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The Green Bay Packers’ 2021 draft class is precisely whelming

Despite all the fireworks surrounding Aaron Rodgers, this draft weekend was incredibly boring, but not in a bad way.

NFL: NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The well-documented Aaron Rodgers drama dominated draft weekend, not only in the Green Bay Packers’ universe but across the NFL. While the outcome of that is significantly more important than anything Green Bay did on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday (quarterbacks are important), the Packers did acquire players with their draft picks.

When doing mock draft simulators in preparation for the draft, one typically gets excited for the scenario in which a top prospect happens to fall into your favorite team’s lap, or at least in a range in which a trade-up to get them is possible. The mocks that have boring and unspectacular selections aren’t fun, but that turned out to be reality this past weekend.

Do not interpret this as bashing this draft class either, but the entire thing was pretty chalk and left this writer feeling “meh” about each individual pick while largely liking the class as a whole.

Day One

1. (29) CB Eric Stokes - Georgia

Packers fans had bigger dreams with Greg Newsome (who went #26 to the Browns) being the primary target, but Stokes looks like an adequate selection. From a value perspective, at least with the public boards, this looks like a bit of a reach, so perhaps Green Bay could have extracted some value from trading back. One issue is that most of the top corners that meet Green Bay’s thresholds were gone by this point, so trading back may have left Green Bay with a pretty empty board at a position of dire need. It’s important to note that it also takes two to tango and you can’t just trade back in real life like you can in a mock simulator. Still, Green Bay checked off its #1 need at boundary corner, and did so with a high-end athlete.

Day Two

2. (62) C Jason Myers - Ohio State

Interior offensive lineman are not the most exciting selections, but Myers does check off a need and looks like a schematic fit for the outside zone-dominant run game that Green Bay utilizes. I was personally hoping for wide receiver Dyami Brown at this spot, but Green Bay decided they wanted to shore up the center position long-term here. Myers didn’t do any testing due to turf toe this spring, but his film shows a player who is comfortable with the lateral movement required for Green Bay’s system.

3. (85) WR Amari Rodgers - Clemson

The Packers traded up to this spot using the 92nd and 135th picks to do so. Using the Rich Hill trade value chart, this was a pretty hefty overpay by day two standards, as Tennessee got the equivalent of an extra fifth round pick of value out of this trade.

While Rodgers does not meet the traditional thresholds of a Packers wide receiver, he certainly looks a lot like a certain slot receiver that Ted Thompson once took about a round later than was expected: Randall Cobb. Rodgers is actually a bit better athlete than Cobb by workout numbers, but their usage and role may end up pretty similar. Cobb obviously played in a much more vanilla McCarthy offense, but it is easy to imagine Matt LaFleur using Cobb on jet sweeps, split back formations, etc. to get him either a favorable 1v1 matchup or in space to be a YAC threat. If you share the idea that Rodgers was really more a second round prospect, then the trade up is fine. The fit is pretty clear as Green Bay kind of hits multiple birds with one stone here, getting a gadget weapon, a wide receiver for 2022 and beyond, and a talented return man.

Day Three

Green Bay stayed chalk on day three. I’m not going to dive deep into each of the team’s six picks from Saturday, but the Packers seemed to check off needs boxes all down the line. 4th-rounder Royce Newman may very well be a starter this year and profiles as the potentially versatile swing OG/RT type that Green Bay has valued so much over the years.

T.J. Slaton fills the big body void that was left by Snacks Harrison and Anthony Rush. Green Bay has churned through a handful of big run stuffing bodies whose role it is to keep Kenny Clark fresh.

Shemar Jean-Charles looks like a candidate to potentially succeed Chandon Sullivan in the nickel role in 2022. He lacks the athleticism you’d like to see out of boundary corners, but his production breaking up passes is legitimately impressive, even against primarily Group of 5 teams.

Cole Van Lanen looks like a carbon copy of Green Bay’s typical day three offensive line selection: a pretty athletic collegiate left tackle prospect that will probably kick inside to guard at the professional level (think T.J. Lang, JC Tretter, Jon Runyan, etc.). While I didn’t think that highly of CVL’s performances at Wisconsin, that position is not coached by Bob Bostad anymore, so one must grade on a different curve than Wisconsin offensive linemen from prior generations. Now that he is an athletic tackle-to-guard convert for the Green Bay Packers, his ascension to All-Pro status is guaranteed.

Isaiah McDuffie looks to be a depth option at a position that is incredibly thin and Kylin Hill will likely fill the RB3 role now that Dillon has been promoted.

In its entirety, this class makes a lot of sense but is also incredibly boring. Green Bay didn’t get any awesome values, at least compared to public consensus, but they filled the spots that needed to be filled. It’s a draft that would have made a ton of sense last year instead of the one they had. It still makes plenty of sense in 2021 and if, oh the big IF, Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback for this team, this is a draft that fits with the idea of shoring up some depth issues for 2021 and having players grow into larger roles later on. It is not underwhelming, nor overwhelming, just precisely whelming.