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Cheese Curds, 4/12: Where do Packers need help on defense the most?

While most are focused on the edge and interior line, don’t sleep on the Packers potentially grabbing a safety early in this year’s draft.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 09 Michigan at Nebraska Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While much of the Green Bay Packers-related discussion this offseason has centered around the wide receiver position, the team’s front office has been hard at work keeping together a defense that, based on the eye test, looked improved in 2021 over recent years. The stats did not necessarily bear that out, as the team stayed steady in terms of points allowed and dropped a bit in DVOA, but when the whole unit was together in the postseason, they allowed just six points to a 49ers offense that finished fifth in the NFL in DVOA.

However, there is always room to improve, and this Packers front office has never been shy about using high draft picks to address certain critical positions on that side of the football. Grabbing a third edge rusher to work into a rotation with Rashan Gary and Preston Smith has been a frequent pick in mock drafts, while finding another defensive lineman is also a common pick. But there’s another sneaky need bubbling up as a long-term concern, with that coming at the safety position.

Thankfully, this year’s draft class has a number of exciting, athletic, and intriguing safeties, many of whom have the ability to contribute as slot defenders as well. With two entrenched starters, one who is playing at a tremendously high level, safety might not be a critical need for 2022. But since the Packers always take a long-term view when looking at the draft, it should not be a surprise if the Packers grab a player at that position early on.

Here’s a look at the defense and some of the versatile safeties in this year’s class who might be a great fit for Joe Barry’s unit as late first-round picks.

Packers see bright future ahead for ascending defense |
With nearly all of the main pieces from 2021 returning for 2022, the Packers are counting on their defense to continue gelling and becoming a truly complementary piece to their Aaron Rodgers-led offense.

Safeties Daxton Hill, Lewis Cine look like first-round fits for Packers | Packers Wire
A sneaky need on defense, however, is at safety, where both Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos are headed into the final year of their respective contracts. Savage could get a fifth-year option, but either way the Packers will need to have some answers ready to go in case one or both of those players leaves next offseason. I would also add Baylor’s Jalen Pitre to this list of versatile players who could be good fits in Green Bay.

NFL offseason head-scratchers, brilliant moves and power shifts: What we’ve learned about all 32 teams – The Athletic ($)
The outside view is that the Packers' offensive supporting cast got significantly weaker around Rodgers, which certainly looks to be the case so far. But let's see where things stand on May 1st after the draft before writing off Green Bay as being sure to see a significant slide on that side of the ball.

NFL wide receiver market reset - How a left tackle trade in 2017 led to the stunning Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams deals | ESPN
Bill Barnwell links Duane Brown's holdout in Houston in 2017 and eventual trade to Seattle to the Adams and Hill trades this offseason. It's a bit of a leap, but he follows a few specific threads through to the DeAndre Hopkins trade/contract to get there.

NFL: Why do we get so invested in draft prospects and the draft itself? | Packer Report
Because we're sick creatures, and that's fine.

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Yes, there really is a man known as Lord Pickles in the British aristocracy.