Packers could draft a receiver high

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, right, celebrates a touchdown with his teammates during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, right, celebrates a touchdown with his teammates during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Best player on the Green Bay Packers?

Hmm, Aaron Rodgers.

OK, then the best way to get the most out of him, besides not getting him hit or sacked, is … giving him as many targets as possible.

As the NFL Draft approaches, a lot of talk surrounding the Packers is improving the defense, specifically in the secondary, that allowed too much last season through the air.

No argument the Packers’ pass defense struggled last season, ranking 24th in passing yards allowed (3,956) and 27th in touchdown passes allowed (30). If the Packers found a suitable secondary player (likely safety) with their first pick in the first round (21 overall) nobody would criticize the pick.

However, don’t be surprised if the Packers help Rodgers out and for more than just keeping the QB happy. First, if you followed Peyton Manning’s career, what has he always had? Whether it’s been in Indianapolis or Denver, Manning has had weapons. He has been surrounded by the likes of Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas.

That’s a lot of talent and that’s why Manning’s teams are consistent contenders for the Super Bowl.

The Packers have been consistent contenders for the Super Bowl for the last five years as Rodgers has had the likes of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley around him. Nonetheless, the weaponry is dwindling as this season Driver, Jennings and Jones are not in Green Bay anymore while Finley may never play football again because of a neck injury suffered last season.

That leaves Rodgers with Nelson and Cobb at wide receiver and an up-and-coming Jarret Boykin. FYI, Nelson and Cobb are in the final year of their contracts, so right now there’s no guarantee they remain in Green Bay after this coming season.

And even if they do, would it hurt to give Rodgers another toy?

Picking at No. 21 is a crapshoot. The Packers have a pool of players they expect to be available, but a couple picks one way or another ahead of them can tilt the draft board.

What if there is no safety to pick at No. 21? What if there’s no other defensive player worthy at that spot?

Wide receiver looks deep in this year’s draft and after Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans get picked within the top 12 picks, there is group of nine receivers that mock drafts have listed as first- or second-round talents: Odell Beckman, LSU; Brandin Cooks, Oregon State; Marqise Lee, USC; Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State; Allen Robinson, Penn State; Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt; Cody Latimer, Indiana; Martavis Bryant, Clemson; and Davante Adams, Fresno State.

The Packers don’t necessarily need to spend the 21st pick on a receiver as GM Ted Thompson has done great picking a receiver in the second round: Nelson, Cobb and Jennings were second-round picks.

Furthermore, with the development of a reliable running game with Eddie Lacy and James Starks the offense has more balance than it ever has had with Rodgers.

Nonetheless, the Packers will go as far as Rodgers’ right arm can carry them. The defense needs improvement and if the right defensive player is available for the Packers at No. 21 they need to take that player.

Still, the Packers should consider picking a receiver high in the draft. Nelson and Cobb are in contract years, injuries happen and the NFL is a passing game now, so giving Rodgers another weapon to play with isn’t a bad way to go.

Thompson hasn’t shied away from giving Rodgers weapons and don’t expect that to change. It’s worked.

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay

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