As the NFL draft approaches, "SportsCenter" is putting every NFL team with a first-round pick "On the Clock." Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering. Today it's the Packers, who own the 30th overall pick in the first round.
The Green Bay Packers are facing one of the most difficult transitions in recent NFL history after the retirement of future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. The Packers are a young, talented team with a nucleus that could be a force for years to come, but losing a player with Favre's ability, experience and leadership is tough, especially when he is the quarterback and face of the franchise. Green Bay would have been one of the Super Bowl favorites in the NFC with Favre under center, but his departure might be too much to overcome. With the No. 1 offense in the NFC last season and a salty defense, the Packers should be poised to make another run at the postseason, but the challenge for third-year coach Mike McCarthy will be getting his franchise to leave the past behind and move forward with a positive outlook.
The Packers have not added much since losing in the NFC Championship Game, but re-signing DT Colin Cole and RB Vernand Morency has given them needed depth at those positions. General manager Ted Thompson and the Packers' front office haven't extended themselves during what has been a very active offseason across the league, but they have a well-established roster and many of their needs likely will be filled in the 2008 draft.
The obvious void at quarterback will be analyzed all season. The Packers lost Favre's production on the field as well as the impact his experience and leadership had on a young roster. On defense, Green Bay lost a productive defensive tackle in Corey Williams, who was among the top DTs in the league with 14 sacks over the past two seasons and extremely active in defensive coordinator Bob Sanders' scheme. The Packers also will miss the services of veteran tight end Bubba Franks, who had been playing in a diminished role in recent seasons but was still an effective red zone target and a good blocker at the point of attack.
The biggest question obviously is how Aaron Rodgers will fare as Favre's replacement. There is also the question of who will be Rodgers' backup. Thompson must address two other critical positions, as CBs Charles Woodson and Al Harris are going into their 11th seasons while OTs Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher are also getting on in years. A viable blocking tight end also will need to be acquired between now and August to shore up the ground game. Green Bay is in better shape than most teams as the NFL draft approaches but clearly has issues to deal with.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.