Ranking the Green Bay Packers' Biggest Needs to Address in the 2014 NFL Draft

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIApril 21, 2014

Ranking the Green Bay Packers' Biggest Needs to Address in the 2014 NFL Draft

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    Safety Jimmie Ward would fill the Packers' biggest need in the upcoming NFL draft.
    Safety Jimmie Ward would fill the Packers' biggest need in the upcoming NFL draft.Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

    The 2014 NFL draft will be a great opportunity for the Green Bay Packers to fill some of their biggest needs. It's an extremely deep draft where numerous players should be able to step in right away and contribute from day one.

    This is great news for the Packers who have more needs on their roster this year than in previous years. Some of this is due to failing to make a splash in free agency, and some is due to a handful of players struggling to develop as quickly as Green Bay would have liked.

    In this slideshow, we're going to rank the biggest needs that the Packers have in this year's draft. We'll rank them from least important to most important based on the current roster in Green Bay.

    We will also highlight three potential candidates at each position and look at how they'd fit on the team.

6. Wide Receiver

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    Potential Candidates: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt; Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin; Jarvis Landry, LSU

    This might not really seem like a need for the Packers simply due to the fact that Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin are all on the roster. However, the Packers did lose James Jones to free agency, which opens the door for a player to step in as the No. 3 or No. 4 receiver.

    What the Packers will be looking for in the draft is a polished wide receiver. They don't need a project but rather a player who can make an impact right away.

    Matthews, Abbrederis and Landry all have the ability to do that. They may not have the highest ceilings in this year's draft, but they'll all likely make an impact from day one. All three of these players also have sure hands and the ability to make the difficult catch.

    By adding a ready-to-play receiver in the draft, the Packers would have more flexibility on offense. It'd give quarterback Aaron Rodgers more weapons, which is never a bad thing.

5. Defensive Tackle

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    Potential Candidates: Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota; Daniel McCullers, Tennessee; Dominique Easley, Florida

    Defensive tackle was a much bigger need early in the draft process. This was due to the uncertain futures of B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett.

    However, with Raji coming back for a year, this position isn't quite as needful as others. It's still a need, but the Packers now have the luxury of waiting until the perfect time to draft a defensive tackle.

    Each of the three prospects above bring something different to the table. Hageman has elite athleticism, McCullers is a fantastic run-stopper and Easley has a polished all-around game.

    However, they all have major concerns too. Easley has a past riddled with injuries, Hageman is extremely raw and McCullers doesn't have a high ceiling.

    The biggest key for the Packers in drafting a defensive tackle is to not be in this same situation next year. They either want a player who can become a starter by the 2015 season or a player who complements Raji perfectly.

4. Inside Linebacker

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    Potential Candidates: C.J. Mosley, Alabama; Chris Borland, Wisconsin; Shayne Skov, Stanford

    It's difficult to figure out just how big of a need inside linebacker is for the Packers. On one hand they have two starters in A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones. On the other hand, both Hawk and Jones could easily be upgraded.

    What the Packers ultimately need at inside linebacker is more athleticism. That's why if a player such as Mosley fell to them in the first round, he might simply be too good to pass up.

    However, should the Packers decide to not draft Mosley, they do have other options in the second or third round to upgrade this position. While neither Borland or Skov have great athleticism, they are solid all-around linebackers who can be three-down players.

    By upgrading inside linebacker in this year's draft, the Packers could ultimately become more aggressive on defense.

3. Center

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    Potential Candidates: Travis Swanson, Arkansas; Bryan Stork, Florida State; Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt

    There's certainly a possibility that the Packers believe their starting center for the 2014 season is already on the roster. That would explain why Green Bay decided to not re-sign center Evan Dietrich-Smith this offseason.

    However, the good news for the Packers is that there are some quality options in the draft this year at the center position. Even better news is that they could get a starting-caliber player in the later rounds.

    The best prospect of the potential candidates is Swanson. He's got an NFL-ready body and has the experience at the position that NFL teams like. Both Stork and Johnson may have a little more upside, but it also might take them a little longer to be ready to start.

    It's not very common that general manager drafts a true center, but this might finally be the year that he's forced to.

2. Tight End

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    Potential Candidates: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech; Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington; C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa

    It might seem crazy that tight end is the second-biggest need in the draft, but that's just how it is as of right now. Sure, Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick are talented players, but neither are Pro Bowl-caliber players.

    What the Packers offense needs is a tight end with just as much potential as Jermichael Finley. That's why Amaro or Seferian-Jenkins seem like the ideal options for Green Bay. Both players have a ton of upside, and they can both make plays in the open field.

    However, if the Packers want to wait another round or two before drafting a tight end, then Fiedorowicz is their best option. He's never going to blow you away with his athleticism, but he's got great hands, can make plays and is a willing blocker.

    Don't be surprised if the Packers spend one of their first three picks on a tight end in this year's draft in order to give Rodgers more weapons.

1. Safety

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    Potential Candidates: Calvin Pryor, Louisville; Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois; Deone Bucannon, Washington State

    Safety has been the biggest position of need for the Packers since the 2013 NFL season ended. And it isn't even close compared to the other positions of need.

    The best safety in this year's draft is Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix of Alabama. However, he's not a very realistic candidate for the Packers due to so many teams drafting ahead of Green Bay needing help at safety.

    While missing out on Clinton-Dix would certainly hurt, there will be plenty of other options if the Alabama safety is gone. Either Pryor or Ward would be the ideal candidates due to their ability to create turnovers in coverage.

    However, Bucannon is a prospect who would be available outside of the first round who could step in and play from day one. He's not quite as athletic as the top safeties, but he's just as good against both the pass and the run.

    There's no doubt that the Packers will be drafting a safety early in this year's draft. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see them draft multiple safeties in order to boost their overall defense.