Many fans are clamouring for the Packers to address the defensive line early in the draft with the hope of solidifying Green Bay’s run defense. But, there are a few reasons why that probably won’t happen.
Weak DL Draft Class
First, and simply, this just isn’t the draft. There isn’t a guy who is a feasible target for the Packers to pair with Kenny Clark for the next four years. There is one prospect who is a sure-fire day-one pick: Christian Barmore. I don’t want to disrespect this man when I call this a weak DL draft because he can be a game wrecker from week one. But overall, it just isn’t a deep class. The Packers may use the later rounds to provide depth and training camp competition but don’t expect a future star defensive linemen to come out of the later rounds of this year’s draft.
Core Already In Place
Second, the Packers are content with the way their starting roster looks right now. It has become clear that Green Bay’s front office has decided to ‘run it back’ with last years team. Tyler Lancaster was just signed to an extension and Dean Lowry still has a year left on his deal. Keke Kingsley was also inserting himself as a force (four sacks on eight QB hits) last year before suffering a concussion that forced him out of both playoff games. The core is already in place for this season, so if the Packers address the defensive line it will be for a development piece for after Lancaster and Lowry’s deals are over.
Run Defense Trending Up
Third, Green Bay’s run defense actually rose to the challenge against extremely stout competition at the end of the last year’s regular season. The Packers were one of only six opponents to hold Derrick Henry under 100 yard. They also held David Montgomery to his fourth-lowest yards per carry of the entire season. I think this was a jumping off point for the defense’s confidence that they can take into next year.
Not A Dire Need
Fourth, there are more important positions of need for the Packers. In my opinion, cornerback, offensive line and wide receivers are the top priority going into the draft. The depth at cornerback is scarce, and Green Bay will almost certainly add a cornerback to groom to pair with Jaire Alexander for years to come. The injury to David Bakhtiari and the departure of Corey Linsley make it urgent address the offensive line to maintain the success that was the catalyst of Green Bay’s offense all season long. And lastly, there are currently no wide receivers — barring a Davante Adams’ extension — under contract after this season. The Packers rely heavily on developing wide receivers so it is almost a guarantee that they take at least one with their 10 picks.
Giving Kenny Clark help is definitely on the agenda of Brain Gutenkunst and company, but I just don’t think it is a top priority. The Packers were able to add a veteran free agent at the end of the season last year — Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison — to fill this role, and I would expect they would find similar avenues to addressing the position this year.——————
Kirien is a big fan of the Packers, Beer, and Battlestar Galactica. You can follow him on twitter at @KirienSprecher.