Unfortunately for Green Bay Packers fans, it’s officially draft season for the team. With that in mind, Acme Packing Company took a look around the web to compile who draft analysts are giving the Packers with the 15th overall pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. 17 notable mock drafts have been released over the last week or so. Let’ break down the three players who were taken by Green Bay multiple times by the prognosticators.
Seven selections: Michael Mayer, tight end, Notre Dame
Terrific route by Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer! pic.twitter.com/1IPLs9kjnH— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) September 17, 2022
- Eddie Brown, San Diego Union-Tribune
- Glynn Morgan, NBC Sports
- Kyle Stackpole, CBS Sports
- Luke Easterling, Draft Wire
- Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports
- The 33rd Team
- Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News
In early December, when the Packers were rising up the draft after a string of losses, we mentioned Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer as a potential dark horse selection by the team in the first round. The dark horse has officially become the favorite.
According to our fan poll, most Green Bay fans view the tight end position as the second-biggest need for the team in the 2023 offseason, only behind safety. The only tight end with any playing experience with the Packers under contract for next season is Josiah Deguara, who often plays fullback, Y-off or wing roles in Green Bay rather than being a hand-in-the-dirt tight end.
Mayer is currently ranked 18th on the census draft board and was named a consensus All-American after recording 67 receptions for 809 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior for the Fighting Irish last season. Over the course of his college career, he’s registered 180 receptions for 2,099 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Michael Mayer tossing a safety around. pic.twitter.com/Kt2rydHtxB— Greg Brandt (@devywarehouse) November 28, 2021
Known as both a pass-catcher and a run blocker, the 6’4”, 249-pound dual-threat could make sense for Green Bay’s play-action heavy offensive system. We know the Packers have repeatedly attempted to trade for the Las Vegas Raiders’ Darren Waller, so it’s not like the team isn’t willing to spend there. The only question left is if Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan, Green Bay’s recently role-playing tight ends who are set to be 2023 free agents, will return to the team next season.
Three selections: Brian Branch, safety, Alabama
Alabama safety Brian Branch is impressive. Primarily playing nickel, he’s a great fit in today’s NFL. Savvy in zone, reliable in man, and physical as a tackler/blitzer/run defender. pic.twitter.com/EqIoqOGqgs— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) December 27, 2022
As we’ve already mentioned, fans think that safety is the biggest need for the Packers, and it’s hard to argue with them. Adrian Amos, who has started every game in Green Bay for the last four seasons, is expected to walk in free agency in 2023. The starting safety opposite of Amos in 2022 was a mix of Rudy Ford and Darnell Savage.
Ford is also set to be a free agent this offseason while Savage was moved to the slot role in sub-packages at the end of the season. If Savage, who is under contract for next year, remains in that role, the team will still need to field two new safeties for the majority of their defensive snaps.
Enter Alabama’s Brian Branch, the highest-rated safety in the draft class on the consensus draft board. Branch is ranked 19th overall there, joining Texas A&M’s Antonio Johnson (27th) as the only safeties projected to go in the top 50 selections.
Here’s what Draft Wire’s Luke Easterling had to say about Branch:
With Mayer off the board, the Packers turn their attention to the defense, where they could use a versatile playmaker in the secondary. Branch has lined up all over the field in Nick Saban’s defense, and can make plays at safety, in the slot, or on the blitz.
Two selections: Anton Harrison, tackle, Oklahoma
I have some concerns about the game of Anton Harrison, but his movement skills, spacing, and eyes are not any of them. pic.twitter.com/IHhMPhjnAy— Cory (@realcorykinnan) December 2, 2022
The final player who was selected multiple times in mock drafts by the Packers was Oklahoma tackle Anton Harrison. Here’s what Cummings and Hodgkinson, both of Pro Football Network, had to say about their selections:
As long as the Packers have uncertainty at QB, and as long as David Bakhtiari is a potential cap casualty, offensive tackle will be near the top of their needs list at 15th overall. Anton Harrison could be a terrific add at this point. Of the tackles in the 2023 NFL Draft, he offers one of the better mixes of raw talent and relative refinement at 6’5″, 315 pounds.
After missing out on the NFL Playoffs, the Green Bay Packers face a turbulent offseason of uncertainty. Will Aaron Rodgers continue to be the leader in Lambeau Field, or will Jordan Love be the one to bring a title back to “Title Town?”
Whatever the answer to those questions, offensive tackle is a genuine need that they fill in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft with Anton Harrison. With his exquisite physical tools and a high football IQ, the Oklahoma offensive tackle is an ascending prospect.
Personally, I’m not so certain that left tackle David Bakhtiari is a legitimate cap casualty candidate. Both general manager Brian Gutekunst and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have publicly discussed Bakhtiari returning to the team in 2023 since the season has ended. Beyond just the Bakhtiari factor, the Packers are expected to have 12 offensive linemen under contract going into 2023 with the presumption that tackle Yosh Nijman will be given a second-round tender as a restricted free agent.
Based on the fan polling, the offensive line is not a top-five need of the team this season. For what it’s worth, Harrison is the 30th overall prospect on the consensus draft board.
One selection each
- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida (Charles McDonald, Yahoo Sports)
- B.J. Ojulari, OLB, LSU (James Fragoza, Pro Football Network)
- Broderick Jones, T, Georgia (Bryan Fischer, Athlon Sports)
- Derrick Hall, OLB, Auburn (Jaime Eisner, The Draft Network)
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (Keith Sanchez, The Draft Network)
- Jordan Addison, WR, USC (Josh Edwards, CBS Sports)
- Lukas Van Ness, OLB, Iowa (Dane Brugler, The Athletic)
- Peter Skoronski, T, Northwestern (Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire)
USC’s Jordan Addison is going to be a name who will be mocked to the Packers all offseason, but those who understand the front office’s trends will be quick to rule him out as a potential choice for Green Bay. As we’ve written before at Acme Packing Company, Addison is about 30 pounds shy of what the Matt LaFleur-era Packers have looked for out of receivers.
- Seven selections: Tight end
- Four selections: Tackle
- Three selections: Safety and outside linebacker
- Two selections: Receiver
- One selection: Quarterback
Tackle, as we noted with Harrison, seems to be a much bigger concern by those in the national media when compared to what the fans think. Surprisingly, no interior defensive linemen were mocked to the Packers in any of the 17 mocks, despite the position being viewed as one of the team’s three or four biggest needs. Only three linemen are set to return to Green Bay in 2023 with any sort of regular-season playing experience for the team. The Packers could very well draft another 3-4 defensive end in the first round this season, giving them a starter to play next to Kenny Clark and 2022 first-rounder Devonte Wyatt.
If you would have told me a few months ago that only 2 of 17 mock drafts had Green Bay going with a receiver in the first round, I wouldn’t have believed you. Some of that comes down to a weak receiver class at the top of the draft, but the breakout of Christian Watson has really gone a long way in pushing down the position in terms of priority.