For a roster regularly mentioned as one of the most talented in football, the Packers appear to have more than just a couple needs heading into the NFL draft. The wobbly defensive front and ailing safety position are two of several areas that fans would love to see addressed in this weekend’s draft. And while general manager Ted Thompson generally abides by his best-player-available strategy, we’ll ponder the options Green Bay has at each of their needs, should Thompson break away from his philosophy.
The Packers’ decision to cast Charles Woodson loose automatically made strong safety a top draft day need for the Packers. Free safety Morgan Burnett has shown promise but not perfection in his three seasons with the Packers and would benefit by playing next to Texas product Kenny Vaccaro. Provided that Vaccaro is gone by the Packers’ pick at 26, Thompson may eye a pair of SEC standouts in LSU’s Eric Reid and Florida’s Matt Elam. Reid brings the physical presence and tackling ability that the Packers have missed since Nick Collins’ career ended abruptly in 2011.
Despite his overwhelming success in April as Packers GM, drafting defensive linemen has not been Thompson’s call to fame. Thompson missed badly on Justin Harrell in 2007 and needs Mike Neal and Jerel Worthy to correct course quickly to revamp a dismal defensive front. The Packers would benefit greatly from the size and strength of UCLA’s Datone Jones. The power and athleticism presented by Utah’s Star Lotulelei would be invaluable to the D-Line in the unlikely scenario that Thompson breaks bank and trades into the top ten.
The loss of Greg Jennings to free agency and whiff on Jeff Saturday in 2012 calls attention to the wide receiver and center prospects in this draft. Additionally, Green Bay will need to seek a replacement for Jermichael Finley, who will almost certainly be playing in a different uniform in 2014. Don’t be surprised to see Thompson trade down a couple spots and snag California’s Keenan Allen or Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert at the end of the first round or beginning of the second round.