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Packers 2014 Offseason Review: Judging Need at Cornerback

The Packers definitely are making the right decision in making Sam Shields their top free agent priority, but if he departs it won't be the end of the world.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers' crop of cornerbacks is replete with talent, but has suffered through injuries and growing pains over the past few years. In 2013 especially, injuries robbed the team of one of its top young playmakers in Casey Hayward, and rookie Micah Hyde was forced to play far more than was expected of him before the season. Hyde performed well, all things considered, but the unit as a whole struggled to overcome the loss of Hayward.

This offseason, with starter Sam Shields hitting free agency, the need to improve the position is serious, although not critical. Shields is the best option to bolster the position and is priority number one for Ted Thompson and company. However, if he departs, a starting combination of Hayward and veteran Tramon Williams with Hyde and Davon House as the third and fourth options is hardly a bad unit on paper.

Depth would become a major concern in that case, though. The team would not be equipped to handle a major injury with that roster. Along with Shields' continuously-improving skills as a ballhawk and playmaker, depth and youth are the most critical reasons that the Packers will need to try to bring Shields back into the fold. If they do not, look for Ted Thompson to find a corner on day two of the NFL Draft to complement the other members of Green Bay's defensive backfield.

Overall Need Rating: 6/10

If Hayward had played this season and looked good doing it, this number would be lower. Instead, his status following a lost season is in question, at least somewhat, and Shields' return would be a massive help to a Packers defense that uncharacteristically struggled to force turnovers in 2013.