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