Lombardi: Drafting for defense

PackerReport.com's John Lombardi breaks down each position on Green Bay's defense, and drops a few names of players who might be available in the NFL draft that can help the Packers.

Last week I went through, by position, some of the areas of interest on offense for the Packers in the upcoming college draft. This week, I will take a look at the defensive side of the ball.

The Packers spent some time and money on the defense last year. Ryan Pickett, Charles Woodson, Marquand Manuel and Ben Taylor were free agents brought in to improve things. A.J. Hawk was the only drafted rookie to get significant playing time, but five of the ten picks were defensive in nature. Will this year hold the same focus for Ted Thompson and his crew? Only time will tell.

Defensive End – Aaron Kampman is going to the Pro Bowl and deserves it. Cullen Jenkins filled in on the other side adequately once he was inserted in the starting lineup. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila may be a luxury that the team cannot afford. It would be nice to have him, but his contract may require some reworking to make it sensible. You can never have too many pass rushers and they are very coveted by NFL teams. Michael Montgomery ended up on injured reserve, but has yet to prove himself.

Names to Know – Gaines Adams from Clemson, Jamaal Anderson from Arkansas, Quentin Moses from Georgia, Adam Carriker from Nebraska, Jarvis Moss from Florida, Victor Abiamiri from Notre Dame and LaMarr Woodley from Michigan are the top names at the position. Moses, Adams and Moss could use some bulk. Only Carriker has the height and weight you would like to see. He is listed at over 6-6 and weighs 290 pounds.

Defensive Tackle – Pickett was a nice addition and between Corey Williams (who came on nicely as the year went on), Jenkins and Colin Cole the Packers are solid at tackle. Kendrick Allen finished the season on injured reserve, so he will be expected to step up in July, if he is re-signed.

Names to Know – Alan Branch out of Michigan and Amobi Okove from Louisville are the big fellas drawing some attention from the scouts.

Linebacker - With Hawk and Nick Barnett, the Packers are firm if not strong at the next level. Brady Poppinga has a load of potential as does Abdul Hodge. Linebackers make great special teams players, so the more the better.

Names to Know – Patrick Willis from Ole Miss on the inside, and Paul Posluszny from Penn State and Lawrence Timmons from Florida State on the outside are coveted by teams.

Cornerback – Al Harris and Woodson are better than most but are getting old. Patrick Dendy and Jarrett Bush are not ready to step up full time. Rookie Will Blackmon ended up on injured reserve and will be expected to step up.

Names to Know – Leon Hall from Michigan, Darrelle Revis from Pitt and Marcus McCauley from Fresno State are talked about highly at the position.

Safety – Manuel has been a disappointment. Nick Collins took a step back in his sophomore year. Marviel Underwood showed promise before ending up on IR. Green Bay has to upgrade here, whether by getting new guys or getting the same ones to play better.

Name to Know – Laron Landry from LSU and Reggie Nelson from Florida are the names to follow come April.

The defense played below expectations for more than half of the season. The new guys took some time to get adjusted, and the new coaches struggled. They did show some promise the last four games. They played some cupcakes for sure, but it was a good way to end the season. It will be interesting to see how Thompson and Coach McCarthy view their personnel. They may look at Underwood and Blackmon, and Poppinga and Hodge, and the others as the answer. Therefore, they might not feel like they need to add bodies on this side of the ball. Maybe they think they can win with these guys. Maybe not.

The Packers drafted in 2006 to upgrade the offensive line and the defense. What will they do this year? Where will the Packers go in free agency and the draft? Log on next week to work through some possible scenarios for draft day.

John Lombardi

Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.

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