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Ted Thompson is one of the best in the league at running a NFL front office. He understands that to have a team that consistently ranks as one of the best, it must start with the draft. This year, once again, the Packers led from the front, showing everyone else how it’s done. They covered the two main areas where they needed help; defensive end and running back. They didn’t have to reach for any of their picks, and they got great value. With their first selection, number 26 overall, they took Datone Jones, defensive end from UCLA. At 6-4, 283 lbs. He’s a big, strong player who will really bring some versatility to Dom Capers defense. He can play either inside or outside, he brings speed off the edge, and he will be able to provide a pass rush that the Packers desperately need. He uses his hands well to engage blockers, and then shed to be able to make the play. All of his coaches have great thing to say about him. He will continue to improve because of his passion for the game, the way he studies is craft and his dedication. He’s the type of player that practices hard on the field and in the weight room. The Packers really need physical defense ends in this base 3-4 front to set the edge against the run. It seems as if they are playing more nickel and dime schemes with four-man fronts, however that could be a reflection of their personnel. Jones is a natural fit at defensive end in the 3-4 and would probably move inside in the four-man front as that one-gap penetrator that they really like. With defensive linemen Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji in the last year of their contracts, and inconsistency and injury concerns behind them, this unit needs that depth and versatility that Jones brings.
The next pick they used, number 61 overall, was on Eddie Lacy, running back from Alabama. Durability concerns likely caused Lacy to drop, he needs to develop his abilities on third down more. What separates good backs from great ones in the NFL is the ability to pass protect. Without being able to pick up the blitz, Green Bay won’t put him in on many third downs. However, he's shown enough as a receiver to believe he'll get there. He is a tough, powerful runner, though, who can get yards after contact and punish defenders in space. And while he doesn't look like a blazer on tape, his speed doesn't raise a red flag. It seems as if running back is at the top of Green Bay's need list every year, and this draft is no exception. The Packers have been able to do very little with the personnel they have. They are reluctant to spend big money on a running back in todays NFL, and for good reason. It is a position where a player reaches his peak by age 30, and that is without injury.
It seems teams believe the real production in a running game comes from offensive line play, so they spend more money there now. Because opposing defenses don't respect the threat of the run game, they can sit back in deep coverages and take away Rodgers' vertical passing game. If Lacy can stay healthy, he can change that. He can be a physical, between-the-tackles runner, eat up the clock -- especially in bad weather -- and can give Rodgers a play-action package he hasn't had in a while.