Aaron Rodgers has said that this year’s Packers team needs to “reload”. As far as the defense is concerned…this team is rebuilding. As much as we would like to forget about it, the Packers were one respectable defense away from another Super Bowl appearance last year. The offense was not the problem. With that 20/20 hindsight, fast-forward to the off-season, where the Packers lost Sam Shields, Micah Hyde, Julius Peppers, and Datone Jones. The addition of Davon House and Ricky Jean Francois were…part of the rebuilding process. The Packers have two second-year players in Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry that they are counting on and have hopes that they get LeTroy Guion back in week five. Realistically, this team would be better if they could rebuild to the extend that they could ditch the legal problem of Guion and move on. But the Packers are not even deep enough at defensive lineman to do that, and the failed physical by Ego Ferguson doesn’t help.
Let’s talk about the Packers needs on the defense:
- Defensive line depth
This is assuming that the answer at inside linebacker is on the roster and that the Packers can lock up Morgan Burnett after next year. Otherwise…the needs only increase. Let’s face it…right now, the cornerstone of the Packers defense (after Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) is Nick Perry, who has yet to show the durability to play a full season in the NFL.
INTERLUDE: I don’t mean to be negative about the Packers overall chances next year. I actually think that the players we have on defense in particular will outplay expectations. But I think this team is in the process of rebuilding…not reloading. And now…on with the exciting part of the show.
This year’s draft class, along with the addition of House and Francois, should have Packers fans excited. Well, at least we should be cautiously optimistic depending on how highly you rate Ted Thompson’s draft prowess. The cornerback position is stacked and TJ Watt has a chance of getting the call, if not in the first, perhaps in the second round. While two cornerbacks chosen in this year’s draft could be considered a waste in light of the two we picked in rounds one and two so recently (Randall and Rollins), it is what it is and I doubt many in PackerNation would be displeased. The odds would at least be in our favor.
So the Packers are rebuilding on defense. We went from having Julius Peppers as a reserve LOLB to having all our eggs in the Nick Perry basket. We have no Sam Shields and no Micah Hyde. The Packers hope to have Clay Matthews back healthy and at peak form, but with no true stud at ILB there is still the question out there of whether the team should draft a pass-rusher and kick Clay back to the inside in a permanent fashion (I mean, the money is still good…right).
The defensive line is probably in the best shape right now but the team seems to obviously want to position itself to let LeTroy Guion go…which means they may need to add one more d-lineman. In the meantime, Guion gets a pass on all his illegal activities and the team is stuck making excuses.
This year’s draft will be critical for the Packers and Ted Thompson. A rebuilt Packers defense that has enough pressure and can also cover on the back-end would be just the ticket for Packers fans to believe this team can get over the hump. On the other hand, a swing and miss in this year’s draft could spell disaster for another of Aaron Rodgers’ prime years in Green and Gold. Fortunately, the draft seems to play into the Packers hands this year but only time will tell.