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How does the Packers’ wish list line up with how the 2020 NFL Draft is likely to play out?

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With the Packers picking at the end of the first round, it’s important to build a picture of who is likely to be off the board ahead of them at 30 in order to identify likely targets.

NFL Combine - Day 3
Denzel Mims went from Day 2 pick to possible target for the Packers at 30 thanks to an outstanding combine.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It only takes one. That’s the adage in the draft for any sport, and significantly worse than the full, “It only takes one asshole.” Typically, that’s how we get Christian Ponder, Mitch Trubisky, and Matt Jones: one team falls in love and takes someone who has no business being picked so high. Teams attempt to build pictures of what’s going on above them to target players more likely available when they pick.

But it only takes one asshole to blow up that picture.

In order to fill out that picture, understand the requisite caveats, I attempted to do more than build consensus, but seek unanimity. How many players does everyone thinks belong in the first round? To do that, I compared big boards from eight of the most trusted sources on the internet including Daniel Jeremiah, Lance Zierlein, Scouts Inc., and others. This gives us a picture how how likely a player is to be taken, with the understand a player who more people thinks is good tends to be a coveted player and is therefore more likely to be picked.

Then, I cross-referenced players the Green Bay Packers met with at the 2020 NFL Combine, according to widely reported information, in an attempt to paint a picture of which players and what spots in the draft the Packers could be targetting.

Note: If you don’t want to read the analysis, just look for the * next to a player’s name to find those who reportedly met with the Packers.

Unanimous first-round picks (8/8)

  • Chase Young DE Ohio State
  • Joe Burrow QB LSU
  • Tua Tagovailoa QB Alabama
  • Jeffrey Okudah CB Ohio State
  • Derrick Brown DL Auburn
  • Isaiah Simmons LB/S Clemson
  • Jerry Jeudy WR Alabama
  • Jedrick Wills Jr. OT Alabama
  • CeeDee Lamb WR Oklahoma
  • Javon Kinlaw DT South Carolina
  • Tristian Wirfs OT Iowa
  • Andrew Thomas OT Geeorgia
  • Henry Ruggs III WR Alabama
  • Justin Herbert QB Oregon
  • A.J. Epenesa DE Iowa
  • Xavier McKinney S/LB Alabama
  • C.J. Henderson CB Florida

The Packers might not feel the same way about all these players, but it gives us a good sense of who can likely be scratched off the board by pick No. 30. Players fall every year, and draft plans can change based on hiccups that come through. It makes sense, then, not to see any reported meetings with players in this tier.

Post-combine, this list could change, though the offensive linemen on this list demonstrated absurd athleticism. If anything, we’ll have to add a player like Louisville’s Mekhi Bechton after his outing in Indianapolis. This group is as close to “He’s not falling to the Packers” as it gets. On the other hand, if one does, he could turn the Packers’ draft on its ear as Brian Gutekunst’s track record shows a willingness to grab value when its presented.

At 17 players, this fits with how teams tend to view first-round grades. Although 32 players have to go, a franchise usually has somewhere in that 15-25 range of first-round grades, and it will vary by front office.

Surefire firsts (7/8)

  • K’Lavon Chaisson EDGE LSU
  • Mekhi Becton OT Louisville
  • D’Andre Swift RB Georgia
  • Tee Higgins WR Clemson

This is the range where potential Packers targets start to crop up. Higgins didn’t compete in Indy, and concerns about his speed will haunt him until his Clemson pro day. He’s a big, physical receiver who wins at the catch point and would give the Packers a basketball team on offense, even earning some comparisons to A.J. Green.

But based on this, he’s unlikely to fall assuming the combine doesn’t hurt him too much. Either way, no reported Packers meetings in this group.

Consensus firsts (6/8)

  • Laviska Shenault WR Colorado*
  • Patrick Queen LB LSU*
  • Kenneth Murray LB Oklahoma*
  • Grant Delpit S LSU

Hello possible Packers targets. Green Bay met with the top three players on this list for sure, and Delpit would offer flexibility and versatility to Mike Pettine’s defense. Shenault’s 4.58 40 does little to dispel questions about his speed, and pulling out of the combine in need of core muscle surgery only deepens concerns about his durability.

As a fit in the Packers offense, taking jet sweeps, working underneath and running after the catch, Shenault is a no-brainer, even able to take some snaps in the backfield. Coming out of Indy, however, he looks like the least likely to stay in this group.

Murray and Queen on the other hand, each ran low 4.5’s before tweaking hamstrings. That was enough. Outside of Isaiah Simmons (who some believe is a safety) these are the likely linebacker targets for Gutekunst and Co. The problem for them is we’re only at the 22-25 portion of the list.

If any of the three players from this group Green Bay talked to at the combine are available at 30, they’d make sense as fits for the Packers.

Likely firsts (5/8)

  • Yetur Gross-Matos EDGE Penn State
  • Josh Jones OT Houston*

This is a small tier, but one featuring a possible Packers target. Jones met with Green Bay at the combine and offers ideal traits to be a zone blocking offensive tackle. Even if Bryan Bulaga returns, he’ll be 31 this month. Jones may not be quite ready for prime time this season, which would make a year to sit and watch, ideal. Plus, given Bulaga’s injury history, Jones would have a good chance to get at least some reps.

One thing to watch here: we got very little information in interviews from the offensive line groups of team interest, but based on the widely reported team contact, the Packers weren’t spending much time with this group.

Borderline firsts (4/8)

  • Ross Blacklock iDL TCU*
  • Jalen Reagor WR TCU*
  • Jaylon Johnson CB Utah
  • Brandon Aiyuk WR Arizona State
  • Trevon Diggs CB Alabama

Assuming the draft plays out according to this form — and it won’t — the first players actually available at 30 come from this tier of guys. Blacklock stood out as the highest regarded interior defender the Packers met with, though they met with a slew of them in Indy, mostly Day 2 type players. The TCU standout offers some of the best first-step quickness in the draft among defensive linemen and could help provide pass rush next to Kenny Clark.

Jalen Reagor crushed the jumps, but came up well short of the reported 4.3’s number with a 4.47. He also tested poorly in the agility drills, a crucial metric for the Packers. His release package and return ability though, suggest a player with more than enough wiggle.

Last year, Gutekunst interviewed a host of players projected to go near when the Packers picked, all playing a position that Packers pick also played. The catch was, they didn’t interview the player they picked. If I’m a betting man, that guy this year is Aiyuk, the late-rising senior from Arizona State with dynamic ability and athleticism.

Potential firsts (3/8)

  • Kristian Fulton CB LSU
  • Jordan Love QB Utah State
  • Justin Jefferson WR LSU*
  • Nevile Gallimore iDL Oklahoma
  • Jonathan Taylor RB Wisconsin
  • JK Dobbins RB Ohio State*

This tier is why “That guy will never fall to the Packers” will get you muted on Twitter. Yes, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah loves Jefferson. So do I, and he’s a perfect fit for the Packers. But he wasn’t even close to a consensus first-round player pre-combine and even coming out of workouts, the buzz was “He could have worked himself into the first.”

Jordan Love could go in the top-15 after impressing at the combine, but there’s hardly consensus he’s worth that kind of investment, which is why we’ve seen him at 30 in some mock drafts.

Dobbins, who met with the Packers, also falls in this range along with his Big 10 running mate Jonathan Taylor. Green Bay did plenty of work on backs in this draft at the combine, though mostly on Day 3 types. Let’s say they sign Austin Hooper and Corey Littleton and the top receivers are off the board. Could the Packers trade down and find their Aaron Jones replacement?

Wild card firsts (2/8)

  • Zack Baun LB Wisconsin*
  • Jeff Gladney CB TCU
  • Marlon Davidson DL Auburn
  • KJ Hamler WR Penn State

Some people love them, so they have to be mentioned. That’s this tier of players. Baun offers an intriguing skillset to Packers DC Mike Pettine as a former edge rusher likely converting off the ball in the NFL. He ran 4.65 and demonstrated good agility in drills, but his added value comes as a rusher, where he was a monster off the edge for Wisconsin. This isn’t just a UW connection; the Packers met with Baun and his fit with Pettine’s desire for versatility could make him a Desmond Bishop-type inside ‘backer.

Though Hamler’s speed and juice from the slot offer a different kind of skillset for the Packers, he came up downright Lilliputian at 5-foot-9, 178 pounds at a position where Green Bay traditionally shies away from small guys.

Long shot firsts (1/8)

  • Jordan Elliott DL Missouri*
  • Curtis Weaver EDGE Boise State*
  • Julian Okawara EDGE Notre Dame
  • Cameron Dantzler CB Mississippi State
  • Austin Jackson OT USC
  • Zack Moss RB Utah
  • Raekwon Davis iDL Alabama*
  • Harrison Bryant TE FIU
  • AJ Terrell CB Clemson*
  • Bryce Hall CB Virginia
  • Denzel Mims WR Baylor
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB LSU

Someone, emphasis on the singular “one,” thinks these guys are first-round quality players, but most disagree. This group offers some potential trade-down targets if someone comes up for a quarterback, or Green Bay dislikes its options at 30 given the way the board breaks.

The defensive linemen here, two of whom met with the Packers at the combine, look far more like Day 2 players and Green Bay spent significant time looking at Day 2 defensive linemen at the combine. More likely, they’ll be looking at a defensive line boost in the second or third round.

Baylor’s Mims blew up the combine and all of a sudden looks like a possibility at 30 for the Packers, but be cautious there. The combine can bolster a player’s stock, but Mims looked like a Day 2 guy on tape before the Senior Bowl. How far will a good week of Mobile and athletic testing push him? At best, 30 feels like Mims’ ceiling.

*Reported Packers meeting at combine