Draft Needs Start With Linebacker, Offensive Line
The Green Bay Packers will go into this year’s NFL Draft with a roster that doesn’t have a lot of holes.
The team could use upgrades in two key areas, though. The Packers still don’t have a pass-rush threat at linebacker opposite [intlink id=”454″ type=”category”]Clay Matthews[/intlink] and could also use help along the offensive line.
[intlink id=”1335″ type=”category”]Erik Walden[/intlink], [intlink id=”1058″ type=”category”]Frank Zombo[/intlink] and [intlink id=”443″ type=”category”]Brad Jones[/intlink] started at outside linebacker at various times in 2010. Of the three, Walden played the best, but doesn’t appear to be the long-term solution.
The three players combined for seven sacks, two forced fumbles and no interceptions. Matthews, by comparison, had 13.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception, himself.
If the Packers can add another playmaking outside linebacker, their defense could be even more formidable than it was in 2010.
Ditto the Packers offense if they can improve their offensive line.
Left guard [intlink id=”94″ type=”category”]Daryn Colledge[/intlink] is a free agent and it’s uncertain if he’ll be back. Left tackle [intlink id=”225″ type=”category”]Chad Clifton[/intlink] is 34. He will return in 2011, but he maybe has one season left.
Even if Clifton and Colledge both return, neither is an effective run blocker and the Packers could upgrade both positions.
[intlink id=”925″ type=”category”]Bryan Bulaga[/intlink] will eventually replace Clifton, but that leaves the Packers with a hole at right tackle. The team is likely to give [intlink id=”583″ type=”category”]T.J. Lang[/intlink] a shot at left guard or right tackle, but it will be hard for the Packers to pass up a top-tier offensive lineman like Bulaga, if there’s one available when their first pick comes around at No. 32.
To a lesser degree, the Packers also have a need at receiver.
Although [intlink id=”76″ type=”category”]Donald Driver[/intlink] has said he wants to play until he’s 40, there’s no guarantee his body will let him. [intlink id=”204″ type=”category”]James Jones[/intlink] also goes into the offseason without a contract and it seems probable someone will offer him the chance to start when he hits free agency, which means the Packers will need to add at least one receiver in the offseason.