Since the Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy era started in 2006, the Green Bay Packers have been one of the more successful franchises in the NFL. Since 2006, the Packers have gone 82-45-1, won four NFC North titles, been to the postseason six times and also won Super Bowl XLV.
The modus operandi of the Packers under Thompson and McCarthy in making the team a consistent winner is to draft and develop players.
Normally, the key transition period for the players to really start improving with the Packers is somewhere between the second and third year in the league.
There are certainly exceptions, like in the case of running back Eddie Lacy, who was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013. But more times than not, players seem to improve quite a bit in their second or third year in the Green Bay program.
Green Bay president Mark Murphy agreed with that assessment in a February "Murphy Takes 5" column on Packers.com in responding to a question:
There is no question that we are primarily a draft-and-develop team – we use the draft as the main vehicle to add players to our roster. The draft is not an exact science, though, and we will miss on some players and injuries will often be a factor. Injuries have limited many of our top picks in recent years, for instance. For this reason, and because we are always looking for ways to improve our roster, we use other means to acquire players, including signing undrafted free agents, street free agents (players released by other teams) and unrestricted free agents. The advantage that drafted players (and undrafted free agents) provide is that they are typically less expensive (which is very important with the salary cap) and are younger and ascending as players.
In 2014, the Packers are going to need a number of their younger players to improve their level of play. I've listed five of them in this slideshow.
In fact, three of the players I've listed are former first-round picks. Four of the five players I have listed have also had injuries that have hampered their progress so far in the NFL.