Opinions on how the Packers will use their first-round draft selection at No. 29 overall—or whether they'll even keep it—are all over the place a little more than a week out from the NFL draft.
The most recent mock drafts have Green Bay selecting anyone from Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley to Florida State running back Dalvin Cook to Wisconsin's T.J. Watt. Even unsavory Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who has been removed from multiple teams' draft boards due to striking a woman in the face, made an appearance in NFL.com's Bucky Brooks' most recent mock.
Let alone how ridiculous the idea of Ted Thompson using his first-round selection on a prospect with questionable character almost guaranteed to slide into Day 2 or beyond is; Mixon or not, the Packers should absolutely write off using No. 29 on an offensive player altogether.
Green Bay made the most impact on offense in free agency, adding tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks and re-signing offensive lineman Don Barclay, who, for all intents and purposes, seems to currently hold the starting right guard spot heading into training camp.
Sure, the Packers suffered some setbacks on offense in terms of losing guard T.J. Lang and running back Eddie Lacy, but those losses don't measure up to the holes on defense. Those already existed heading into free agency, and certainly weren't helped as the team let defensive back Micah Hyde, outside linebacker Julius Peppers and defensive end Datone Jones walk.
Green Bay's offense finished the 2016 season eighth in total offense, averaging 368.8 yards and 27 points per game. They're already in better shape before the draft even begins thanks to improving at tight end and the fact that Ty Montgomery will be the starting running back out of the gate this year.
On defense, however, the Packers finished No. 22 in the league, allowing 363.9 yards and 24.3 points per game. The secondary was sievelike, and even starters found themselves being benched for poor play.
It comes down to this: while Green Bay's offense remains good enough to earn one of six playoff berths in the conference, the defense is a liability that could keep the team from a title yet again. And with Aaron Rodgers turning 34 this season, that's not a position in which the team wants to find itself.
Thompson has consistently and tirelessly targeted the defense in the first round for most of his tenure in Green Bay. It hasn't always paid off. But this year, the Packers don't really have a choice; they need an impact player on defense, and they didn't find him in free agency. Ergo, it's time to draft one.
Of course, opinions differ on which position needs the impact the most. Watt is a popular mock for the Packers, and while outside linebacker benefits from the Packers resigning Nick Perry and Jayrone Elliott in free agency, it's always prudent to keep a strength a strength. With Peppers and Jones leaving in the offseason, the pass-rushing corps could use some attention.
Still, the most glaring area of need on defense remains the secondary, despite the fact that the Packers signed Davon House in free agency. Losing Hyde was a big blow. The Packers may need more than one player to make up his versatility in the defensive backfield. At corner, presumably House, Damarious Randall, and Quinten Rollins will compete for starting roles, but the latter two players have to make serious strides in training camp.
The Packers could also look to improve the defensive line after cutting Mike Pennel and with Letroy Guion suspended for the first four games of the season.
No matter which area of the defense they choose to address, it's clear that side of the ball needs the Packers' attention most later this month.
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