After the Packers dipped into free agency early Tuesday morning there is still some work to be done heading into the 2019 season if they want to bring a Lombardi back to Titletown. Green Bay certainly added great pieces at their positions of the highest need, with two edge rushers in Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, a safety in Adrian Amos, and a guard in Billy Turner.
Juxtaposing these new additions, the Packers also cut Nick Perry and are potentially losing Clay Matthews to free agency, but these free agent signings weren’t meant to just soften the blow of those losses, the Packers downright improved their pass rushing unit. While Green Bay is better off today then they were at the conclusion of the 2018 season, there is still plenty for them to do.
While Adrian Amos is a terrific player, the Packers are still in need of safety help. In 2017 the Packers had the starting safety tandem of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett, with Josh Jones and Kentrell Brice as the backups. At the midway mark of the 2018 season Ha Ha Clinton Dix was traded away, and Morgan Burnett had already been a Steeler all year, leaving Green Bay in a very dire position, one that they have only begun getting themselves out of. Amos will help the Packers in the passing game to a degree, as he possesses solid coverage ability, but he will help tremendously in the run game, as he typically plays best as a box safety, this means Green Bay will still need some deep coverage help on the back end of their secondary.
The idea of the Packers not making any more moves at safety is insane, as it’s a position where they looked awful at the end of last year. They can either jump at another free agent safety to sign, such as John Cyprien or Tre Boston, or they can spend an early (probably second or third round) draft pick on a safety. Either decision is fine, as the Packers just need some changes in depth to fill out that position, but they will most likely stick with their traditional ways of drafting a player and developing him. The Packers would do well drafting Taylor Rapp or Nasir Adderly with either their 30th overall pick or their 44th pick, depending on how the board falls. Nasir Adderly’s coverage ability and raw athleticism speaks volumes about his potential to be a game-changer on the right NFL team, and Rapp is a very intelligent defender who has great instincts, football IQ, and anticipation who could transition to play any secondary position that Green Bay needed him to. Developing a drafted safety’s coverage abilities and his game speed could always lead to the forming of the NFL’s next ball hawk, and the Packers are surely a team wanting to pursue that idea and make it a reality. However, as far as how difficult it is to hit on a draft class goes, well, as many Packers fans say, “In Gute we trust.”
Besides help at the safety position, the Packers need to fill a few more holes in order to be considered borderline NFC favorites. Green Bay will need to bring back Muhammad Wilkerson on another one or two year “prove-it” deal to add to the defensive line. The Packers are surely interested in seeing what he can do after his 2018 season was cut short by injury and for the right price he could be brought back on board. Interior linemen are schematically important to Green Bay’s defense, and fortifying the trenches is almost always a good move in the NFL. The good news here is, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the Packers and Muhammad Wilkerson have mutual interest in striking a deal.
It would be best for Green Bay’s mid to late round draft picks to be spent on positions that need depth such as WR, O line, and maybe corners (although I am a firm believer that their corner group is young, talented and ready to stand out, even without much additional fortification.) However, as far as the first three picks go, the Packers need to spend either their 30th or 44th pick on a young athletic tight end (whichever of those picks isn’t spent on a safety should be spent this way) to learn from, and maybe even compete with Jimmy Graham. Even if Jimmy Graham ends up being a shadow of his former self yet again this year, Green Bay would then at least be able to use him as a veteran presence and a leader, in order to mentor a young tight end such as Noah Fant, T.J. Hockenson, or Irv Smith Jr.
Here’s where it gets tricky… the 12th overall pick. At this point, Green Bay has signed two edge rushers, meaning the likelihood has gone down that they select someone like Montez Sweat or Clelin Ferrell, but even still Green Bay is very likely to take the best available player with their pick. Now who’s to say what talent could be there at 12, maybe Ferrell or Sweat, maybe Greedy Williams or even offensive linemen such as Jawaan Taylor, or Jonah Williams, all we know is that the Packers are going to do what’s best for loading up to make a run at the NFC North, and maybe even a super bowl appearance, and they’re closing in on being ready.