The NFL offseason is ramping up, with the combine taking place this week in Indianapolis. Here are the five big questions Green Bay Packers fans should look out for as the next group of NFL stars take the stage.
Who are the top cornerbacks at this year’s combine?
The Packers’ pass defense really struggled last season, and ultimately proved to be their undoing in the NFC Championship game. Luckily, there are plenty of cornerbacks to be had at the top of this year’s draft.
Packers fans should keep an eye out for these names at the combine:
- Quincy Wilson (Florida)
- Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State)
- Sidney Jones (Washington)
- Desmond King (Iowa)
- Marlon Humphrey (Alabama)
After cutting Sam Shields, expect Green Bay to invest in their secondary.
What will happen with the quarterbacks?
Green Bay is clearly not in need of a quarterback, but plenty of other teams are, especially at the top of the draft. Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York are all quarterback-starved squads picking in the top five, and what they end up doing will shape the rest of the draft.
Four quarterbacks have risen above the rest:
- Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
- Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina)
- DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame)
- Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech).
Their combine performances will have a big trickle-down effect to the Packers pick at number 29.
Are the Packers in the running back market?
The Packers battled through countless backfield injuries last season, so much so that a wide receiver, a quarterback, and a fullback handled the majority of the rushing duties over the second half of the season. Incumbent Eddie Lacy is a free agent, and Green Bay has been linked to several tailbacks in the draft and free agency.
Dalvin Cook (Florida State), Leonard Fournette (LSU), and Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) all have game-changing potential. GM Ted Thompson has taken running backs near the top of the draft before (Eddie Lacy in 2013, Brandon Jackson in 2007 – both in the second round), and this is one of the best running back classes in recent memory. Does Thompson go after a big-time offensive weapon to take some pressure off Aaron Rodgers? An elite combine performance could force Green Bay’s hand in the first round.
Who are the elite pass rushers?
The Packers finished sixth in the NFL last year with 40 sacks, but they still might need an upgrade on the edge. Linebackers Nick Perry and Julius Peppers are free agents, with Peppers reportedly pondering retirement. Clay Matthews is still under contract, but he struggled with injuries in 2016, and recorded a career-low five sacks.
Myles Garrett (Texas A&M) is the presumed pick at number one for Cleveland, but there are still plenty of sack-masters that will be available throughout the first round. Look out for Derek Barnett (Tennessee), Takkarist McKinley (UCLA), and Taco Charlton (Michigan) as potential options for Green Bay.
Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt could also be had anywhere from the second to the fourth round. A lot of Watt’s value could depend on his performance this week.
Will another combine star break out?
Every year, someone dominates the combine with unreal measurables. Someone inevitably will crush the 40-yard dash, or destroy the bench press, forcing teams to rearrange their draft boards. Plenty of combine monsters have flamed out once they got to the league, but raw strength or speed can be a sign of things to come. Who will be this season’s high-flyer, and will the Packers take a chance on him? These seemingly simple drills can have a big impact on the league for years to come.
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