Green Bay Packers 2013 NFL Draft Team Needs
The Green Bay Packers came into 2012 with the reigning league MVP in quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and a revamped defense after having spent six of their eight draft picks on that side of the ball.
After a rough start to the season, which included heart-breaking, last-second defeats at Seattle and at Indianapolis, the Packers finally found their groove, winning nine of their next ten games. After dropping the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings to finish 11-5, the Packers got revenge against their NFC North rivals the very next week at Lambeau Field in a 24-10 playoff victory.
However, the Packers were once again eliminated by a team that made the Super Bowl (Giants last year, 49ers this year). Though they have arguably the NFL’s best player in Rodgers, one man can only carry a team so far. The lack of a running game has put too much weight on the right shoulder of Rodgers, who has to also use his legs since a lackluster offensive line isn’t always able to keep him standing upright.
On the other side of the ball, the defensive woes were exposed in that Divisional Round loss to the 49ers, where Colin Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and had the defense confused all game long. Though a few injuries derailed the defense through the course of the season, some immediate needs are evident.
Let’s dive right in and see what those Packers needs are:
Offensive Needs: OL, RB
Rodgers, who has been one of the most-sacked quarterbacks over the past few seasons, is able to stay healthy and upright due to his mobility. But that can’t be the case forever, which is why a healthy offensive line is vital to the Packers’ success. They dropped the ball last year on re-signing Scott Wells and potentially drafting Peter Konz. Instead, they signed free agent Jeff Saturday, who was benched late in the season. Tackles Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod show promise, but ended up on injured reserve this season. The Packers definitely need to look at tackle and center, while the guard position is solid with Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang.
The other component that the Packers need on offense to help out Rodgers & Co. is a running back; the team cycled through about half a dozen different running backs this year. The future of veterans Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant are questionable, especially with the potential of DuJuan Harris. Regardless, a more viable option at that position is necessary for the Packers, and many mock drafts I’ve seen have them taking Wisconsin’s Montee Ball in the first round. Our own Kevin Roberts has them selecting South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore in his latest mock draft.
Defensive Needs: DE, S
Since losing Cullen Jenkins to the Eagles in free agency two seasons ago, the Packers haven’t quite found his replacement at defensive end. Veterans Ryan Pickett and Mike Neal are average, and rookie Jerel Worthy has promise, but hasn’t taken the next step yet.
Though I want to also list linebackers as a need for the Packers, I really don’t see it that way. Maybe they will draft some as backups, but their starting linebacking corps suffered because of injuries. Season-ending injuries to Desmond Bishop and Nick Perry early on in the season really hurt the abilities of Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk. If all four are healthy, then the Packers will have one of the most dynamic linebacking corps in the league.
Safety, on the other hand, is again an immediate need. The career-ending injury suffered by Nick Collins in 2011 has been quite the ordeal for the Packers in terms of finding a replacement. Collins was on the same level as Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, and his injury has really derailed the team’s secondary. Since then, Charles Woodson has moved from cornerback to safety, but that’s only a temporary fix. He’s a season or two (at most) away from retirement. Morgan Burnett and M.D. Jennings are good, not great, and the Packers are going to need great if they’re going to replace Collins.
Green Bay clearly needs to get better on defense. The painful part is that they focused their efforts to do son in last year’s draft, and it didn’t really work out as planned. Well, they’ll have to try again. While they’re at it, they sorely need to land a star running back to help ease the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers, and some o-line depth wouldn’t hurt, either. The Packers are still the team to beat in the NFC North and are Super Bowl threats until they prove otherwise. They just need to have a solid draft to keep the dream alive.