Sydney Speaks! Packers' key needs

Former Packers fullback and assistant coach Harry Sydney explains the holes in the lineup that the Green Bay Packers must fill this off-season, either through free agency or the NFL draft.

With the free agency period drawing near the Packers are in a very interesting place. They have money under the salary cap to attract some key impact players. Notice I said key impact players, I'm not talking about the Hardy Nickerson's or Joe Johnson's that might fill in some gaps. I'm talking about players that you know when you sign them you are immediately better.

But here's the problem: The Packers' staff first has to be real with the talent it has before it can go after what it needs. That's important because this is a twofold process, and between the draft and free agency all holes must be plugged. So what do the Packers need?

On offense I believe they need to find one hard-nosed offensive guard, so when they sign him he knows he's the future in that spot. He needs to be a guy that can run because of the counter-gap plays where they pull a guard, and he kicks out whomever is in his path. This guard needs to be nasty someone with an attitude, in my opinion. They have enough nice guys on the offensive line already. This guard also has to be confident in his ability to pass block. That's why I believe this guy should come out of free agency, if possible. The Packers don't need another project on the offensive line. They have enough of them with guys like Will Whitticker or Scott Wells. They don't need guys that they hope can handle it. They need guys that have proven they can and that's where the proven free agent becomes very valuable.

Another spot I believe just might be running back. This could be a free agent or rookie because the hardest thing about being a running back is the mental part of pass protection for a rookie. No disrespect to Ahman Green, but the injury he received was no joke and I hope he will come back from it. But let's be honest with ourselves: Is he the future of this franchise and is he the running back to get the Packers where they want to go? Running the ball is easy - either you can or you can't. You might need to be taught patience at times while you learn the different blocking schemes, or you might need to work on catching the ball because you might have come from an offense that doesn't throw a lot. But as a runner either you have the instincts, or you don't. That's why rookie running backs usually do well early in their career because they don't have to think, just play. They have a greater impact because they don't have to change or be retaught how to play they just have to sharpen their skills.

Besides these two spots on offense I believe they might want to look at getting another receiver. I know we are all hoping that Javon Walker will come back as strong as ever, but that's an unknown. Even if he does, the Packers would really only have two legit receivers in him and Donald Driver. Yes, Antonio Chatman played well but is he really a big-time receiver in the NFL? Gardner looked good at the end of the season, but there is a reason that he hasn't caught on and was released from Carolina and the Redskins. I don't know if he's a head case or not, but with talent like he has there has to be a reason why he was out on the street. So if there is a chance to sign a receiver in free agency, one of quality, I wouldn't object.

Now on defense I would definitely try and sign a real corner that can play with the big boys. Ahmad Carroll isn't the answer. He's a good nickel or dime corner, good enough to cover a team's third or fourth wide receiver, but that's it. I would make that a priority, then I would have two legit NFL corners because Al Harris has earned the respect he now is getting in the league.

So as you see the Packers have several holes to fill, but they have the ammunition to fill them with five picks in the draft and money available because of the salary cap. Understand there is a relationship between the draft and free agency and how they play off of one another. If they fulfill a lot of their needs in free agency then they can be selective in the draft by targeting certain positions and certain players that they want. Such as that defensive end that they so desperately need, which could be the cornerstone of the future as well as that running back that could be the difference-maker. Also they could draft another offensive linemen or linebacker in the second or third rounds. This year's draft could be exactly what the doctor ordered if the Packers pick quality instead of quantity. I would much rather they hit it right with the picks that they have instead of trying to get more bodies that don't cut it. So, I guess the Packers have to be certain of WHAT THEY REALLY NEED OR WANT!!!!!!!!!!!

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to managing editor Todd Korth at, and he will forward it to him.

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