I‘ve never been a fan of mock drafts, but people seem to love them. So here’s my first effort at predicting what will happen next week. Green Bay picks 30th, and while general manager Brian Gutekunst will talk about taking the best player available, the reality is he’s going to try to fill a need – just like every GM does every year. That means expect a really big guy or a really fast guy to be the choice when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell steps to… the bar stool in his basement?
1. Bengals – QB Joe Burrow (LSU)
2. Redskins – DE Chase Young (Ohio State)
3. Lions – CB Jeff Okudah (Ohio State)
4. Giants – OT Jedrick Wills (Alabama)
5. Dolphins – QB Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
6. Chargers – QB Justin Herbert (Oregon)
7. Panthers – LB Isaiah Simmons (Clemson)
8. Cardinals – OT Tristan Wirfs (Iowa)
9. Jaguars – DT Derrick Brown (Auburn)
10. Browns – OT Mekhi Becton (Louisville)
11. Jets – OT Andrew Thomas (Georgia)
12. Raiders – CB CJ Henderson (Florida)
13. 49ers – WR Henry Ruggs (Alabama)
14. Buccaneers – WR CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)
15. Broncos – WR Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)
16. Falcons – CB Trevon Diggs (Alabama)
17. Cowboys – DE K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU)
18. Dolphins – OT Josh Jones (Houston)
19. Raiders – WR Justin Jefferson (LSU)
20. Jaguars – OT Isaiah Wilson (Georgia)
21. Eagles – LB Patrick Queen (LSU)
22. Vikings – DL Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina)
23. Patriots – DE A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)
24. Saints – LB Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma)
25. Vikings – WR Denzel Mims (Baylor)
26. Dolphins – FS Xavier McKinney (Alabama)
27. Seahawks – DE Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State)
28. Ravens – LB Zack Baun (Wisconsin)
29. Titans – CB A.J. Terrell (Clemson)
In this particular mock draft, I was more interested in figuring out which 29 players were likely to be off the board when the Packers picked than I was in matching a specific player to a specific team. My real goal was to narrow the field of potential candidates. There’s no doubt a few of the players listed above will still be available when the Packers pick at 30, and that could change everything. For example, it’s hard to imagine Gutekunst passing on either Queen or Murray should they fall to the end of round 1. It’s also very possible the Packers won’t pick at 30. In fact, I’d say the odds are at least 50/50 that they move up or down.
But for the sake of this exercise, let’s assume the Packers stay at 30, and the players listed in my mock draft are no longer available. In that scenario, here’s a list of players who should interest Gutekunst late Thursday night:
WR Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State) – He’s very quick and explosive, which is exactly what the Packers need at the position. The preference might be to trade down and take him in the early part of the second round.
DL Ross Blacklock (TCU) – Ran 4.9 at 290 pounds, so you know Gutekunst will at least be interested. Versatile enough to play all along the D-line, but he wasn’t a big-time pass rusher in college (5.5 sacks in 26 games).
OT Ezra Cleveland (Boise State) – Gutekunst loves drafting workout warriors in the first round, and Cleveland was one of the stars of the Combine. He would also fill a position of need. But would the Packers draft outside the ACC, Big 10, Pac-12 or SEC in the first round? They haven’t done that this century.
DE Marlon Davidson (Auburn) – He was overshadowed by projected top-10 pick Derrick Brown, but Davidson is a versatile and productive player who got better each season. But is he dynamic enough to go in round 1?
CB Jeff Gladney (TCU) – He reminds me of Jaire Alexander. A bit undersized, but fast, fluid and really competitive. While the Packers could use another good CB, would they spend yet another high pick at this position?
OT Austin Jackson (USC) – Extremely talented player who might be too much of a boom-or-bust type to be drafted in the first round. He could be D.J. Humphries (Cardinals), or he could be Jason Spriggs (ex-Packers).
QB Jordan Love (Utah State) – He reminds me of DeShon Kizer, a player Gutekunst liked coming into the 2017 draft. Love has a higher ceiling, but he’s every bit as erratic. Could he really be the successor to No. 12?
WR Jalen Reagor (TCU) – See Aiyuk.
RB D’Andre Swift (Georgia) – If Gutekunst isn’t sure about committing big money to Aaron Jones, he would have to at least consider Swift, who possesses speed, vision and the ability to be a three-down back.
WR Laviska Shenault (Colorado) – His 40 time isn’t great, but he’s more elusive in the open field than most receivers his size (6-1, 227). Injuries are a concern. He’s had three surgeries (labrum, toe, core muscle) since 2018. Similar to but not quite as good as A.J. Brown, who went 51st overall in last year’s draft.
RB Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) – He carried the ball 926 times in 3 seasons at UW, so the odds of him having a long career in the NFL aren’t great. But he should be a very productive player for the length of his rookie contract.
In a perfect world, I’d love for Espenesa, Queen, Murray or Jefferson to fall to 30. If that doesn’t happen, I’d try to trade down and add picks. But if I had to select at 30 and these were my options, I’d go for the best player. That would narrow the list to the wide receivers, the running backs, and the corner. While the need at wide receiver is obvious, the need at running back and corner could be just as obvious a year from now.
At running back, Jones is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and if he’s looking for over $8 million per, there’s a good chance he won’t be back. And even if he is, there’s nothing wrong with having two studs at the position. I love Taylor’s speed and productivity, but Swift might be the better fit for the Packers.
As for corner, it remains an area of concern even though the Packers have drafted what seems like 20 CBs in the first two rounds since 2015. Kevin King is injury-prone and entering the final year of his contract, and Tramon Williams just turned 37 and is unsigned. That leaves the Packers thin at the position this season and possibly emaciated at the position in 2021. Gladney would be able to step right in as the nickel back.
AND THE PACKERS SELECT… BRANDON AIYUK
Gladney and to a lesser extent Reagor, Swift, and Taylor were tempting, but how could Gutekunst pass on an offensive weapon as explosive as Aiyuk? Send him out there with Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and Jace Sternberger, and Aaron Rodgers might have a top half of the league receiving corps for the first time since 2016.