The Packers selected Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in the first two rounds of the 2015 draft and then grabbed Kevin King with their top pick last year. Amazingly, the position is still the team’s biggest weakness. There’s no greater indictment on the last few years of Ted Thompson’s reign as general manager.
Here’s a quick position-by-position look at the roster heading into this weekend’s draft:
QUARTERBACK – This became much less of a need the minute new GM Brian Gutekunst traded Randall to Cleveland for DeShone Kizer. With Brett Hundley likely on his way out of town and Joe Callahan likely on his way to the Arena League, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a QB drafted on day 3, but it’s hardly a necessity.
Level of need: LOW (3.5)
RUNNING BACK – While most people feel the Packers are set at this position, it would be foolish to pass up a talented player in the middle rounds. Aaron Jones is the only starting caliber running back on the roster, and he hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy. So while this isn’t a huge need, it also shouldn’t be overlooked.
Level of need: LOW to MEDIUM (4.5)
FULLBACK – Starter Aaron Ripkowski has been adequate and backup Joe Kerridge can play in the league, but neither veteran should feel completely safe going into training camp. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a late round pick spent at this position – perhaps on a more physical lead blocker and/or a more natural receiver.
Level of need: LOW to MEDIUM (5)
TIGHT END – The only two established tight ends on the roster (Jimmy Graham and Lance Kendricks) are both over 30 and neither is guaranteed to still be around a year from now. That means drafting a young tight end makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, the pickings will be extremely slim after day 2. Perhaps Gutekunst will cause Packers fans to have an orgasm by taking Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli in round 4 or 5.
Level of need: MEDIUM (6)
WIDE RECEIVER – If not for the dire situation at cornerback, this would be the biggest need on the roster. After Davante Adams, the Packers have a descending player on the last year of his contract (Randall Cobb) and a bunch of young nobodies. It would be a surprise and a huge mistake not use a high pick at this position.
Level of need: MEDIUM to HIGH (7.5)
OFFENSIVE LINE – It’s probably not a good idea to protect a 34-year old QB coming off a serious injury with the likes of Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy, Lucas Patrick and Justin McCray, so the Packers have to hope that either Bryan Bulaga (torn ACL last December) is ready for the opener in less than five months or that Gutekunst can find a starting caliber offensive lineman in the draft. This is a need that often gets overlooked.
Level of need: MEDIUM (6.5)
DEFENSIVE LINE – Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry and Montravius Adams made this the deepest position on the team even before Muhammad Wilkerson was signed in free agency. So unless Gutekunst selects Washington’s Vita Vea at 14, it would be a surprise to see a defensive lineman drafted before day 3.
Level of need: LOW (3)
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER – An edge rusher must be added early. Otherwise, it’ll be another year of watching the outside pass rush disappear as soon as Clay Matthews and Nick Perry inevitably get injured. There’s a chance Vince Biegel could step up in his second season, but that certainly can’t be expected. I still can’t fathom how Thompson passed on Carl Lawson (8 sacks in 2017) five times a year ago.
Level of need: HIGH (8)
INSIDE LINEBACKER – The emergence of tackling machine Blake Martinez and the ability of safety Josh Jones to play this position makes it less of a priority heading into the draft. That said, it would be foolish to pass up a stud like Georgia’s Roquan Smith or Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds should they unexpectedly fall to 14. In today’s pass-happy NFL, inside linebackers that can play all three downs are like gold.
Level of need: LOW to MEDIUM (5.5)
CORNERBACK – Surprisingly, Gutekunst added only 35-year-old Tramon Williams in free agency, so this remains the biggest need on the team heading into the draft. It’s hard to imagine this position not being addressed either in round 1 or 2 – once again. Can you believe the No. 3 cornerback in 2015 was Casey Hayward?
Level of need: HIGH (9)
SAFETY – Things aren’t nearly as bad here as they are at cornerback, but it would be a mistake to forget about this position. Former All-Pro Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is in the last year of his contract, and Jones is coming off a rather lackluster rookie season. The previous defensive staff really liked Kentrell Brice, but let’s hope the new staff has a much higher standard. If it does, that could put this position in play in the early rounds.
Level of need: MEDIUM (6)
SPECIALISTS – It wouldn’t be a bad idea to draft a kicker considering Mason Crosby’s age and inflated cap number, but that’s unlikely. So is spending a pick on a long snapper, although Oregon’s Tanner Carew might be worthy. Justin Vogel appears to have settled the punting situation following a very solid rookie season.
Level of need: LOW (4)