Packers 2014 Offseason Review: Judging Need at Outside Linebacker

Tom Pennington

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

The Packers have needed a pass rusher opposite Clay Matthews since their 2010 Super Bowl run. As of yet, no solution has been identified, but it's not for a lack of trying.

The Packers spent multiple day 1 and 2 draft picks addressing outside linebacker. Mike Neal was selected in the second round of the 2010 draft, and after attempting to play along the defensive line, he reworked his body and entered 2013 as a linebacker. 2012 first-rounder Nick Perry was another such defensive line convert, though he started at linebacker right away in his rookie year. While each flashed ability during this past season, neither proved themselves as every-down linebackers capable of helping out Matthews.

Though Perry returns next year and Neal theoretically could as well, it's back to the drawing board for Ted Thompson. Another draft pick, possibly even a first rounder, could be used on another pass rushing outside linebacker. Potentially, Thompson could even dip into free agency (though those hoping for a splash signing will be disappointed).

After safety and the defensive line -- the two biggest areas of need on the defense -- no position requires more attention than outside linebacker. It's critical for Dom Capers scheme that pressure on the quarterback comes from the linebackers. Without improvement in this area, the Packers' Super Bowl aspirations will remain only that: aspirations.

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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