Packers’ 5 key moves:
‘To Do’ to ‘Ta Da’
Packers’ five crucial offseason moves
to contemplate as free agency, draft near
By Chris Havel
Special to Event USA
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Thus far, the Packers’ offseason has been all about rearranging the front office.
Now, it’s time for the decision-makers to put it on the line.
Packers’ president Mark Murphy is more involved, according to reports, and head coach Mike McCarthy and GM Brian Gutekunst have charted a course to upgrade the operation.
Nevertheless, I suspect the Packers will need all the assistance they can get. So in the spirit of providing well-intentioned if unwelcomed advice, here are the Packers’ top five key moves this offseason (reverse order):
** No. 5 – The backup quarterback position demands an upgrade in terms of competition and quality. It is too important, as we saw in 2017, to yield any realistic chance of playing at a .500 level in Aaron Rodgers’ absence.
Brett Hundley will have an offseason to analyze, adjust and move ahead in his quest to become a B+ or better backup. Whether he can become a starting-caliber NFL QB remains to be seen, but in the meantime Hundley needs to be at his best.
Frankly, if he doesn’t show serious and sudden improvement throughout the offseason after seeing so much action in 2017 it will be disappointing.
Aside from that, the Packers need to decide whether it’ll be a draft pick, a free agent or Joe Callahan who will be Hundley’s primary competition this season.
If it’s Callahan it’ll be a signal Green Bay believes in Hundley. If the Packers believe they are a Super Bowl contender they can’t be derailed by the lack of a quality backup QB.
Therefore, I’d make a play for a veteran, competent, professional QB in free agency. Pay the price, bring them in, and pray that they’ll never be needed.
** No. 4 – Offensive line needs an infusion of talent and tenacity, and could get a measure of that in this April’s draft. My best guess is to look for an offensive lineman to Green Bay in the third round, a place where quality athletes will be available.
It’s a necessary counterbalance in case Bryan Bulaga doesn’t rebound from a variety of injuries. Bulaga is as tough as they come, and when he’s healthy, he’s an exceptional player.
The problem is he’s been hurt too much.
I’d look in the draft, then the second tier of free agency, for a competent backup tackle.
** No. 3 – A tight end is critical. The Packers would be best served to go get one in free agency. I know the sting remains from the Martellus Bennett fiasco. However, Gutekunst can’t be dissuaded by that.
The fact is the Packers are painfully, woefully thin at tight end. The Badgers’ Troy Fumagalli in the fourth round, or a veteran free agent, or both would be welcome.
** No. 2 – Iowa defensive backs such as Desmond King and Micah Hyde have been very effective in the NFL. There’s no reason to think the Hawkeyes’ Josh Jackson won’t be tempting and available to the Packers in the late first round, should they decide to move up in a trade.
Jackson is tall (six feet) and slender (180) but possesses tremendous ball skills, great instincts and terrific speed.
Jackson will be a situational defender early in his career, which might sound like a knock. In fact, it’s the way of the NFL these days.
** No. 1 – The Packers need the biggest, toughest and bad-^&% defensive end/outside linebacker they can get at No. 14.
This is one of Green Bay’s most pivotal picks in years. They can’t blow it. They can’t miss. It may not be fair, but the reality is that Gutekunst’s career begins with an immediate need to identify and acquire defensive help, on the double.
Marcus Davenport, a 6-foot-5 ½, 265-pound pass-rushing demon, hails from UT-San Antonio and is highly regarded among scouts and draft-nicks alike.
North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb is probably too much to hope for, but Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, who can run like the wind and deliver a blow, should be there at 14.
If you’re wondering about a receiver, I believe in two things: Jordy Nelson’s ability to rebound and have a tremendous season, and Rodgers’ ability to make second-, third- and fourth-round receivers look like all-pros sooner than later.
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