This is why anyone who says “No way ‘Prospect X’ is falling” should reconsider (and probably be blocked on Twitter). There are always players everyone thought would be first-round picks, high first-round selections even, who end up being available on Day 2. Jawaan Taylor and DK Metcalf were supposed to be top-10 picks, regularly mocked at spots like 7th and 9th overall. Instead, here they are on Day 2 still waiting to hear their names called.
Green Bay, sitting there with the 44th pick, could simply pick off one of these top players taking a tumble, just as they did last year with Josh Jackson. No one believed Jackson would make it past the Packers pick at 14th, just there he was at 45. Plenty of evaluators felt like Jackson was a better prospect than Jaire Alexander, and it’s likely they’ll be in a position again to draft a player some feel is better than Rashan Gary or Darnell Savage Jr.
With that in mind, and with 11 picks before the Packers get to make their selection, here are the top 20 players left on the board, according to The Athletic’s composite big board that uses player rankings from the top evaluators across the media. This board also incorporated historical analytic models to try and refine the board even more. (It’s a very cool idea, you can read about here).
10. Jawaan Taylor OT Florida
12. DK Metcalf WR Ole Miss
22. Greedy Williams CB LSU
23. Cody Ford OL Oklahoma
25. A.J. Brown WR Ole Miss
31. Taylor Rapp S Washington
32. Dalton Risner OL Kansas State
33. Erik McCoy C Texas A&M
35. Nasir Adderley S Delaware
36. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson S Florida
38. Hakeem Butler WR Iowa State
39. Drew Lock QB Missouri
40. Irv Smith Jr. TE Alabama
41. Greg Little OT Ole Miss
42. Parris Campbell WR Ohio State
44. Julian Love CB Notre Dame
45. Deebo Samuel WR South Carolina
46. Justin Layne CB Michigan State
47. Juan Thornhill S Virginia
48. Elgton Jenkins C Mississippi State
It is worth noting: that board had Gary 15th and Savage 43rd.
The Packers had top-30 draft visits with multiple players on that list, including Greg Little and A.J. Brown. They’ve shown interest dating back to the Senior Bowl in Dalton Risner and met with Jawaan Taylor, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Taylor Rapp at the Combine.
Could Brian Gutekunst double up at a position like safety with only Adrian Amos as surefire long-term options at the position? Given all the talent and the diverse skillsets of the players available, it shouldn’t be off the table. Nasir Adderley and Juan Thornhill in particular fit the mold of what Mike Pettine would look for in the position.
Receiver and offensive tackle also fill this list, setting the Packers up to account for another one of their longer-term needs. For 2019, they’re probably set along the offensive line, and if the receiving group stays healthy (read: If Davante Adams stays healthy), the offense should be set. On the other hand, the right side of the offensive line is in flux with Bryan Bulaga’s expected departure and there’s no clearcut No. 2 option emerging opposite Adams.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer mentioned the Packers as a team to watch with Parris Campbell, potentially in the first round. If he slips to 44, his speed and playmaking mesh beautifully with the skillsets already on the team, while A.J. Brown or Hakeem Butler could fill that big slot role with speed and playmaking. There’s also the possibility of slotting the Rashan Gary of receivers, DK Metcalf, opposite Adams and letting him take the top off defenses.
If the Packers believe Billy Turner is their heir apparent to Bryan Bulaga, they could eschew offensive line until Day 3, but the value of players like Taylor and Risner may simply be too much to pass up with the 44th pick.
Jachai Polite, a former top-15 player whose pre-draft interviews and workouts sparked polarizing opinions, should be on the board as well. If Gutekunst is feeling cheeky, he could bank on what Polite put on tape, hope he gets motivated, and double up with two ultra-gifted edge rushers. The possibilities, given the talent on the board, are myriad.
Green Bay, who doesn’t see itself picking in the top-50 on Day 2 in the near future, has a chance to get a very good player, potentially a first-round player. That would make three for them in the draft, to say nothing of the kind of talent we could see fall to 75. In a pivotal draft for the franchise, Gutekunst should be in position to add another top talent to set up Matt LaFleur’s first year as head coach, and usher in a new era in Packers football.