The Green Bay Packers have quite a few team needs, but deciphering which need is atop the list is the tricky part.
The Green Bay Packers had issues with the offensive line, the defensive line and the running back position, but there’s a lot to pick apart before we just decide on a need basis.
The interesting aspect of the Green Bay Packers needs is the very simple fact that they are not as bad as we all thought through the course of the season.
I think if the Packers really dig deep to uncover the real issue, they'll wind up solving more than perhaps anticipated this offseason.
The Defensive Line is the first to enter the ring of discussion. Many fans I’ve talked to feel that the Green Bay Packers did not get enough pressure from their front four, ultimately forcing them to create additional pressure from Clay Matthews and Erik Walden. But what is the real diagnosis?
The Diagnosis: The Green Bay Packers were so beat up on the D-Line they really had no other choice than to bring added pressure from Matthews and Walden. Injuries to Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson and even Ryan Pickett simply took its toll. This was also part of the reason why the Packers were consistently burned down-field. While many will enter a solid corner into the argument as well, without pressure up front, even an elite corner eventually looks bad.
Third in Priority.
The Offensive Line is the second area of discussion. I was a big proponent on fixing this line and their inconsistency. I can’t tell you how many head-scratching games I watched where the protection was so bad I had to look away. But as the season wore on, I began to realize a few additional points, which eventually forced me to wonder if this line even needs an upgrade at all.
The Diagnosis: Much like the D-Line, this squad was decimated this season by injuries. Derek Sherrod was lost before the season began with a broken leg which hurt big time. The next to go was Brian Bulaga (hip) and the season rounded out with on and off injuries to Marshall Newhouse and T.J. Lang. While one can make case for adding depth to help with the injuries, I don’t believe it is a paramount option. The team simply fell apart up front from day one, and with no real running game to speak of, a make shift O-Line is almost always destine to fail.
Second in Priority
The Running Back situation is the third and final major topic of discussion. Let’s face it; the Packers had no real threat on the ground. Their best option was Cedric Benson who had little time to really learn the offense before getting shutdown with a Lisfranc injury. Now he’s 30 years old with 1,600 carries under his belt—those two aspects mean a RB has completely reached his peak historically. James Starks, Alex Green and practice squad sensation DuJuan Harris all filled in admirably, but none of them are starting material.
The Diagnosis: The biggest component to a team is the running back position. A solid foundational ground assault affords the O-Line the ability to mix things up, and not have to constantly pass-block. With a quality ground game, the offense remains multi-dimensional and ON THE FIELD. This certainly helps the defense and D-Line.
- James Starks is too injury prone and is not the answer.
- Alex Green is a solid runner, but more so a compliment runner much like Minnesota’s Toby Gerhart or Atlanta’s Jacquizz Rodgers.
- DuJuan Harris was a nice surprise and will certainly have a shot to make the roster again next season, but no way do the Packers just hand over the keys to an unproven practice squad back at 5’8”.
The thought is ludicrous and unfounded at best.
First in Priority
I believe the Packers biggest need this offseason is a solid everyday workhorse RB. Again, while the Packers have had some “quality” players fill in; none of them are what this team needs in specific.
Still the Packers have made the post season five out of the last six years, so the future is certainly bright and could be even brighter with a franchise back.
The Green Bay Packers cannot continue to throw at will each and every year. And while the O-line and D-Line have a few issues that need to be addressed, they are secondary and tertiary (respectably) in the “need” order.
The open market will not offer such a player, ergo, the Packers need to find their “back of the future” within the 2013 NFL draft.
I personally believe the Packers could find what they’re looking for in Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle.
Randle is the type of runner that excels at “first contact gains” and is one of the more versatile backs in college football.
Randle is the sort of runner that can wear defensive fronts down with his north-south ability, but he is also agile and quick enough to stretch the sidelines making him a well-rounded runner.
Randle is not known for his blocking, but Green Bay is bound to retain a blocking back other than John Kuhn so it isn’t too much of a concern.
Randle—much like every other RB prospect at this point in the year—is expected to be a second or third round pick. If the Packers like what they see in him, do they reach in the first round? The notion may prove to be worth the risk.
Here's some footage:
If the Green Bay Packers decide to roll with their current RB roster n 2013, I really believe there will be little improvement. If they target improvement early, next season will be much like what we all thought THIS season was going to be.
So, with so many needs, what do you think is Green Bay’s biggest need is and why? Let me know below, and stay tuned as I continue to cover the NFC North—next up, The Chicago Bears.