Packers 2014 Offseason Review: Judging Need on the Defensive Line

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

We grade the need for the Packers to invest money or draft picks upgrading the defensive line.

The determining issue for whether the Packers need to add to their defensive line is if B.J. Raji re-signs or departs for free agency.

If the former, Green Bay would possess capable starters with depth behind them at each of the three positions. Raji would man the middle in the base with second-year linemen Josh Boyd rotating in on occasion. Mike Daniels would be the main contributor at one end spot with the other figuring to go to either 2013 first-round pick Datone Jones or Jerel Worthy.

However, if Raji is allowed to walk, a huge void is created in the middle of the defense. None of the returning linemen have proven capable of handling nose tackle. Even if Ryan Pickett returns on a one-year deal, he can't be counted on for a full season at nose at this stage of his career. A replacement would have to be found in the draft.

This year's draft features some intriguing defensive tackle prospects as Tex wrote about earlier. However, defensive linemen rarely contribute in their rookie seasons. Raji for example wasn't much of a factor in 2009, but blossomed into one of the league's best nose tackles during the Packers Super Bowl run a year later. Likewise, drafting a player like Louis Nix III may not pay dividends until 2015 or later. Consequently, another year of poor defensive performance could be on the horizon.

As I wrote previously, I don't expect Raji back in Green Bay next season. My grade is made accordingly.

Need Rating: 7/10

Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He also serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Hook'em Headlines. His work has previously appeared on Beats Per Minute, Lombardi Ave, and College Hoops Net.
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