The 2019 NFL Draft opens one month from today, making this the home stretch of the draft process. Free agency has shifted the priorities for most teams while the NFL Scouting Combine and pro days have altered the way talent evaluators see the prospects. That includes the Green Bay Packers, who added two of the most coveted pass rushers on the open market, a starting safety, and a versatile offensive lineman during the first few days of the new league year.
Still, the draft remains an important part of the Packers’ offseason, especially with two selections in the first round and an early pick in the second. SB Nation’s Dan Kadar sees the team adding one of the draft’s most athletic pass rushers as well as two of the top offensive prospects.
12. Green Bay Packers: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
Offseason needs: Tight end, guard, defensive line, right tackle
Green Bay is a challenging team to figure out high in the first round. It’s easy to see the team’s holes, but the Packers have players in each of them already. At tight end, they have Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis. At right tackle, Bryan Bulaga still has a year left on his contract. The same can be said about Mike Daniels on the defensive line. If they draft based purely with the best player available philosophy, Gary could be in play. He could push Dean Lowry for a starting spot, and ensure the Packers have a difference maker up front if Daniels leaves next offseason.
Rashan Gary weighed in at 277 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, which means he would only need to add a little weight to operate as a regular five-tech lineman or could stay at or near his current number and play as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. Gary tested as one of the most athletic prospects at any position but doesn’t have the refinement of other first-round defenders. Given the Packers’ recent investments in Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, Gary wouldn’t have to play a major role immediately.
30. Green Bay Packers: (via New Orleans): Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
Offseason needs: Tight end, guard, defensive line
Did you really think we’d get out of Green Bay’s two first-round picks without a tight end? Smith isn’t a massive athlete like Fant, and he doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as Hockenson. But Smith knows how to make big plays, especially when he’s working routes over the middle. As a blocker, he’s decent.
Unlike Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson, both of which tested in the 87th percentile or above by SPARQ, Irv Smith Jr. came in as a below-average athlete for his position. That doesn’t necessarily mean Smith cannot become a starting-caliber tight end, but he’ll have to round out his game and develop significantly as a blocker.
44. Green Bay Packers: Garrett Bradbury, OL, North Carolina State
Even after signing Billy Turner to a four-year, $28 million contract, the Packers still need reinforce the offensive line. Turner still needs to establish himself as a full-time starter, Lane Taylor comes off his worst season since taking over at left guard, and Bryan Bulaga has missed 13 games since the start of 2017. Garrett Bradbury easily surpasses Green Bay’s athletic minimums for an offensive lineman, and his background as a converted tight end who has started at guard and center checks several boxes as well. The team could also consider Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom, the most “Packers-y” O-line prospect in the draft, at this spot. Kadar projected Lindstrom coming off the board one pick later to the Atlanta Falcons.