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Green Bay Packers Team Needs: Draft Wrap Up


Chris Licata
Does the Packers roster still have any glaring weaknesses following the NFL Draft? | Photo Credit: Matt Racker - Packers.com

The dust from the 2016 NFL Draft has settled and the newest members of the Green Bay Packers have finished up their first week of workouts. As mentioned in our pre-draft team needs piece, the Packers had some weaknesses to address, especially in the front-7 on defense. Ted Thompson and staff didn't appear to make any luxury picks this year, choosing to focus on positions of need -- presently and in the coming offseason.

The team made seven picks and signed an additional 22 undrafted free agents on draft weekend. Despite the influx of new talent currently fighting for roster spots, the Packers could still stand to improve two positions in particular.

 

Defensive Line

Green Bay spent first and fourth-round picks on the defensive front this year, respectfully adding UCLA DT Kenny Clark and Northwestern DE Dean Lowry. Due to the lack of depth at the nose tackle position, Clark could very well see starting action early on in his rookie season. Lowry appears to be a developmental player who could rotate behind the current starting trio of Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion and Datone Jones.

However, after that grouping, the Packers are left with Mike Pennel, second-year contributor Christian Ringo and a handful of UDFAs. Green Bay has made it clear that they will keep free agents on their final 53-man roster. This season's dark horse could very well come from the defensive line group.

 

Inside Linebacker

Each year Packers fans clamor for an early-round inside linebacker, and every year they are let down. See: Reggie Ragland (2016), Eric Kendricks (2015), C.J. Mosely (2014) and well...you get the point. It has become evident that this Packers regime does not value the position very much on the first two days of the draft.

Thompson did surprise the masses this year when the team turned in the card for Stanford's Blake Martinez in the fourth round (131st overall). The redshirt senior was a two-year starter who is strong against the run and offers some awareness in coverage. His play speed is a question mark at the NFL level but Martinez should compete for snaps with Jake Ryan and Sam Barrington in year one. With little depth and experience at the position, it appears inside linebacker will once again be the Packers weakest unit. Multiple injuries here could be crippling.

Chris Licata is the Director of NFL Draft Content for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter (@ChrisLicataPFS) and Google+. For more Packers content from PFS, follow our @spot_packers Twitter account.


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Blake Martinez is going to emerge as a star;  the flexibility to move Clay Matthews back to the outside is there with Martinez in the mix.

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4 hours ago, Mal McCauley said:

AND, for the record Ali ;  I think this division is wide open this year!!   All four teams have the potential to win it. 

I don't think it's a done deal that the Vikings win it again this year. I do think they got a great shot though. Gotta stay healthy though

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10 hours ago, Mal McCauley said:

Blake Martinez is going to emerge as a star;  the flexibility to move Clay Matthews back to the outside is there with Martinez in the mix.

I think Blake Martinez is more likely to be out of the league in 4-5 years than he is become a star. I hope he can prove me wrong but his lack of play speed at ILB makes his margin for error even smaller than more athletic linebackers.

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Really??? From everything I have read and what little I have seen,  he seems like he is NFL ready.  A lot of his scouting reports show he is old school, likes to get in there and hit hard, is really quick.  BUT, after I read your comment, I did look into his negatives and there are a few notable ones, for example, on about 3 different reviews, the same thing kept popping up, that he is not an effective pass rusher, I could see how that could be a big concern.  Maybe Matthews can take him under his wing and help him tweak a few things.

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I like Martinez as well, and I feel like he can be an upgrade at the position (though admittedly that's not saying much if we're counting Clay as an OLB in this conversation). But yeah, I'm not sure if he'll become a superstar there. I like Jake Ryan, but I'm not sure about Barrington as a long-term solution. Inside linebacker will likely still need to be addressed next offseason, but for this year I think that Jake 'n' Blake can be serviceable in the middle. Hope one or both of them proves to be better than expected!

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2 hours ago, Ken Kosirowski said:

"Multiple injuries here could be crippling." Truer words were never said, and with the Packers, multiple injuries are pretty much guaranteed every year.

For sure. Injuries are unavoidable but from a roster perspective, you just hope they are 1.) not serious, long-term ailments and 2.) spread out over multiple positions.

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On May 19, 2016 at 3:18 PM, Sean Blashe said:

I like Martinez as well, and I feel like he can be an upgrade at the position (though admittedly that's not saying much if we're counting Clay as an OLB in this conversation). But yeah, I'm not sure if he'll become a superstar there. I like Jake Ryan, but I'm not sure about Barrington as a long-term solution. Inside linebacker will likely still need to be addressed next offseason, but for this year I think that Jake 'n' Blake can be serviceable in the middle. Hope one or both of them proves to be better than expected!

See, I like Barrington more than I do Ryan.

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See, I like Barrington more than I do Ryan.

And that's certainly a valid opinion. I feel like neither Ryan nor Barrington has had enough of a workload to really show if they can handle the full time duties. More likely than not we get all three LBs rotating between the two spots. Hopefully one comes out and exceeds expectations.

Sent from my iPhone using the Pro Football Spot App

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21 hours ago, Sean Blashe said:

And that's certainly a valid opinion. I feel like neither Ryan nor Barrington has had enough of a workload to really show if they can handle the full time duties. More likely than not we get all three LBs rotating between the two spots. Hopefully one comes out and exceeds expectations.

Sent from my iPhone using the Pro Football Spot App

If Barrington can just avoid injury I think he could really shine. And Ryan started looking better toward the end of last season, so maybe he's got a higher ceiling than I originally thought.

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The Packers are looking solid heading into the season as usual. A healthy Jordy Nelson will help Rodgers get back to QB1 status. 

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Contrary to popular belief, I believe the Packers drafted wisely as they needed to fill the gap left by B.J. Raji.  While many believed he wasn't as effective as he was in his prime, which may be true, he still plugged that hole in the middle of the defensive line for the Packers.

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I would not be overly concerned with Blake Martinez's lack of speed. NaVorro Bowman ran a similar 40-yard dash time and he has turned out to be a solid NFL linebacker. Martinez can be a quality backup who can contribute on special teams.  

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17 hours ago, Frank Scaduto said:

Chris, your team looks as loaded as Carolina was for our opener last year. Another tough beginning for us...

No doubt Green Bay has one of the more talented rosters in the league. The Jaguars will present an interesting challenge for them early in the season with that revamped defense.

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5 hours ago, Chris Licata said:

No doubt Green Bay has one of the more talented rosters in the league. The Jaguars will present an interesting challenge for them early in the season with that revamped defense.

I'm not sure how revamped it truly is, as they will play the same cover 3 scheme that was so awful in stopping the pass last year. But at least Fowler and Jackson provide an element of pass rush missing from last year's team 

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