If quarantine has provided any positive outcomes in recent weeks, it has been the increased time to scout prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Last week’s first installment of Friday draft thoughts focused on a trio of versatile players, including a suggestion that Jalen Hurts may be the next coming of Taysom Hill. This week’s edition makes another comparison to a former Packer, but at the wide receiver position. With Green Bay on the hunt for additional receiving talent, could the Packers land another gadget receiver from the same school?
I dive into that prospect and a few other Packer draft scenarios in today’s musings.
If Jordan Love is available when the Packers are on the clock, would they take him?
There may not be a player who has been mocked at more varying spots than Love, with some analysts believing he’s a top-10 player, some predicting him to fall to the mid-20s, and a few putting him in the second round. The Utah State product had a much more impressive sophomore season in 2018 than his 2019 junior campaign, but lost a lot of offensive talent around him between the two years. The Packers, who do their due diligence on all top prospects, met with Love recently. With Aaron Rodgers entering his 16th year at age 36, could the team make an investment in the future?
Athletically, Love has the traits to be an NFL starter with great arm strength, size, and mobility. Love’s qualities remind me of another Mountain West quarterback picked in the first two days of the draft: Colin Kaepernick. Each had the confidence to take chances and throw balls into tight spots for better or worse, and each had a level of explosion as a runner to go with the arm talent. Like Kaepernick, Love’s reads and progressions are not yet where they need to be as a professional and he has inconsistent accuracy. But he shares another characteristic with Kaepernick in his open-field vision and ability to create when the play breaks down.
With time for grooming in Green Bay, Love’s abilities could shine in due time. However, with other holes on the roster, Love’s (hopefully) inability to make an immediate impact may not be as attractive to the Packers or their fans. His availability late in the first round could be interesting.
Green Bay could ultimately replace Randall Cobb with another versatile Kentucky star
While General Manager Brian Gutekunst has clearly preferred wide receivers with substantial size and athleticism, the Packers’ offense really struggled without a viable slot receiver in year one without Cobb. While Green Bay’s reported interest in Denzel Mims does nothing to suggest the Packers are targeting a slot receiver early in this year’s draft, there could be a Cobb-like receiver from the very same school available.
Lynn Bowden was a true jack-of-all-trades for the Wildcats, acting as a rusher, receiver, return man, and quarterback (starter for the last eight games as senior) over his career. This versatility is comparable to Cobb’s days at Kentucky, but there are even more similarities. From a size perspective, one inch of height separates the two and their arm lengths are different by one inch as well. Neither impressed on the bench at the Combine (Cobb’s 16 reps to Bowden’s 13) and their hand sizes were also quite similar (Cobb’s 9 3/8” to Bowden’s 9 3/4”). Both were praised for their toughness coming out of college and neither had top-end speed despite being multifaceted players.
Bowden is a prospect in the second- or third-round territory at this point in the draft process, but could be an interesting piece for an offense looking for more creativity. I truly believe Green Bay would benefit from straying from the norm and adding a more elusive, shiftier player - Bowden or someone else - early in the draft.
The best selection at 30th overall may be no selection at all
The more I’ve analyzed this year’s prospects and run through mock drafts, the more I’m favoring the Packers trading out of round one and picking up an extra top-75 selection. If Green Bay is unable to land a top-of-the-second-tiered wide receiver or offensive tackle, the team could trade down and get a similar valued player at either position while gaining the flexibility of an added third-round pick. A team like Cleveland, potentially looking to make a statement with a new general manager at the helm, could be one option at picks 41 and 74.
The top 75 picks promise to be filled with versatile cover men, offensive tackles, wide recievers, and interior defensive linemen. Green Bay could capitalize on all four positions by the end of round three by trading down strategically.