Here we are, sitting at 5-0 over a quarter through the 2011 season but thinking about next years draft is already on the minds of Packer scouts, as they are traveling all over the country checking in on guys on Saturdays. The Packers are the consensus top team in the NFL so while they may have few needs, some weaknesses are really starting to shine through. The offense has saved the team averaging 34.6 points per game. The defense is giving up 22.2 points per game, which is not terrible in the high flying league they now play in, but throw three unstable offenses in Carolina, Denver and Chicago, there is a lot left to be desired. All that said, here are my top draft needs…..
1. OLB – The Packers’ pass rush has been very suspect so far this season. They have totalled 12 sacks so far, just over two a game, but considering the leads they have had in each game and knowing the opposing offense is going to throw the ball, the numbers should be better. Our one pass rushing stud has one sack this season due to constant double teams. Clay Matthews needs help from the other side, and he is just not getting that. Eric Walden has one sack from the first game, that’s it. Ted Thompson has ignored the other OLB spot for two seasons now, letting UDFA guys fight for the spot, but this has to change next year. With two feared OLBs coming, Raji and his counterparts collapsing the middle, our defense can get back to top 5.
2. CB – The Packers have a fantastic crew of CBs on paper, but their play on the field suggests otherwise. Charles Woodson just turned 35 and has shown spurts of the old Woodson, but has looked old at other times. Williams has been playing hurt all season and has zero INTs after leading the team the last two seasons. Sam Shields has had some growing pains in his second season, but is still learning and should get resigned after this year to a long term contract as long as he continues to grow. We do not know what we have in House but with the way the league has evolved, you can never have too many CBs.
3. Center – Scott Wells has continued his good play but is in his final year of his contract and any Packer follower knows that TT rarely pays for 30+ year old players. Wells will be 31 at the end of the season, and his replacement is definitely not on the roster. TT has gone the UDFA route here as well, bringing in Dietrich-Smith and McDonald but neither has panned out. I would not be surprised to see Wells sign a two year deal but finding a replacement should be a must.
4. DE – We have stockpiled the DE spot for a few seasons now, but there is still uncertainty on the D-line. Pickett is 32 and will begin slowing down soon. Neal has been hurt for a year and a half. Wilson has shown flashes of becoming a good run stuffer but has little pass rush. Wynn has been the opposite, showing decent pass rush and a little run support, but no one is complete. Competition has never hurt anyone, and I can see more bodies being thrown into the mix.
These are my top 4 needs for the 2012 season, and we know TT will not fill one in free agency so 2012 NFL Draft, he we come! And with the 32 pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select…….