The Lass Word: Packers Have Sneaky Draft Needs

We all know the major positions of need for the Green Bay Packers as the NFL draft approaches.  Tackle and defensive line would be at the top of the list.  Throw in corner and ILB in the next tier, maybe even wide receiver.  But here’s a few sneaky draft needs you may not have been thinking about, though I’m confident Brian Gutekunst has. 

 

Safety 

Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage are solid starters.  The Packers have been fortunate that, in the past two years, they have been healthy enough to start a combined 35 of 36 games.  If an injury does befall one of them, the team is desperately short on depth.  The third safety is Will Redmond.  He played in 13 regular season and two playoff games without an interception and with just one pass defensed.  It was Redmond who had what appeared to be an easy pick go right through his hands at the end of the half in the NFC championship game.  If he makes that play, the Kevin King gaffe and Bucs’ touchdown never happens.  The other safeties currently on the roster are seventh round pick Vernon Scott, who played 89 regular season snaps with one sack and no passes defensed, and undrafted free agents Henry Black and Innis Gaines.   

 

The Packers need an upgrade here.  They need a quality third safety who can make plays when coordinator Joe Barry wants to insert additional defensive backs, or if injury strikes down a starter.  If a quality player is on the board on day two, they could do worse than to grab him.  It’s not a good year in the draft at this position.  It’s possible not a single safety will be taken in the first round.  A pretty good player like TCU’s Trevon Moehrig or Missouri’s Tyree Gillespie may still be there in round two.  If Green Bay wants to address the position late, prospects such as Divine Diablo of Virginia Tech are possibilities, although I don’t see that as much of an improvement over Redmond and Scott. 

 

 

Quarterback 

With the release of both Tim Boyle and Manny Wilkins, the Packers list only Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love on the current roster.   If for no other reason, they will need another camp arm to keep from wearing those two out.  They also need someone they can develop into a capable back-up.  Love is expected to play extensively in the preseason.  What if he gets hurt?  Who backs up Love if Rodgers goes down when the regular season starts?  What if Love turns out to be a dud?   Gutekunst has said earlier this offseason that the team will continue to draft quarterbacks.  The question is how high?

 

One would expect this to be a day three selection.  Surely Gutey would never use a high draft pick to take a quarterback! (tongue planted firmly in cheek)  Among late round prospects, Sam Ehlinger of Texas is intriguing to me.  Reminds me a bit of Baker Mayfield.  Zach Smith of Tulsa has some potential as well. 

 

The team could also sign a veteran for insurance, but that would be more expensive for a team that has to pinch every penny.  

 

 

Running Back 

You can’t ever have enough good ones.  Aaron Jones, for a guy who is just 5’ 9” and a wisp over 200 pounds, runs extremely hard and, as a result, takes a tremendous beating.  He’s already missed 10 games in his career and had to leave several others after getting banged up.  A.J. Dillon’s physical running style will take a toll on his body, no matter how thick his upper thighs are. 

 

Former Notre Dame ball carrier Dexter Williams has had two seasons to show the coaches something and, judging by his absence from the field, has failed.  Patrick Taylor and Mike Weber are projects and long shots to make an impact.  Gutey surprised everyone by going running back in round two last year.  I wouldn’t be shocked to see him make a day two move at this position again, particularly if he sees somebody there he likes as a kick returner.  Middle round candidates include Demetric Felton of UCLA, Trey Sermon of Ohio State, and Chuba Hubbard of Oklahoma State. 

 

In his three years running the Packers' draft, Gutey has already established a bit of a reputation for doing the unexpected.  I won't be shocked if he addresses these positions in much higher rounds than most of us anticipate.

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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Comments (44)

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Lare's picture

April 15, 2021 at 03:45 pm

Gutekunst likes to surprise everyone with his picks. I wouldn't be surprised to see multiple LS's, Punters, TE's and kickers in his selections.

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LeotisHarris's picture

April 15, 2021 at 07:01 pm

Damn, Lare, and from a former editor like yourself, too. I have to ask. Multiple long snapper's and tight end's what? Helmets?

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Thegravedigger's picture

April 16, 2021 at 12:49 am

what about H back? oh wait. they drafted one already. in the 3rd freakin round.

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fastmoving's picture

April 16, 2021 at 03:06 am

You dont have to try to be funny, your funny all the time. Way more than you would ever believe.
But maybe this is the year you start watching your first game. Who knows.

No wonder your beer is untouched.....

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frankthefork's picture

April 15, 2021 at 04:15 pm

Ken, you and Gil hit it on the head today...It's needs and backups. I'll keep saying it: Packers may need more than 10 picks in 202, and This is a deep draft class but for DL. And boy, the Packers need quality backups who can start a few games. Our depth chart for 2022 and beyond is not pretty. With the cap and contracts, Gute better be a magician with the board in 2 weeks.

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Titletown222's picture

April 15, 2021 at 07:11 pm

I think it’s crazy when people suggest we can’t fit 10 draft picks on this roster. We have so many holes to fill I have no problem if we trade out of the first to pick up an extra pick in the 3rd or 4th. If you look at our roster, we easily could find a place for 10 or more draft choices on this roster

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CheesyTex's picture

April 15, 2021 at 09:43 pm

Packers may have no choice but to go with so many rookies to stay under the reduced cap, especially if they add a veteran or two to shore up OL/DL.

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Thegravedigger's picture

April 16, 2021 at 12:55 am

they had a choice. with rodgers contract. couldve made an extra 5 mil for this year, they chose not to. Yeah. im bitter about it. anyway. theres still davantes contract i suppose. they are going to have to do something tho because they only have 3 mil for 10 picks, and midseason signings. they are going to need to free up 5 million more at least. I really hope I can eat my words and they extend rodgers because i really dont want to be right about jordan love being the guy in 2022.

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Coldworld's picture

April 16, 2021 at 07:43 am

How do you know “they chose”? You don’t.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 16, 2021 at 03:26 pm

GB has automatic conversion rights. GB chose. All evidence points that way.

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CoachDino's picture

April 16, 2021 at 06:05 pm

Thanks as that can be confusing. I'm not upset or surprised they haven't extended him. I am a bit surprised they haven't restructured and just moved 5mil to 2022 upping the Dead Cap exposure from 17M to 22M and another 5M in 2023 from 2M to 7M. Can they skip over 2022 and just add 10M to 2023?

I have no clue what the plan is BUt a possible reason is they want to keep him for 2022 and moving any money from 2021 to 2022 might actually hurt their ability to keep him. The 5M in 2022 would take his Cap hit to 43M - That's just not going to work if you plan on keep JA/DA or both. Tough even if you can put off JA till 2022/23 to extend.

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flackcatcher's picture

April 16, 2021 at 09:30 pm

There seems to be two tracks in the Packer plans for Rodgers. One is to play out this upcoming season and go from there. The other is to prepare for transition. But it all depends on the Cap, and how big a hole that will leave the team in. A lot is going to depend on how bad the Cap will be next season. And that may be as big a driver in this draft, as is finding depth and replacements for core players. Far more moving parts than in pass years.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

April 15, 2021 at 04:53 pm

Sneaky players are always good at those 3 positions.
Still not sure they are that high on the needs list.

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Thegravedigger's picture

April 16, 2021 at 01:01 am

no they are not. they could sign raven greene and just not play him at middle linebacker and get him hurt. backup safety solved. for now. corner is the need. followed by dt and ot. slot wr. a run after catch slot wr like a deebo samuel or aiyuk would be awesome in this offense. if a safety slips and they really like one in the 3rd id say go for it. but i cant see them even drafting a back until the 5th maybe, but not a need, just a luxury.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

April 15, 2021 at 05:04 pm

I completely agree that there are a number of positions which could use an upgrade, in fact, I'd list every position on the team--heck, even a back-up kicker in case Crosby is injured:

3rd string QB? 3rd string RB? Backup/Starting WR? Backup/Starting OT? Backup/Starting C? I think we're okay at Guard, but if a BETTER one is available...
The same thing on defense.
A starting/Backup DL or two? A fast OLB developmental prospect? A starting/Backup ILB? A Starting/Backup Nickel/"Star?" A starting/Backup outside CB? A Backup S?
A starting/Backup P? A starting Long-snapper?
I've listed 13 positions and we have 10 picks.
Gee, I wonder why I hate trading away picks to move up?

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Coldworld's picture

April 15, 2021 at 06:33 pm

We have 2 fast OLB prospects, we won’t draft a QB, we will pick up camp arms. We already have a back up P and LS. Both are also UDFA options.

So we have enough picks to cover all bases in theory, but it’s one reason why I’d be leery of trading up without a big, current year payoff.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

April 15, 2021 at 06:44 pm

We do indeed have some bodies in those roles, but is the staff satisfied with those players? As far as QB, I feel pretty certain they’d draft one if he is by far the highest ranked player on their board.

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Coldworld's picture

April 15, 2021 at 07:30 pm

Would you keep 3 on the roster? With Love supposed getting a lot of focus in the preseason how would QB 3 be advanced? In those circumstances, would QB3 even be considered in the event of injury? Next year, would we keep him or just try to trade sight unseen ?

Just can’t see us spending draft capital on a camp arm, and can’t see room for any other level of QB this year.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

April 15, 2021 at 09:11 pm

You still need a QB on the practice squad, Andy if you think a guy has the potential to play NFL ball, why not use a pick?

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Coldworld's picture

April 16, 2021 at 08:03 am

Because I can see needs elsewhere and unusually few development opportunities because the focus will be on Love. We have gone the UDFA route before.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 15, 2021 at 05:36 pm

Ken, you are correct about a safety situation, particularly since we play three of them so much.

Obviously, Gutekunst is more than willing to move around in the draft to get his guy, so I’d expect more of the same. He has 7 Day 3 picks that he could use to move up.

IMO, he’ll look to strengthen the line on both sides of the ball AND add a guy to our secondary who can tackle, run, and cover. That’s the first two days. Who knows what will be left of our Day 3 picks?

Three guys between #29 and 95 or whatever. Or move around and get an extra pick on the second day. But get the three guys you want.

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dobber's picture

April 15, 2021 at 08:26 pm

"you are correct about a safety situation, particularly since we play three of them so much"

Especially if Savage steals more slot CB responsibilities from Sullivan...

To be honest, once outside of round 1, I think it's pretty much anything goes.

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Coldworld's picture

April 16, 2021 at 07:53 am

This third safety was the hybrid? Or are we talking Redmond? Redmond unfortunately for everyone got used all over the place, but primarily either at hybrid or deep while Amos was.

We don’t know what Barry wants for his D/Bs in terms of characteristics. We do know we likely need new blood there. Whether they are nominally ILB, S, CB, the label does not matter, we need numbers unless anyone has a reason to think their are hidden central D player gems on the PS. And we need to stop pretending that sub 200 pound players can fill in for ILBs (however willingly) or that 210 pounders will cope physically as starters. We need viable roles and players that fit them.

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Coldworld's picture

April 15, 2021 at 06:25 pm

I think none of these come as a surprise, just less discussed firstly because of:

1) glaring current holes on DL, and the need for at least competent options to starter at CB and the OL as well as a return/option type.

2) Generally, most of us are unsure what Barry wants and the schematic approach he intends. That encompasses the type of DL, but it also includes every position behind it. Personally I think we will sign a UDFA or SFA QB. Don’t see them getting a true shake this year with the plan for Love.

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greengold's picture

April 16, 2021 at 04:33 pm

Yeah. Development reps for Love will be important, and they are few and far between. Especially so last year with the laser show. I think we will see enormous progress from Love this Spring/Summer.

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stockholder's picture

April 15, 2021 at 07:00 pm

I Wouldn't go with any. I believe it's still, DL, ILB, OLB and a Punt returner. There are No question marks at S. Either their good enough, or replace them. The Hybrid role, left with Pettine. (So forget Greene.) And Gute got his guy last year. The money and age of the Smiths, might make OLB/edge a better pick. The future is Gary, but who else? The ILB has been the revolving door. SOO- It's time! And the DL needs more then Lowrey and KeKE. I also wonder how soon they move Savage around. Your S,QB,RB, can be filled in the later rounds. We can find another vet to move to FS. And Especially at QB.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

April 16, 2021 at 01:42 pm

How much we need a DL starter will depend on how often they plan on playing that 5 man front with all three starting OLBs, too. Gary is a bit of a tweener and I could see him taking snaps with his hand in the dirt.

Depth on the DL is still needed - ideally a true NT, but I think we'll see some creative fronts to get the best guys on the field.

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splitpea1's picture

April 15, 2021 at 07:31 pm

A versatile safety isn't a sneaky need at all; this shouldn't be too far down the list after the starting CB prospect is selected. I'd love to see eight new defensive players drafted. And what about the hybrid position?

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Titletown222's picture

April 15, 2021 at 07:37 pm

I think the surprise may be an edge rusher early if the right guy falls to us. Next to QB, the are the most valuable position I’m thinking if kwitty or Phillips falls to us, they may be packers.

I prefer a trade down to pick up another top 100 pick It would be great to come out of this draft with 2DL, 2WR, 2cb, 1S, 2OL, Lb,edge. That leaves us without our 3rd RB, 3rdQB which we would have to get UDFA.

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Turophile's picture

April 16, 2021 at 06:41 am

Given how unpredictable Gute is, it cannot be discounted.

I really like Jaelan Phillips, but those concussions and ankle problems in college suggest he won't be a Packer. They are pretty conservative when it comes to injuries, maybe even more so after the Justin Harrell debacle in 2007.

I wouldn't even rule out Ronnie Perkins. I would like it if the Packers took Levi Onwuzurike, at #29 though (a 3-4 DE, not an Edge).

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BJP's picture

April 16, 2021 at 05:01 am

If Kellen Mond is there at 29, he’s the BPA by a mile and better than Love. Just sayin’.

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Turophile's picture

April 16, 2021 at 06:11 am

Nope, he is about the same as Love. They do not play the same, but have similar overall quality. The grass may look greener on the other side of the hill, but once you take the time to walk there, it is much the same. Both would need time on the bench behind a starter, both have high-ceiling potential, both could easily bust..................but have shown enough that they might not.

If Love pays off, to have got him where the Packers did is practically stealing. Same with Mond if HE turns out to be starter quality and gets taken late round 1 onwards. Just look at what the 49ers have paid to move up 9 spots to get their QB.

The Packers have hitched their wagon to Love. There is no chance of another dip at QB in round one, unless you are looking to hack off Rodgers so much, he refuses to play for the Packers.

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Coldworld's picture

April 16, 2021 at 08:01 am

Whether he is better than Love is irrelevant. That die has been rolled.

If Mond drops to us, great! I can almost guarantee we can get a team to trade for our pick and possibly a little bidding war. Would be perfect for us in many ways. Not a chance we pick him.

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HankScorpio's picture

April 16, 2021 at 05:40 am

I remain puzzled why so many people say OT is near the top of the "need list". David Bahktiari is not dead or retired. He blew out his knee and is likely to miss some early season games while rehabbing. So 'effing what? How does that trump spots where the talent simply doesn't exist? Do people not understand that medical science has advanced to the point where it is just a question of when, not if, a player comes back?

They need a CB, since they only have 1 and 3 play most every down. They need a WR since they only have 1 and 2 -3 play most every down. They need a DL since they only have 1 and 2-3 play most every down. At OT, they have Bahk and Turner, If this potential rook OT is magical, is he going to be starting a potential playoff game in 2021 season? Probably not. The bar to clear is being better than Billy Turner. That's not a low bar.

Having said that, the OT class is said to be deep and talented. OT is on the "impact position" list meaning you grab talent whenever you can. I believe that securing the blind side of Jordan Love would be a nice accomplishment for this draft. You can never have too much OL. But it's not a need compared to those other spots, IMO. So can we stop acting like Bahk is gone because he is likely to miss some games that don't really matter much anyways?

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Guam's picture

April 16, 2021 at 08:33 am

There are two key questions to the need at OT: (1) how long will Bahk be out? and (2) how long will the Packers keep Turner?

Big guys tend to recover more slowly from ACL surgery, so Bahk could miss as much as three quarters of the season. I have no idea how Bahk's recovery is going but I am sure the Packer medical staff is providing input to Gute. If Bahk is going to miss more than a few games the pressure to draft an OT increases.

The Packers will have a major cap crunch in 2022 and not resigning Turner would help alleviate some of the cap problem. Turner will be over 30 for his next contract and drafting an OT this year so he is ready to replace Turner in 2022 makes some sense.

Gute seems to like to draft and develop ahead of need (Gary, Love etc.), so I expect an OT to be drafted early.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 18, 2021 at 05:53 am

OT will be the first or second rd selection. Protecting Rodgers is the priority. DT and DE can both come in the fourth . WR in the third. The other high pick has to go CB or a guy like Collins.

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greengold's picture

April 18, 2021 at 08:31 am

I’m bracing myself for the Packers to not take OT until late because they now deem Yosh fully developed... ala “we don’t need WRs” last year.

I’m a huge Yosh fan too, but with Bak out, they really should add high quality there. With Elgton so good outside, they may have more options...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 16, 2021 at 04:11 pm

As a left tackle, the bar is pretty low. It isn't low at RT and RG, but it isn't that high either.

it would be nice if Gute would draft with the strength of the draft. While there is nothing wrong with pouncing on a player at a different position who drops because of the depth at other positions.

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greengold's picture

April 18, 2021 at 09:27 am

I’m glad you mentioned this TGR. Was looking through the 2020 Final 53, and the strength of this draft at OL, CB, WR and RB could really help the Packers, as could an unexpected talent dropping into our laps from another position.

Here’s a quick look at the positions/players from last year’s 53 that we either lost in FA, didn’t deliver, or should consider turning over:

1: QB: Boyle

2 RB: Williams, Ervin

3 OL: Taylor, Linsley, Wagner

3 DL: Lancaster, Lowry, Adams

3 ILB: Kirksey, Burks, Summers

4 CB: King, Jackson, Hollman, Ento

2 S: Greene, Redmond

I don’t think the Packers will divert from their philosophy of developing their players. Either way, we’ll need to hit on a couple of players to start. OT would be one of those.

Should be interesting seeing upgrades added, and how others develop from the PS

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HankScorpio's picture

April 18, 2021 at 09:25 am

"As a left tackle, the bar is pretty low."

Are you saying the Packers don't have anyone decent to play LT on their roster? That just makes no sense to me given that Bahk is on the roster so I must be misunderstanding.

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Turophile's picture

April 16, 2021 at 06:33 am

People seem over-worried about the number of holes the Packers have to fill. Between 10 draft picks (lets call it 8 after trades), rookie free agents, the odd late vet pickup, the Packers will fill their roster.

The real question is the quality that can be found in rookie FA and later draft picks. Beyond the first, say, four rounds, the aim will be (as it always is) to improve the quality of the depth and ST.

For the premium draft positions, I'd be looking at DL, OT*, CB as three of the earlier picks and if a bargain can be found anywhere in the early rounds I'd add WR. Upgrading RT, DE and slot corner will round the team out nicely. Adding a high pick at WR would provide some insurance if the Packers cannot pay Adams something like $22m+ pa, after this year.

For later picks, fill in with pretty much any position, especially RB, G, ILB where you can pick up good players later on, plus any toolsy, developmental projects you particularly like, plus maybe a quality ST guy. The most glaring hole that is still left on the team after that, is filled by a cheap vet.

In the past, the Packers have found good value late in the draft or in rookie FA, with the likes of Krys Barnes, Lane Taylor, Sam Shields (all undrafted FAs) or Donald Driver and Mark Tauscher (7th round picks). As long as they can continue to add the occasional quality late pick or FA gem, and fill in with a few anti-awful backups, they should be fine.

* at HankScorpio. The Packers do need a high-quality long time starter at RT. Bakhtiari might well miss a few games this season, but he is not where the need is. Personally, I'd be very happy if the Packers could get OT Teven Jenkins somewhere in round one (though I like DE Levi Onwuzurike almost as much, and Jaelan Phillips, and................well, you get the picture).

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Coldworld's picture

April 16, 2021 at 08:06 am

I think this is a year that we can add some good pipeline as well as finding role players later that can contribute this year. With the exception of high ranked DL types being mostly penetration types, this draft class seems to fit very nicely with our needs.

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brianalariviere's picture

April 16, 2021 at 07:19 am

I want to thank you for your article and the comments here.

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CoachDino's picture

April 16, 2021 at 06:21 pm

Can't disagree.
RB - I'd like them to take (3-4th Rd) gainwell or even Day 3- Hawkins. Someone special or just wait and pick up a 3rd String RB through UDFA
QB - You're right. They need at least 1 more QB that will be good enough to develop but not so good that you can't make him a PS player. If they have extra picks through trade backs draft one or really, that's another UDFA signing
Safety - Agree there as well. Though safety is one position that FA can make more sense as they are so cheap and you have a much better Idea of what you're getting. Where you draft one has so much to do with scheme, Plans for Amos&Savage, and flexibility/type. A Safety that can also be a Nickel CB is worth a Mid draft pick. Just a Deep or box only might be later or just wait for FA .

I could also invision them drafting 10 guys and retooling the bottom of the Roster
1) see if you can develop a starter where you already know what you have is depth only quality
2) cap wise. Cap wise you would lower salaries and add years before URFA.

Burkes, Summers, Redmen, Williams, even Brown, taylor etc...

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