25

April

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Inside Linebacker

In this next installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the inside linebacker position currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#50 A.J. Hawk
27 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2015

#55 Desmond Bishop
26 yrs. old / 4 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2014

#56 Nick Barnett
29 yrs. old / 8 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#54 Brandon Chillar
28 yrs. old / 7 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#49 Rob Francois
25 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#48 Cardia Jackson
22 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#57 Matt Wilhelm
30 yrs. old / 8 yrs. exp.
Free Agent

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

As it stands right now, the Packers are stacked at the inside linebacker position.

Nick Barnett is a well-seasoned veteran whose hair is almost as big as his reputation. He was a starter for Green Bay from day one, and has been an anchor at the position for the past eight years. He led the team in tackles for five of those years, set the single-season franchise record with 194 tackles, and ranks third in franchise annals with 986 career tackles.

Then there’s A.J. Hawk, the Packers’ top 2006 draft pick who finally seemed to make his mark this season with Barnett out of the picture. For the first three years, fans became increasingly frustrated with a performance that belied his first-round draft status. Finally, we have seen that his communication skills, good study habits, and great work ethic were a gigantic asset to the team. And for his efforts, Ted Thompson rewarded Hawk with a brand new five-year contract.