Many of the teams in the league are entering the 2013 draft in crisis mode. They have positions that absolutely need to be filled and they’ll be praying the draft will produce some picks that they can throw on the field right out of the gates.
The Packers are not one of these teams.
Thompson has never drafted primarily for need (though the need was there many times) and I think that’s ok for this year’s draft. Are there positions that I wish we would improve? Absolutely, but, based on the current depth chart, I think we have a team that can go all the way to the Super Bowl (especially if Perry and Bishop are ready to go from day one and can stay healthy).
That said, Ted has to think several years ahead to ensure the Packers will be competitors for many years to come. So, how does the team look at each position if we lose people to injury or free agency?
I took the current depth chart and greyed out the starters to get an idea what the landscape of the future looks like for the Packers. (Click on the images for a larger view.)
2013 Packer Offense Depth Chart
There are several on the offensive side of the ball that we’re going to get long-term contracts for. Rodgers, Nelson, and Cobb will all be taken care of. We already have about half the line under contract for several years. Lang and Sitton are under contract until 2017 and, while Bulaga’s contract expires in 2015, I’m guessing Thompson and company will extend that.
I know a lot of people are worried about getting a running back (maybe even in this draft). While I would love to see a top-tier running back wearing the green and gold, I’m not as concerned about it as most. Growing up in Wisconsin and watching Badger football has taught me one important thing about the running game… get a good line and almost any running back can have explosive runs. If our offensive line can block better (and our running backs can stay healthy) any of these guys can be productive.
The three concerns I have about the offensive side of the ball are at center, left tackle, and tight end.
Evan’s contract is up in 2014 and the only other option we have is Gerhart. Newhouse’s contract also expires in 2014 and while Newhouse gave up a lot of sacks last season, I have my doubts whether Sherrod can do any better. Finally, Finley’s contract is also up in 2014 and I don’t think Quarless is the answer as a replacement if Finley walks in free agency.
2013 Packer Defensive Depth Chart
With Perry and Bishop back our shaky defense gets back some of its fire. I’m also going to be watching Jolly closely. If he can pick up where he left off (a big question, I know), we could have a scary good defense because Capers can then swap out Raji and Jolly. That would keep each of them fresh and reduce the chance of injury.
If the line can stay injury free the only real question becomes will the Packers be able to work a deal to keep Pickett when his contract expires in 2014. Mike Neal might be a viable replacement if he continues to improve, but Thompson might also be looking for other alternatives.
In the defensive backfield, Burnett, M.D. Jennings, and Shields all have contracts that expire in 2014, and Williams’ contract expires in 2015. I’m sure we’ll extend contracts for Sam and Morgan. Williams might have his contract extended too if his productivity bounces back in 2013 and 2014, but Ted’s probably also looking for a new shutdown cornerback if Williams doesn’t bounce back.
The depth in the defensive backfield is questionable. If Ted can pick up some defensive backs to develop I’ll feel better about the Packers future.
Bring on the 2013 Draft
I really like the starters at most positions. Hopefully Ted can find some great value picks that can spend some time learning the system and developing so they’re ready to step in when they’re needed.
In the meantime, I look forward to our current team winning the next Super Bowl.