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Cheese Curds, 4/6: Packers must — and should — find day-one contributor with 14th pick

It is imperative that the Packers land a player who can have an immediate impact with their top pick, and based on the players available that shouldn’t be too hard.

It probably should go without saying, but when you are selecting in the top half of the first round of the NFL Draft, your first selection needs to be a player that can contribute immediately as a rookie.

The Packers haven’t been in this high of a draft position since 2009, when the team picked nose tackle B.J. Raji with the 9th selection and traded back into round one to land Clay Matthews at 26. Neither player started in week one of that season — Raji ended up rotating into the lineup and making just one start all season while Matthews started the final 13 games — but both were critical contributors to a defensive turnaround that landed the Packers seventh in the NFL in points allowed and second in yards.

In 2018, they hold pick number 14, and it looks clear that the priorities are on the edge or in the secondary. Thankfully, any of the players to whom they are connected appear to be able to pitch in on day one, on a rotational basis at the bare minimum. Take any of the defensive backs in the conversation: Denzel Ward, Minkah Fitzpatrick, or Derwin James can play in the slot immediately, while Josh Jackson would be a candidate to play outside early on. The pass-rushers, like Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport, could rotate in and provide crucial depth behind Matthews and Nick Perry. Even a linebacker like Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith would likely be a day-one starter next to Blake Martinez, particularly given the Packers’ reported plans to keep Josh Jones at a more conventional safety position this spring.

All told, there should be plenty of good options who can immediately help the defense at 14, particularly if four or five quarterbacks go off the board in the first 13 picks. It’s now a question of how the Packers’ board will set up.

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