With the NFL Draft in the rear-view mirror, today seems a good day to make some bold predictions about the Green Bay Packers over the next few years. The draft class will certainly take several years to fully evaluate, especially with the Packers drafting some athletic projects, but we feel good about this year’s class contributing to the team’s success over the next four or five seasons.
Here are five predictions about the Packers and what will transpire in the organization over the next five years. What will the team look like at this time in 2022? Here’s what we think, and let us know where you agree or disagree in the comments.
Eliot Wolf will be the General Manager after Ted Thompson retires
It’s tough to imagine Thompson going through another five years of scouting, drafting, and roster construction. Rumors have been swirling about a potential retirement for a few years now, and though he is unlikely to step down before his contract expires, reports indicate that it runs through the 2018 season.
With Wolf receiving interview requests for GM jobs around the league and continuing to earn bigger and better job titles in Green Bay, he appears set as the heir apparent. The speculation about Kansas City’s John Dorsey replacing Thompson continues, but Dorsey has built a winner with the Chiefs and by all accounts he is happy in KC. We’re betting that Wolf’s family history (as the son of Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf) and tenure with the Packers gets him the job.
Aaron Rodgers is still the starting quarterback
Rodgers’ current contract runs through the 2019 season, but recent QB deals around the league have made his look like a bargain. Expect the Packers to rework that contract next offseason.
As far as his age and his play, Rodgers is 33 and playing at an MVP level. He has said that he intends to play into his 40s, and there is every reason to think he can sustain his level of play the way Tom Brady has. Brett Hundley will probably get a chance in the NFL, but it won’t be in Green Bay unless there’s a catastrophic injury to Rodgers.
The Wide Receiver group looks very different
Jordy Nelson is 32 and one year removed from a torn ACL. Randall Cobb has steadily declined since his career-best season in 2014 got him a big new contract. And with Davante Adams becoming a free agent next spring, that leaves major question marks with all of the Packers’ top three wideouts.
If you put a gun to my head, I’ll say that in five years, Adams is the only one still on the team, with Nelson and Cobb both long gone. The fact that the Packers waited until round five to draft a receiver this weekend is still a bit of a surprise to me, and I fully expect that position to be a major need next offseason.
Vince Biegel is the leader of the pass rush
This one is a bit of a homer prediction, and is predicated on a heavy projection of Biegel’s development. However, it doesn’t look like Clay Matthews will regain his All-Pro form and Nick Perry will be 32 and wrapping up his big contract when 2022 rolls around (unless of course he is restructured or released before then). Of the three other Packers pass-rushers, Biegel has the greatest upside and the best raw athletic tools. Look for him to slot in as the Packers’ third edge rusher as a rookie (ahead of Jayrone Elliott and Kyler Fackrell) and become one of the leaders of the defense on and off the field by the end of his rookie contract.
The Packers play in at least one Super Bowl
Green Bay has made it to two of the last three NFC Championship Games, once with a very good defense (2014) and once with the 31st-ranked pass defense (2016). Their 2017 draft class loaded up on defensive prospects with size and speed, which were sorely lacking last season. The offense is in good hands for the immediate future, and Ted Thompson seems to scout offensive players as well as anyone in the league.
All of that indicates that the Packers are still in a great position to challenge for a spot in the Super Bowl every year, and we’re betting that they finally break through and win a conference championship in the near future. Hopefully another Lombardi trophy and a 14th NFL title will follow two weeks later.