Green Bay Packers: Brock Vereen

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.

On Monday, we looked at the negligible needs, Nos. 10-12. On Tuesday, it was the non-essential needs, Nos. 7-9. On Wednesday, it was the secondary needs, Nos. 4-6.

Finally, the pressing needs.

1. Safety: The Packers thought so little of their 16-game starter at free safety last season, M.D. Jennings, that they did not even offer him a restricted free agent tender, and he signed a one-year, minimum deal with the Bears. Coach Mike McCarthy has said he plans to use Micah Hyde, who played a slot cornerback position last season, at safety this season. But it remains unclear whether that's enough to ignore this position in the draft for a second straight season. The Packers remain committed to strong safety Morgan Burnett, who signed a four-year, $24.75 million contract last July, but his play must improve. There are two sure-fire first-round safeties -- Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor -- but both could be gone by the time the Packers pick at No. 21.

Possible players of interest: Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois; Terrence Brooks, Florida State; Deone Bucannon, Washington State; Brock Vereen, Minnesota.

2. Inside linebacker: A.J. Hawk is coming off perhaps his best season, and the coaches love his durability and leadership. However, the other spot, occupied most of last season by Brad Jones, could be up for grabs even if they don't draft a possible starter. Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington could get a look there. But the Packers could use some speed up the middle of their defense, a weakness that was exposed again in the playoffs by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Possible players of interest: C.J. Mosley, Alabama; Ryan Shazier, Ohio State; Chris Borland, Wisconsin; Preston Brown, Louisville.

3. Tight end: The highest-paid tight end on the roster is Andrew Quarless, who signed a two-year, $3 million contract this offseason. That's hardly starter money anymore. The coaches have high hopes for Brandon Bostick, but he remains a bit of a project. Jermichael Finley is still unsigned, having so far failed to get clearance to return from his neck injury. That still could come, but the Packers probably can't afford to sit around and wait. They'd love a crack at the top tight end, North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, but he almost certainly will be gone by the time they pick.

Possible players of interest: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington; Jace Amaro, Texas Tech; Troy Niklas, Notre Dame; C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The last time the Green Bay Packers had four picks in the first 100 selections of the NFL draft, they came away with two quality starters and two players who never made an impact.

That was 2008, when they drafted receiver Jordy Nelson (No. 36 overall), quarterback Brian Brohm (No. 56), cornerback Pat Lee (No. 60) and tight end Jermichael Finley (No. 91).

General manager Ted Thompson will take a similar haul into this year's draft. With the addition of a third-round compensatory pick, the Packers have pick Nos. 21, 53, 85 and 98 in the first three rounds.

"It's good," Thompson said during his pre-draft news conference this week. "If we could, we'd have more. More is better. It gives you better odds. It wouldn't be any different if it were this year or last year or the year before or that sort of thing."

Can Thompson do better in the top 100 than he did in 2008? Nelson and Finley became major contributors while Brohm flamed out and Lee was only a short-term backup.

On Thursday night, ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay went through the top 100, selecting players for teams as if they were in charge of the draft rooms.

For the Packers, they came away with this:
Kiper and McShay alternated picks, so it worked out that McShay made the Packers' first three selections, while Kiper picked their fourth.

Looking at the first round, the top two safeties were both off the board before the No. 21. Kiper had Louisville's Calvin Pryor at No. 14 to the Chicago Bears and Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix gone two picks later to the Dallas Cowboys.

In picking Mosley, McShay said he had Mosley rated as the 12th-best player on his board and called him a relentless, tough playmaker. What isn't known is how the Packers feel about Mosley from a medical standpoint. There are concerns about a knee injury, which kept him from running at the combine, and other injuries during his college career.

If the Packers don't feel comfortable with Mosley's medical history but still want a linebacker at that spot, they could go with Ohio State's Ryan Shazier. McShay had Shazier at No. 31 to the Denver Broncos.

Nix has been described as a perfect 3-4 nose tackle.

"This is a value pick, as Nix merits late first-round consideration," McShay said. "Between first-rounder C.J. Mosley and Nix, we've now drafted the No. 12 and No. 30 players on my board, respectively, at No. 21 and No. 53."

Vereen and Fiedorowicz would fill clear holes at safety and tight end, respectively. However, waiting until late in the third round to address safety seems a little late considering that might be the Packers' greatest need in this draft.

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