State of the NFC North: The Green Bay Packers

Jan 24, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the NFC Championship game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency dying down, now is time to take stock of where each team in the division stands. This article will be part four of a four-part series where we will look at where each team in the NFC North stands in terms of roster build and how their outlook for the future looks. The Green Bay Packers finished first in the NFC North in 2020, with a 13-3 record.

Strengths and Weaknesses

When you go 13-3, it usually means that your team is top-notch all around. For the Packers, this is true. Aaron Rodgers won his 3rd MVP, while Davante Adams had a stellar All-Pro year. Jaire Alexander finished the season as PFF’s #1 CB with a 90.7 rating. David Bakhtiari was also an All-Pro left tackle this year. Outside of the elite talent, the Packers have Aaron Jones, Za’Darius Smith, Kenny Clark, Elgton Jenkins, Adrian Amos, and Darnell Savage, all of who are great players. With all of this top-end talent, it is no surprise that they reached the NFC Championship game for the 2nd straight year. The Packers have all of these studs returning, with the only question-mark being Bakhtiari, who was injured late in the season. 

However, the Packers do have a couple of weaknesses. Corey Linsley left for the Chargers this offseason, and he was the #1 graded center per PFF last season. Along with Bakhtiari’s injury, this causes some reasons for concern over the offensive line. The Packers also have a depth issue at WR, but having Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers hides that greatly. The main issue for the Packers is on the defensive side of the ball. Despite having Smith and Clark, the Packers’ front seven still is not great. There is still time in free agency to address this, but with an edge class that is considered weaker than usual, this is not an issue they can fix via the draft. The Packers also need help at linebacker and cornerback. Krys Barnes and Kevin King should not be in the Packer’s plans to start at those positions in the upcoming season. These issues have been masked by the elite talent the Packers have, but have hurt the Packers the most in the two most recent NFC Championship games. 

Draft Outlook

The Packers need to have a good draft this year. Last year’s debacle, in which they spent their first three picks on backup players, cannot be repeated this time around. Luckily for the Packers, this is a strong class for whatever they may need help. They can go in any direction at pick 29, which suits well for them. A cornerback such as Greg Newsome II or Asante Samuel Jr would be of great value or a linebacker such as Nick Bolton. There is also a ton of offensive line talent for the Packers to pick up in this draft class.

In the last draft, everyone expected the Packers to draft a receiver, and they could go that route this year. Kadarius Toney, Rondale Moore, and Terrence Marshall Jr should all be available for the Packers, and they would be immediate starters. The Packers are in a position to pick up whatever player gives them the best value, which only bodes well for a team that expects to be playing in the Superbowl next year. 

2021 Season Expectations

Year in and year out, as long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy, the Packers are expected to make a serious run at a Superbowl. They may not have reached the Superbowl again since 2010, but five NFC Championship appearances since 2010 speak for themselves. 2021 will be no different. No matter the flaws the Packers may have, Aaron Rodgers is capable of elevating the team, which puts them in a position to win in every game.

As we have seen, the rest of the NFC North hasn’t shown that they are on the same level as the Packers yet, meaning the NFC North title is theirs to lose. Matt LeFleur will look to further expand on his 11-1 record against division opponents, and be in position for the #1 NFC seed. If the Packers can get day one starters in the draft at their positions of need, this will be a team that we could easily see hoist a Lombardi trophy once more.