It feels that with the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft only a day away, every writer, draft analyst, and blogger has put their two cents in on what the Green Bay Packers' greatest needs are. Everyone, that is, except us...until now. Between several of Acme Packing Company's writers, we have combined top five rankings of positional need from six of the APC writers into a single, definitive list which we fully expect Ted Thompson to use when considering the players available when the Packers make their selections*.
* This is entirely untrue. We know Ted could not care less about what we think the team's needs are.
So sit back, and enjoy the top five biggest needs for the Packers on the eve of the 2013 Draft. We used a reverse points system to rank the needs - a first-place vote is worth five points, second place is worth 4, and so on and so forth. With six lists turned in, that means the maximum point total is 30.
1. Defensive Line (6 first-place votes, 30 points)
That's right, every single one of us has the defensive line as the biggest need this off-season. As you well know, B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett are scheduled to be free agents after the 2013 season. The same goes for Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson, and Johnny Jolly. That's right, of the defensive linemen currently on the roster, only Mike Daniels, Jerel Worthy, and Jordan Miller are signed past this season. None of those names currently strike fear in the hearts of offensive linemen assigned to block them, and without a solid push from the front line requiring multiple double-teams, the linebackers will have a hard time flowing to the football.
2. Safety (2 second-place votes, 13 points)
After the defensive line, things started to get really jumbled up. Safety appeared on five of the six lists, but got two 5th-place votes to go along with two seconds. While we would all like to believe that Jerron McMillian can be a good strong safety and that Morgan Burnett will break out this season, there is still a lot of uncertainty at the position. Don't forget that Burnett is also in the final year of his rookie contract as well, and M.D. Jennings will be a restricted free agent after 2013. Personally, I do think Burnett will have an excellent season and get an extension, but adding a talented safety in the early rounds would help to solidify the depth at the position while giving the Packers another option at strong safety.
3. Offensive Tackle (10 points)
I'll be honest, this one was not in my top five at all, but I can see the case that's being made. With Marshall Newhouse's pass-blocking still questionable (especially against speed rushers) and Derek Sherrod's recovery from his leg injury keeping him as a massive question mark, there is ample opportunity for a rookie to make an impact at tackle. If Bryan Bulaga does indeed get shifted to the left side, as Mike McCarthy suggested weeks ago, that would open up competition on the right side.
4. Guard/Center (2 second-place votes, 9 points)
With the return of Evan Dietrich-Smith in restricted free agency, the Packers at least have a center with some starting experience, albeit only a few games. The problem is that they seem in no rush to give him a long-term contract and there is virtually no depth at the position behind him. With a number of talented centers likely available on day two or early on day three of the draft, we are confident that this need will be addressed and a rookie will join the Packers to be at worst the primary backup at center and at best to supplant EDS as the starter.
5 (tie). Running Back and Wide Receiver (8 points each)
This is where it gets a little dicey. At the bottom of the consensus list we have two positions that were each mentioned by only three writers. The question at running back is fairly obvious - without a proven runner to help pass-block and provide balance to the offense, Packers' opponents have been free to sit back in a cover-2 shell and force the Packers to beat them with short routes. A viable running threat would force a safety closer to the line of scrimmage and give Aaron Rodgers better downfield options in the passing game.
On the other hand, the receiver corps has three solid options, but all three have contract questions. James Jones will be a free agent after 2013, while Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb's current deals will be up the following year. With those players each having a learning curve of a year or two before they started to come into their own, it makes sense to think ahead and draft a receiver now who can contribute as a major piece to the offense in 2014 and beyond.
So there you have it - the official Acme Packing Company need list. In the interest of anonymity, I won't reveal each person's individual lists, though the writers are of course free to do so in the comments if they so desire. Just know that every position received votes except for two: quarterback and cornerback. I guess having Aaron Rodgers at one position and going four deep with prospective starters at another will do that .In any case, tell us where we're horribly wrong and why.