May 8th is just around the corner and the 2014 NFL Draft will, as always, go a long way towards separating which teams make significant improvements in the next season and which ones decline and are passed by. The Green Bay Packers have several areas of concern to address after a 2013 season that had its share of ups and downs. However, with several key contributors expected to be fully healthy after the cascade of injuries that befell the roster in the recent past, as well as the free agent signings of returning cornerback Sam Shields and former Bear Julius Peppers, the Packers are in good position to make large improvements on last year’s win total if they can leverage the coming draft class to their benefit. With four picks in the top 100 selections, this should certainly be doable. Here are the Packers’ top three draft needs:
#3 – Offensive Line
Let’s face it, the Packers’ offensive line hasn’t been particularly strong for a decade. For a team as stocked with dynamic play-makers as the Packers, this is a true shame. The Packers need strong offensive line play in order for players such as Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Eddie Lacy to have time to work their magic. The departures of veterans Marshall Newhouse and Evan Dietrich-Smith via free agency have not exactly improved the situation.
#2 – Tight End
A huge part of any good offense is solid tight end play. With the unfortunate Jermichael Finley situation still up in the air (as of this writing it appears that he will be unlikely to resign with the Pack), the Packers did the smart thing and resigned Andrew Quarless. Quarless, however, seems to be little more than a stop-gap measure as a starter and the Packers would do themselves a huge favor if they could improve the tight end position and give Rodgers a legitimate threat to go with his star wide receivers.
#1 – Safety
In 2013, M.D. Jennings proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that (at this time at least) he is not an NFL-caliber starter and the Packers should feel very little remorse about losing him the the Chicago Bears in free agency. It is possible that the Packers will move Micah Hyde to the safety position from cornerback, but there are still many questions about Hyde’s ability as a starting safety as well. And even if Hyde is able to make the transition smoothly, the Packer still lack much-needed depth, making safety the Packers number one concern at this time. Perhaps having a competent partner starting opposite Morgan Burnett might even make him appear worthy of his 4-year, 24 million dollar contract.