Heading into this year’s off-season it’s clear there are holes to fill if the Packers want to win another Super Bowl. Not only will the team need to dive into free agency, they will also need to target some deficiencies in the upcoming draft. Packers GM Ted Thompson has always prided himself on the phrase ‘draft and develop’ but in recent years this motto has failed the system, most notably on the defensive side of the ball. Since the 2010 Super Bowl run the Packers have made the playoffs in six-consecutive seasons but have fallen short of the final game every year.
In there last five playoff losses the defense has given up 439.7 yards and 33.8 points on average, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Silverstein. With arguably the most talented quarterback in the league in Aaron Rodgers, it is evident that pieces still need to be added if the 33-year-old expects to win another Super Bowl entering his 13th season.
With 12 unrestricted free-agents entering the 2017 season, the Packers will not be able to re-sign all of them. Including Julius Peppers, Nick Perry and Datone Jones all on expiring contracts and questions looming about the performance of Clay Matthews, the Packers will need to hit the outside-linebacker position in the off-season.
At least two-of-three of the potential free agents are not expected to return next season. Here is the first player the Packers should target in this year’s draft.
Takkarist McKinley, UCLA. Edge Rusher.
Arguably the best edge-rusher in the Pac-12 the past two seasons, McKinley fits right into Caper’s 3-4 system. At 6-foot-2, 265-pounds McKinley also brings an instinctual burst and motor fitting him ideally in a 3-4 outside-linebacker role. His fluid hips and strength combined to feature a match up nightmare for opposing Pac-12 offensive tackles.
As a junior college transfer, McKinley’s talents went relatively unnoticed until his last two seasons at UCLA. In his last 24 games, he totaled 96 tackles, 25.5 tackles-for-loss and 13.5 sacks. The All-Pac-12 first teamer has an instinct for finding the ball and closing out the edge. His addition would compliment the Packers 2016 first-rounder, defensive-tackle Kenny Clark, as the two were teammates at UCLA. The Packers defensive-front is very close to becoming a juggernaut, with the final piece needed being a consistent edge-rusher like McKinley. His addition would fulfill the defensive-line, and the edge-rushing role, a role the Packers have lacked tremendously in recent years.
Draft Projection: First Round
Comparison: DeMarcus Ware