With the Green Bay Packers actively searching every avenue for wide receiver talent, it is unclear to what level the team will be on the hunt for receivers once the upcoming NFL Draft rolls around. Just as uncertain is how many early-round draft picks the Packers will have at their disposal in the event of a trade.
Still, as the draft looms in less than a month, Green Bay owns four picks in the first two rounds. Rarely have the Packers had that kind of opportunity to re-shape their roster with multiple high-end picks. Today’s musings discuss the unique opportunities the Packers have this April, while taking a stab at how Green Bay could best utilize those selections.
Needing a wide receiver, Green Bay’s new 22nd overall pick could offer some luck
The Packers’ reluctance to draft a first-round wide receiver has become a running joke. Still, it seems inevitable that Green Bay will select its first receiver on the draft’s opening day since 2002, and the 22nd overall pick could have its benefits in comparison to where the Packers are accustomed to selecting.
One only needs to look back to the 2020 NFL Draft, another year in which the draft was supposedly loaded with wide receivers that could help Green Bay. Picking 30th, the Packers eventually traded up for Jordan Love at pick 26. However, Green Bay was simply picking too late to acquire one of the draft’s top receiving prospects, a list that included Jerry Jeudy (15th overall), CeeDee Lamb (17th overall), Jalen Reagor (21st overall), Justin Jefferson (22nd overall), and Brandon Aiyuk (25th overall). Instead, there was a rather clear perceived drop off in talent afterwards with Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman, among others.
Could the Packers be on the other end of luck this time around? Owning Las Vegas’ 22nd overall pick could not only help the Packers land a top-tiered receiver, but be close enough for General Manager Brian Gutekunst to use additional draft collateral to move up for a talent that slips. That position may be more enticing for the Packers to trade up than their original 28th selection. But the 22nd overall pick might be just enough for Green Bay to get a slipping difference-maker like Chris Olave, Treylon Burks, or Jameson Williams, and see a different side of draft luck than it did in 2020.
If the Packers hold on to their first four picks, they will achieve a rare feat
When Green Bay traded Adams and accumulated an extra pick in rounds one and two, it put the Packers in an extremely unique spot with four picks in the first 59 selections. But just how unique was that?
Well, if the Packers use all four of those picks, it will be just the second time in franchise history - and first since 1967 - that they will have four picks in the first two rounds. Plenty of times in the team’s storied history have the Packers made three total picks in those rounds, but only once has there been four. In that 1967 draft, Green Bay chose offensive lineman Bob Hyland and quarterback Don Horn in round one, before taking wide receiver Dave Dunaway and linebacker Jim Flanigan in round two. That was when the draft was 17 rounds, meaning the Packers have not had that kind of draft capital in the modern draft era.
While Gutekunst has been rather bold early in the draft since taking the managerial reins and traded up on several occasions, staying put could provide the Packers with the quantity of quality that they have rarely accumulated. In a deep draft, that is a a massive benefit.
One thought on how those four picks will be utilized
With less than a month to go, here is one scenario that could play out.
- Round one, pick 22 - Jameson Williams (Alabama, WR) - Earlier this week, Head Coach Matt LaFleur noted the Packers needed more “speed” in their wide receiver room. Although he was injured late in the season and would require at least a half-year redshirt as a rookie, Williams is that type of burner that could change the receiver room and the game as a whole. Without the injury, Williams is a top-10 talent and the Packers get him for a value price if he returns to full speed without a hitch.
- Round one, pick 28 - Daxton Hill (Michigan CB/S) - The Packers especially love versatility, speed, and athleticism from their secondary players. Hill fits all of those traits and has the ability to play nickel corner, which is extremely valuable in Joe Barry’s defense. This pick could also be a long-term investment at safety. The Packers will have to make a decision on Darnell Savage’s fifth-year option by May 2, the Monday after the draft. Savage’s inconsistency does not make him a shoo-in to receive the option, while Adrian Amos is entering the final year of his contract as well. That means the Packers could quickly have a hole or two at the safety position and Hill could be groomed a year in advance.
- Round two, pick 53 - Boye Mafe (Minnesota, OLB) - Green Bay needs pass-rushing depth with the loss of Za’Darius Smith this offseason. What better way to back up emerging star Rashan Gary than with another player compared to Gary by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. Mafe showed great athleticism at the Combine and his highlight reel is filled with explosiveness and the ability to use his arms for leverage. With time to adjust to the NFL behind Gary and Preston Smith, Mafe could be the type of player whose best football comes at the NFL level, much like Gary, but provides some immediate impact for the Packers’ defense.
- Round two, pick 59 - Rasheed Walker (Penn State, OL) - A few years ago, the Packers drafted an interior lineman in the second round and he became an instant starter. Now, that same lineman, Elgton Jenkins, might be slated as the team’s right tackle of the future once he returns from injury. With Jenkins’ injury and potential move to the outside, coupled with the team’s losses of Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick, Green Bay could look to bolster its offensive line depth both inside and out. With good size and power, Walker projects as a right tackle, but could be a candidate to play guard at the next level. The Packers always look for that versatility from their offensive linemen and Walker fits the bill for a team looking for help at both positions.