For the fifth straight season, the Green Bay Packers will pick in the bottom half of the first round in the upcoming draft. But at No. 21 overall, it’s their highest selection since picking No. 9 in 2009.
General manager Ted Thompson almost certainly has to concentrate on the defensive side of the ball again despite using his first-round picks in 2012 and 2013 on outside linebacker Nick Perry and defensive end Datone Jones, respectively.
The Packers have needs up the middle of their defense on all three levels.
Thompson ignored the safety position last offseason and paid for it. The Packers did not get a single interception from their safeties in 2013 and had numerous breakdowns in coverage on the back end. Dom Capers’ defense ranked 25th in yards allowed and 24th in passing yards allowed per game. Morgan Burnett failed to live up to the four-year, $24.75 million contract he signed last summer, and none of the other safeties -- M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Chris Banjo and Sean Richardson -- were effective enough. Only two safeties were off the board before the Packers picked Jones at 26th last year. They can't afford to ignore that spot this year.
There are also needs on the interior of the defensive line -- where B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly all have expiring contracts -- and at both inside and outside linebacker, where playmakers are in short supply.
There are not as many holes on the offensive side of the ball, but the uncertain status of Jermichael Finley could force Thompson to address the tight end spot high in the draft.
Check out Mel Kiper’s Mock Draft 1.0 to see what players he thinks the Packers should target with their first-round pick.