Every NFL team has positions they prioritize over others while other position groups are given less emphasis. Obviously, quarterback is a key area of emphasis throughout the league as are edge rushers, cornerbacks and offensive tackles. But other position groups aren’t emphasized with the same urgency.

Here is a look at the three position groups the Packers have not emphasized much in recent years. The positions are ranked on a combination of performance, use of high draft picks and big-ticket free agents and trade acquisitions.

  1. Inside Linebacker

The Packers have not emphasized the inside linebacker position in recent years. The last time they used a first round pick at this position was Nick Barnett back in 2003. A.J. Hawk was a first rounder in 2006 but was drafted as an outside linebacker before being moved inside early in his career.

The last time the Packers used a day two pick on an inside linebacker was 2018 when they used a third-round pick on Oren Burks. Burks never developed into a starter on defense although he was a key player on special teams for the Packers.

The Packers typically spend day three picks at the position like Blake Martinez in the fourth round in 2016 or sign inexpensive free agents or make minor trades which added players like Antonio Morrison or B.J. Goodson.

The Packers signed an inexpensive free agent last season in De’Vondre Campbell and hit the jackpot, getting an All Pro season from the former University of Minnesota star. GM Brian Gutekunst stepped up and signed Campbell to a new deal that will keep him in Green Bay for the next several seasons.

  1. Interior Defensive Line

Kenny Clark has been a big success and he is the last interior lineman the Packers drafted in the first round which happened back in 2016.

The last day two selection used at this position by the Packers is Montravius Adams who went in Round 3 back in 2017. Adams was unable to realize his potential with the Packers. Prior to that, the Packers drafted Khyri Thornton in the third round in 2014 but he suffered an injury during training camp and never played a down for the Packers.

Most of the players who have suited up at this position for the Packers in recent years have been day three draft picks or undrafted free agents like Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster.

  1. Special Teams

This is a tough call because the Packers have used draft picks on special teams but they haven’t had much success with them.

The last time the Packers drafted a punter early in the draft goes all the way back to Ray Stachowicz who they picked in the third round back in 1981, but most punters in the NFL are either late round draft picks or undrafted free agents.

The Packers drafted JK Scott in the fifth round of 2018, but Scott was inconsistent and was let go before the 2021 season.

Now the Packers have moved on from Corey Bojorquez and brought in former Bears punter Pat O’Donnell.

Mason Crosby has been the Packers kicker since he was drafted in the sixth round back in 2007 but again, like punters, kickers are rarely added until the late rounds of the draft or in free agency.

The Packers did spend a pick on long snapper Hunter Bradley in 2018 but Bradley was let go midway through last season because of his inconsistencies. Unfortunately, his replacement was less effective than he was.

The Packers drafted two players in 2021 who were supposed to help as return specialists but Amari Rodgers had difficulty holding onto the football and making decisions and Kylin Hill was injured midseason just when he seemed to be developing into a reliable kick returner.

The Packers have not emphasized their punt and kick return coverage units and their special teams blocking. Return specialists have also been an area of need that the team has not addressed enough in recent seasons.

The Packers organization is hardly unique because they don’t place as great an emphasis on these three position groups as they do at several others. But these three areas have been a problem for the Packers for several seasons and the team has not spent major resources to address them. The result has been consistent winning seasons but no Super Bowl titles in the last 11 years. It will be interesting to see how management addresses them going forward.


Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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