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Packers Should Consider Future Needs in Draft

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Packers Should Consider Future Needs in Draft

We’ve reached the eve of the 2017 NFL Draft, and months of prognostication are set to come to an end over the next three days. Teams will make the selections they feel best serve their chances to either catapult them to the next level of improvement or get them over the final hump to achieving the ultimate success. While many of those picks will be used on players each team hopes can make a real difference immediately, dozens of others will be stashed away in depth or specialty roles in the hopes they can contribute in the future.

Unless it’s a high-round quarterback, fans don’t necessarily love it when their favorite team uses draft picks to prepare for the future. And let’s be honest – the players themselves probably aren’t crazy about being situational performers early in their careers either. The fact of the matter, though, is teams can’t afford to only think about this year when they’re drafting.

Sure, you might hope to find a few players who can slot in right away. But the majority of what’s going to happen on the field the following season will largely depend on the collection of players you’ve already assembled.

Like every other team in the league, the Packers have clear needs at a few positions, and one would expect them to address those needs throughout the draft. But, again like every other team, Green Bay has a future to consider as well, and it’s not likely every one of their eight picks in this draft will be first-year stunners.

Luckily for the Packers, a couple of their immediate needs are also positions where they could find themselves with decisions to make in the near future. Outside linebacker (or edge, whichever you prefer) is one example. Draftniks, insiders and fans alike almost unanimously agree the team will draft multiple players at the position, and most would say they’ll attack at least one with a high pick.

Currently, the Packers have three outside linebackers with contracts set to expire after the 2017 season: Joe Thomas, Jordan Tripp and Jayrone Elliott. With the possible exception of Thomas, it might not seem like the team is losing a lot there.

The situation gets a little murkier if you take Clay Matthews into account, however. Matthews is currently under contract until 2019, but could be a cap casualty candidate in 2018 if his play doesn’t rebound to the requisite level this season. That would make four possible departures on the edge, and the Packers should prepare for that scenario.

The interior of the offensive line is another perceived concern heading into this weekend’s draft. A lot of projections don’t have the Packers using a particularly high pick on a guard, and even Aaron Rodgers recently said he doesn’t think it’s an area of huge concern.

While it might not be of critical importance right now, it could be a year from now. Don Barclay and Lane Taylor, both obvious candidates to fill guard roles this year, are both on the last year of their respective deals. Lucas Patrick, another young option, is also under contract until 2018. Depending on how things shake out, there’s a good chance any guard the Packers select this year could be thrust into a prominent role very quickly.

Another area worthy of future consideration is safety, which is not an area of immediate concern as it pertains to finding a playmaker. The tandem of Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has proven to be steady as a rock during their time together, and I wouldn’t expect that to change this year. Burnett, however, is in the last year of his 4-year, $24.75 million contract, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be back in Green Bay when that contract expires. The emergence of Kentrell Brice means the cupboard won’t be empty, but right now his potential is all the Packers have to go on, and it wouldn’t hurt to examine some other possibilities.

Indeed, the Packers need to improve for the upcoming season, and I’m certainly not advocating for spending so much time worrying about the future that the current product suffers. But one reason the team has found itself in the playoffs eight years in a row is that they’re rarely unprepared when it comes time for turnover in the roster. A little foresight can go a long way.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I wouldn't say that Brice has emerged precisely.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

He looks pretty explosive to me. Green, to be sure, but explosive.

Arthur Jackson's picture

I agree and I like Brice. He has some potential, but I don't know that he is long time starter. There are some really good safeties available this year and one can be had in probably the 3rd or 4th round. Not to be funny, but it is kind of funny, Tedric Thompson would be great if still available in the 4th and would have to be seriously considered in the 3rd I would think.

Packer Fan's picture

Gobbledygook, at least in part. On the offense, draft a later round RB. I think the right guard position is not that big of a hole. I think that McCarthy can bring one of the OL that he has to be serviceable. Later rounds for future is fine with me. Defense is another story. CB, Edge and DL are three greatest needs. Somehow GB needs to get these three quality players in round 1 and 2. These guys are needed for depth or starting sometime during the season. Especially CB. We basically have the same DB's as last year. GB needs talent infusion for DB's. Then fill in forfuture in the later rounds.

GB Jacker's picture

TT and his staff are always looking to the future. Last years trade up to get Spriggs was a prime example, with a 2017 class notably weak on the O-Line. Some questioned the decision at the time but it looks like a smart move now, with solid insurance at a premium position.

Expect to see some picks that don't fit with the fan consensus needs but indicate the organisations view of their in house talent and next years class.

dobber's picture

"Last years trade up to get Spriggs was a prime example,..."

True, but remember how the Packers lack of depth at OT was exposed when the OL was ravaged by injuries in 2015? That was as much a "need a third tackle right now" pick as it was a "just in case Bakhtiari doesn't sign" pick.

Arthur Jackson's picture

I would say irrelevant because in the NFL any position can be ravaged by injuries and there isn't a damn thing any team can do about that except play 3rd and 4th stringers and sign guys off the street.

al bundy's picture

Ya well Ted drafts the future players who are to replace the talent that he is not going to pay for. Lang was never in teds plans after this year so Ted replaced him with a draft pick from last year. That is his game. Cheap ball is teds game plan d always has been.
My take Tex knows who is leaving next year and will replace them starting tonight.

Bert's picture

Totally agree. The odds of filling an immediate need with a competent NFL starter at #29 just aren't very good. He probably won't be any better than what we currently have for another 2 years or so. Best to look ahead and start developing someone for where we see a need in 2-3 years. To that end BPA is probably the way to go. Just draft based on highest projected ceiling and upgrade the roster.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Man, I wish TJ Watt would fall to us. I don't see it happening, though. There's a guy with a very high ceiling, at a position of need.

slit's picture

I'm hearing Dallas is all over Watt.

dobber's picture

They also like Harris, supposably.

Arthur Jackson's picture

Who likes Harris? Dallas? Good because I have been saying I see him as a bust. TJ Watt would be great at 29, but if not available I believe Tyus Bowser will be about as good of a pass rusher.

Arthur Jackson's picture

Removed

al bundy's picture

Ted passed.

jonhoman's picture

Wait, Jordan Tripp and Joe Thomas are ILBs, not OLBs.

PatrickGB's picture

Yes I saw that to, jonhoman

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