Examining the Packers NFL Draft Priorites

Let’s take a quick break from making ball jokes at the NFL’s expense and wallowing in our misery over the Green Bay Packers collapse from eight days ago to gaze into the future.

Specifically, let’s gaze into the Packers’ future, all the way to May (or April, or June, or Christmas…whenever the hell the NFL draft is this year) and the rookie draft. Then let’s pretend that mysteriously, every prospect across the board in this year’s draft is equally talented.

There’s no debating about drafting talent over need because all players are equally talented. If you need a pass-rushing defensive end, you can take that pass-rushing defensive end without fear of regretting not taking the more talented cornerback only because you already have plenty of cornerbacks.

So, with all talent being equal, what position should the Packers address in the first round? Here are three obvious options and one darkhorse option:

Middle linebacker
If the Packers can nab a middle linebacker in the first round that could match the output of Desmond Bishop in late 2010 and throughout 2011, this defense should take another step forward. The A.J. Hawk era in Green Bay appears to be coming to an end. The Clay Matthews experiment was a success, but a short-term fix. Brad Jones…oh Brad Jones…I don’t even know what to say. I’m thinking most Packers fans have middle linebacker at the top of their draft boards, as they should.

With Tramon Williams on the wrong side of 30 and a free agent, and with the talented but oft-injured Davon House also hitting free agency, the Packers will likely need some help on the outside of the secondary. An argument could be made that several top teams, the Packers included, have had success finding cornerbacks late in the draft, through undrafted free agency, or off other team’s practice squads. But cornerback is such an important position in today’s pass-happy game. I say it belongs near the top of the priority list.

Tight end
Imagine what this offense would look like if Richard Rodgers develops into an above average tight end and a has a rookie tight end to help him out on routes down the seam?

Offensive line
Here’s the darkhorse candidate. The 2014 Packers offensive line was the best of the Aaron Rodgers/Mike McCarthy era. You might be thinking, “Just re-sign Bryan Bulaga and plug this same group in again next season.” If only it were that easy. Even if the Packers re-sign Bulaga, he’s an injury-prone player. He missed half of 2012, all of 2013 and left two games early in 2014, only to see his replacement give up huge sacks late in the game.

Plus it’s probably a longshot to expect David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Cory Linsley and T.J. Lang to play every snap again in 2015.

Drafting another quality offensive linemen gives the Packers the depth they need up front in case of emergency, and a long-term option for 2016 and beyond.


Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .


32 thoughts on “Examining the Packers NFL Draft Priorites

  1. Adam, this is interesting analysis. You point out 3 groups of players which has some names to hit the free agency & one group without star (TE group). But, as I agree completely that Packers need to draft at least 2 ILBs, I read interesting article about Packers need on NT position, and some good NTs will be there to pick up (who knows what are the plans of Raji)… Also, I am more tend to go to get some special players (BAP) than to push to fill the “holes” in the roster… Of course that we are looking for draft prospects, but it looks like TE class is not so good this year… But, TT is known as specific beast and who knows what he will pull out from his sleeve… Of course, we would still prefer if Packers won and be on the trip to Arizona SB, but now, nothing can get to soon for us, I suppose…

    1. Why NT? Not only will we likely have Raji and Guion both back, but Pennel showed a lot of promise and has a high ceiling. NT has to be pretty low on the list of needs.

  2. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the Packers draft 2 ILB in first 5 rounds depending on what they think about Bradford moving forward. Personally I’d be sick to my stomach if Training Camp starts next year and either Hawk or Jones are still on the roster.
    To bad Jumal Rolle got away, especially if Goodson doesn’t get MUCH better. Rolle had 3 picks, 4 passes defensed in 10 games with Houston this season.
    With the success Thompson had with Peppers and Guion would it be to much to hope he might bring in one or two other FA that could help? I’m sure it is but I’m holding out hope.
    Hopefully a team doesn’t offer Bulaga LT money thinking they could convert him. He’s a Packer and would love to see him stay a Packer. Resign Barclay if his knee is alright and maybe take a O Lineman in the 5th or 6th round.

    1. My thoughts exactly about Jumal Rolle. If Goodson doesn’t pan out, then the Packers will know they let one get away. I think Barclay will be cheap and Bulaga’s injury history should bring his price down, even if he had a great season this year. The Packers should have $28.3 million in cap space and if they cut Jones and Hawk, will have $33.55 million in space.

    2. Made me sick to see Rolle go. Worse now that I know how he played. Oh well just go get two fast hard hitting ILBs, a fast tall TE, and a nasty DT

      1. I’m really curious to see what happens with Thornton this next season. I saw several “Draft Reports” last year that really had him moving up boards. The guy was totally lost this past season in TC but if he began to pan out it would certainly help on the DL.

  3. Adam – Although the DL improved this season especially during the 2nd half of the season, I still think this is a priority for the Packers. If there is a DL on the board by the time the Packers draft who is better than the remaining ILBs they should take the DL, otherwise I agree with you that an ILB should be taken 1st. B. Jones, who was exploited on the fake FG, and Hawk should both be gone. I agree with your other priorities, especially if we can find another Linsley like OL in the later rounds. Packers should franchise tag Cobb if necessary and definetly re-sign Bulaga. This offense should be kept as intact as possible while we continue to build up the defense. It is too soon to know how MM will respond to the loss of his younger brother (My deepest condolences to him and his family) but he may reassess many things differently in light of his family’s tragedy. In any case it’s time for a new ST coach. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

    1. I agree with all of this. In many ways, a good interior lineman can offset an average ILB, and vice versa.

      1. Initial reviews show that there’s some good depth at the top of this draft for DTs…not so much for ILBs (unless you’re going for a OLB conversion).

    2. Amen to getting a DT! Guion was solid, but not a world beater. Daniels is the best, Boyd has shown promise, but Pennel is unproven and Raji is probably gone. Hawk and Jones will get cut and the Packers will save $7.25 million of cap room in the process. That will catapult ILB to the top of the Packers’ draft board. Eric Kendricks and Denzel Perryman are the most likely candidates. I don’t think Benadrick McKinney will be around by #29. Giants, Eagles, Cardinals and Colts all need ILBs, too.

    3. GB should not put the franchise tag on Cobb under almost any circumstances. The tag for WRs is over $12 million. GB couldn’t re-sign Bulaga, Guion and Raji, a CB, or Barclay, Bush, Tolzien, Lattimore, Kuhn, Harris, Richardson.

      1. I can’t imagine TT letting Cobb get to FA. I’d think he gets it done before that March deadline. With the cap space he can free up releasing Jones and Hawk, plus the cap increase I have to believe he gets it done. Totally agree on the Franchise Tag and can’t see Ted using that on Cobb.

    4. I’m not as big of fan of taking DL and would prefer either a TE or CB in the 1st round if ILB isn’t plausible. The DL will likely have 2 very good starters – Raji and Daniels, and 1 rapidly improving player- D Jones. Boyd and Guion (if he’s back) are steady players and Pennel is a total wild card with lots of potential. Add the fact that Peppers is prob coming back and plays D line and don’t see how or where a 1st round DL pick would play. You can’t make the same argument about CB’s if Williams and House don’t get resigned, which is what I’m predicting will happen. We may be deep at CB but it’s all small, slow nickel backs. We need a true #2 corner….. bonus points if he turns into a #1

  4. Adam to play the what if game, Owen Daniels would have likely caught that ball in the 4th quarter that Quarless dropped for a first down.You have to have TE that catches the ball with his hands and not his body. Upper echelon TE go up and get the ball in the air with hands. TT is always one or two pieces away. I have been a GB fan for 50 yrs. No owner, no quick moves. Fans will always come.

    1. Owen Daniels can only catch the ball if he’s on the field. He’s a sneeze away from an ankle sprain, pulled oblique, or torn ligament.

      I like the idea of going for a big WR to transition into a move TE…a Devin Funchess from Michigan or Darren Waller of Ga Tech, or the like. Let Rich-Rodg play as the in-line TE. Wouldn’t be surprised if Quarless isn’t back in 2015.

    2. Agreed about the hands/body thing. Thought that was a great defensive play, the DB drove right through Q, knowing that a PI call or a Q catch meant the same thing.

      Disagree about the owner part, I’m a 48 year fan. Things have happened fairly quickly under the Wolf/TT regimes. Would much rather have this structure than any current NFL owner, except perhaps Kraft. Haste causes incorrect decisions.

  5. It might sound silly to say it this way, but the first thing the Packers need to find is a “playmaker” regardless of position, especially for the defensive side of the ball. I wouldn’t be averse to them taking a WR in round 1 if that player is going to be someone who makes things happen (and, of course, depending on what they do with Randall Cobb).

    I agree that they need to find a swing tackle candidate. They might be able to address this with Tretter and resigning Barclay. It might be that they’ll decide to let Bulaga go, resign Barclay on the cheap, and draft an OT. You leave DL off this list. Frankly, you can never have enough quality DL and several early mocks have the Packers going that route. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Packers take a quality RB in the first two days of the draft as their “Eddie Lacy Concussion #3” insurance policy.

    1. I agree with the playmaker idea, of course everyone is looking for one of those. With respect to ILBs, they’re becoming harder to find every year. College and pro teams have devalued the ILB position, and the top-tier athletes are gravitating/being moved to OLB/DE, where the big money is. Looking forward to seeing how the available ILBs progress throughout the draft process.

      1. I keep thinking the Packers need a DeAndre Levy type in the middle. Didn’t come out of college with much fanfare…he was, what, a 4th round pick? Good athleticism. Has learned to play more physically and is a good tackler. Can run and cover.

        I think this was part of the plan for Brad Jones. Ultimately, he’s pretty athletic and has good size, but he’s slow to diagnose (football IQ?), gets lost in coverage, and doesn’t play with much physicality. OK for a 6th-round flier, but you can’t build a defense around him.

        In the end, the Packers need to find that ultra-productive, high-motor, hard-working guy who makes others around him that much better. He might not grade out the highest at his position at the combine, but he can lead your defense for 8-10 years.

        1. Sounds exactly like what’s needed. It’s too bad about Jones. He had one decent year, and as you said he seems to have athleticism, is a smart guy and a great individual. It just hasn’t translated to the field for him.

  6. About Offensive line, don’t forget about Don Barclay. I’m sure TT will draft another OT like he always does, but I sincerely doubt we will need another one.

  7. Go with best player on the board. When Ted drafted for need, the results were varied and more often than not, middling at best.

    That being said, what does this team need? Its needs a more disruptive rush from it’s DL, faster and more savvy LBs (Hawk, Jones adios), and a 3rd down back who can be a threat in the short pass game.

    I’m over the TE craze after watching Rodgers zero in on Finley to so-so results for 3 seasons. The year Finley was most effective, we had the most capable WR corps… go figure. Get me a 3rd down back who can block and catch and we’re golden.

  8. I mostly agree. IMO, resigning Bulaga should be the #1 priority in free agency. Don’t forget about Don Barclay. He was called their 6th starter last year before he went down with injury.

    TT will pick the best guy on the board and will trade up/down to match needs to value on the board.

    I expect a draft heavy in defense – ILB, NT, CB. Offensive needs are a TE and OL depth. WR may get a sniff also, especially if Cobb is too expensive.

    In hindsight, the Packers should have made room on the 53-man for Rolle. Bradford was on the roster the entire season and was never activated – even with the glaring need at ILB.

  9. maybe we could bring back crabby arod loves the guy and he was not a bad tight end and now probably cheap

  10. I’d rank Packers positional priorities as follows:
    1st rd: ILB
    2nd rd: DT
    3rd rd: CB
    4th rd: RB
    5th rd: OT/OG
    6th rd: DE/OLB
    7th rd: QB

  11. I think signing Cobb and Bulaga are the main thing this team needs then let Williams walk to open cap space..Keep House at a low contract to see if he can make a year without injury and draft a corner as well. They do have Goodson in training so we do not know what he will look like until this spring! ILB is the main draft goal they need to take at least two this draft but again we do not know how Bradford has come along since being moved there so he could be a force next year at the spot..There are a lot of blind spots with last years draft that we have not got a look at yet so maybe a few of those will be the difference this year

  12. Using your rules (but perhaps one should assume that Cobb and Bulaga, Guion and Raji are re-signed, and either Tramon or House, too), then yes, ILB, CB, TE, OT, ILB (2 should be taken), DE, NT, 3rd down RB. I note that last year’s draft was loaded with RT or swing OT prospects, several of whom were still there when TT took Thornton and Rodgers.

    If TT signs both Raji and Guion, I imagine Pennel should be looking over his shoulder, because the roster might be Daniels, Boyd, Datone, Raji, Guion, Thornton (that is 6, the # of DL GB usually keeps), with Pennel, Luther Robinson, Gaston, and any new DL prospects trying to displace one of the above. If TT takes a DT or DE in the first 5 rounds, I wouldn’t bet much on those bubble players’ chances.

  13. They need to draft the second coming of Gilbert Brown, so they can plug up the middle, leaving Mathews and Peppers to do their thing.

  14. I like these “what if” scenarios.
    Currant roster – #1 move… I would lock up Cobb and Bulaga at reasonable prices. Barclay is still the OT back-up with Tretter the inside back-up/swing. (In a perfect world Cobb/Bulaga sign reasonably cheap) Let go of Hawk, Jones, Raji, Flynn, Bush, Harrison and Williams. Maybe get a new TE group in there with R.Rogers.
    Re-sign Peppers to another “cap friendly” contract. Resign House, Tolzien, Kuhn, Harris, Guion and Richardson. Let them fight it out with the new crop of 2015 rookies and FA pick ups. (May the odds be ever in your favor…)
    2014 Rookies – We still have players from last years draft to come in and play yet. I have no clue how they are in game time situations. Could be a pleasant surprise. No need to play all your rookies if your team is playing good, right? Well that is the same premise for this team. I have yet to see the potential in these 1st year players. I would like see what they have before declaring these young men expendable though.
    In the draft – Following the BPA philosophy – I’m trading back in the 1st for early 2nd and 3rd round picks. I’m looking at DT/DE primarily and then ILB. Next would be a RB, followed by TE and OL. Finally I would then look for a competent CB, WR and/or QB in the later rounds.
    In FA – I’m looking for a piece to compliment the Defense AND Special Teams. With Slocum gone, we can shore this ST unit up fast.
    “Defense is only one or two pieces away from being dominant SB defense.” – and I agree with that. Barring the up and coming CB to replace Williams, I don’t think the transition with newer players will fall off, but help to raise the play of the entire defense. The higher quality athletes will command too much money for Green Bay to go after. Not to mention the unproven players or the mediocre vets that are just serviceable at best. Besides, we draft for the future and paying an absurd amount of money for a FA every year will hurt that on many levels.
    And all this just off the top of my head. If I can sit and think clearly, I would be better able to put together the off season. And keep us under the cap. LOL!!! Yea, this was fun…

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