Overview: Packers GM Ted Thompson, no doubt, had an extra bounce in his step at the March NFL owners meetings after receiving four compensatory draft picks, the maximum number allowed in any given year. Green Bay was awarded two additional fourth-round picks (Nos. 132 and 133 overall) and two additional seventh-round picks. Also possessing an extra seventh-rounder from the Jets, Thompson now has 12 total picks and is in a good position to perhaps move up in the first round, which he did with such great success in 2009, when he jumped up to select star OLB Clay Matthews.
Need No. 1: Defensive end
The biggest need, by far, is another pass rusher or two who, besides Matthews, can provide consistent outside pressure. Without DRE Cullen Jenkins, a quality pass rusher who signed with the Eagles, the Packers tied for 27th in sacks in 2011 (after ranking second in 2010) and managed only six sacks in the last seven games, including the playoffs. The team hoped second-year pro Mike Neal would replace Jenkins, but Neal has been an injury-prone disappointment who will be suspended the first four games of 2012 after violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Need No. 2: Free safety
With the future of Nick Collins remaining very uncertain, the Packers really could use help at free safety. After Collins was lost last year with a scary season-ending neck injury in Week Two, the communication in the secondary left a lot to be desired, as the Packers went on to surrender the most passing yards in franchise history (299.8 yards per game). Morgan Burnett switched over from strong safety to replace Collins, but Burnett is much better suited for the strong side. Charlie Peprah, who took over for Burnett as strong safety, is better as a reserve.
Need No. 3: Center
It would appear the Packers will get by at the center position well enough for the short term with ex-Colt Jeff Saturday replacing Scott Wells, a free agent who signed with the Rams. But Saturday turns 37 in June, and it behooves the Packers to draft a potential long-term replacement. It’s conceivable Evan Dietrich-Smith, who is entering his third NFL season, eventually could fill the bill, but he projects more as a guard than a center.