The Green Bay Packers are among the NFL’s elite, but there could be some big changes on the way for this team. One of the best receivers in the league–Greg Jennings–just finished a contract season with some nagging injuries that forced him to miss quite some time, and it appears as though he’s played his last game with Green Bay.
Though he wasn’t a high impact player, long-time Packer Donald Driver also announced his retirement this offseason. Brad Jones, one of the team’s top tacklers, is also in line for free agency. All in all, though, the Packers appear to be ready for another title run in 2013. Here are my top needs for them this offseason, in no particular order.
1. Defensive Line
The Packers’ defensive line hasn’t been the same since Cullen Jenkins bolted for the Eagles. They have invested some high picks in players, like BJ Raji in 2009 and Jerel Worthy in 2012, but there is still something missing. I think the Packers will continue to look for upgrades along the defensive front. Green Bay could use B.J. Raji at one of the DE spots in their 3-4 alignment and draft another nose tackle as well.
The Packers signed Jeff Saturday for a reason, and now he’s retiring. Evan Dietrich-Smith is in line to replace him, but on a team with so few needs elsewhere, why not replace Saturday with a high draft pick? Alabama’s Barrett Jones could be a huge pickup for this team.
3. Running Back
The Packers have the luxury of being able to use high picks on positions that other teams wouldn’t otherwise. Like running back, for instance. Cedric Benson was signed off the streets, and the Packers had to rely on unknown DuJuan Harris in the postseason. Alex Green is not developing properly, even when he was given an opportunity on a hot team this season. James Starks is too inconsistent and injury prone. I could see the Packers going for an overhaul at this position, starting with a really talented back in the first or second round.
4. Inside Linebacker
Brad Jones is a free agent, and the Packers don’t really have a stud at this position. There are some really good inside linebackers in this draft, and they could cash in if one falls to the later portion of the first round.
5. Pass rush
The team used a first round pick on Nick Perry last year, and he had just 18 tackles as a rookie with two sacks. It’s too early to call him a bust, but the second year player out of USC better show out in 2013. I think it’d be wise for the Packers to push him by adding a player at this position in the second or third round.
6. Wide Receiver
Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are leaving, and Jordy Nelson had some injuries this past season. The Packers have a good group with Nelson, James Jones, and Randall Cobb, but they like to have a deep rotation at this position.
7. Tight End
Will Jermichael Finley’s inconsistencies cost him a roster spot? On Green Bay’s roster, it’s basically him and then a bunch of guys. I think if they wanted to, they could add a much better, much more consistent player at this position through the draft.
Mason Crosby was awful in 2012. He missed seven of his nine field goal attempts from 50 yards or beyond, as well as five from 30-49. The Packers missed a total of 12 field goals while opponents missed just four. That’s inexcusable.