Did Ted Thompson Do Enough To Make the Packers Super Bowl Contenders?

Ian HanleyCorrespondent IMay 20, 2010

GREEN BAY, WI - MAY 5: Green Bay Packers' Ted Thompson watches practice at the first mini camp of the season at the Don Hutson Center on May 5, 2006 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
Darren Hauck/Getty Images

After the Packers lost a heartbreaking shoot-out against the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs last year, most Packers fans came away from the game with mixed emotions.

Yes, they were upset to be eliminated so early in the playoffs, but they were also excited for the future of a team that looked like it was firing on all cylinders towards the end of the season.
Most fans believed with a few key additions, either through the draft or free agency, that the Packers could contend for a Super Bowl this year.

And based on their performance during the year, the areas that most thought needed to be upgraded were in the secondary, along the offensive line, creating a more consistent pass rush, and adding a spark to the return game.

The question is, did Ted Thompson do enough this offseason to help make the Packers a serious contender?
Ted Thompson has not been known to spend lavishly on free agents. Rather he has chosen to pick up a few key free agents and build this team through the draft. And because of the uncapped year, there were fewer unrestricted free agents available this year than in year's past, thus driving up the price of the unrestricted free agents that were available.
So far this season, the Packers have not signed any free agents, but once teams start trimming their rosters later this summer, there is a possibility the Packers could make some additions or possibly make a trade.

Don't hold your breath for any major addition though.
Surprisingly, in a cornerback-heavy draft, the Packers chose not to draft any cornerbacks. They will be relying on Pat Lee and Al Harris, both of whom are coming off knee injuries, and second-year corner Brandon Underwood to help solidify a secondary that was depleted by injuries last year.
The Packers did make a key addition to the secondary in the third round of this year's draft with the selection of Morgan Burnett, a ball-hawking safety out of Georgia Tech. Burnett will most likely be behind Atari Bigby on the depth chart, but could end of challenging Bigby for the starting job.
The Packers offensive line took a beating early last season. Towards the end of the year, they solidified into a more respectable unit, but questions remained about the future of the line, specifically the left tackle position where Chad Clifton was a free agent.
With the Packers not picking until the 23rd spot in this year's draft, the chances of getting a future replacement for Clifton seemed unlikely. Luckily for the Packers, the draft does not always go as expected, and Iowa's left tackle Brian Bulaga fell into their laps at 23.

With the addition of Bulaga and the re-signing of both Clifton and right tackle Mark Tauscher, the Packers go into this year with a much more stable line than last year.
Outside linebacker is one of the most crucial positions in Dom Capers' 3-4 defense. With Aaron Kampman leaving in free agency, most observers expected the Packers to draft another linebacker to either add depth or to compete with second-year pro Brad Jones.

The Packers, however, seem content to go into the season with Jones as the starting OLB with Brady Poppinga as his back up.
The Packers did add depth at the defensive line in the draft with the selections of both Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson. The picks should allow the Packers to have more flexibility along the defensive line, as well as be able to plug in fresh players later in games. That could improve the pass rush, especially later in games when linemen tend to get worn down.
Will Blackmon will again be given punt return duties, but who will return kicks offs for the Packers is anyone's guess. 

There is a lot of buzz about rookie free agent Sam Shields, a former wide receiver turned corner who has sub-4.4 speed. Shields did not return kicks in college, but if the Packers feel they could develop him into a dangerous return man, he may have a shot at making the roster.
Going into this season, the expectations for the Packers are very high, both from a fan's perspective and a media perspective.

Case in point: In a recent article, Sports Illustrated's Peter King had the Packers ranked as the No. 1 team heading into the year. Remember Packers fans, King had the Bears going to the Super Bowl last year, so take that for what it's worth.
With the additions the Packers made, combined with another year of experience for one of the youngest teams in the league, the Packers are undoubtedly better than last year.

Whether or not they will be a Super Bowl contenders remains to be seen.