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Packers 2023 NFL Mock Draft: Bye week edition

The bye week is a perfect time to dive into the 2023 NFL Draft.

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It’s finally the bye week for the Green Bay Packers, and with the college football regular season wrapped up, it’s the perfect time for a mock draft.

At 5-8, the Packers would hold the 11th overall pick in next year’s draft. Although we’ll stick with that draft order for the sake of this exercise, there’s a chance that this pick could climb into the top ten or slide a bit based on how the rest of the season goes.

Additionally, this mock draft will only go five rounds, simply because we haven’t had enough time to go through and watch many Day 3 prospects. That will change by the time draft weekend rolls around, however.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the first Acme Packing Company mock draft for 2023.

Round 1, Pick 11: Tyree Wilson, EDGE Texas Tech

Kansas v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Rashan Gary is unlikely to be ready for the 2023 season opener, and even if he is, it’s going to take some time before he’s back to playing at a Pro Bowl level. Even with Gary back, the Packers will need more EDGE help alongside an aging Preston Smith and a developing JJ Enagbare.

There might not be an EDGE prospect more impressive physically than Tyree Wilson in this draft class. At a staggering 6’6” and 275 pounds, Wilson has the length and size to play both on the outside or kick inside as a 5 or 4i-technique.

Although he needs to work on his extension and discipline, Wilson has excellent play strength to drive blocks backwards along with good bend and solid get-off to get around the edge. He will be an asset against the run and pass at the next level, and once he’s refined a bit more, he’ll be an absolute game wrecker.

Round 2, Pick 42: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

It’s a great year to need a tight end, with the 2023 class featuring a handful of top-end prospects at the position, including Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer. The Irish playmaker could be a real target for the Packers in the first round, but if they go a different direction, Darnell Washington would be a nice consolation prize in the second.

There might not be another TE prospect more suitable to be a Marcedes Lewis replacement to come out of college over the last year years. At 6’7” and 265 pounds, Washington served as a glorified third tackle at times, paving the way for his teammates, whether it was as an in-line blocker or operating in space on the perimeter.

Athletically, Washington moves better than you’d expect, but he’s still not a burner and won’t be someone you can consistently play in the slot. That being said, he’s still incredibly difficult to bring down after the catch, and his size/strength combination makes him an ideal red zone target.

Round 3, Pick 75: Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh

Rhode Island v Pittsburgh Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Devonte Wyatt is still waiting for his opportunity, but the Packers might need multiple new bodies on the defensive line to help strengthen the defense. Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed will both be free agents in the offseason, leaving the Packers with few options outside of their nose tackles in Kenny Clark and TJ Slaton.

Calijah Kancey is a difficult evaluation for a defensive lineman, mostly because of his smaller stature at 6’0” and 280 pounds. However, Kancey might be one of the most dangerous gap penetrators at the position in the 2023 draft class.

With excellent foot speed and burst off of the snap, Kancey is able to fly into the backfield with consistency, whether it’s against the run or pass. He’s not going to be a gap stuffer and will struggle against double teams with limited lower body strength, but his ability to create chaos in the backfield will make him a fun player to watch at the NFL level.

Round 4, Pick 112: Ji’Ayir Brown, S, Penn State

The safety position might look more different than any unit for the Packers in 2023. Adrian Amos will be a free agent, Darnell Savage will likely be playing his final year in Green Bay, and it’s unclear if the team will be able to bring Rudy Ford back after a strong second half of the season.

If the Packers are able to bring back ford, Ji’Ayir Brown could be an intriguing partner in the defensive backfield. The senior for the Nittany Lions is considered by coaches to be the leader of the defense and the entire team, and his tape shows a fearless player with a solid skill set.

Although he’s not the biggest safety prospect at 5’11” and 202 pounds, Brown isn’t afraid of attacking downhill and making contact. His play speed and quick twitch gives him effective click-close ability while also allowing him to make plays as a blitzer, racking up three sacks in 2022.

That same skill set makes Brown a solid player in coverage working as a deep safety. His range and mental processing allows him to cover tons of ground while reading the QB’s eyes to make plays on the ball, tallying nine interceptions over the last two years.

Round 5, Pick 147: Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State

Big 12 Championship - Kansas State v TCU Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

There’s a very real possibility that Aaron Jones is gone after this season, solely because of the team’s salary cap constraints in 2023 and beyond. It’s the harsh nature of the business of the NFL, and it would leave a big hole in Green Bay’s backfield.

A.J. Dillon has the size and strength to serve as the team’s primary back, but they’ll need another player in the backfield that can replicate the explosive plays that Jones is capable of making. Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn fits that mold, even if his frame will turn off some scouts.

Vaughn is one of the smallest backs in this class at 5’6” and 176 pounds, but he is explosive, dynamic, and absolutely fearless. He’s had no problem serving as a workhorse for the Wildcats, racking up over 3,600 total yards and 33 total touchdowns over the last two seasons.

The versatile skill set that Vaughn can bring as a running back and pass-catcher makes him a fascinating evaluation, and someone worth taking in Day 3 of the draft for the Packers if Jones is gone.

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