The Green Bay Packers are coming off one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, going 11-5 and earning one of the NFC's two wild card spots. Unfortunately their season ended in abrupt fashion last Sunday in the Wild Card Round at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals.
Going into the 2010 season the Packers have to like their chances. They have a quarterback in Aaron Rodgers that is quickly becoming one of the leagues premiere quarterbacks, and a defense that allowed the second fewest yards per game in the NFL. Indeed, the Packers prospects for a deeper run in the playoffs next year seem to be quite good.
Packers GM Ted Thompson has built this team almost exclusively through the draft, that is his philosophy. This is evident by the fact the Packers were yet again the youngest team in the league last season.
These young players have come together and are now on the brink of becoming one of the NFL's truly elite teams. However, to achieve that status the Packers need to shore up some areas, and Ted Thompson and company could make great strides by addressing these positions in the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft:
This one is painfully obvious. No quarterback in the NFL got sacked more than Aaron Rodgers during the early part of the season. They were able to cut down on the sacks down the home stretch, relying on Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. Tauscher was a huge part of the turnaround of the offensive line play. However Clifton and Tauscher are 33 and 32 years old respectively, and both have had their fair share of injuries in recent years. Clifton is also set to become a free agent this summer. It is time for the Packers to invest in a franchise tackle to ensure that Aaron Rodgers will stay upright for years to come.
The Packers lack of depth in the secondary became apparent when Al Harris went down with his knee injury. The Packers struggled versus the top passing teams in the league. Harris and Charles Woodson, when healthy, form one of the games best cornerback tandems. But both are beginning to age, and its time the Packers begin to plan for life when they don't have both of them.
Behind Harris and Woodson the Packers entered last season with Tramon Williams, Will Blackmon and Jarrett Bush as the main depth. While Williams has shown the ability to be a reliable cover man, Blackmon has struggled with injuries over his career, and Bush's struggles in coverage have been well documented.
At the safety positions, Nick Collins has become a perennial pro bowler, who will be in line for a new contract this summer, and Atari Bigby has proven that he can be a reliable, game breaker type player when healthy. However, behind these top two its slim pickings. Derrick Martin and Matt Giordano serve as the backups.
I believe that it would be in the Packers interest to use the middle rounds of the draft to try and find quality players that can shore up a secondary in need of stronger depth.
Ryan Grant has been one of the leagues most under appreciated backs over the past two years. He has back to back 1,200 yard seasons and has been a key cog in the Packers offense.
However, I believe that the Packers would be smart to use a middle to late round pick to try and find a running back to provide depth in the Packers backfield. Brandon Jackson has shown flashes of his potential ability but the Packers still felt the need to bring Ahman Green back from the grave in order to try to help the backfield.
Yes, Aaron Rodgers is fully entrenched as the team's starter for years to come. Its Matt Flynn that I'm not sold on. How many Packer fans would be confident giving Flynn the ball for an extended period of time should, heaven forbid, Rodgers would succumb to an injury during the season.
I think adding a quarterback in the draft to compete with Flynn, or at the very least, provide depth, would be a smart move.