The Packers now have bolstered their defense via free agency, re-signing a number of their own free agents in Sam Shields, Mike Neal, and B.J. Raji while adding veteran pass rusher Julius Peppers. What role Peppers will play in Dom Capers defense remains to be seen, whether they will implement the new “elephant” position for him, have him stand up as outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews, work him as defensive end in the base 3-4 defense (which it’s worth noting Peppers has said he’s always wanted to play within) or some combination of all of the above. What is clear is that Ted Thompson and co. are focusing on defense for the third year in a row.
The last two years the Packers spent the majority of their draft picks on defensive players, and unfortunately, whether it be due to injury, lack of talent, or the learning curve the NFL brings with it, the improvements haven’t seemed to materialize on the playing field. So, will Thompson try again to improve his defense through the draft? Is the Peppers signing really the signing of a leader that can help the young talent on the team and aide them in contributing right away?
Thompson has a lot of money left to spend, and only a fraction will be chewed up by the draft, so you can be all but assured that Thompson will add more defensive talent via free agency. But, the answer to the draft question is yes, Thompson will indeed go after young talented players that he can develop, as he and the Packers always do.
Jadeveon Clowney and Dee Ford headline this years top prospects at defensive end, and both will likely be gone before the Packers select at number 21 in the first round, but the top 10 list of prospects at defensive end that the brains here at cover32 came up with proves that the draft boasts quality depth at the position this year. The Packers will likely continue to bolster their defensive secondary through free agency and the first part of the draft, but in the third or fourth rounds the Packers could get a steal of an athlete that they can develop. Click here to see the full list.