2013 NFL Draft primer: Green Bay Packers
The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the 24th in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.
PICK NO. 26: GREEN BAY PACKERS
2012 record: 11-5
Key offseason acquisitions:
Key offseason departures:
Greg Jennings, wide receiver
Charles Woodson, safety
Cedric Benson, running back
Jeff Saturday, center (retired)
Ryan Grant, running back
Erik Walden, linebacker
Tom Crabtree, tight end
Biggest holes in roster: Safety, running back, tight end, center
Packers general manager Ted Thompson has never been one to spend in free agency, instead building his team through the draft. The results have been impeccable -- Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji, Bryan Bulaga, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Morgan Burnett, to name a few.
So it stands to reason that the Packers are looking for this year's draft class to step in and perform right away. After cutting Woodson, Green Bay needs an immediate contributor at safety, plus some help at running back.
LSU's Eric Reid may be that guy. Reid plays with a lot of intensity and is known for taking aggressive routes to the ballcarrier and when the ball is in the air. He's got the speed to cover the faster tight ends in the league and the power to punish receivers over the middle. He can get over-aggressive at times, which causes him to get caught out of position. If he can correct that, he could be an ideal replacement for Woodson. The Packers also could take FIU's John Cyprien or Florida's Matt Elam if either one is still available at this point in the draft.
The Packers went with a running back by committee last season, with nobody starting more than five games. They cut ties with Cedric Benson (who started the most games in the backfield) and let Ryan Grant walk in free agency. By the looks of things, the Packers will start the 2013 season with James Starks, Alex Green and DuJuan Harris splitting carries. Starks and Green have battled injuries thus far in their careers, and Harris is relatively unproven aside from scoring four total touchdowns in two postseason games last year. The Packers could use a bell cow who can play 20 to 25 snaps per game at running back.
If the Rams don't take Alabama running back Eddie Lacy with one of their first-round picks, the Packers could consider taking him here. Lacy is a powerful workhorse who's not afraid to flatten defenders on the way to the end zone. He doesn't have great top-end speed but has enough burst and acceleration to hit holes hard.
The Packers paid a $3 million bonus to tight end Jermichael Finley, meaning he'll be around next season. Finley had a career-high 61 catches, but only totaled 667 yards and two touchdowns last season. It's anybody's guess what happens after this year, especially with backup Tom Crabtree now on the Buccaneers. If the Packers want to make a pre-emptive move for next year, they could take Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert. Eifert has great hands -- his 140 catches are a school record for a tight end -- and can make catches over the middle and in traffic. He can also line up in the slot, creating mismatches when lined up against a cornerback. He could be a nice red-zone target for Rodgers both now and down the line.