The Green Bay Packers need to hit a home run in the 2018 NFL Draft

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17: Aaron Rodgers
CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17: Aaron Rodgers /

The Green Bay Packers should feel a lot of pressure to hit a huge home run with their selections in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Green Bay Packers might not know it, but their immediate and future success hinges on the next three days, as new general manager Brian Gutekunst will make his mark on the team one way or another.

With 12 picks in this year’s draft, the most of any team, Green Bay has a plethora of options at their fingertips. They can maintain status quo by keeping their No. 14 overall pick and selecting the best player to fall to them. They can use their overabundance of picks to move up in the first round, but likely removing the potential for them to address more than one position early on. Or they can trade their picks to move elsewhere in the draft where the exchange price isn’t as steep.

No matter what Gutekunst decides to do he will have his critics and he will have his champions. What’s most important, however, is how the selections perform on the field.

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Thanks to past draft failure, this Packers’ roster is perceived to be weaker than it has in a long, long time.

In 2017, Packers selected cornerback Kevin King with their first pick (No. 33 overall) and saw him only play in nine games due to recurring shoulder injuries that began in college. Their third pick in the draft (93rd overall) Montravius Adams barely played, recording one tackle in seven games. Their next pick, Vince Beigel also only played in nine games after beginning the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Josh Jones (their second pick in the second round) had a very up and down season, but will have every opportunity to prove himself this year with the departure of Morgan Burnett. Green Bay also selected a pair of running backs (Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones) who made a positive impact, but that was the extent of the draft class contributions.

In 2016, the Packers again missed on their second and third rounders (Jason Spriggs and Kyler Fackrell, respectively) while drafting long-term starters Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez. Outside of those two, the results have been slim pickings.

The previous season, Ted Thompson missed again with his draft picks selecting duds Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins with his first two picks.

The far too frequent swing and misses have left the defense short on talent and the offense often unaddressed until the later rounds. In fact, the last time the Packers used their first pick on an offensive player was in 2011 when they selected the now out of football Derek Sherrod and the last time they picked a skill-player was in 2008 when they drafted Jordy Nelson in the second round.

This time around, Green Bay has more holes to fill than ever before and no position is off limits. That makes it extremely challenging for any general manager, nonetheless one who’s running his first draft at the helm.

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With former MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers time winding down, this draft class will go a long way in determining just how competitive the Packers will be in 2018 and beyond. Of course, with Rodgers, they will always have a shot to compete. But if they are serious about winning more than the division or a first-round playoff matchup, they need to hit home this year.

They lack the game-changers and playmakers on the defensive side of the ball and often rely on guys who are steady in their roles, but not much else. This is the draft the Packers need not one, but at least two playmakers over there in order to help add some explosiveness to their boring bend and often break defense.

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As difficult as it is to pin one draft, especially the first draft, on a general manager, Gutekunst really needs to pull out all the stops for this one. If he doesn’t, Green Bay will be left wondering ‘what if?’ once Rodgers retires. But if he does, it could set the Packers up for another half decade of elite success.