NFL

Offseason review: Green Bay Packers

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Adam Caplan

Adam Caplan is our newest NFL reporter/insider at FOXSports.com. He has spent the past 10 seasons covering the league, specializing in player personnel, injuries and contracts.

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Pre-draft needs

DE, G (depth), OLB (depth)

Draft class

Round 1: Derek Sherrod, OT
Round 2: Randall Cobb, WR
Round 3: Alex Green, RB
Round 4: Davon House, CB
Round 5: D.J. Williams, TE
Round 6: Caleb Schlauderaff, G
Round 6: D.J. Smith, LB
Round 6: Ricky Elmore, LB
Round 7: Ryan Taylor, FB/TE
Round 7: Lawrence Guy, DT

Potential free agents of note

Brandon Jackson, RB
John Kuhn, FB
Korey Hall, FB
James Jones, WR
Mason Crosby, K
Jason Spitz, G/C
Daryn Colledge, G
Cullen Jenkins, DE
Atari Bigby, SS

Post-draft needs

DE, G (depth)

Analysis

The rich get richer. That should be the moniker the Packers earned with the results of their 2011 draft class. The defending Super Bowl champions didn’t come into the draft with a lot of needs, but they were able to address depth at several positions.

Their already great offense added left tackle Derek Sherrod, who figures to be the long-term replacement for starter Chad Clifton, whose contract expires after the 2012 season. With Sherrod on the roster, Bryan Bulaga can remain at right tackle for the long haul.

While the selection of wide receiver Randall Cobb might have been a small surprise considering Green Bay’s solid depth at the position, fifth-year pro James Jones is unsigned and might not return if he’s deemed an unrestricted free agent once free agency starts. Plus, veteran wide receiver Donald Driver’s contract is up after 2012, and he’ll be 38 when it expires.

One of the traits that makes executive vice president, general manager and football operations Ted Thompson great is that he always is looking ahead. The selections of Cobb and Sherrod are good examples of that.

And another selection that screams of looking ahead is the pick of Alex Green in the third round. With fifth-year running back Brandon Jackson possibly leaving as an unrestricted free agent, Green's addition will provide depth this season. And with veteran Ryan Grant’s contract up after this season, Green’s role could expand down the road.

The guard position potentially could be an issue should starter Daryn Colledge leave via free agency. While the team is high on second-year guards Nick McDonald and Marshall Newhouse, it could be a stretch for them to start considering neither played a down as rookies.

The selection of tight end D.J. Williams might have shocked some, but starter Jermichael Finley is coming off major knee surgery and is contract is up after this season. Plus, the team released veteran Donald Lee earlier this year, which left a depth opening at the position.

The Packers' biggest need coming into the draft was at defensive end. And it still remains a huge since none of the 10 selected players can play there. If the team loses veteran Cullen Jenkins in free agency, the coaches might need to look at a committee of players to fill his void.

The team might be counting on sixth-round pick Ricky Elmore to make a contribution as a rookie, but the team should be fine at outside linebacker with Brad Jones returning from injury. Erik Walden, who was signed as a street free agent last season and Frank Zombo, who signed as an undrafted free agent last year, did a nice job filling in for the injured Jones.

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The selection of cornerback Davon House in the fourth round represents another value selection for the Packers. House, who had a higher grade from other teams, dropped a bit because of his struggles during senior season. But House played the entire season with a bad ankle injury. His junior tape was very solid, which is why many teams gave him a higher grade in the first place. The speedy defensive back could compete for a starting job whenever veteran Charles Woodson decides to retire.

Tagged: Packers, Donald Driver, Donald Lee, Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Grant, Daryn Colledge, Brandon Jackson, James Jones, Brad Jones, Derek Sherrod, Randall Cobb, Alex Green, Ryan Taylor, Ricky Elmore, D.J. Williams, Davon House, D.J. Smith

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