With the completion of the 2012 NFL draft, the Packers should be happy with the players they drafted. When looking at the 3-4 defensive scheme the Packers run and taking into account which positions needed the most help on defense; it is fair to say that the Packers may have found three starters to fill in key holes for the 2012 season.
- Nick Perry – The Packers selected Nick Perry in the first round who played defensive end at USC. He weighs in at an approximate 271 pounds but has previously weighed in at 260. The Packers will look to place Perry at the outside linebacker position come opening day. In 2011, Erik Walden assumed the position but his production lacked considerably. Clay Mathews, on the opposite side of Walden, had a break out season in 2010, contrary to the 2011 season. Mathews found his numbers to be hindered for two reasons. One being that opposing teams often double teamed Mathews off the edge, and two, Walden’s lack of production. Although the Packers re-signed Walden in this off-season, Perry should win the job at the outside linebacker position in 2012.
- Jerel Worthy – In the second round of the draft the Packers traded up from their spot at 27 to the 19th spot to select Michigan State Defensive Tackle Jerel Worthy. This is was a great move for many reasons. The Packers selected Mike Neal in the 2nd round in the 2010 Draft in hopes of finding their next young star on defense. Two seasons later, Neal has been plagued with injuries and finds himself suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. There hasn’t been much production out of Neal in the last two seasons in terms of making a solid assessment on whether Neal was a draft bust. The Packers do have other players who have started the position in Jarius Wynn and C.J. Wilson but these two players are good backups, not legitimate starters. The Packers also brought in Anthony Hargrove to Green Bay to bolster depth at the position but he has recently been suspended for the first half of the season due to the Bounty Gate Scandal he was involved with in New Orleans. The second defensive end spot is held by Ryan Pickett, an old veteran who does not have much left in the tank. There are a handful of question marks at the position and the Packers went out and did a great job in trading up for Jerel Worthy. Although he played defensive tackle at Michigan State, he will most likely be placed as a defensive end as he weighs 310 pounds. The starting defensive line for the Green Bay Packers should look like this when the season starts: (Pickett, Raji , Worthy). Note: The Packers also selected an additional defensive tackle, Mike Daniels from Iowa. He was a fourth round selection who brings added depth and could be a future starter with Ryan Pickett’s departure if uncertainty still looms over Mike Neal’s career with the Packers.
- Casey Hayward – The Packers traded up yet again into the tail end of the second round to select Vanderbilt Cornerback Casey Hayward. Green Bay went into this draft with the worst pass defense in league history. In addition, the Packers cut Nick Collins one day before the draft. Collins was the center piece in the Packers secondary but a career threatening neck injury forced the Packers to make the decision to part ways with Collins. Speculation surrounds this draft selection as many think Hayward could be pushed to the safety position. Others believe Hayward could take Charles Woodson’s spot at cornerback, and Woodson could be pushed to safety. Either way, Hayward would be an immediate starter in the Packers defense come opening day. Note: The Packers also selected a safety, Jerron McMillian from Maine. He was a fourth round selection who brings added depth and could be a contributor to the safety position this season. The Casey Hayward domino must fall first before McMillian’s role can be determined.
The Packers Defense could look like this come opening day:
Defensive Line – Pickett (DE), Raji (NT), **Worthy** (DE)
Linebackers – Mathews (OLB), Bishop (MLB), Hawk (MLB), **Perry** (OLB)
Secondary- Woodson (CB), Burnett (SS), **Hayward** (FS), Williams (CB)
Written By – David Rantisi- NFL Draft and NFC North Writer
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