Offseason Needs: Packers Aren't Perfect

We take a CliffsNotes-style look at the Packers, finding more holes than you might think on the world champions' roster. From upgrading starting positions to finding depth, consider this an appetizer for points we'll be driving home over the next two months.

In the Green Bay Packers' triumphant locker room after Super Bowl XLV, Ted Thompson wasn't about to gloat. He could have said, "I told you so," to the legions of naysayers who vehemently disagreed with his decision on Brett Favre and his track record for being an innocent bystander during free agency.

"No, life's too short for that," Thompson said.

Short, indeed.

Asked how long he'd give himself to savor the sweet feeling of being at the top of his profession, Thompson matter-of-factly said that meetings to begin preparations for the Scouting Combine, which starts on Feb. 23, would begin at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Considering it was after 11 p.m. on Sunday, that amounted to about 32 hours to savor reaching the goal that had driven him day after day after day for the last six years.

The Packers just collected their fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy. There's already talk of a dynasty, considering there are only nine players age 30-plus among the 53 players on the roster and the 15 on injured reserve. Of those nine, Donald Driver (36), left tackle Chad Clifton (34), cornerback Charles Woodson (34), defensive ends Ryan Pickett (31) and Cullen Jenkins (30) and center Scott Wells (30) are starters.

Still, the Packers' roster is anything but perfect. (Note: The free-agency projections are based on the old rules in which a player with four years of experience would be unrestricted.)

Quarterback: The Packers could strike while the iron is hot and try to deal Matt Flynn. That would make drafting a quarterback a necessity.

Running back: If Brandon Jackson leaves in free agency in hopes of getting more of an every-down role elsewhere, the Packers would need a third-down back.

Wide receiver: Donald Driver is 36 and clearly on the decline after a superlative career. James Jones figures to get a big offer in free agency, even with his notoriously inconsistent hands. That leaves only Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson as the sure things headed into 2011.

Tight ends: Probably set here, with Jermichael Finley returning after missing most of the season with a knee injury.

Offensive line: Left guard Daryn Colledge will be a free agent. He had a decent year but this might be a spot to upgrade, regardless of if he returns. They're set everywhere else – and rookie Marshall Newhouse is a real wild card as a potential left tackle -- though Thompson's track record is he'll add a rookie or two to the mix, anyway.

Defensive line: Even if Jenkins leaves in free agency, Green Bay is in good shape, with rookie Mike Neal filling that spot after missing most of the season with a shoulder injury. Again, Thompson's track record is he'll add a player or two here, too.

Linebacker: Green Bay is loaded at inside linebacker. Outside linebacker, however, is a different story. Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga spent most of the season on injured reserve, leaving it to undrafted rookie Frank Zombo, midseason addition Erik Walden and even Robert Francois. With Kevin Greene as the position coach, they'd probably be fine with you or me but imagine this defense with a true one-two punch opposite Clay Matthews.

Secondary: The Packers need to get ready for life without Woodson because Pat Lee and Brandon Underwood have done little to prove they can be that guy. They didn't draft a corner last year; it would be a shock if they didn't get one early this year. At safety, third-round pick Morgan Burnett returns from a torn ACL and replacement starter Charlie Peprah and oft-injured veteran Atari Bigby will be free agents.

Special teams: One of the more intriguing decisions for Thompson will be with free agent kicker Mason Crosby. He hit 78.6 percent of his field goals this season, meaning he's failed to hit even 80.0 percent in any of his four seasons. Somehow, someway, Thompson must find a kick return specialist. They're set at punter with Tim Masthay.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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