On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets had come to terms on a deal that would send quarterback Aaron Rodgers to New York. With a press conference scheduled for Wednesday at the Jets’ facility, this move is expected to become official today.
One of the terms of the trade, which netted Green Bay an extra 2023 second-round pick and likely a 2024 first-round pick, is that the Jets and Packers swapped the 13th and 15th overall selections. General manager Brian Gutekunst and his team will now be on the clock at the 13th overall slot in Thursday's draft, which brought in a new wave of speculation.
Why did the Packers need to jump the Jets and New England Patriots? That’s the question that’s been looming. If they’re going to stick with the selection, rather than trade up or trade back, the only reason that moving up to 13 makes sense to me is to ensure that the team can grab a tackle, as the position is expected to have a run around that range.
For whatever reason, though, the post-Rodgers trade mock drafts simply do not agree.
In an effort to understand the new landscape of the 13th overall pick, I combed through 16 recent mock drafts and noted which players were mocked to the Packers and which players were mocked before the Packers had an opportunity to hypothetically select them in these football horoscopes. Here were the results, which may surprise you.
Won’t be there at 13
- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
- C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
- Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
- Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
All five of the players listed above were selected before the 13th pick in every single one of the 16 observed mock drafts. This should be less than shocking, as three are quarterbacks and two are blue-chip defenders.
Unlikely to be there at 13
- Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (taken before #13 in 15 of 16 mocks)
- Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech (15)
- Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State (13)
- Will Levis, QB, Kentucky (13)
- Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (12)
- Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern (11)
The six players listed above were drafted ahead of the 13th pick in the majority of the mock drafts observed. Interestingly enough, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio had Texas Tech pass-rusher Tyree Wilson — who is rumored to be in contention to be selected second overall — dropping all the way down to the 15th slot. Outside of Peter Skoronski, whose grandfather Bob Skoronski was a tackle for the Vince Lombardi Packers, I fully expect all of these players to be gone by the time the 13th pick rolls around.
Likely to be there at 13
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (7)
- Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (7)
- Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia (7)
- Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa (7)
- Broderick Jones, OL, Georgia (2)
- Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (2)
- Calijah Kancey, DL, Pittsburgh (1)
- Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee (1)
Here is where things get interesting. This is the group of players who may or may not be on the board at 13, which means they’re much more likely to be the “best player available” for the Packers and a reason why Gutekunst accepted a trade swap rather than an extra mid-round selection. On Monday, Gutekunst stated that if he were to trade up to the 13th pick (speaking in tongue-in-cheek hypotheticals because the Rodgers deal wasn’t yet official), that he’d “be doing it because I thought it was important.”
So are the Packers taking a player on the “likely to be there at 13” list? That’s where the mock drafts start to split from the narrative that Green Bay’s actions are displaying. Below are the 16 selections made by the Packers in the 13th slot in these mocks.
Players mocked to the Packers
- 3 times: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (taken before 13 in 7 of 16 mocks)
- 2: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa (6)
- 2: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (0)
- 2: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame (0)
- 2: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College (0)
- 1: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (12)
- 1: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern (11)
- 1: Jordan Addison, WR, USC (0)
- 1: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU (0)
For the most part, nothing has changed from a mock draft perspective. At best, you can say that maybe Green Bay has put themselves in the race for Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but he was drafted before the 13th pick in nearly half of the mock drafts. With how desperate teams are at the receiver position, I would venture to guess that he wouldn’t be available for the team on Thursday.
Still, 11 of the 16 selections made for the Packers went to pass-catchers. Smith-Njigba was the only player who was ever selected in the first 12 picks in any of the mock drafts. In theory, it makes no sense why Green Bay would have needed to move up for a player like Dalton Kincaid, Michael Mayer, Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison or Quentin Johnston, as there is a very good chance that they would have been available with the 15th overall pick.
If you’re looking into mock drafts right now, it seems pointless. Writers seem perfectly content with plugging in pass-catchers at the pick instead of looking at the motivation for the move-up. Outside of Smith-Njigba, no receiver or tight end has really separated himself from the pack as a potential Green Bay target, either.
Hey, at least we only have to wait for one more day to see what the team is going to do in the first round. Until then, eat your helping of receivers and tight ends being mocked at 13. There’s plenty to go around.