General manager Ted Thompson has finally realized how fun it can be to add outside players in free agency, having inked tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks and cornerback Davon House since the new league year began on March 9.
Given Thompson's slight break from form during this offseason, however, how will this year's free-agency moves affect the Packers' draft?
Green Bay is never a team to go into the draft looking to address needs first and foremost, but glaring holes are one of the factors that go into the creation of Thompson and his team of scouts' Big Board. While Thompson usually employs the Best Player Available strategy in his draft selections, the free-agency signings would seem to take a few options off the table.
For instance, though it was never a mainstream option, many analysts thought the Packers might strengthen their offense this year and target a tight end in the first round—Alabama's O.J. Howard, if he were to fall to No. 29, or perhaps Miami's David Njoku.
That avenue seems all but closed off now, however, with the Packers having doubled up at the position in free agency and with Richard Rodgers still in the mix.
There's no question that the secondary was one of Green Bay's biggest weaknesses in 2016, and cornerback long seemed the most likely position for Thompson to target in Round 1. Not only would that selection satisfy a team need, but this year's draft class is incredibly deep at corner, which would allow Green Bay to satisfy value and need with one pick.
Bringing House into the fold, however, means that now the Packers have some decisions to make in terms of who starts outside among Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, LaDarius Gunter, and House. That's not to say a rookie couldn't press those players in training camp, but drafting a corner in the first round as competition for a 2015 first-rounder and second-rounder sends a certain message.
Based on recent projections after the combine, the Packers may get the opportunity to select players such as Alabama's Marlon Humphrey or Ohio State's Gareon Conley, but because this group is so deep, Thompson could easily find talent in Rounds 2 or 3.
After Eddie Lacy signed with the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday, another dark-horse position the Packers could focus on in the first round is running back. Stanford's Christian McCaffrey is a a runner, receiver, and returner all rolled into one, and his projections vary wildly from the first half of the first round to early in the second. There's also Tennessee's Alvin Kamara, a three-down player who could really help Ty Montgomery shine.
But the position that the Packers may be unable to resist addressing in Round 1 is an edge-rusher. There is an extremely talented group of defensive ends and outside linebackers all projected to be available late in the first round, but specifically, the Packers seem like a perfect fit for Wisconsin's T.J. Watt.
The Packers lost Julius Peppers to the Carolina Panthers and Datone Jones, whom they converted to an outside 'backer, to the Minnesota Vikings. Even though they managed to bring back Nick Perry and Jayrone Elliott, they need to make sure this position remains a point of strength on the roster, rather than becoming a weakness with so many issues already present in the secondary.
Watt has just one full season of college football, which is part of what is allowing him to be projected to be available at No. 29. Watt works hard to get to the quarterback, but he's also extremely effective against the run, which could do wonders for Green Bay's front seven.
If Watt is off the board or Green Bay decides to go a different direction, the Packers could also be interested in Michigan's Taco Charlton or UCLA's Takkarist McKinley, if he falls.
- Like Like
- 0 points