Is the 2014 NFL Draft here already? Sorry, we’re just a few days away but in the meantime I’ll help you navigate which draft needs rivals of the Chicago Bears, our NFC North friends. Put down your selfish Bears caps for a few minutes, take a look at what the opponent will be aiming for in the draft.
Green Bay Packers: It still haunts me how the 2013 season ended. I won’t say the play, but we all know that quarterback Aaron Rodgers nursed his injury back to health just in time to save the Packers season and elevate them to the playoffs. In between then, the Packers were on rocky roads at times, but managed to weather through it. The 2014 NFL Draft will be filling the few starting roles but stacking up the bench for the Packers. Let’s go through their needs based on priority:
TIGHT END. With that No. 21 overall pick, I see the Packers either going for a tight end or linebacker. I would expect a tight end only because the lack of quality prospects at the position this year. There are three top tight ends: North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro and Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Ebron, the clear favorite, likely won’t slip past the first 15 picks. Without Jermichael Finley, the Packers can’t keep rolling with Andrew Quarless. He’s just not what I would consider an accountable tight end when it comes to catching the ball. Now, the distinction between Amaro and Seferian-Jenkins is tough. Even though Amaro is a 1st-team AP All-American selection, Seferian-Jenkins is the thinner and taller prospect that head coach Mike McCarthy can mold.
LINEBACKER. On the other hand, the Packers may have a rare opportunity to get one of the top linebackers in this draft class. I can’t imagine that Buffalo’s Khalil Mack or UCLA’s Anthony Barr will still be alive, but quality prospects like Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier or Alabama’s C.J. Mosley with that 21st overall pick. These guys won’t be around in the late 2nd-round. Why target these guys with A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews on the roster? We all became witnesses to what the Packers defense looked like when Clay Matthews left with an injured thumb along with other injuries to starters. It’s time to start grooming the next household name linebacker in Green Bay. There are also quality linebackers that could be available in later rounds BYU’s Kyle Van Noy, Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu or Wisconsin’s Chris Borland if his stock drops.
SAFETY. Green Bay let their only real safety go in free agency to the Bears in M.D. Jennings. The safety position might be the thinnest depth chart the Packers have right now. The Packers have players at the tight end position, but together they don’t even equal a Martellus Bennett. Look for the Packers to address this position later in the draft unless the top players fall into their lap in the first round (which I doubt).
WIDE RECEIVER. Throughout the past two seasons, the Packers have slowly been losing their wide receivers. It became quite evident this season when Matt Flynn was relying on Jarrett Boykin to move the chains. First, Donald Driver retired. Next, James Jones went to the Oakland Raiders. Time for diversity at the No. 3 spot on the wide receiver depth chart. I look for a guy like South Carolina wideout Bruce Ellington to fit the need and at a bargain draft pick for them.
For the Bears fans:
-The prospect that will be most involved as a rookie will be whoever the Packers decide to draft from the tight end position. I’d root for the Packers to address another need with the 1st-round and them to take a developmental tight end…but don’t bank on it. Seferian-Jenkins and Amaro are big guys that will be tough to defend.
-I see a lot of these picks for the Packers being either players that will replace the starters later in the season or bench fillers. They could be problems the Bears have to deal with next year, so don’t write all these guys off just because the Packers are deep at a position.