The Green Bay Packers defense in 2014 took a significant step forward. The unit didn’t suddenly morph into the second coming of the 1985 Chicago Bears or today’s Seattle Seahawks, but it was no longer an obvious weak spot on an otherwise sensational team.
Signing free agent Julius Peppers worked out great. So did bringing in Letroy Guion. Older players like Tramon Williams and Clay Matthews stayed healthy and productive while youngsters like Mike Daniels and Morgan Burnett improved.
So far this offseason, the Packers have done everything they could to keep their offense in top form by re-signing Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga. It’s been a different story on defense.
Willams and Davon House departed in free agency. AJ Hawk and Brad Jones were cut (although most people will agree that shedding these two players automatically upgrades the defense). It doesn’t look like general manager Ted Thompson is going to make a Peppers or Guion-type of outside free agent signing any time soon to bolster the defense.
Monday’s news that the Packers re-signed nose tackles B.J. Raji and Letroy Guion finally brought some good news this offseason to the defense. No, Guion is not an all-pro and Raji has several question marks after missing all of last season with a torn biceps. But bringing those two players back at least means the Packers don’t have another major hole to fill on defense with an untested player(s).
While Raji and Guion should provide an adequate mix of size, athleticism and experience at nose tackle, the Packers can still improve the position long term. Don’t be surprised if Thompson picks up a nose tackle early in the upcoming NFL draft.
Jordan Phillips (6-6, 334 pounds, Oklahoma) should be there at the end of round 1. Ellis McCarthy (6-5, 325, UCLA) and Leterrius Walton (6-5, 319, Central Michigan) have steadily climbed draft boards in recent weeks and should be there later in rounds 2 and 3. Let’s also not forget about Mike Pennel. The undrafted free agent didn’t do much in the regular season, but let’s see where he is in August now that he has a full season under his belt.
There’s no doubt the middle of the Packers’ defense could use some re-enforcements. Will Guion/Raji up front, combined with Sam Barrington and who knows what at the other inside linebacker, be enough to win a Super Bowl? Or will Matthews have to ride to the rescue once again at inside linebacker (a plan I’m actually ok with)?
No doubt there will be at least one player on the interior of the Packers’ defense that fans worry about. At least with Raji and Guion back, some of that worrying will be tampered a bit.——————
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 .