The NFL Draft is just about a month away. The NFL is being locked out and will meet soon in Minneapolis to try and settle its differences between the players and owners. Whatever the outcome, the draft will more than likely take place—unless it gets boycotted. Here is a look at who the defending World Champion Green Bay Packers should take:
First, let's look at what the Packers need as this offseason is upon us. The Packers' biggest needs are probably on their offensive line. Chad Clifton is getting older, although he had a great season last year. Daryn Colledge could be a free agent as well. Offensive guard will more than likely be a position Ted Thompson picks come late April.
Outside linebacker and defensive end are also lacking, with depth being the largest need at these positions. Cullen Jenkins will more than likely leave when free agency opens, and Johnny Jolly's future is not clear after his season-long suspension last year.
Cornerback is the next biggest need. Charles Woodson is getting older, and who knows how much longer he will play?
Running back could also use an upgrade, but as James Starks played well at the end of the season and with Ryan Grant returning, I'm not sure how much this will be a need.
Offensive tackle is next, as players like Tauscher are getting older—the position just needs depth.
Wide receiver could also be a need, as Donald Driver is getting older. Retaining James Jones will be huge for the Packers when free agency opens up.
Second, here are a few players whom the Packers might target in next month's draft:
Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
Wilkerson had 70 tackles last season—45 solo, 25 assisted and 13 for a loss. He also had 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He is 6'4" and 315 pounds.
He doesn't look like a defensive tackle, but plays like one. He is speedy, and moves all over the place, not just in the middle. Also, Wilkerson hits hard. He is very athletic, agile, speedy and plays out every play when he is on the field. He is currently No. 10 on Mel Kiper's Big Board. He could easily be a defensive lineman for the Packers.
Cory Liuget, DT, Illinois
Liuget is 6'3" and 300 pounds—big, but speedy for a defensive tackle. Liuget has a high motor, and can beat offensive linemen with his power coming off his end or tackle position.
He would probably play end in the Packers' scheme.
Reed is who I want the Packers to draft, although people have been saying he could be a bust. Is 6'3" and 262 pounds. He would play end or outside linebacker in the Packers' scheme. He has a high motor, hits hard, is speedy, agile and athletic. He kind of reminds me of Clay Matthews. Reed had seven sacks and 47 total tackles—26 were solo and 21 were assisted.
He still could use some time to develop and improve his hands, and he needs to get bigger if wants to play defensive end in the NFL.
Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
Matthews is another pick the Packers would be thrilled to get. He comes from a great football family, led Oregon in tackles last season, and could learn from his brother, Clay, at Green Bay. He would be more than welcomed at Lambeau.
He had 73 tackles last season—34 were solo and 39 were assisted. He also had three sacks and three interceptions. He has that hard work ethic that Clay has, and doesn't give up on plays. His forced fumble in the National Championship game against Auburn helped shift the momentum back to Oregon late in the fourth quarter. Matthews also has very good football IQ, and is very athletic.
One thing that sticks out about Casey, is he's good in coverage—something the Packers could use out of a linebacker.
Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado, and Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
Cornerback is an aging position for the Packers. Smith is 6'2" and 210 pounds. He is a big, speedy corner. He has some character concerns that Thompson might want to stay away from.
Williams is 6'0" and 204 pounds. He plays all over the field, is very fast and has quick bursts.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Packers could draft...
Marcus Cannon, OG, TCU
Cannon is 6'6" and 349 pounds. He is actually speedy for a offensive guard, as he ran a 5.2 40 at the combine. He was very good at TCU, and would fit the Packers' scheme, as they like big offensive linemen who are very good physically.
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
If the Packers want to draft a running back, Leshoure is the real deal. More than likely, Mark Ingram will be gone. Leshoure is 6'0", 232 pounds, and has great speed and power.
DeMarco Murray from Oklahoma could also be targeted in later rounds for the Packers.
There are a few draft picks to keep on eye, Packers fans. Let's just hope there is a season so we can repeat again next year!