At 3-2 with uninspiring performances against the New England Patriots and New York Giants, there’s a very real possibility that the Packers aren’t a true Super Bowl, or even playoff, contender. Of course, this is a worst-case scenario, and things could turn around quickly, but both the offense and the defense have plenty to clean up.
With the mindset that the Packers might have a letdown year, that would at least give them the opportunity to draft one of the more elite prospects in next year’s draft. Let’s take a look at a few of the guys who would be great fits in the middle of the first round.
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
#8 Oklahoma State vs #15 TCU, 3:30 PM ET on ABC
Do the Packers really need a wide receiver in 2023? Despite two rookies emerging this year in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, they very well may need to add another next season.
It’s unclear if Allen Lazard will return next year, and Randall Cobb is 32 years old. If the Packers want to completely revamp their wide receiver room, adding another young playmaker in Quentin Johnston could give them an exciting young trio of wideouts in 2023.
After a quiet start to his junior season, Johnston had his breakout game against Kansas, catching 14 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown. Given his size at 6’4” and 210 pounds, it’s almost a guarantee that he’s already on the radar for Matt LaFleur.
Johnston has good explosiveness and foot quickness off of his release and in and out of his breaks. He’s already an impressive player in contested-catch situations, doing a good job of tracking the ball and high-pointing it, along with the physical toughness to box out defensive backs.
Packers fans will love to hear that Johnston is also a fearsome blocker for his teammates, showing excellent willingness and effort to use his size to his advantage. If that doesn’t scream future Packers receiver, I’m not sure what does.
Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
#4 Clemson vs Florida State, 7:30 PM ET on ABC
The Packers still do not have an every-down partner for Kenny Clark on the defensive line. Jarran Reed is a veteran stop-gap who has had little impact, and first-round pick Devonte Wyatt hasn’t seen a significant workload through the first five games of his NFL career, even missing Week 5 against the Giants.
Bryan Bresee would be the perfect piece to mix and match with Clark. Formerly the top high school recruit in the country, Bresee shined as a freshman before suffering a season-ending injury as a sophomore in 2021. He’s only played in three games this season, but is expected to play this week against Florida State.
When it comes to defensive line prospects, few over the years have been able to shoot their hands out of their stance. He will force the issue on offensive linemen, then work his hands to disengage and fill gaps to meet ball carriers in the backfield.
At 6’5” and 300 pounds, Bresee has both the strength and athleticism to play all over the defensive line. He has surprisingly impressive bend when rushing the passer, and excellent motor and effort to take on double teams against the run.
Bresee has a real chance at being a top-10 pick, but if he’s not, the Packers would be an ideal landing spot for the Clemson star.
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Stanford vs Notre Dame, 7:30 PM ET on NBC
Even with the addition of Sammy Watkins, Marcedes Lewis is the only first-round pick to ever catch a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. If the future Hall of Fame quarterback comes back in 2023, it would be fitting if the Packers spent a first-round pick to give him another tight end instead of a wide receiver.
If there’s any tight end in this draft class worthy of being a first-round pick, it’s Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer. Halfway through his junior season, Mayer already has 146 receptions for 1,641 yards and 14 touchdowns. Despite the long history of Irish tight ends, Mayer is already the program’s record holder for career receptions at the position.
At 6’4” and 249 pounds, Mayer is an absolute mismatch in the passing game. He has rare movement skills off of his release, routinely forcing defenders to whiff in coverage to help him get wide open. Just look at this clip of his route-running ability.
Michael Mayer moves like a big WR!— Full-Time Dame (@DP_NFL) September 25, 2021
Great motor release! Hard stab outside the framework to win leverage. Snaps outside at the top of his stem. pic.twitter.com/2CzZCNdgD4
After the catch, Mayer is difficult to bring down with good contact balance and play strength. He also shows good effort as a blocker when working as an in-line tight end, making him an all-around prospect.
There are other, bigger needs for the Packers, but if they want a true impact player at a position, Mayer has the potential to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL.