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Green Bay Packers' current defense put on notice

Apr. 28, 2012
 

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Whether they want to admit it or not, most veterans pay close attention to the NFL draft.

While general managers and coaches love to generate competition by bringing in college players, what that really means is someone is going to lose their job.

There were clear winners and losers on the Packers roster after the team put the finishing touches Saturday on its 2012 draft class, which included two defensive linemen, two linebackers, two defensive backs and two offensive players.

Losers

• Defensive linemen: The Packers are tired of waiting around for Mike Neal, Jarius Wynn and C.J. Wilson to emerge from the shadows. Mediocrity will not be tolerated. That’s why General Manager Ted Thompson drafted Michigan’s State’s Jerel Worthy in the second round and Iowa’s Mike Daniels in the fourth. Earlier Thompson also signed free agents Anthony Hargrove and Daniel Muir, a sure sign changes are in store. It took a year after the departure of Cullen Jenkins for Thompson to swing into action, but it’s better late than never.

• Outside linebackers: The Packers won a Super Bowl in 2010 using some combination of Frank Zombo, Erik Walden and Brad Jones playing opposite Clay Matthews. But that didn’t work nearly as well last season, when offenses got away with double- and triple-teaming Matthews. The good news is first-round draft pick Nick Perry should grab the starting job, but someone will have to go.

• Safeties: The same week the Packers said goodbye to Nick Collins, they drafted Maine’s Jerron McMillian, who has the potential to start alongside Morgan Burnett. That means Charlie Peprah, Anthony Levine and M.D. Jennings will be scrambling for roster spots.

• Inside linebackers: If Thompson trades up in the draft, as he did for North Carolina State inside linebacker Terrell Manning, it means he really likes him. It also means there’s an odd man out, most likely Robert Francois.

• Backup quarterback: The Packers waited until their final pick to draft Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman. That can’t be good news for Nick Hill, who was signed as a free agent in January.

Winners

• Matthews: He’s the biggest winner of the draft because reinforcements have finally arrived. After doing nothing to help Matthews last year, Thompson went out of his way to make sure the defense had more weapons. Matthews’ sack total and overall productivity will soar.

• Evan Dietrich-Smith: The Packers didn’t draft a center, as many expected, leaving Dietrich-Smith as the backup to Jeff Saturday. It doesn’t hurt Dietrich-Smith’s job security that he can also play guard.

• Marshall Newhouse: The Packers released Chad Clifton earlier this week, then waited until late in the final round to draft a tackle. It means they were pleased with Newhouse’s ability to protect Aaron Rodgers’ blind side last season.

• Running backs: For the fifth time in his eight Packers drafts, Thompson didn’t select a halfback. That’s a ringing endorsement for holdovers James Starks, Brandon Saine and Alex Green.

• Pass-catchers: The Packers are loaded at receiver and tight end, so it’s no surprise they didn’t draft anyone at those positions. There will be enough competition as it is with practice squad receiver Tori Gurley attempting to land on the active roster and four tight ends jockeying for position behind Jermichael Finley.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

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