It’s funny. The Packers draft needs look a lot like they did a season ago. It’s not that Ted Thompson did a poor job with last year’s class. He did an excellent job. Tramon Williams and Davon House left. They were replaced with younger, cheaper, more talented options in Damarious Randall and Quentin Rollins.
Ty Montgomery, Jake Ryan, Brett Hundley and Aaron Ripkowski look like long-term contributors. Thompson did fine.
The thing is, going into last season’s draft, the fans and media were looking for an answer at inside linebacker and tight end. Thompson drafted Jake Ryan in the 4th and tight end Kennard Backman in the 6th. These are not considered long term solutions, especially Backman.
Green Bay is certainly looking for a tight end, but I want to focus on the inside linebacker group. It performed “okay”, not great last season. Inside linebacker play had very little to do with the season-ending loss at Arizona. But the position just got thinner.
Clay Matthews, who is actually a bit overrated as an inside linebacker, but still one of the best 3-4 OLBs on the planet, is going back to outside linebacker, seemingly come Hell or high water. That leaves the Packers with Jake Ryan, Nate Palmer (the two guys who spent time starting next to Matthews), Joe Thomas (the dime linebacker) and Sam Barrington.
Oh yeah! Sam Barrington. It’s easy to forget about Barrington, the guy slotted to start inside next to Matthews at the beginning of the season. Barrington was placed on injured reserve after injuring his foot in the first game against the Bears.
Barrington will return in 2016. In fact, before the player acquisition period, I would call Barrington a starter. I think your starters as of now would be Guion, Daniels and D. Jones on the line with Matthews and Peppers outside with Barrington and Jake Ryan inside.
Is it possible that the Packers don’t view inside linebacker as a need? Is it possible that they feel like Ryan and Barrington are good enough in the base with Thomas reprising his role as the dime linebacker? Would Nate Palmer and Carl Bradford be enough depth?
I certainly hope not, but there’s a chance.
Barrington’s definitely going to make the team in 2016. He’ll be used as depth at the very least, but at this point I might use him in place of Jake Ryan against more athletic pass-catching running backs if the Packers acquired another linebacker. That is of course the major question. Do the Packers acquire another linebacker or are your starters going to be Ryan and Barrington?
I would love the Packers to acquire an inside linebacker, specifically in the draft. Myles Jack, Reggie Ragland, Jaylon Smith, Darron Lee, and Scooby Wright, if you ask me, would instantly be the best inside linebacker on the team and a day one starter. With that said, those of you looking for two ILBs in this draft class are probably not being realistic.
They have two starting caliber inside linebackers in Barrington and Ryan. What they don’t have is a playmaker at either position. Barrington and Ryan are each just a touch better than Brad Jones and AJ Hawk at what they do, that doesn’t mean that they are solutions to anyone’s problem.
As always, don’t be surprised if your team needs don’t line up with Thompson’s, and don’t forget about Sam Barrington.