The Packers traded up to select Jordan Love 26th overall, apparently to skirt around another team looking to trade up for the Utah State passer, then selected Boston College running back A.J. Dillion with the 62nd pick after a run on wide receiver.
Based on conversations with Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, NBC’s Peter King says there’s some fire to that smoke: the Packers were indeed concerned that another team would try to trade up for Love, and they were actively seeking to trade up in the middle of the second round to grab a wide receiver.
In his post-draft column, King says the Packers had Love ranked highly on their board and started to pick up interest as he fell through the teens into the early 20s.
“With significant intel that a team drafting high in the second round—perhaps Indianapolis, at 34—was trying to trade up for Love, Gutekunst felt he had to trade up to have a chance at Love,” King wrote. Gutekunst ultimately ended up moving up four spots, from 30 to 26, via a trade with the Miami Dolphins.
Depending on which sources you believe, you can read that situation as Gutekunst misreading the room or stopping the slide of a player who was never going to get to the Packers at a later point. Though Ian Rapoport initially hinted that the Colts were interested in moving up for Love, he later walked that intel back a bit, and The Athletic’s Stephen Holder says it was never in the cards for Indianapolis, though they may have taken him at 34.
In the second round, King says there were two wide receivers in which the Packers were interested, to the point that they tried to trade up. “Gutekunst said the Packers had two receivers they were targeting in early and middle part of the second round. They tried to move up with several teams, he said, until the second receiver they preferred got picked, and then they stopped,” King wrote.
With a major run on receivers in the second round, it’s hard to identify exactly which players Gutekunst may have been targeting. Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr. came off the board with the first two picks of the second round, Laviska Shenault and K.J. Hamler went 42nd and 46th, respectively, before Chase Claypool, Van Jefferson, and Denzel Mims were taken at 49, 57, and 59. Gutekunst’s revealed preference for big-bodied receivers doesn’t narrow the list much, but Higgins, Pittman, Shenault, Claypool, and Mims all seem like they could have been on his mind.
It’s probably not much consolation for Packers fans, but Gutekunst and company at least seemed committed to value on their wide receiver board, trying to move up for someone they liked. Unable to do so, they stuck with their board, landing Dillion at 62, leaving us to wonder what might have been had the draft broken slightly differently.