Ted Thompson must once again work his draft magic in 2011
As Packer Nation continues to celebrate a Super Bowl victory, their is no doubt Ted Thompson is already hard at work preparing for the NFL Draft. At first glance, the Green Bay Packers appear deep at nearly every position. However, as Packer fans learned this year, you can never have too much talent on your roster.
So what positions should the Packers look to target in this April's draft? I've compiled a list of every possible position that the Packers could look at to add depth to their unit. Here they are in order of importance:
1. Outside Linebacker—Although the Packers already have one elite level pass rusher in Clay Matthews, the talent level drops off significantly on the other side. Brad Jones, Erik Walden and Frank Zombo have played decent in limited roles, but another solid rushing threat would take a lot of the pressure off of Matthews.
2. Offensive Tackle—Last year the Packers drafted Hawkeye Bryan Bulaga to be the long term replacement at left tackle for Chad Clifton. He ended up starting a majority of the year on the right side and many believe Bulaga is better suited on the right than the left. With Clifton getting up in age, the Packers could find their left tackle of the future in 2011.
3. Cornerback—The Packers hold the best secondary unit in the NFL. Undrafted free agent Sam Shields was a pleasant surprise as a rookie for the Pack in 2010 but is best fit for the nickel position in the long term. The Packers need to find a corner to replace Charles Woodson in order for a seamless transition as he moves to the safety position in the coming seasons.
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4. Kick/Punt Returner—Possibly the only major weakness of the Packers is their lack of an elite return man. Although a kick returner is viewed as a luxury, the Packers could make the argument that they have no other major holes to fill.
5. Running Back—With Ryan Grant coming off of injury, he may be too pricey for the Packers to keep around this season. James Starks played incredible in the postseason but has not proven he can handle the rigor of a full NFL schedule. The Packers could look to add a running back to their stable in the early to middle rounds of the draft.
6. Safety—If the Packers decide to move Woodson to safety this offseason, they will have no need for another one. Even if they don't move him, they still may not need to address the position. Morgan Burnett will be coming off of IR and Charlie Peprah played excellently opposite of Nick Collins in 2010. However, there may be room for improvement at the strong safety position in the draft.
7. Guard—Josh Sitton is entrenched at right guard for the foreseeable future, but questions loom on the left side. Daryn Colledge is set to be a free agent this offseason and has had some problems with upper management in the past. He may be on the way out and the Packers could look to fill his position with another big, bruising guard.
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8. Center—Scott Wells has been a solid presence on the O-line for the Packers for quite a while. However, the Packers have tried to replace him with a bigger body in the past and he is not getting any younger either.
9. Defensive Line—Cullen Jenkins may not be back in the green and gold next season, which means the Packers would have to replace their best pass rushing lineman. Mike Neal or CJ Wilson could be the answer, but you can never have enough big bodies up front in Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme.
10. Quarterback—Matt Flynn played better than expected in his only start of 2010 against the New England Patriots. Teams in need of a quarterback could come calling and the Packers will need to decide whether or not he is worth more on the bench than a mid-round draft pick would be. If the latter is more important, the Packers will have to find another signal caller for Mike McCarthy to groom.
11. Wide Receiver—Now we're getting into luxury picks. There is no conceivable reason for the Packers to draft a receiver high in the draft. Donald Driver has said he wants to continue to play until he is 40 and the Packers already have a deep group of young, talented receivers. But with Thompson and his "talent over need" philosophy, nothing would surprise me.
12. Inside Linebacker—The Packers are stocked inside at the linebacker position. So much so, in fact, that in week one against the Philadelphia Eagles, Capers was unable to find a role for his leading tackler AJ Hawk, who played zero snaps in the contest! The Packers may end up cutting more players at this position than they add this offseason.
13. Tight End—If the Packers use a draft pick on a tight end, Packer Nation will not be happy. The Packers came into training camp with five tight ends last season and every one of them played a role in their championship run. I don't care if Ted thinks he sees the next Antonio Gates or Finely-type talent available, the Packers should not draft another tight end. But once again, nothing would surprise me at this point.