The Green Bay Packers have fairly direct needs in the 2021 NFL draft. Based on the team’s short- and long-term needs, positions like cornerback, offensive line, defensive line and receiver can all be considered viable options for the Packers in this draft.
However, general manager Brian Gutekunst might not prioritize his team’s needs the same way. In fact, he might see holes that aren’t necessarily obvious when looking at the full roster.
Here are a pair of underrated and overlooked needs for the Packers entering the draft:
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
The Packers return Darnell Savage, an emerging difference-maker, and Adrian Amos, one of the most reliable safeties in football. How could there be need here? Simple. Modern NFL defenses need at least three capable safeties. In fact, in many schemes, the third safety – which can play multiple roles – is essentially a starter. Raven Greene and Will Redmond both played extensively for Mike Pettine last year. The Packers haven’t re-signed Greene and don’t have a sure-fire dime linebacker, and Savage will play at least some snaps in the slot as the star defender in 2021. Unless the Packers are planning a big role for Redmond, this could be a priority position in the draft. Landing a versatile and talented safety who can play in the slot or as a dime linebacker and overhang defender could be just as impactful for Joe Barry and the Packers defense ias acquiring a player to compete with perimeter cornerback Kevin King. And if Savage’s role is going to expand, possibly to include more snaps near the line of scrimmage, having another reliable deep safety will be required. Potential early-round options: Trevon Moehrig, TCU; Jevon Holland, Oregon; Richie Grant, UCF
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Za’Darius Smith is a two-time Pro Bowler, the Packers re-worked Preston Smith’s deal, and Rashan Gary came on strong as a rotational player to end his second season in 2020. Still, don’t be surprised if the Packers invest more draft capital at edge rusher. Preston Smith’s new deal will almost certainly lead to him becoming a cap casualty next year, and the Packers will have to make a decision on extending Za’Darius Smith’s deal before next year. All these factors create future need at a premium position, and when a premium position has future need, good teams like the Packers address it early in the draft. You’ve heard it a million times: A team can never have enough pass-rushers. And it’s hard to argue otherwise. Teams that disrupt the quarterback win a lot of games, and pressure on the quarterback usually decides big games. The Packers’ previous investments at edge rusher suggest that this team wants at least three capable edge rushers on the roster at all times. Drafting one this year will ensure that’s the case in 2022. Potential early-round options: Jayson Oweh, Penn State; Joe Tryon, Washington; Joseph Ossai, Texas; Carlos Basham, Wake Forest