The NFL’s new league year is still less than two weeks old but already significant changes have hit the Green Bay Packers. Players like Davante Adams, Za’Darius Smith and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have departed, De’Vondre Campbell, Rasul Douglas and Aaron Rodgers are returning and the Packers suddenly have four picks in the first two rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Packers had the best record in the NFC last season and despite the losses of some key players, have solid starters at nearly every position on both sides of the ball.
Except for wide receiver, the Packers do not have any glaring needs at the moment, although there are several areas that clearly need to add depth before the start of training camp in July. Whether the Packers address them with low-priced free agents, trades or in the upcoming draft, GM Brian Gutekunst must improve these areas for the team to have a legitimate chance to win another Super Bowl.
Here are the five position groups the Packers need the most depth at as of right now:
- Defensive Line
This position group became a less urgent need after the Packers signed veteran free agent Jarran Reed who should help give the team more push rushing the passer alongside Kenny Clark.
The Packers will still need to fortify the depth here with Dean Lowry, T.J. Slaton and Jack Heflin the only other players currently on the roster. If you need three starters with Clark, Reed and Lowry the most likely trio, additional depth is needed to bolster this position.
Look for one or more picks to be used at this position during day three of this year’s draft.
- Edge Rusher
Preston Smith and Rashan Gary are the starters, but after the departure of Za’Darius Smith, depth is lacking. Last season, neither Jonathan Garvin nor Tipa Galeai was able to provide consistency when they were inserted into the lineup.
Garvin had 1.5 sacks and five quarterback hits while playing 39 percent of the defensive snaps while Galeai added one sack and one quarterback hit in 34 percent of the defensive snaps. Both backups also struggled at times against the run as well as they had difficulty holding the edge.
The Packers need to add more talent here including using some draft picks here for the future. Signing a reliable veteran like Whitney Mercilus to provide immediate help is also advisable should either Preston Smith or Gary be out of the lineup with injuries.
- Offensive Line
There is talent on the offensive line but there are also question marks. Billy Turner has departed, leaving a hole at right tackle. Elgton Jenkins may eventually take over as the starter at RT, but he will likely miss the early part of the season as he recovers from a season-ending knee injury suffered last November.
Yosh Nijman is the likely starter until Jenkins gets healthy, but the Packers have yet to re-sign Dennis Kelly and do not have an experienced veteran swing tackle on the roster.
The departure of Lucas Patrick also compromises the depth inside. Jon Runyan, Jr. and Royce Newman are back as the starters until Jenkins returns. We are not sure if Jenkins will play tackle or guard when healthy.
The team also lacks an experienced backup center as Patrick also filled that role. Right now, the unproven duo of Jake Hanson and Michal Menet are the only centers on the roster behind Josh Myers. Myers missed 11 games last year due to an assortment of injuries.
The Packers need to use some draft picks and some experienced depth along the offensive line.
The Packers have a solid duo of starting safeties in Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, but behind that duo, there are a lot of question marks. The Pack opted not to make an offer to Henry Black who was the primary backup last year.
The only other safeties on the roster right now are Vernon Scott and first-year players Innis Gaines and Shawn Davis.
If either Amos or Savage had to miss significant time, the Packers would be in big trouble at safety unless they upgrade the depth at the position before training camp starts.
- Wide Receiver
The Packers have lost two of their top three receivers from last season in Adams and MVS. They currently lack a number one receiver and a number two receiver with Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers headlining the remaining players. All of them are best suited to be third or fourth receivers on the depth chart of a good receiving corps.
This unit will likely be addressed in multiple ways whether it’s via trade, free agency and/or the draft. The Packers need to acquire an experienced number one receiver for the short term and to draft one or more potential number one and number two receivers in the draft who can take over those positions in the near future.
With limited cap space available, improving his area will be a challenge for Gutekunst and company.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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