Quarterback upheaval this offseason could provide an enormous boost for the Packers. And we’re not talking about the latest episode of Days of Aaron’s Lives.
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, a polished but polarizing player, may fall in the draft according to recent reports as teams wonder about both his attitude and his ceiling, as well as his injury history.
Meanwhile, Louisville standout Lamar Jackson caught the eye of a number of teams, and we’re talking about as a quarterback no matter what nonsense you hear about a position change.
Given where the Packers select in the draft, specifically directly ahead of quarterback-needy Arizona, Brian Gutekunst could end up fielding calls from asset-rich teams in need of a quarterback.
Smoke around the Patriots’ interest in quarterbacks from this draft has been somewhat dismissed as typical draft silly season wall throwing (as in throwing things at the wall and hoping they stick), but with Tom Brady’s future in doubt and no long-term solution, they have reported interest in moving up for a quarterback. After the Brandin Cooks trade, New England boasts two first-round picks and could offer both in a deal to move up for Rosen or Jackson, both of whom the team has shown interest in during the draft process.
Would Gutekunst be willing to gamble on a player of his choosing being available at 23 (the first of the Patriots’ selections) for the added benefit of having 31 as well? By the draft chart, that’s an overpay for New England, but not a huge one and frankly, teams have had to overpay to trade up for quarterbacks lately.
Another potential suitor could be the Bengals. After trading with the Bills, they now hold the 21st pick, and could offer that plus the 46th pick to move up to 14. Though that also checks out value-wise, the Packers could view that as insufficient given they could have competition. The Patriots offer would be more appealing even if it’s a slightly further drop down the line.
And before fans freak out about not being able to draft the blue-chip defensive player by trading down, let’s consider some other recent draft scuttlebutt.
According to several prominent NFL reporters, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James are seen by a number of teams more likely to go 11-20, which means something is pushing them down. Someone had to be selected. But that might not be the boon for the Packers it appears on its face.
Let’s take the consensus top players as the following in some order: Sam Darnold, Saquan Barkley, Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Josh Allen, Roquan Smith. Fitzpatrick and Rosen had been in that group, but if they’re poised to fall, who could be in their place?
Boston College pass rusher Harold Landry has been meeting with teams in the top-12 and after an outstanding combine, could be poised to vault into that range. The league loves pass rushers.
So let’s slot the top of the draft this way
1. Browns - Sam Darnold
2. Giants - Saquon Barkley
3. Jets - Baker Mayfield
4. Browns - Bradley Chubb
5. Bills (f/ Broncos) - Josh Allen
6. Colts - Quenton Nelson
7. Buccaneers - Denzel Ward
8. Bears - Roquan Smith
This scenario doesn’t change much for the Packers considering the assumption was these players were never going to fall. But the next few picks could change, which has the potential to reverberate for Green Bay.
What happens if the next five picks look like this?
9. 49ers - Harold Landry
10. Raiders - Tremaine Edmunds
11. Dolphins - Josh Rosen
12. Broncos f/ Bills - Minkah Fitzpatrick
13. Washington - Derwin James
If it were me, I’d be happy handing in the card for Marcus Davenport or Josh Jackson, but the Packers might not be. They may not see a blue chip defender, in which case trading down could make sense for Green Bay.
We could also consider a slightly different scenario where a trade-down makes sense where those same picks go like this:
9. 49ers - Calvin Ridley
10. Raiders - Vita Vea
11. Dolphins - Mike McGlinchey
12. Broncos - Connor Williams
13. Washington - Tremaine Edmunds
In this case, the Packers would be sitting at 14 with Fitzpatrick, James, and Landry all on the board with Davenport and Jackson. If Gutekunst views them all in the same tier, could a trade with a team like the Ravens or Cowboys, hoping to trade up for a receiver (Courtland Sutton?) make sense? And with both Rosen and Jackson on the board, would a team like the Patriots or Bengals offer a king’s ransom of picks to come up and grab one?
Even if the best likely case for the Packers is to try and convince the Cardinals other teams want to come up and get a QB ahead of them and drop a spot while adding picks, that could be a home run move for a team that had no interest in taking a quarterback to begin with.
They could simply take the player they preferred at 15, plus add whatever capital the Cards are willing to offer.
My guess would be there will be a player the Packers value highly, potentially more than at 14. But there are certainly scenarios in play where either all of them are gone or there are so many still available, Gutekunst could see value in trading down and still nabbing one later in the first.
All of this is to say the quarterback mania and possible fall of two top playmaking defensive backs sets Green Bay up in an ideal position to maximize a pivotal draft for their future.