The Green Bay Packers elected not to make a move on Thursday night, standing pat with the 22nd and 28th picks of the 2022 NFL Draft and selecting a pair of defensive players from Georgia. Any possibility of a strong move up for one of the top wide receivers in this year’s draft class ended early, when a run on wideouts took the top four options off the board between picks 8 and 12.
Now the Packers head into day two of the draft with three picks in rounds two and three, sitting at 53, 59, and 92. However, general manager Brian Gutekunst has been a prolific trader of picks in his tenure, moving up at least once in every draft he has led. Day two would seem to be an ideal time to do so this year, with some quality prospects remaining available coming out of the first round at some of the team’s most critical positions of need.
Given where the Packers sit, they could manage to climb to a pretty high position on the board early Friday evening, but they also have the ammunition to make some interesting moves later on in rounds two or three. Let’s examine some of the prospects who might tempt Gutekunst and what it could take to get into those players’ projected ranges.
The Early Round 2 Target
Despite an early run on pass-rushers in the top five of round one and a few more going off the board late on Thursday night, there are still quality players available heading into day two of the draft. A few names stand out above the rest as potential Packers targets, however: Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie, USC’s Drake Jackson, and Kentucky’s Josh Paschal.
Ebiketie is almost certainly the best all-around EDGE remaining as of Friday afternoon. Using the consensus rankings board compiled by Arif Hasan of The Athletic (and referenced earlier today by our Justis Mosqueda in his day two preview), Ebiketie is the 34th-ranked player overall and the second-highest EDGE remaining, behind Michigan’s David Ojabo. (Ojabo suffered a torn Achilles tendon this spring, however, so a trade up for him seems unlikely).
Given his massive production, Ebiketie is likely to hear his name called quickly on Friday night. If the Packers feel the need to move up into the first few picks of round two for him, however, they will almost certainly need to part with their third-round pick at 92nd overall. The New York Giants at 36 could be a potential trade partner; the Rich Hill trade chart makes 53 and 92 for 36 and 182 (an early 6th-round pick) a pretty even swap. The other option to get into that range could be for the Packers to send 53 and both fourth-round picks at 132 and 140.
The other two targets, Jackson and Paschal, could feasibly be available to the Packers in the 50s, however. Jackson makes sense as the Packers brought him in for a formal pre-draft visit, while Paschal seems like a viable candidate to slide into the inside-outside pass-rush role that Za’Darius Smith occupied in past years. But Jackson’s consensus rank is 59 — spot-on where the Packers’ second pick in round two sits, while Paschal ranks outside the top 60 entirely.
Middle of Round 2
Getting up into the mid-30s requires a lot of compensation to give up in the middle rounds, however. Perhaps a more plausible trade would be to move into the mid-40s for a player at a different position in the hopes that Jackson falls to 59. In that case, that might be where a wide receiver like George Pickens (46th on the consensus board) or Christian Watson (49th) make sense. Another player in that range who could interest the Packers is defensive lineman Logan Hall (48th), though
Based on the trade chart, picks 43 or 44 are in the sweet spot as the ideal balance point for the Packers to reach by sending picks 53 and 132. Conveniently, those picks are held by the Atlanta Falcons, who have holes all over their roster, and the Cleveland Browns, who had no first-rounders on Thursday after trading for Deshaun Watson. Either of these teams could benefit from adding another pick in round four, and the value is almost perfectly balanced on the Rich Hill chart — within a point for either team at either pick. This makes this the Packers’ most logical range to target in the middle of round two.
Early Round 3 Possibilities
A trade up into the middle of the second does not preclude the Packers from making a move up from 92 in the third round, and the rumblings are continuing about Green Bay wanting to take a tight end on Friday. If a run at the position kicks off in round two, Brian Gutekunst may need to move up into a higher slot to get his ideal player, whether that is Jelani Woods, Jeremy Ruckert, or Cade Otton.
There are a couple of scenarios that could make sense for Green Bay. Packaging pick 92 and one of the fourth-rounders should allow the Packers to get into the mid-70s. Once again, Atlanta looms as a nice spot with pick number 74, which balances beautifully with picks 92 and 132 or with a package of 92+140+228.
Climbing Back Into Round 3
A final possibility is if the Packers make an aggressive move into the 30s and send away the 92nd selection. They could feasibly climb back into the third round to get one of the tight ends with the right package, one that would consist of both of the team’s fourth-rounders at 132 and 140, with potentially another selection as well.
132 and 140 would barely sneak Green Bay into round three, being equivalent to pick 105 (the last pick on day two, currently held by the San Francisco 49ers). Sending their fifth-rounder as well, pick 171, would get Green Bay into the mid-90s, coming out nicely at 96 where the Denver Broncos currently sit.
All told, the Packers have plenty of options to move around the draft board on Friday night, thanks in large part to having an additional second-round pick from the Davante Adams trade and an extra 4th as a compensatory selection. If they indeed have fallen in love with a prospect, be that a wide receiver, an edge rusher, or a tight end, they can make the numbers work to get him, provided that they can find another team willing to move back.
Remember that Brian Gutekunst has traded up at least once in each of his four drafts as the Packers’ general manager. I would expect that with nine picks still left to be made this weekend, he makes it five for five at some point tonight.