Assessing the Packers’ Biggest Draft Needs
Despite Tom Silverstein’s shocking news that the Packers are interested in former Miami Dolphins’ defensive end Kendall Langford, chances remain high that the Packers instead address their defensive deficiencies through the draft.
In doing so, the question becomes which position should the Packers address first; an outside linebacker to put opposite Clay Matthews or another body to build up a much-needed pass rush. Or what about center if Scott Wells finds a new home via free agency and the Packers come up empty-handed with veteran centers?
Regardless of need, Ted Thompson is likely to draft the best player available when the Packers get on the clock, but it’s worthwhile to play the game.
While the Packers having glaring holes both on the defensive line and at right outside linebacker, addressing the issues of the defensive line will also help to alleviate additional pressure placed on the outside linebacker, as well as the defensive back field.
With a steady pass rush in 2010, the Packers were able to mask their weakness at the right outside linebacker position all the way to winning Super Bowl XLV. When Cullen Jenkins walked out the door to become an Eagle and the pass rush struggled, there were just too many problems to disguise. By fixing one issue, namely the defensive line, the Packers would again be able to compensate for weaknesses elsewhere, if not able to find a solution via free agency or the draft.
The news of Mike Neal’s suspension earlier this week was another hit to the Packers’ defensive line situation. Supposed to be the justification for letting Cullen Jenkins walk for a somewhat affordable deal, Neal hasn’t lived up to the hype and is getting dangerously close to the bust label, or even the Justin Harrell 2.0 label. It appears that Neal is not the answer, and the doubt weighs enough that it’s time to act.
While Langford would be a good addition to the rotation on the line, he won’t offer much in terms of the pass rush, the Packers’ biggest downfall in 2011. He is a run-stopper first and foremost and not known for getting after the quarterback.
The Packers need to address the defensive line and get a lineman who can and will get to the quarterback. That’s not to say if the Packers have a chance at a top outside linebacker they should pass him up, but just that the addressing the issues on the defensive line is a more desperate need.
If it’s not a pass rushing defensive linemen or a right outside linebacker, the Packers next biggest need is at the center position. Scott Wells is drawing quite some interest from teams, including visits to the Tennessee Titans and the St. Louis Rams. The Packers would benefit from having Wells back, but will not and should not break the bank for the 31-year old center.
Wisconsin’s Peter Konz has been a player mentioned if the Packers are searching for a center in the draft, but the Packers would likely have to trade up to get him. This is especially the case now that the Houston Texans, who draft in the 26th spot, are now in the market for a center following cutting their guy in Chris Myers.
A rare free agent signing prior to the draft could change everything, but as of now, the Packers’ biggest need is on the defensive line, followed by outside linebacker and center.
Michael is a sports writer currently attending Seattle University. You can follow Michael on Twitter .