Green Bay were going to compete for the Super Bowl in 2017. After reaching the divisional round in 2015 and the NFC championship game in 2016 the next step was surely to make the big one?
After a strong start to the season they went to Minnesota in Week 6 at 4-1 and lost Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone. Without their star quarterback the Packers season fell apart, holes that Rodgers’ talent had covered suddenly came to light, and it ended up costing Ted Thompson his general manager position while Mike McCarthy revamped his coaching staff.
Heading into 2018 the Packers have $21 million in cap space and a ridiculous 11 draft picks including the 14th overall selection, far higher than they would normally be. Where should the Packers invest their capital this offseason?
I’m not separating this into strict positions, because the Packers whole pass defense needs work from front to back. They were 17th in sacks with 37, but gave up a staggering 102.0 quarterback rating, which was only just beaten by the Cleveland Browns for league-worst. Their 30 passing touchdowns against was beaten only by the Giants, and their 7.9 yards per attempt against were beaten only by the Texans and Colts. So in short, their pass defense was diabolically bad in 2017.
While the Packers have very little in cap space to find veterans in free agency, they have a long history of turning mid-round draft picks into serious players, but where should they spend their top pick this year?
In the secondary they are waiting on Kevin King to come good, and both Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins are reasonable players, but they lack a star. Denzel Ward would be a worthwhile pick if he is still on the board. They also lack talent at safety, and while Minkah Fitzpatrick is almost certainly going to be off the board, Derwin James is the kind of playmaker they could use in the middle of the field.
Unfortunately, the secondary isn’t the only place they have struggled. Inside linebacker has been a problem in coverage as well, leaving the underneath and middle wide open to tight ends and running backs. Rashaan Evans would be a solid candidate in the first round, but they are more likely to find competent depth there later in the draft.
Finally, there is the pass rush situation. This, I think, doesn’t require heavy investment. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are still threats on the outside and both Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels provide good inside rush. They should use some picks adding depth, but they don’t need to overdraft this area.
If they are thinking about avoiding an all defense offseason, then the one area they could use an extra pair of hands is the interior offensive line, and in particular at guard.
Their one year with Jahri Evans wasn’t brilliant, and only Lane Taylor is currently on the roster as a guard. The Packers have struggled to replace their Pro Bowl pair of Josh Sitton and TJ Lang, and the difference has been a poor running game and a dirtier pocket for their quarterbacks.
While many may point to the lack of a big name at running back as part of their problems, there is enough young talent in Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones to deter them from drafting the position over improving the blocking.
If Green Bay can find some talent on the interior of the line late on in the draft, or on the cheap in training camp after some veterans around the league have been cut, then they could create a more balanced and well-rounded offense.
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