If this comes as a shock to you, dear reader, I do apologize. However, it must be said: The Green Bay Packers are not good. At least, not through eight weeks of play. We’ve said it before; 2023 is an evaluation year. And it turns out, there are a ton of weak spots on the roster. The problem is, there are more holes than the Packers have draft picks in 2024. There’s also only so much money the team can allocate towards free agents. So: what needs to be immediately addressed in order to see an improvement next season?
Let’s start with the roster itself. The offense has been underwhelming, to say the least. First-year QB Jordan Love has been next to impossible to evaluate. The RB room might not see a single familiar face return next year. The receivers have shown an inability to get open and make contested catches. The TE room has one serviceable pass catcher, who is unable to get any YAC. The offensive line...exists (?). The defense? Well, they still can’t stop the run, the team just traded away their best-performing DB in Rasul Douglas, and the rest of the secondary has the hospital on speed dial. Kicker might be the one position the team doesn’t need. Tell that to your past self in August of 2023.
As it stands today, the Packers have eight guaranteed draft picks, plus potentially three more compensatory picks. The upcoming 2024 draft class has a ton of defensive talent, however, with the Packers likely selecting within the top-10 (at least for now), they may be within reach of a major game-changer at QB or WR. Now, do they take the leap and make a spicy pick like that? Who knows. With the amount of holes in this roster, the Packers may want to trade back and stockpile all the picks they can get. It would kill my mood a little bit, but it’s a move that feels very “Green Bay”. It’s unsettling.
The list of 2024 free agents is a bit underwhelming when you consider who the Packers would even be able to afford. Of all positions, I think they’d be most likely to beef up either the WR room or secondary with a free agency addition. Notable receivers available next offseason (who I don’t think would command a crazy amount of money) include DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Available defensive backs and safeties include Bryce Hall, Kristian Fulton, Micah Hyde (come home for one year, old man), and DeShon Elliott. There are better names available, but these are guys who seem more in the Packers’ range.
So, what do the Packers do?
I think we see the majority of draft picks used on offense in 2024. Production, which has been nonexistent this season, would immediately improve with a strong, healthy offensive line. I think they’re going to use multiple draft picks here. Regardless of who the quarterback of the future is for this team, they’re going to want a young, but strong line to protect him and grow with him. Familiarity between the QB and his linemen is invaluable. Speaking of the quarterback, the Packers may end up pulling another Brian Bohm, and draft someone to scare incumbent Jordan Love into competing for the job.
Between the receivers and tight ends, no one has really stood out this season. These groups are both so young, and will hopefully continue to improve with age. However, if the Packers end up in Marvin Harrison Jr. territory, that’s just too good of an opportunity to pass up, right? ...Right? Then there’s the running back room, which might be full of completely new faces when you factor in Aaron Jones as a possible cap casualty, and AJ Dillon’s potential departure via free agency. You can pretty much bet on a draft pick being used here as well.
DC Joe Barry has managed to stick around for the last few years, however, the defense has done next to nothing during his tenure. Personally, I think this is his final year in this role for the Packers; that is, if HC Matt LaFleur would like to remain employed beyond 2024. With a new defensive coordinator next year, I think that side of the ball is going to get a little grace when it comes to taking time to improve, especially if the team is betting on the offense taking a major leap and possibly making up for any points the defense might give up. Once the team has their offensive issues put to bed, I think 2025 and beyond will be when we start to see those defense-heavy drafts that Green Bay fans have come to know and love so well.