The 2024 NFL Draft is fast approaching. The Green Bay Packers enter the draft with 11 selections including five in the first 100 picks as a result of the trades for Aaron Rodgers and Rasul Douglas. That could give GM Brian Gutekunst the ammunition needed to trade 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 heading into the draft.

Today’s article will examine the defense and special teams. You can see our analysis of the offense here.

Short-term needs are for the 2024 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.

Packers 2024 Draft Needs on Defense, Defensive Line: Short Term Need, Moderately Low

The defensive line went from a position of weakness to a position of strength last season. The team is switching from a three-man front to a four man under new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley. That means that Preston Smith and Rashan Gary will likely line up as defensive ends. Lukas Van Ness will be the third player on the depth chart until Kingsley Enagbare is able to return from his season-ending injury. Brenton Cox will hope to take a second-year jump and contribute more on defense this season.

Kenny Clark remains the team’s best interior lineman. He is joined by T.J. Slaton and Devonte Wyatt. Rookies Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks showed promise last season. They provide the team with depth and upside. Jonathan Ford is back after two years on the practice squad to compete for a roster spot.

Long Term Need: Moderate

The long-term need depends largely on Clark’s future. The team is reportedly negotiating an extension with Clark. His current deal expires after the 2024 season. If they ink him to an extension, the long-term need goes down. If they don’t, the need becomes higher.

Gutekunst may also want to add a player who will be a good fit in Hafley’s defense in the later rounds of the draft.

Packers 2024 Draft Needs on Defense, Linebacker: Short Term Need, High

In the new four-man front, the need for off-ball linebackers changes. Instead of two starters, the team will need three even though the third linebacker may only be on the field for 15 percent of the defensive snaps.

After De’Vondre Campbell’s departure, Quay Walker and Isaiah McDuffie are the current starters. Eric Wilson adds some experienced depth. The Pack re-signed Kristian Welch but he’s mostly a special teams contributor.

One more starting caliber player is needed here as well as depth.

Long Term Need: Moderately High

Walker enters the third year of his entry-level deal so he will be with the team at least through 2025. McDuffie knows Hafley from their time at Boston College, but the team may want to upgrade here over the long term. Depth is also lacking as is a third starter.

Look for Gutekunst to use multiple picks at this position starting on day two at the earliest with another player or two added on day three.

Packers 2024 Draft Needs on Defense, Cornerback: Short Term Need, Moderately High

The Packers have depth at corner, but injury concerns and inconsistency make the position more of a short-term need. Jaire Alexander provides Pro Bowl caliber coverage skills when he’s healthy, but injuries limited him to just seven games last season. Eric Stokes played very well as a rookie but has struggled in the last two seasons. He also has been injury prone. Carrington Valentine filled in and played well as a rookie but will need to show he’s ready to be a full-time starter. Keisean Nixon returns as the slot corner, but he was very inconsistent in that position last season.

Corey Ballentine, Robert Rochell, Anthony Johnson, and Zyon Gilbert will fight for depth spots on the roster.

The uncertainty at the other starting corner and in the slot creates a short term need that Gutekunst could address in the early rounds of the draft.

Long Term Need: Moderate

The Packers have to decide whether to pick up Stokes’ fifth-year option this offseason. Based on his injury history, they probably won’t. Nixon and Ballentine are still unproven as starters.

An upgrade here may be needed as soon as next season. Corner is also a premium position, so the team is always looking to add players here.

Packers 2024 Draft Needs on Defense, Safety: Short Term Need, High

All three of the Packers top safeties from last season are no longer on the roster and only one remains unsigned. The Packers signed Xavier McKinney to be one starter, but they need to add an immediate starter to the roster. Anthony Johnson, Jr. is also returning for his second season and is presently the highest player on the depth chart opposite McKinney.

Depth includes Benny Sapp, Zayne Anderson, and Tyler Coyle but none of them would be considered potential starters right now.

The Packers will need to add a starter in the draft and/or add a low-cost free agent. Rudy Ford remains unsigned, and they could bring him back. They probably won’t address the safety position until day two at the earliest. They are also likely to draft another safety on day three.

Long Term Need: Moderately High

McKinney will be here for the next few seasons. Johnson is in the second year of his entry-level deal and any drafted player will sign a four-year contract. If the Pack adds a few players in the draft and/or free agency, they probably will take care of the long-term need as well as the short-term.

Packers 2024 Draft Needs on Special Teams: Short Term Need, Moderate

Gutekunst has already added two kickers to compete with Anders Carlson who struggled with his consistency in his rookie season. With Greg Joseph and Jack Podlesny in camp to compete for the job, the Packers don’t need to add another kicker although they could always add one if they don’t like what they see in minicamp.

Matt Orzech is the only long snapper on the roster right now. Gute will likely bring in someone to compete for the job as Orzech wasn’t always accurate. The most likely option is an undrafted free agent.

The team may also bring in someone to compete with punter Daniel Whelan who did a good job of kicking the ball last season. Again, the need isn’t high, but a camp leg is always possible.

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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