The Packers will enter the 2017 draft with holes to fill…particularly on defense. Ranked 22nd in total defense, multitudes of injury, in particular to Sam Shields, forced young cornerbacks (themselves injured often) into major roles in short order. With the exit of Julius Peppers and Datone Jones, second year LB Kyler Fackrell and recently signed Jayrone Elliot will presumably be called upon earlier and more often. Up front, second year DT Kenny Clark will have his chance to “take the next step” in working side by side with Mike Daniels and now Ricky Jean Francois. But the defense isn’t the only side of the ball that needs attention. While the Packers seem set at tight end with the addition of Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, and the re-signing of Christine Michael has PackerNation breathing a little easier about the running back situation, there is still a need for another back in the mix either through the draft or as a UFA. And while coach McCarthy spoke very highly of the guys he has in the stable for the offensive line, he also mentioned how difficult it is to replace a guy like TJ Lang not just in terms of pro-bowl play, but also for his leadership qualities.With the exit of so many veteran players the Packers (while set for compensatory picks next year) have work to do to win now. The offense only has the ball for so long so to me, it is a no-brainer that the draft should be focused on defense (no Christian McCaffery talk here). That requires the Packers to choose defense with their first round draft choice for the sixth year in a row. But who, and where the other 7 picks should go is another question altogether. Here are my top five needs for the Packers in this upcoming draft. The numbered ranking, however, does not necessarily mean we pick those positions in order, round by round. The strengths of the draft and players available make it impossible to be so simple…plus…we have more than five picks.
This was a glaring need for the Packers and frankly, I would say this even if Sam Shields was still with the team. Gunter got jobbed way too many times and though he was our most consistent cornerback, being consistently burned by number one receivers means that we need someone else and in my mind, Davon House is not the answer. Most people in PackerNation would agree that cornerback should be the number one priority this year. Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Packers pick corner back in round one, but when the dust of the 2017 draft clears and all the jerseys are given out…I hope the Packers have added not one but two at this position.
2. O-lineman (guard)
Many would probably have pass-rusher or even running back here but not me. At the running back position, the Packers have Ty Montgomery and locked up Christine Michael as well. You will definitely see running back on this list as well as pass rusher, but I am putting attention to the O-line as our second highest priority because while at edge rusher we have our starters, along with Fackrell and Elliot which gives us a young up and comer along with a vet. On the offensive line, however, we have Murphy (my “answer”…fingers crossed) and Jason Spriggs who, as coach McCarthy has already said, is a tackle. Since McCarthy has already said he doesn’t want to move Bulaga inside, this becomes a big question mark. Competition is key and I think the Packers must address this position group. I don’t want to see Don Barclay back on the field.
3. Pass Rusher
While I am more comfortable with the pass-rush situation than I am with the O-line, this cannot be neglected either. While the Packers can hope that
Nick Perry finally has a sixteen game season, to assume so would be ludicrous. The Packers still don’t know exactly what they have in Kyler Fackrell and nobody can be sure that Elliot will do the good things he flashed on a regular basis. A pass-rushing inside linebacker would be a home run for the Packers. Reuben Foster, after his altercation at the Combine has not seemed to have taken anywhere near enough of a stock hit to be available to the Pack, I’ve even seen him going in the top ten. But one can dream…right? The pass-rusher pool this year is a much shallower dip than the cornerback position so perhaps the team needs to throw out the lifeline earlier this year…TJ Watt anyone?
4. Running Back
The exit of Eddie Lacy highlights how serendipitous it was for James Starks to go out at the same time Lacy did last year. In hindsight, had our running back situation not been so dire, Montgomery would still be a wide receiver used occasionally out of the backfield and there is no guarantee that the Packers would even be considering him with the draft and free agency still in the mix. It was the loss of Lacy and Starks concurrently that made this move possible for Monty. Now, with Michael also in the mix, the Packers can still not rest in their laurels. The compelling crop of running backs in this year’s draft class is almost as exciting as the cornerbacks (almost) and the Packers should have a shot at a good one still in rounds 3 or 4.
5. Wide Receiver
When you think of the Packers, you think Aaron Rodgers. When you have Aaron Rodgers, you have to give him weapons. With Davante Adams looking to get paid next year, Jordy Nelson getting older, and Randall Cobb not performing at the same level, the team can’t afford to have nothing more than Jeff Janis, Geronimo Allison, and Trevor Davis in the stable. Ted Thompson has kept a continuous bevy of talented wide receivers around Aaron for years and we need to keep that up.
Well, there you have it, my top five priorities for the Packers in this year’s draft. What are yours? Let me know in the comments below or back on the Facebook fanpage. Thanks for reading!