There’s no doubt that the Green Bay Packers offense, introduced last season by new head coach Matt LaFleur, could use an infusion of talent as far as weapons go.
That’s where the initial mock drafts to start the 2020 draft season started. Nearly all of them had the Packers taking a wide receiver with the 30th overall pick in the draft. Surely, Packers faithful would love to have a splashy pick that contributes in an easily recognizable way (i.e. gaining yards and catching TDs).
Wide receiver isn’t the only hole in the offense that could use some patching, though. Mock drafts have started to reflect this thinking and more emphasis has been placed on them possibly waiting on a WR and drafting a linebacker or offensive tackle in the first round instead. After all, Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Greg Jennings were all second-round picks.
So with a little more variety, let’s look at some of the players the mocks are giving the Packers at the 30th pick, before the Underwear Olympics start.
SB Nation: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Jefferson makes another appearance on the mock draft roundup as a potential target and in Dan Kadar’s mock, he’d be the sixth wide out off the board. Jefferson’s ability to line up in the slot would be of great benefit to the Packers especially if they like what they see from Allen Lazard and want him to continue being on the field in three-receiver sets.
Jefferson put up some fairly hefty numbers despite playing next to a stud in Ja’Marr Chase at LSU. The offense helped him gain a ton of yards, but his receptions (111), yards (1,540), and TDs (18) ranked him second, third, and second in the nation, respectively. Jefferson’s route tree and ability to win one-on-one contests is most impressive. If he turns into an elite route runner, he should be a star in the league.
USA Today: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
Among the long list (and second on this list) of former-LSU prospects expected to go in the first round is Patrick Queen, an ILB with great speed. The lack of speed for the Packers linebacker group has been a growing worry for the past couple seasons. If Blake Martinez’ sole job was to go straight downhill and plug up holes, he’d be great. But in today’s NFL, you need an interior guy who can move in coverage— especially if you want Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith focusing on rushing.
Queen is a more agile linebacker, but not quite the thumper given his size. He has trouble getting off blocks at times when engaged and I worry about that at the next level considering the Packers run game was abysmal last season. Trying to get around blockers instead of through them can put him at a bad angle or in the wrong position quite a few times. But if Kenny Clark was able to keep Martinez’ jersey clean for an abundance of tackles over the last few years, he should be able to absorb a lot of attention to let Queen run free like a maniac.
His east-west ability is truly special. He’s great at getting to the outside with tremendous burst and quickness. I’ve had guys like Roquan Smith and— Queen’s former teammate— Devin White on my wish list the past couple of seasons because of the pass coverage capabilities and next level athleticism. You can find him on LSU tape either hugging the LOS or lining up seven to nine yards off the ball in the deep middle. He has range, explosion, instincts, and will be an immediate starter at the next level.
CBS Sports: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
CBS Sports hasn’t changed its mind about putting Shenault at 30 to the Packers. Shenault has size and athleticism that would be an immediate asset to the Packers offense. His easy comparison is Deebo Samuel and we all saw how well that worked for the Niners last season. Should Shenault drop this far, he’d be an excellent pick up. However, his stock has a lot to gain once the Combine hits. Running good 40 splits could earn him a few more dollars via higher draft selection.
Bleacher Report: Zack Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin
While this feels like the mandatory hometown homer pick, Baun has potential to be a real asset to the Packers. If Rashan Gary takes a step next season, the Packers would have a solid three-man rotation to take into Sunday. Adding a fourth guy to the rotation would give them an embarrassment of riches at the position, and even allow Za’Darius to slide to an inside rush more frequently.
Baun is a mover, though, not just a rusher. He has an ability to drop into coverage and has good hip mobility to change direction. He can also line up on the right or left, which would be a nice little asset to throw out there.
When he is rushing the passer, he has good arm length and a healthy supply of pass rush moves by using his hands well. Baun has good short-area quickness and a relentless motor.
Do I think the Packers have other areas of need? Yes, but you can never have too many pass rushers. He feels more like a Day 2 prospect, but a good combine (he needs to put up bench reps) could put him in Day 1.
Draft Network: Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Another area of need for the Packers is offensive tackle. Yes, they have possibly the best tackle duo in the league with David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga (IOWA), but if Bulaga is allowed to leave in free agency, the right side of the offensive line immediately becomes the biggest concern for the Packers in 2020.
The Packers have always had a pair a good-to-great linemen whether that’s Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, or the aforementioned Bulaga-Bakhtiari combo. With Sitton and Lang both allowed to walk before their third contract, garnering a third contract may be tough for Bulaga with that precedent and because Spotrac estimates his market value at three years, $30 million.
Jackson is a great athlete who’s listed at 6’6” and 310 pounds. I can’t say Jackson will step right in like Elgton Jenkins and look like an absolute draft steal, but he has the raw materials to develop into a solid anchor for the right side. He appears to be a much better blocker in the run game than the pass as he has tremendous drive and can be a bulldozer at the second level. With more consistency in pass blocking, Jackson can be a solid starter, but not sure when that day may be.