Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for the Green Bay Packers
There's the obvious replacements like first-round safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He'll step in from day one at free safety and provide the Packers with a huge boost in the secondary.
Then there are the picks that could have some transition time before getting onto the field. Players like tight end Richard Rodgers and defensive tackle Khyri Thornton fall into this category.
Today, we'll take a look at where all the draft picks fit into the depth chart for the Packers.
*Starters will be highlighted in bold text.
No real surprises here. Rodgers will be the starter in Green Bay for as long as his arm is physically attached to his body.
In fact, the only surprise is that the Packers didn't draft a quarterback in the later rounds. They did sign an undrafted free agent in Rettig, but it's hard to imagine him overtaking either Flynn or Tolzien once the season begins.
So, for now, it appears the Packers are happy to stick with their same three main quarterbacks that they had last year.
Depth Chart: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Johnathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris, Michael Hill, Rajion Neal (UDFA), James Sims (UDFA)
The Packers also didn't spend a single pick on a running back in this year's draft. However, that isn't surprising at all considering the amount of depth they have at the position.
Lacy is coming off a stellar rookie campaign in which he took home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Starks also had one of his better seasons in Green Bay as a backup. There are a couple of running backs who have flashed potential in limited time in Franklin and Harris.
The Packers did sign two undrafted free agents in Neal from Tennessee and Sims from Kansas. Neal is an interesting signing because of his ability as a receiver out of the backfield. He might not see much playing time, but he's an intriguing player for the future in Green Bay.
With the current group of running backs the Packers have, don't be surprised if this is one of the most productive units in the league this year.
Depth Chart: John Kuhn, Ina Liaina
Few teams use a traditional fullback anymore, but Kuhn is such a favorite of the fans in Green Bay that we couldn't ignore him.
For a moment, it almost looked as if Kuhn would be playing for a new team in 2014. However, the Packers offered him a deal before the draft to remain with the team. He'll continue to make his living as a receiver and in short-yardage situations.
As for Liaina, he'll act as more of a traditional blocking fullback.
The most surprising part of the 2014 NFL draft was the amount of receivers the Packers selected. Most people thought they'd take at least one receiver to replace the departed James Jones, but Green Bay ended up selecting three receivers with its nine overall picks.
The ones most likely to make an immediate impact are Adams and Abbrederis. Adams has more potential and better overall size and athleticism, but Abbrederis is more polished as a receiver right now.
However, both rookies will be attempting to take away receptions from the talented trio of Nelson, Cobb and Boykin. Those three should combine to form one of the best receiver corps in the league.
Look for Adams and Abbrederis to add some serious depth to an already impressive unit and for the Packers to consistently succeed in the passing game.
Depth Chart: Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Richard Rodgers (R), Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner, Raymond Webber, Justin Perillo (UDFA)
One of the many positions that the Packers could have addressed early in the draft was tight end. While they did eventually select one on Day 2, it wasn't until their compensatory pick at the end of the third round.
What this means is that the Packers are pleased with the potential of Quarless and Bostick. Both players had moments last year when they looked like true weapons, but the Packers need to get that type of production on a consistent basis.
It'll be interesting to see just how far along Rodgers is during his rookie campaign. He's an athletic tight end who is similar to Jermichael Finley, but with better hands. If he develops quickly, he could jump to the top of the depth chart.
This position certainly isn't the strongest for the Packers, but it shouldn't be a weakness during the 2014 season, either.
Left Tackle: David Bakhtiari, Aaron Adams, Jeremy Vujnovich
Left Guard: Josh Sitton, Taylor Lane, John Fullington (UDFA)
Center: J.C. Tretter, Corey Linsley (R), Garth Gerhart
Right Guard: T.J. Lang, Don Barclay, Andrew Tiller, Jordan McCray (UDFA)
Right Tackle: Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod
For the first time under Ted Thompson, the Packers actually drafted a true center. It happened in the fifth round with Linsley from Ohio State. He's an experienced center who should challenge Tretter for the starting job.
As for the rest of the offensive line, not much has changed. The biggest question will ultimately be what to do with Bulaga now that he's returned from injury. The Packers were ready to move him to left tackle last year, but they should keep Bakhtiari there and let Bulaga excel at right tackle like he's done in the past.
Losing Evan Dietrich-Smith to free agency will certainly hurt. However, the Packers have a strong foundation in place to keep their most prized possession, Aaron Rodgers, upright.
Defensive End: Mike Daniels, Julius Peppers, Datone Jones, Jerel Worthy, Khyri Thornton (R), Ryan White (UDFA), Carlos Gray (UDFA)
Defensive Tackle: B.J. Raji, Letroy Guion, Josh Boyd, Mike Pennel (UDFA)
The defensive line should look completely different during the 2014 season. In fact, the only remaining starter from last year is Raji, but even he'll be at a new position.
What's really unknown here is what the Packers plan to do with Peppers. If he's going to play more at outside linebacker, then Green Bay will likely give the other starting job to Jones. However, Peppers will probably see most of his time on the field at defensive end, where he's a little more comfortable.
The player with the most potential to become a household name next year is Daniels. He was fantastic in a limited role in 2013, and the increase in playing time should only make him more well known.
It'll also be interesting to see what the Packers do with third-round pick Khyri Thornton. He's more of a project player, but if he develops quickly, he could add some serious size to the defensive line.
This unit was a major weakness for the Packers last year, but that should change this upcoming season. Adding Peppers and moving Raji back to defensive tackle will be extremely positive moves.
Outside Linebacker: Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Chase Thomas, Jayrone Elliott (UDFA)
Inside Linebacker: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Carl Bradford (R), Sam Barrington, Victor Aiyewa, Joe Thomas (UDFA), Jake Doughty (UDFA), Nate Dreiling (UDFA)
Another surprising move from the Packers in the draft was not addressing the need for more speed at inside linebacker. In fact, the only linebacker they drafted with Bradford out of Arizona State.
He played outside linebacker in college but should make the switch inside for Green Bay. It's unlikely that he'll overtake either Hawk or Jones as a starter, but he should provide some much-needed depth at the position.
The key for the 2014 season for the linebackers will be staying healthy. Last year, the Packers saw Matthews, Perry, Neal, Jones and Lattimore all miss time due to injuries.
If this group can stay healthy for all 16 games, it has the potential to be a productive unit.
Depth Chart: Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Jarrett Bush, Davon House, James Nixon, Jumal Rolle, Antonio Dennard, Demetri Goodson (R), Ryan White (UDFA), Jamal Ellis (UDFA)
The cornerback situation in Green Bay is an interesting one. On the surface, it appears as if the Packers could have one of the better groups of cornerbacks in the league. Both Williams and Shields are talented and experienced starters. Hayward missed most of last year, but he was fantastic as a rookie as a nickel/slot cornerback.
The Packers also have depth at this position with Bush, Hyde and House. It's possible that Hyde makes the move to safety, but for now, he should still be considered a cornerback.
Finally, the Packers spent their sixth-round pick on Goodson, an extremely raw prospect out of Baylor. If he develops quickly, he could add some serious depth to this unit.
Last year, the cornerbacks were difficult to watch for the majority of the season. That should absolutely change for the 2014 campaign.
Free Safety: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (R), Sean Richardson
Strong Safety: Morgan Burnett, Chris Banjo
By selecting Clinton-Dix in the first round, the Packers won the 2014 NFL draft.
Safety was absolutely the biggest weakness on this team, and the Packers were able to get the No. 1 safety without having to trade up. Clinton-Dix will step in right away as a starter and give Green Bay the playmaker it lacked in the secondary last year.
Drafting Clinton-Dix will also allow Burnett to move back to strong safety, a position he's much more comfortable at. By moving back to his natural position, Burnett should have a bounce-back year for the Packers.
While this position was what ultimately made the Packers defense so bad last year, it now appears to be a strength heading into the 2014 season.
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