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Cheese Curds, 6/30: Who will be the Packers’ best draft steal in 2023?

The Packers don’t have a great track record on day 3 of the NFL Draft in the last few years. Hopefully with 9 picks on Saturday in 2023, they’ll hit on a couple of big-time steals.


During Ted Thompson’s tenure as general manager, the Green Bay Packers had an impressive string of successes on day three of the NFL Draft. The fourth round in particular was a gold mine for Green Bay, as they found numerous starting offensive linemen — including several who made Pro Bowls and earned All-Pro honors.

David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, and JC Tretter were all 4th-rounders. Corey Linsley was drafted in round five. Every one of them became long-term NFL starters, with Bakhtiari becoming arguably the best pass-blocking left tackle of the last decade and Sitton making three All-Pro second teams.

Brian Gutekunst’s track record on day three has been less impressive than his predecessor’s, however, but it’s not for a lack of trying. After all, the Packers have averaged 6.67 picks per year in rounds 4 through 7 since Gutekunst took over in 2018, including a whopping nine selections on day three this year.

However, there haven’t been the astronomical highs of Thompson’s selections. A few players stand out — Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Jon Runyan were solid starters, while a few of last year’s day-three guys like Romeo Doubs and Zach Tom have a chance to develop. But in all, Green Bay needs to find more hits on the back half of the draft than they have in recent years.

Of this year’s nine Saturday picks, who is most likely to be a big hit? Maybe that’s Virginia wideout Dontayvion Wicks, who will look to bounce back from a rough 2022 in his rookie NFL season. Iowa State safety Anthony Johnson should at least have a chance to compete for a key backup role as a rookie, if not a starting job. And there are seven others to choose from. It would be great if one of those players would end up on a list of best draft steals like some of those other past Packers picks.

Ranking the 50 biggest NFL draft steals of the past decade - ESPN+ ($)
Since the cutoff starts with the 2013 NFL Draft, David Bakhtiari makes the cut as one of the very best day three picks in recent memory.

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Naturally, the Packers are well-represented here. Brett Favre, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Jerry Kramer, Willie Davis, Julius Peppers, and Reggie White all earn honors with their respective numbers, with a ton of others popping up in the "honorable mention" lists.

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On the other hand, Owens was not drafted at all. He worked his way up from undrafted free agent to full-time starter across four seasons with the Cardinals and Texans, and this summer he'll be looking to earn a starting job once again in Green Bay.

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