2011 Record: 10-6 (.625)
Team Needs: OL, LB, DL, RB, CB
I will start the article with a little bit of gloating, as I picked the Pack to win it all in the second week of the preseason. That being said, I think that the team they have, assuming they don't have almost 20 players on the injured reserve again this season, and how successful Green Bay is in the draft, means they have a very good chance of repeating as champions in 2011.
As per the norm, the Packers will have the last pick in each round of the draft this season, including a compensatory pick thrown in from the league in the fourth (No. 34, No. 131 overall,) and the first choice in the seventh round from Carolina.
I will say that the injuries present an interesting position for the Pack, as they need some durable players. Charles Woodson will turn 35 this year, and after a broken collarbone in the playoffs, how well will he be coming back from injury? Will the Pack grab a linebacker to bookend Clay Matthews? Can they survive another year without a halfback that can last more than two games?
In my mind, seeing as the draft is especially deep with lineman this year, and Aaron Rodgers' growing concussion concerns, the Packers absolutely HAVE to get a big body to protect their most valued asset.
Many people look back at the Packers' championship run and see him evading pressure and getting incredible passes off; I see him getting continually tossed around by opposing defenses, and that is a big problem for your biggest playmaker, especially in a division with the Bears and Vikings, who have two of the better defensive lines in the game.
Rodgers was sacked 31 times last season, enough for 13th in the league; but he held a 101.2 QB rating, good for third-best in the league. Imagine how amazing he could be with 10 fewer sacks playing behind a line like the Falcons (23 sacks allowed) or the Titans (25 sacks allowed, including Vince Young who is difficult to keep track of in the backfield).
On the O-line, Danny Watkins out of Baylor will almost assuredly be there, but questions about his work ethic and age (will turn 28 during the 2011 season) leads me to believe the Pack should look to acquire Akeem Ayers, the No. 2-rated linebacker prospect to go opposite Matthews, unless someone of interest, like Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi, happens to fall to them late.
Clint Boling is another interesting pick here, not rated as high as a few other guys, and a possibility to drop to the Pack in the second round, Boling did a great job protecting down in Georgia, where the Aaron Murray-to-A.J. Green connection depended on letting plays develop and extending them as long as possible after the snap.