The season ended with the big trophy coming home, and we Packer fans couldn't be happier. Yet, the new season, if it ever happens, is always a different story and even the Champs need to retool and restock for another playoff run. And as with every team in the league, there are always changes and improvements that could be made.
Part of the interest of Packer fans in the NFL draft recently though is Ted Thompson. Although the practice of ITWT (In Ted We Trust) has turned out well, he has been prone to being unpredictable. First he states he does not want to trade up, then trades up for Clay Matthews. Drops an unpredicted bombshell by taking Justin Harrell, Ted can and will surprise.
And he probably will surprise this year too because there are so many different ways he can go. But for now, here are some positions he can go in the first two rounds.
It is a potential need this year because of the risk of James Jones leaving in free agency. Stories are circulating around about how he wants to be a starter, which is code for saying he wants to be paid like a starter. I am a fan of James Jones, but he does have a problem with drops. If the Packers really wanted him to return they would have signed him to an extension earlier. There is a chance he might return, but it seems slight.
Also, Donald Driver appeared that age finally might be catching up with him. The Packers might have to fill two wide receiver spots this offseason.
Honestly, the odds of the Packers picking a wide receiver in round one is very slim. Unless Julio Jones or A.J. Green fall all the way to 32, the Packers simply won't take a receiver so early as none is worthy of such a grade.
There are several different options, but Titus Young makes the most sense here, if he is available. If he is, Ted will not hesitate to draft him. Young is small for a wide out and will drop because of that, but then again Greg Jennings dropped for the same reason. Young is also rumored to be an off-the-field issue but the Packers have shown they aren't afraid of such guys. Additionally, there are reports stating any issues are completely overblown.
Young can step in and from day one be the fastest Packer receiver as he can run a 4.4 4-yard dash with ease, and probably can dip into 4.3. An outstanding route runner and technician, Young is practically a poor mans DeSean Jackson. Although he lacks a return game now, if he were to develop it, Young could be a potential 1,000 yard receiver due to his big play ability and an asset on special teams.
With one side locked down with last years first pick in Bulaga, the Packers might look to draft another lineman to continue to keep No. 12 upright. Chad Clifton is getting long in the tooth and certainly has some injury problems.
To improve the line the Packers look at homegrown prospect Gabe Carimi. An absolute monster with the size to hold down one position at tackle for the next decade, Carmini will be able, with some coaching, protect No. 12 and pave the way for whoever happens to run the ball.
However, this would mean that Bulaga would have to kick over to the left side as Carimi isn't good enough to play on the left. While Bulaga showed he certainly is capable of doing so, it would be a significant change for Bulaga. The Packers might want to give Bulaga more experience at the right side then move him over at Clifton's retirement. With that being said, I doubt the Packers use a second-round pick on an offensive lineman as their is a severe drop off after players such as Danny Watkins, who will be drafted early in round two.
The Packers have the best outside linebacker in the league but with a trio of average players on the other side the Packers haven't been able to take full advantage of his abilities. Matthews is at times triple teamed, but if the Packers had a player on the other side capable of getting to the quarterback, three offensive lineman could not be committed to Matthews. As a result, he would be an even bigger force (is that possible) and consistant pressure would be added with the draft of another outside backer.
At least three different players are in play for the Packers in Round 1, such as Akeem Ayers from UCLA, Justin Houston from UGA, and Brooks Reed from Arizona. Ayers is extremely athletic and could be a force on the other side of Clay. The same could be said about Houston. Brooks Reed is a player very similar to Clay Matthews in terms of motor and intensity, but of course lacking the great bloodline. Packer fans can rest assured in that Ted Thompson and his staff will be able to take the correct player if they decide to draft an outside linebacker. But that being said......
Ted has surprised Packer fans almost every year with his picks. He trades out of the first round when you think he will stay put. He trades up when you doubt he will. The fortunate fact is that Ted is almost right when he surprise fans, with Justin Harrell being the exception. As a result, given Ted's nature to pull off a shocker,I wouldn't be surprised if he takes a player no one thought would be in Green Bay.