The reality is that the Packers biggest need is actually special teams. The team needs upgrades for both kicking and punting not only for those positions, but also for returners. However, there are free agents available at any given time for the former two positions, and spending any draft pick in the first three rounds there is ludicrous, and even a late round pick would be questionable.
With regard to a returner, the Packers might be okay there this year if Will Blackmon can stay healthy. However, either running back or cornerback also offers a good possibility of an upgrade, so a smart general manager (which Ted Thompson has proven to be, with one weakness of being excessively cheap) looks for picks to fill those primary positions of need that can also perform the secondary function.
Like Kyle Wilson, who is a corner that can help immediately on defense and special teams.
However, there is one other position of need for the Packers: This team needs a veteran quarterback.
Here no one in the draft will do, because they will not be better than Matt Flynn in their rookie year. Even a top-ten pick might not be, and there is no way the Packers trade up to get a franchise quarterback with one already on the roster.
For the same reason, it makes no sense to go after a restricted free agent. They are young players with the potential to be franchise players (or are not worth grabbing), and there is no point in the team giving up any compensatory picks for players whose chief function is insurance.
But insurance is needed. Current backup quarterback Matt Flynn has a career passer rating that is about the same as Jermarcus Russell's. The best Flynn would be able to do for Green Bay is hold on to a lead for less than a half of football.
With Brett Favre likely to come back to the Vikings and the upgrades the Bears made, the Packers have a tiny margin for error before becoming the third-place team in the division. And with the NFC East boasting three strong teams and the NFC South boasting two, there is no chance a third-place team makes the playoffs.
If Aaron Rodgers is down for even a game, the Packers are in trouble. There are only four games on Green Bay's schedule that Matt Flynn should beat: Buffalo, Washington, and Detroit twice, although this is closer than in years past. Maybe he could pull of one or two others, but he also might lose one or two of those, since all of those teams but Buffalo will be better than last year.
In other words, if Rodgers misses a month, the Packers go 1-3 instead of 3-1 and drop right out of the playoff picture. But there are veteran quarterbacks that can win 6-7 games on the Packers schedule, so that if Rodgers is down for a month it only costs the team one win. They are listed below in order of preference, with last year's stats included:
- Daunte Culpepper (11 seasons, 2009: 89-157, 945 yards, 3 TDs, 6 picks, 64.8 passer rating)--He has not exactly made a strong case for starting somewhere since his knee injury, but this is what might bring him down in price. One must take into account he has been playing for the Lions and Raiders, so neither record nor stats should really be used to judge his ability. He played in similar systems, can handle the beating he will get behind the Packers line, and has the arm strength to make any throw. He would have to stop doing that rhythmless "false start" celebration, though...
- Mark Brunell (17 seasons, 2009: 15-30, 102 yards, 1 pick, 44.0 rating)--Brunell is a sentimental favourite because he started his career as a backup for Brett Favre--why not finish it backing up another future Hall of Famer? He knows the system and has played in enough big games. His last significant action was in 2006, but he played decently (10 games, 162-260, 1789 yards, 8 TDs, 4 picks, 86.5 rating) on a team that had few weapons in the passing game. And he could be gotten cheaply, just like Thompson likes them.
- Kyle Boller (six seasons, 2009: 98-176, 899 yards, 3 TDs, 6 picks, 61.2 rating)--Skip Bayless calls him Kyle "Shoulda Been a Bowler" for a reason--he has more career interceptions (50) than touchdowns (48). But with 46 career starts, no expectations, and reunited with fellow Cal Alum Aaron Rodgers, he has the ability to win games. He does come with additional baggage in the form of his fiancée: Miss California and hypocrite of the year Carrie Prejean was against gay marriage because of the Bible but had no problem taking nude pictures and sex tapes.
- Josh McCown (eight seasons, 2009: 1-6, two yards, 39.6 rating)--McCown is best-known to Packer fans as the guy who brought down the Vikings in the final game of 2004 on a 4th and 25 to give the Packers the division title, and giving him an easy job of carrying a clipboard might be nice payback. In his career, he has 31 starts, and played adequately considering the team he was (Oakland) in 2007: 111-190, 1151 yards, 10 TDs, 11 picks.
- Chris Simms (seven seasons, 2009: 5-17, 23 yards, 1 pick, 15.1 rating)--Simms played so badly in his only start in 2009 that he was yanked. He has never been the same since trying to play through a ruptured spleen--in that season he was 191-313 for 2035 yards, 10 TDs, and seven picks; since he is 64-125 with one TD and eight picks. But at least he has played in the same system, hgas 16 career starts, and is tough as nails.
- Patrick Ramsey (eight seasons, no games played in 2009)--The one-time starter for the Washington Offensively Named Ones, Ramsey has not started since 2005, and started only 24 games in his career. He has thrown 78 passes in the last four seasons, completing under 40 percent for under 10 yards per completion. He might not even be better than Flynn, but is worth a look if no one else can be had.