It hasn’t been business as usual for the Green Bay Packers, who along with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have been to the playoffs each of the past eight seasons. However, Mike McCarthy’s squad has not had nearly the success the Pats have enjoyed over that same span. Green Bay won an NFL title in 2010 and hasn’t been back to the Big Game since. Now the roster is seeing its share of changes. This offseason, outside linebackers Datone Jones (Minnesota Vikings) and Julius Peppers (Carolina Panthers) and strong safety Micah Hyde (Buffalo Bills) signed with new teams. Cornerback Sam Shields was released after an injury-marred 2016.

The club brought back cornerback Davon House (cut loose by the Jacksonville Jaguars) and added defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois. So starting with the 29th overall pick, what will general manager Ted Thompson do with the team’s eight selections?

What the team needs

How many times can you say that the Green Bay Packers have needs on defense? It seems pretty repetitive but it also seems to be the thing that has tripped up this club each of the past seven seasons. And even their Super Bowl XLV championship unit relied more on forcing turnovers than actually shutting down opposing offenses. In their last 11 postseason contests, the Packers own a 5-6 win-loss record and have allowed a disappointing 25.7 points per game in those outings.

It’s hard to pin that all on your quarterback. Simply put, the team could do worse than follow Thompson’s course of action in 2012. That year, Green Bay used its first six draft choices on defense. The haul included outside linebacker Nick Perry, cornerback Casey Hayward (now with the Los Angeles Chargers) and defensive tackle Mike Daniels.

Top choices

It’s somewhat difficult to forecast exactly what players will be available when the Green Bay Packers make their first choice late in the first round and beyond. Could a talented prospect such as pass-rusher T.J. Watt (Wisconsin) fall into the franchise’s lap? He finished 2016 with 63 tackles, 11.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles and the Pack club could certainly use another pass rusher.

Thompson could also look for help at nose tackle as unreliable Letroy Guion will miss the first four games of the season due to an NFL suspension. Near the top of the CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com defensive tackle rankings are Dalvin Thompson (Alabama), Chris Wormley (Michigan) and Montravius Adams (Auburn). Could one fit into the team’s 2017 plans? Finally, the Packers could also look for a running back early in this draft as well.

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