I hate when a year or two after the fact people say they would’ve drafted this guy instead of this guy. It’s too easy. So I decided to pick along with GM Brian Gutekunst and make my selections right before he made his. These were my picks:
Round 1 (#26) – As expected, Gutekunst traded up. But who he traded up for wasn’t expected. With quality players still left at offensive tackle, defensive end, and inside linebacker – all positions of great need – Utah State’s Jordan Love was the choice. He’ll now try to make it three great quarterbacks in a row for the Green Bay Packers. Talk about pressure. I would’ve gone with the best player available, LSU’s dynamic Patrick Queen. He has a chance to be special, and he would’ve made a huge impact on a defense that hasn’t had a true three-down inside linebacker since Nick Barnett over a decade ago.
My pick: ILB PATRICK QUEEN
Round 2 (#62) – This was another big surprise, but it probably shouldn’t have been. AJ Dillon of Boston College ran 4.53 at 247 pounds at the NFL Combine, and nobody loves players running fast and jumping high more than Gutekunst. And while there was a definite need at the position, I thought it would be filled later in the draft. My choice would’ve been Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones. He didn’t deserve to go on Thursday night, but he’s a potential steal at the end of the second round. That said, I still would’ve tried like heck to trade up for Baylor’s Denzel Mims, the uber-talented wide receiver who, for some reason, was slipping.
My pick: OT JOSH JONES
Round 3 (#94) – If Love and Dillon were surprises, Cincinnati tight end/fullback Josiah Deguara was a complete shock. To be honest, I hadn’t heard the name once in preparation for the draft. It’s obvious coach Matt LaFleur wants his own Kyle Juszczyk, but the 49ers’ All-Pro was picked 36 spots later in 2013. I would’ve taken Appalachian State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither. It killed me not to grab a wide receiver here, but the pickings were slim by this point. Again, I would’ve tried like heck to move up for a receiver (Texas’ Devin Duvernay), but Davis-Gaither was the best player available. Putting him next to Queen would’ve been exciting.
My pick: ILB AKEEM DAVIS-GAITHER
Round 5 (#175) – Finally, a major need was addressed with Minnesota inside linebacker Kamal Martin. He reminds me a little too much of Oren Burks, but at least Gutekunst didn’t trade up to get him in the third round. I would’ve finally taken a wide receiver here. While SMU’s James Proche, who runs in the mid-4.5s, wouldn’t have added much-needed speed and explosiveness to the offense, he’s a terrific route runner with tremendous ball skills. And unlike many rookie receivers, he could’ve helped the Packers right away.
My pick: WR JAMES PROCHE
Round 6 (#192) – Gutekunst began his run on interior offensive linemen with Michigan’s Jon Runyan, who could wind up being one the better picks of this 9-man class. He lined up at both tackle positions in college, and while he might not have the athletic ability to play outside in the NFL, he’d almost certainly fare better than overmatched Alex Light did a year ago. So while I like Runyan, I still would’ve taken Dane Jackson. The Packers need a No. 3 cornerback and the former Pittsburgh star has the ability to fill that role.
My pick: CB DANE JACKSON
Round 6 (#208) – With Corey Linsley entering the final year of his contract, I like the idea of taking a possible replacement. Oregon’s Jake Hanson reminds me of a lot of recent Green Bay centers, including Linsley. That said, I just couldn’t pass up Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill, who simply knows how to win from the slot. Adding Hill along with Proche wouldn’t be a dynamic duo, but at the very least, they might’ve given the offense better options than players like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown.
My pick: WR K.J. HILL
Round 6 (#209) – Another guard, Indiana’s Simon Stepaniak, was the pick here. He probably won’t play in 2020 due to ACL surgery in December, but he’s a nasty SOB who should compete to replace potential cap casualty Billy Turner in 2021. I would’ve also gone with an offensive lineman here, but my choice would’ve been Auburn tackle Prince Tega Wanogho. He’s just too talented not to roll the dice on at this point in the draft.
My pick: OT PRINCE TEGA WANOGHO
Round 7 (#236) – TCU safety Vernon Scott became only the second defensive player drafted by the Packers. He figures to compete with holdovers Raven Greene and Will Redmond for the No. 3 safety position. I would’ve taken Washburn offensive tackle Kyle Hinton, who projects inside at the next level. He’s a really good athlete (sub-4.9 at nearly 300 pounds) who dominated at the Division III level. And let’s be honest, isn’t the seventh round when you draft really good athletes who dominated at the Division III level?
My pick: OG KYLE HINTON
Round 7 (#242) – Gutekunst closed out the draft with Miami outside linebacker Jonathan Garvin. I’m fine with this pick, but at the time, my focus was on LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss. Randy’s kid was overhyped for months because of his name and the talent around him in college, but he’s a bargain in the seventh round. At worst, he’ll be a useful backup. At best, he’ll be a productive pass catcher in the right offense.
My pick: TE THADDEUS MOSS
OK, so there’s my draft. Other than not getting a wide receiver on day 1 or 2, I like this haul. Queen would start immediately, Jones would compete with Rick Wagner, and Davis-Gaither would add even more speed to the sub-packages. The day 3 picks would provide intriguing prospects at wide receiver, much-needed depth at corner, and some developmental athletes at tackle, guard and tight end. And the very best thing about this draft? It wouldn’t have pissed off the best player on the team and the face of the franchise.