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Packers’ Day One Draft Options

The Green Bay Packers are the reigning NFC North champions.  Mike McCarthy was without Aaron Rodgers for a chunk of last season and was able to keep his team alive to a week 17 showdown with arch rival, the Chicago Bears.  This year it’s going to take a lot more than guts and luck to win the NFC North.  Every team in this division has made moves in free agency to fill voids that were needed.  Of course not all voids are filled with free agency, which brings us to the NFL Draft.

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The Packers needs going into the draft are at the linebacker, safety and center positions.  I’ve read that the Packers may also look for a wide receiver or tight end in this draft.  I believe if they go that route it would be later in the draft.  When a team has a franchise quarterback, especially one who’s name is Aaron Rodgers.  Rodgers has the ability as does Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, to make a good wideout / tight end from what is given to him.  Considering this is a team that comes in with a balance on offense with the addition of Eddie Lacy last season at running back and the fact that Green Bay already has Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson at the wideout  spots – I’m sure offense will not be addressed until later in the draft.  Unless of course – they consider a center.  The Green Bay Packers let their center Evan Dietrich Smith sign with the Tampa Bay Bucs in the off-season,  losing that “familiarity” which is important in that “center-quarterback” exchange.  The question is: Is there a center worth drafting with the 21st pick in the draft?   The answer to that is an easy – no.

The top centers in this draft don’t vary much in draft grades and for the most part each one can be available in the second or third rounds.  This would include Colorado State center Weston Richburg, Marcus Martin of USC and Gabe Ikard of Oklahoma.  Once again, is there a pending “need” on this offense?  No.  The offense will be business as usual with Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy running the show, so the first round need should go to the defensive side of the ball.

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The Packers can score, but so can the Lions and the Bears which means the defensive side of the ball WILL get the attention it needs in the first round.  The Packers may be looking to strengthen their linebacker core which already has AJ Hawk and most notably Clay Matthews.  The Packers like to run more of a 3-4 style defense which would mean getting a linebacker like CJ Mosley of Alabama or Ryan Shazier of Ohio State should fit the bill.  Mosley seems to be the type who goes off natural instincts but making the transition from college to pro, that kind of means there will be a learning curve which the Packers may not have the patience to wait through.  Mosley is a fine tackler but he takes gambles too much for my liking which is why I like the Packers to go Ryan Shazier route.  Shazier showed his emotional leadership on the field for the Buckeyes, but he also exhibited speed and athleticism to close gaps quickly and even recover from initial bad reads.  He’s got a great sideline to sideline engine which would be very effective in dropping back in coverage schemes against the Bears and Lions.

The only way I can see the Packers NOT going at linebacker with the 21st pick in the draft is if by some miracle safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama drops to them or if the Packers have a safety like Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois higher on their draft board than either one of the linebackers previously mentioned.  Clinton-Dix has been rumored to be taken anywhere from the 10th pick to Detroit to St Louis with the 13th pick, so picturing a scenario where Clinton-Dix would go 21st is just wishful thinking on part of the Green Bay faithful.  Jimmie Ward stands at 5’11” and weighs around 190 pounds which scares people away – wanting a bigger frame at the safety position.  Ward has the fight of a rabid dog in him and seems to like making bigger players look foolish.  He’s proven that he can handle man-to-man coverage and he’s another player who knows how to take angles and cut space between himself and the ball carrier.  Ward, in my eyes, is worth a look in the first round and it may just come from Green Bay.


G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

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