Well readers, I'm sorry it's been 2 weeks since the last post, let me see if I can try and fix that by writing a post about Baseba-nah just kidding, Football. The Dodgers are .500, and will continue to do better as they had last week, I'll save the deep analysis for Andrew.
But most seem to forget that the NFL Draft is this Thursday-Friday-Saturday. And after that, it's all offseason, so I'll have nothing else to write about anyway (except of course when I grade the Packer's draft). But I am going to break down what I think the Pack need to do in 3 days to get them closer to the Super Bowl next year.
So without further ado, the draft priorities for next year:
Outside LineBacker: No, not an OT as I assume most would guess, I hate to admit it, but with Chad Clifton locked up for the next couple of years, I'd rather not see Ted Thompson reach for an OT such as Bruce Campbell. If Charles Brown falls down to Pick No. 23 (which is seeming like less and less of a possibility as the draft gets closer), and there are no solid OLB prospects available (it sucks to have to be the pick right after New England, because they have similar needs as the Packers), then pull the trigger on Brown. Otherwise, don't reach. As for why OLB is important, I would ask all readers of this post to imagine another Clay Matthews III on the other side of the field. It would not only make the Packer's Defense that much more beastly, but Clay would do even better, and who knows what kind of wacky blitzes Dom Capers could draw up with two highly talented OLB's. An effective pass rush from Matthews and someone like Sergio Kindle or Jerry Hughes would make the secondary look much better. The one thing that Brett Favre, Big Ben, and Kurt Warner all had when they shredded the Packer's Pass Defense was time to sit in the pocket. Think about when the Giants made the Patriots go 18-1, they didn't necessarily have great corners, but they had Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora go nuts against the Pat's line. The Packers will need something similar to stop elite passers, not just great corners. That's why I think OLB has to the biggest priority if they want to win playoff games, because the playoffs will have elite QB's like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, and the Pack absolutely can not afford to give those kinds of Passers time.
Offensive (Left) Tackle: Though not as important as OLB, the Pack should look to lock up a long-term Left Tackle of the future (since it looks like T.J. Lang can do a more than adequate job at Right Tackle) by drafting Charles Brown or Anthony Davis, should one of those fall to them. Or, if Ted Thompson is serious about locking up the LT position, he should consider trading up to snag Bryan Bulaga or Trent Williams. As bad as the Packer's Offensive Line was last year, it can be attributed to the lack of continuity and poor play at LT before Clifton arrived. In the season's last 8 weeks, the Packer's line was average, which was all Aaron Rodgers really needed it to be. However, getting a long-term project like Anthony Davis could work if he's willing to shut up and sit on the bench because Clifton is the starter. With no viable back up at LT, it really should be a priority, but again, someone who has the athletic ability but lacks the mental ability but could be great when he puts it all together, like an Anthony Davis, should be considered here. The Packers really do need someone who can protect Aaron Rodgers' blind side.
Corner Back: Yeah, the pass defense against elite passers was horrid last year. The lack of pressure on the QB's can't be the excuse forever. But the Packers deserve a bit of slack, as injuries demolished the Secondary. When the guy who's usually No. 6 on the Depth Chart has to play as the No. 3 on a regular basis, you know things just can't end well. That being said, I never want to see Jarret Bush play CB for the Packers again. Charles Woodson was the Defensive Player of the Year last year and really stepped for the Packers. Tramon Williams played well as the Nickel Corner-turned No. 2 and I was overall pleased with his performance. Al Harris probably won't be healthy until part-way through the season, and even then, he should probably be the Nickel Corner. Pat Lee and Will Blackmon will get the job done as No's 4 and 5 respectively when they're healthy. Overall, this group is solid, but could use another quality corner. Every team could. That is why if someone like, say, Kyle Wilson falls the Packers, they should really consider picking him. At best, he's the new No. 2 Corner as a Rookie, at worst, he's the No. 4. Charles Woodson and Al Harris are getting older, and the depth is needed. I'd probably wait until Round 2 to grab a CB if I was Ted Thompson, but again, if someone like Kyle Wilson falls to the Packers, you have to consider drafting him.
Running Back: As readers will come to find out when it's really Football season and I write more posts on the Packers, I really like Ryan Grant, and think that he's an excellent RB for what the Packers want to do. However, he's an average Pass Blocker, an average Receiver out of the Backfield, and not a great 3rd Down back, and I am not comfortable trusting Brandon Jackson to get anything done at all. So I say we draft someone beastly like Toby Gerhart as a 3rd Down RB and a Pass Blocker. Otherwise, wait until later to grab someone who can fill that role.
Safety: The Packers are really lacking in Safety Depth compared to other areas not already mentioned above. Free Safety Nick Collins is a Top 5 Ball-hawking Safety, but Strong Safety Atari Bighby is serviceable at best, and Backups Derrick Martin and Josh Bell are not exactly what I'd call "scary". That being said, I'd say that the Packers should use maybe a 5th Round Pick on a Safety who can simply get the job done, because that's all that's really needed out of an SS anyway.
Defensive End: DE's are not typically thought of as important in a 3-4 Scheme like the one that the Packers run. As long as they can take up space and make room for the Linebackers to get into the backfield and make plays. Well, Johnny Jolly was a pleasant surprise as a late round pick last year, but considering that he was really only average and now in legal trouble means that someone has to replace him and do a good job for the OLB behind him, whether it's Brad Jones or a Draft Pick. B.J. Raji could and should do a very good job in this role, but there is no depth behind him, so I hope that Ted Thompson grabs a late round player who serves as depth for the line.
And there you have it, those are the areas that I believe the Packers need to concentrate on during the draft. I trust that no matter what happens, Ted Thompson will do a good job. I only hope that he doesn't trade down for more picks. That would not be a wise move in this blogger's opinion.