Green Bay Packers must have found a bottle with a genie in it at the tail end of their 2013 season. Things were looking bad on offense and defense as they loss their two most notable stars in quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews. The Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions were battling for the NFC North division title and had a nice lead in the games won column. Backup players and great coaching kept them in games and won enough to keep them in striking distance of winning the division. All of a sudden about the last five games of the year the genie most have granted them three wishes. One, they got help from Chicago and Detroit as they both started losing some games. Two, Aaron Rodgers came back from an apparent season ending broken collarbone. Three, they won the last game of the regular season against the Chicago Bears on a 4th down long touchdown pass by Rodgers that decided the NFC North Champion and a trip to the playoffs. They may want to hold on to that bottle for 2014.
The offense is one of the best passing teams in the NFL with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. He has had the luxury of having at least three solid receivers over the years. This year will be a challenge with James Jones leaving to play for Oakland. That leaves him with two solid guys in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, but both have had injury issues lately the last couple seasons. They may need to rely more on their running game and have a capable running back in Eddie Lacy. He is built to carry the load if need be. The defense was the achilles' heel in 2013 with their inability to stop the run and get off of the field on 3rd downs. When Clay Matthews went down with his injury so did the pass rush. The Packers need to find more help for their receiving core and other pass rush threats to go along with Matthews. Look below to see if Green Bay made any efforts to improve in those areas.
Julius Peppers - defensive end
Julius Peppers comes over from Chicago and gives the Packers a credible pass rusher playing opposite Clay Matthews. Peppers is entering his 13th NFL season and at age 34 he may have loss some of that elite quickness, but can still produce sacks. The Packers have needed someone to play opposite of Clay Matthews for several years. Peppers will give Green Bay plenty of scheme versatility where they will likely line him up at defensive end, outside linebacker, and sometimes defensive tackle. Peppers will make this defense totally different and cause a lot of sleepless nights for offensive coordinators.
HaHa Clinton-Dix - safety
HaHa Clinton-Dix was drafted as the Packers 1st round draft choice in the 2014 NFL draft. He will have plenty of opportunities to become the starting free safety during training camp. Green Bay lacked someone last year who had the range and instincts to play free safety and the ability to cover slot receivers and tight ends. Clinton-Dix has the size, length, playing speed and instincts to do just that. He may need to add some bulk to be better equipped at stopping the run, but he is a solid tackler. Pass coverage is where he excels and should help Green Bay's defense especially playing against some potent pass offenses in the NFC North division.
Davante Adams - wide receiver
Davante Adams could very well be a 2nd round steal for Green Bay. Adams will probably be groomed to replace James Jones (Oakland Raiders) as the 3rd receiver in multiple sets. May take him some time to learn the Packers system considering he comes from a spread offense at Fresno State to more of a quarterback playing under center style. Adams has good speed and playing strength. He has a great pair of hands which was evident his last two years at Fresno State where he caught 100 passes both years. Playing with a great quarterback in Aaron Rodgers and behind excellent receivers in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, Adams will have time to adjust to the NFL game and contribute at a pace.
Colt Lyerla - tight end
Colt Lyerla was signed as an undrafted free agent after not being drafted in 2014 NFL Draft. He had some serious off the field issues that caused him to slide out of the draft. Lyerla has sensational athleticism and would have been one of the top 5 tight ends drafted if not for stuff off the field. He has an opportunity to work himself up the depth chart and become a key player. He has all of the traits of former standout Jermichael Finley, but needs work on his route running and pass blocking. He could be the surprise of this year's Green Bay rookie class.