GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers ended their offseason program June 15. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals/grade: The goal should have been to fix their defense -- and fast. Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting any younger, and the reality is he hasn’t had a championship-caliber defense to complement him since the Super Bowl season of 2010. If it’s not the run defense (which has been as low as 25th in the NFL since the Super Bowl season), it’s the pass defense (which ranked 31st once and 32nd another time). To that end, the Packers added three key pieces to the secondary: cornerback Davon House in veteran free agency, plus cornerback Kevin King and safety Josh Jones in the second round of the draft. GM Ted Thompson devoted his first four draft picks to the defense, yet it still didn’t feel like quite enough. Grade: B-minus.
Move I liked: Tight end Martellus Bennett, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal in free agency, isn’t just the best move the Packers made; it’s one of the best moves made by anyone in the NFL this offseason. Couple that with the addition of another tight end, veteran Lance Kendricks (formerly of the Rams), and it gives Rodgers and the offense a dynamic it didn’t have before. Last season, only one team (the Giants) ran fewer plays with multiple tight ends on the field than the Packers did. This should allow the Packers to return to their “12” personnel -- one back, two receivers, two tight ends -- that they’ve gone away from in recent years. It’s a package that makes it harder for defenses to tell whether it’s a run or pass play.
Move I didn’t like: Letting Eddie Lacy go. It’s not that Ty Montgomery isn’t a capable running back. It’s more about what’s behind him. Or what isn’t behind him. He’s the only halfback on the roster with any NFL carries, and he only has 77 of them. It forced Thompson to draft three running backs -- BYU’s Jamaal Williams (fourth round), UTEP’s Aaron Jones (fifth round) and Utah State’s Devante Mays (seventh round). Given how much help the Packers needed on defense, keeping Lacy would have allowed Thompson to use even more picks on the other side of the ball.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: Who will be the Packers’ starting cornerbacks? It looks like Damarious Randall, their 2015 first-round pick, has been converted to a full-time slot player now after playing outside his first two seasons. That would open the door for House and King to start on the outside, but don’t count out LaDarius Gunter, who became the default No. 1 cornerback last season after Sam Shields, Randall and Quinten Rollins were injured. Rollins also looks like a better bet to play in the slot than on the edge.
Salary-cap space: $18,382,790 (source: Overthecap.com)
2018 draft picks: 2a. CB Kevin King, 2b. S Josh Jones, 3. DT Montravius Adams, 4. OLB Vince Biegel, 4. RB Jamaal Williams, 5a. WR DeAngelo Yancey, 5b. RB Aaron Jones, 6. OL Kofi Amichia, 7a. RB Devante Mays, 7b. WR Malachi Dupre.
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: CB Donatello Brown, LB Johnathan Calvin, WR Michael Clark, WR Montay Crockett, G Thomas Evans, G Geoff Gray, LS Derek Hart, LB Cody Heiman, QB Taysom Hill, CB Daquan Holmes, T Robert Leff, DT Izaah Lunsford, G/T Adam Pankey, WR Colby Pearson, TE Aaron Peck, RB Kalif Phillips, CB Lenzy Pipkins, P Justin Vogel, P, LB Josh Letuligasenoa, CB Raysean Pringle, RB William Stanback, LB David Talley, S Aaron Taylor.