The majority of the conversations about the Green Bay Packers this offseason have been about the defense and rightfully so.
This makes sense since the Packers ranked eighth in the NFL in points per game (26.1) and third yards per game (400.3) without Aaron Rodgers for seven games. The defense ranked 24th points allowed per game (26.8) and 25th in yards allowed per game (372.3).
The Packers have consistently had one of the best offenses in the NFL since Rodgers took over at quarterback and one of the worst defenses since Dom Capers took over at defensive coordinator. Although, the defense has had years when it has performed well, none of them have come since 2010.
However, many people are completely ignoring that the Packers do have needs on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, Rodgers will always help cover any weaknesses that the offense might have, but they still do need to be addressed. The three positions on offense that the Packers need help at are center, tight end and wide receiver.
Green Bay will have their fourth starting center in four years next season after Evan Dietrich-Smith signed a four-year, $14.25 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Packers usually sign their own free agents who they want to keep, so it appears as though they were not the biggest fans of Dietrich-Smith.
J.C. Tretter is the only center on the roster right now, and he has never played a down in the NFL, so it is hard to know what to expect out of him. Tretter was a fourth-round pick out of Cornell last year, so he did not go up against a ton of quality opponents in college. He lost his rookie season last year after breaking his ankle in OTA’s.
There are really no starting quality unrestricted free agent centers available, so Tretter will probably be competing with a draft pick for the starting center spot. There are no first round center prospects either, so I would imagine Green Bay would target a center in the middle rounds of the draft.
Andrew Quarless would be Green Bay’s starting tight end if the season started today, but he is more of a number two tight end rather than a starter. Quarless did start to flash potential towards the end of the season with consecutive six catch games against Atlanta and Dallas, but he has never been able to be consistent.
It appears that the Packers are prepared to not bring Jermichael Finley back, and that would be a huge loss. Despite his inconsistencies, he was a huge threat over the middle of the field that demanded attention. It is really hard to have an elite offense in today’s NFL without a tight end with Finley’s abilities. The Packers can do it because they have Rodgers, but it makes it a lot tougher to not have that matchup nightmare at tight end.
Not having a starting caliber tight end really hurt the Packers last season after Finley got injured. Green Bay only scored a touchdown on 50.72% of their red zone attempts, which was only 26th in the NFL. Not having that big target in the red zone really hurt them.
Also, the Packers could still use the middle of the field better on offense. A lot of their passes are outside the numbers and not very high percentage plays. They usually get completed because of the talent of the quarterback and the wide receivers. Having a tight end who could create easy passes in the middle of the field would make things a lot easier for Rodgers.
Fortunately, there are some good tight ends in this year’s draft if the Packers are not prepared to clear Finley from his neck injury. Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro and Austin Seferian- Jenkins would be good options in the first two rounds. Ebron has some character concerns, but has drawn comparisons to Vernon Davis and would be a good pick in the first round despite the defensive needs. Amaro and Seferian Jenkins probably will not make it to their second round pick, so they could be options if the Packers trade down in the first round or up in the second round.
Also, the Packers recently had Owen Daniels in for a visit and the ex-Badger would be a solid signing. There are not many other good free agent tight ends available other than Daniels and Finley.
Wide receiver is not an obvious need for the Packers, but it is more of a need than most fans think. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are a great top two, but they both have to be signed to contract extensions. You assume that will happen, but you never know with negotiations.
Jarrett Boykin looks like a solid third option with how he played last year, but his speed and getting separation are still issues. Nelson, Cobbb and Boykin are the only established wide receivers on the roster right now, and if an injury strikes that would put them in a tough spot. The Packers really need to go four deep at wide receiver, since they utilize so many three receiver sets.
It has been awhile since Ted Thompson got some new toys for Rodgers to play with, and this is the year he does it. The wide receiver position is incredibly deep this draft, which makes paying any free agent wide receiver a bad decision.
I can definitely see Thompson picking a receiver in the second or third round this draft. Some options could be Davante Adams, Jordan Matthews, Martavis Bryant or Jarvis Landry.
The defense is definitely the most concerning part about the Packers, but that doesn’t mean that the offense should be completely ignored. This year’s draft is deeper on offense than defense, so the value picks may be on offensive players. There may be some surprise picks come May to help improve Green Bay’s offense.