Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Ranking the Packers' draft needs: Part 3
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Let's get this out of the way from the top: We know Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson does not draft for need -- or so he says.
But in the months leading up to this week's draft, Thompson and his scouts have spent hundreds of hours not only discussing the prospects who will be available to them but also their current roster and its strengths and weaknesses.
With that in mind, let's break the 12 position groups that make up the roster into four parts based on the following categories of draft needs.
We will define them this way:
Part 1:Negligible -- positions where there is little or no need.
Part 2: Non-essential -- positions where there is a need but it is not paramount to fill.
Part 3: Secondary -- positions where there is a need but not at the critical level.
Part 4: Pressing -- positions where it is imperative that help be found.
Next up are the secondary (and I don't mean the position group) needs.
4. Receiver: Letting veteran James Jones leave for the Oakland Raiders in free agency was not a huge surprise, but it left the Packers with just two proven receivers (Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson) and one they believe can jump into that category (Jarrett Boykin). There's a group of unproven receivers that could follow what Boykin did last season, when he filled in adequately while Cobb and Jones were injured. That group includes Kevin Dorsey (a seventh-round pick last year), Chris Harper (a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks last year) and Myles White (an undrafted free agent who played sparingly last season as a rookie).
5. Interior offensive linemen: With Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, the Packers are set at guard for the foreseeable future. But center is as big a question mark as ever. What is certain is Aaron Rodgers will have his fourth different center in as many seasons after Evan Dietrich-Smith left in free agency to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There's no one on the roster with any NFL experience as a starting center, but the leading candidate is second-year pro JC Tretter -- a former college tackle who did not play a snap as a rookie last season. Even considering the need, the Packers aren't likely to spend a first- or second-day pick on a center. The top centers carry second- or third-round grades.
6. Offensive tackle: A year from now, this could be a pressing need depending on what happens with Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod, both of whom are in the final season of their contracts. With the emergence of David Bakhtiari last season as a rookie at left tackle, Bulaga will move back to the right side. But he needs to stay healthy after failing to make it through each of the past two seasons. Sherrod, a first-round pick in 2011, has not contributed since he broke his leg as a rookie, and the Packers declined his 2015 option year. There's no reason to think any of the first-round tackles will fall to No. 21.