The 2023 NFL Draft is fast approaching. The Green Bay Packers are still unsure whether the trade for quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take before or during the draft or if they need to wait longer. If there is a pre-draft trade, GM Brian Gutekunst could have multiple picks in the early rounds of the draft that could be used to move up or down or to trade picks for players he wants. He could also hold on to the picks and build the team that way.

Here is a look at the Packers short-term and long-term needs at each position on defense and special teams heading into the draft.

Short-term needs are for the 2023 season whether they are for starters or for depth at a given position. Long-term needs are designed to add future starters, to add depth and to replace players who may be retiring, becoming free agents or released for cap reasons in the future.

Defensive Line:

Short Term Need: High

The Packers have lost veterans Jarran Reed and Dean Lowry to free agency. They are expecting last year’s first round pick, Devonte Wyatt and third-year man T.J. Slaton to step up into bigger roles. Neither has significant starting experience. Slaton is considered more of a run stuffer while Wyatt may also be able to add some push to the interior pass rush.

Kenny Clark is the team’s best defensive lineman and their only proven Pro Bowl player at the position. He needs to be a bit more consistent but when he’s on, he can be a difference maker.

The only other players on the roster at this position right now are Chris Slayton and Jonathan Ford. Neither has played a snap in an NFL regular season game.

Long Term Need: Moderately High

Clark is under contract through 2024 and will be 29 when his deal expires. Wyatt and Slaton have showed flashes but haven’t proven themselves as a starters just yet. Wyatt has more potential according to scouts but the future at this position is unclear. The team needs short-term depth and at least one more long-term starter along the defensive line plus depth pieces.

Edge Rusher:

Short Term Need: Moderate

Preston Smith is back as one starter with Rashan Gary, the team’s best pass rusher, also returning but coming off a season-ending knee injury. He may not be ready to start the season on time. Kingsley Enagbare showed flashes as a rookie especially later in the season but is best suited for a rotational role at this stage of his career. Jonathan Garvin is more of a special teams contributor and provides little in the way of pass rush.

With Gary unlikely to be ready to start the season, the Packers have a short-term need here. Gary may also not be back into his pre-injury form this season which reinforces the short-term need.

Long Term Need: Moderately High

The 2023 season is Gary’s fifth-year option. The Packers should be looking to sign him to an extension but until they do, the long-term need at the position is higher. They also need to see how Gary looks after he recovers from the injury. Preston Smith is now signed through 2026 but he’ll carry a $16.5 million cap hit in 2024 and will be 33 that year so he may need to restructure or be cut.

Edge rusher is a premium position for the Packers and every NFL team. Don’t be surprised to see Gutekunst use one of the team’s early round picks on a player at this position.

Inside Linebacker:

Short Term Need: Moderately Low

De’Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker will both be back and give the team two quality starters. Campbell was an All Pro in 2021 and played better in the second half of the 2022 season after a slow start. Walker led the team in tackles and should be even better in his second NFL season if he can avoid incidents like the two ejections from games when he lost his cool.

Isaiah McDuffie gives the team a solid backup option although a late round pick here to add more depth to replace the departed Krys Barnes wouldn’t be a shocker.

Long Term Need: Moderately Low

The starters are set and should be there for the next few years if they stay healthy. McDuffie has another year left on his entry-level deal so he’ll be back in 2024.

The Pack traditionally doesn’t emphasize this position and just selected Walker in the first round last year, so don’t look for a pick here until day three if at all.


Short Term Need: Moderate

The Packers top three is set with Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes. Alexander went to the Pro Bowl last year while Douglas is a steady presence who played better after Joe Barry adjusted the coverage schemes later in the season. Stokes is the big question mark. He is coming off a season ending injury and a sophomore slump. Hopefully, the speedy Georgia alum returns to form and Barry lets him play more press coverage from the start of the season.

The Packers need to see if Shemar Jean-Charles can stay healthy and claim a bigger role on defense in his third season. Keisean Nixon is expected to get a chance to be the nickel back. The team also has several potential depth players on the roster.

Long Term Need: Moderate

All three of the top players are under contract through at least 2024 although Stokes’ health makes him a bit of a question mark. Nixon is only signed for this season so that creates a possible long-term need.

Cornerback is a premium position and NFL teams always want more of them. Douglas is 29 so developing a future starter is always an option.

Gutekunst will almost certainly draft a player or two here and the draft board will likely determine how high a pick it turns out to be.


Short Term Need: High

There are a lot of questions at this position with Adrian Amos unsigned and Darnell Savage expected to start despite being benched for poor play last season.

The Packers did re-sign Rudy Ford and Dallin Leavitt. Ford may fight for a starting job but Leavitt is really a special teams ace. Tariq Carpenter is also primarily a special teams player as is Innis Gaines.

Although this year’s safety group is not deep or talented, the Packers may have to use a high pick here to fill one of the team’s biggest needs.

Long Term Need: High

Savage is playing on his fifth-year option and unless he has a bounce back season, it may be his last year with the team. That would make the need for a starter for 2024 obvious to go with the need for one this year.

More depth is needed also so this is both a short-term and long-term need and the team’s lack of cap space makes it tougher to sign a free agent to solve the problem.

Special Teams:

Short Term Need: Moderate

The Packers are set at punter for this season with Pat O’Donnell. Keisean Nixon will be back as the Packers primary return specialist. The Packers also have two long snappers on the roster in incumbent Jack Coco and the newly signed Matt Orzech.

The Packers have re-signed special teams aces like Leavitt, Rudy Ford and Tyler Davis but Gutekunst and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia are always looking for more help here, especially in the later rounds of the draft.

Kicker remains a need as Packers all-time leading scorer Mason Crosby remains unsigned. Crosby said he wants to return but the Packers may not have the cap room to keep him. Parker White is the only kicker currently on the roster. Gutekunst may use a late-round pick here or look to sign an undrafted free agent if Crosby doesn’t re-sign.

Long Term Need: N/A

It’s tough to determine long-term needs at special teams as this is a position because there usually is a lot of turnover at the position on a year-by-year basis. Special teams needs are addressed on a more immediate basis.



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