?

This is why it'd be wise for the Packers to truly consider making cornerback a top priority in the first round. With teams relying more and more on the passing game, you can never have too many dominant cornerbacks on the roster.

With this year's crop of cornerbacks being so deep, there should really be no trouble getting a prospect late in the first round who can start from day one. Even if Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert and Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller are off the board, the Packers could still choose Jason Verrett, Bradley Roby or Darqueze Dennard

USA TODAY Sports
Drafting Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby would instantly improve the secondary in Green Bay.

By adding a true No. 1 cornerback to their roster, the Packers would then boast one of the best cornerback groups in the league. They could have either Shields or Williams as their No. 2 cornerback, which both would excel at. Hayward would stay as the nickel corner and whoever is second on the depth chart would be able to step in on dime situations.

Should the Packers draft a cornerback in the first round?

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Even though there are glaring needs at the safety position, drafting a cornerback would help the safeties. Adding more dominant defenders who can keep receivers locked down would allow the safeties to play with less hesitation.

We also can't forget about the major drop in talent at the safety position once you get past Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor. With both those players gone, Green Bay would be reaching to draft a safety in the first round.

While cornerback usually isn't the first position people think of for the Packers to target in the first round, it might just be the best move for the Packers to make if they truly want to improve their defense quickly.

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