Examining the Packers’ positional needs pre-free agency
The 2021 Green Bay Packers are currently in a 32-way tie for first place in the National Football League. As league front-runners, the Packers have opportunities to improve even further via free agency and the draft this spring. The Packers were one game away from the Super Bowl in the 2019 and 2020 seasons; what do they need to go to get back to the big game?
With a cap decrease in 2021 and lots of important free agency decisions to make in the coming months, this team could look very different from the 2020 edition. Pre-free agency, what are the Packers’ biggest needs?
Jaire Alexander might be a top-1 cornerback in the league, but even he can only cover so much of the field at once. Kevin King had his ups and downs, but with his contract expiring and his abysmal NFCCG performance, it’s probable he plays for another team in 2021. Josh Jackson’s play was polarizing, and perhaps a new defensive coordinator can help his career take off, but the team can’t bank on that. There was a reason Tramon Williams joined the team in late January (though him not playing in the NFCCG is baffling).
In a passing league, cornerback is always going to be a pressing need. After the collective performance of the non-Alexander CBs against Tampa, it’s THE need. The team already possesses a dynamic duo of safeties and Jaire; a good number two corner can push the pass D to new heights.
Last week, I discussed the importance of bolstering the trenches. The Packers had one of the best offensive lines in the game last year, but, per sources, players occasionally get hurt. David Bakhtiari’s loss in the playoffs was painfully apparent in the playoffs as Rick Wagner and Billy Turner struggled against Tampa’s pass rush. Wagner was a bargain for how valuable he was for the team, and Billy Turner played well despite constantly shuffling positions, but it’s time for the team to look for its right tackle of the future.
Even if the team rolls with Turner as the starting right tackle in 2021, BabyTackle can get experience as a swing tackle backup before taking over the role full-time in 2022.
Welcome back to the most polarizing discussion in PackerNation. On one hand, the Packers had the best offense in the league with the people they already had on the roster. It wasn’t the lack of a rookie wide receiver that cost the team a trip to the Super Bowl. MVS made true game-winning plays as Allen Lazard was one of the most-reliable third-down targets. On the other hand, for the second year in a row, the Packers led the NFL in yards lost due to wide receiver drops. That’s less than ideal.
And the conversation isn’t just about 2021. Maybe a rookie WR doesn’t do much in 2021. But as a draft-and-develop team, you’ve gotta draft to develop. Eventually, the team is going to want a new weapon. And it would be nice to make Rodgers’ life easier while he’s still playing at MVP level. The sooner a WR is brought in, the better.
The other trench in need of a good bolstering, the defensive line has talent, but not enough of it. Kenny Clark is elite, but no Clark is an island. Montravius Adams and Kingsley Keke show promise, but, as noted, injuries happen. And with Dean Lowry a likely cap casualty, the team’s need for more big men is apparent. More interior pressure makes life easier for the outside rushers, and while the Packers’ run defense was much better in 2020, there’s always room for improvement.
To be fair, these are generally the positions a team should be investing in every year. Games are won in the trenches while your dudes catching the ball and the other dudes not catching the ball is very important in a passing league. The team has less vital needs as well, including some big help on special teams, yet this is where the Packers stand before free agency starts.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.