If I Were The GM
I hate when a year or two after the fact people say they would’ve drafted this guy instead of that guy. It’s too easy. So I decided to pick along with GM Brian Gutekunst and make my selections right before he made his. Here are my picks:
|ROUND||PACKERS PICK||MY PICK|
|1||CB Eric Stokes (Georgia)||CB Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida State)|
|2||OL Josh Myers (Ohio State)||OL Jalen Mayfield (Michigan)|
|3||WR Amari Rodgers (Clemson)||WR Amari Rodgers (Clemson)|
|4||OL Royce Newman (Wake Forest)||OL Brenden Jaimes (Nebraska)|
|5||DL Tedarrell Slaton (Florida)||DL Jaylen Twyman (Pitt)|
|5||CB Shemar Jean-Charles (App State)||LB Nick Niemann (Iowa)|
|6||OL Cole Van Lanen (Wisconsin)||CB Tay Gowan (Central Florida)|
|6||LB Isaiah McDuffie (Boston College)||RB Javian Hawkins (Louisville)|
|7||RB Kylin Hill (Mississippi State)||QB Feleipe Franks (Arkansas)|
Round 1 – I considered corner to be the Packers’ No. 1 need heading into the draft, and Gutekunst apparently felt the same way. We simply differed on which player to take at No. 29. Not surprisingly, he went for size and speed. That’s been his MO in round 1 since taking over as GM in 2018. Stokes looks like the kind of corner you’d make at a store called Build-A-Corner. He’s 6-foot-1 and ran the 40 in under 4.3 at his pro day. I went with the smaller and slower Samuel Jr., who was the better college player and whose hips are more fluid. This reminded me of a few years ago when I preferred Isaiah Oliver over Josh Jackson for the same reason. As Shakira likes to say, hips don’t lie.
Round 2 – Once again, I agreed with Gutekunst on the position but not the player. He went with Myers, a center who could also play guard, and I went with Mayfield, a tackle who could also play guard. In this case, I wanted to get an offensive lineman before all the good ones were taken, and I just didn’t think Myers was worth a second-round pick. Mayfield, on the other hand, was expected to go between 25 and 35 before a disappointing pro day dropped his stock. But his tape at Michigan was pretty impressive and I liked the idea of adding a tackle to a roster that is thin at the position, especially with David Bakhtiari likely to miss a few games at the start of next season.
Round 3 – I’ve been doing this exercise since 2017, and I had only picked the same player as the Packers two times. Well, make it three. Wide receiver was a big need going into the draft, and Rodgers not only filled that need, but he was the best player available. There were some bigger and faster receivers still on the board, but none of them were as versatile as Rodgers, who can line up outside or inside, be used on jet sweeps, and return kicks.
Round 4 – Once again, Gutekunst and I differed on the player and not the position. He went with Newman, who projects to tackle or guard; I went with Jameis, who also projects to tackle or guard. This is more pro-Jameis than anti-Newman, who looks like a decent prospect. I just fell in love with Jameis as I watched his tape prior to the draft.
Round 5 – Defensive line was the biggest remaining need, so it’s no surprise we both targeted this position. He went with size in Slaton; I went with productivity in Twyman, who ran a disappointing 5.4 at his pro day but plays faster. As for Slaton, I didn’t remember him even though I must’ve watched 10 Florida games. It’ll be interesting to take a look at him in the coming weeks. Players who run 5.09 at 330-plus pounds don’t typically last until late in round 5.
Round 5 – I was thinking about taking either Jean-Charles or fellow corner Tay Gowan, but opted instead for Niemann, a highly productive player who ran faster than expected at his pro day. It wouldn’t shock me if Jean-Charles winds up being the better pro, but I wasn’t about to pass up one of the few intriguing inside linebackers left.
Round 6 – Van Lanen is a terrific story, and while Gowan might not have grown up 10 miles from Lambeau Field, he’s simply a better pro prospect. At best, he’ll be an above-average starting corner. At worst, he’ll be a quality backup and a standout on all the special teams. When watching Van Lanen at Wisconsin, I don’t remember ever thinking, “this guy is going to be a starting tackle in the NFL.” Maybe he’ll slide inside and have a nice career as a guard.
Round 6 – I thought about picking McDuffie since the Packers hadn’t taken an inside linebacker yet, but is he better than Krys Barnes, Kamal Martin, or even Ty Summers? I kind of doubt it. On the other hand, Hawkins would be the perfect No. 3 running back. While he’s too small (5-8 1/2, 185) to be a starter at the next level, he’s truly electrifying with the ball in his hands. I would love to see what he could do with 5 to 10 touches in this offense.
Round 7 – I might’ve taken Hill had I remembered him, but he opted out early last season. Once his name was called, I actually did recall him from a terrific game he played against Arkansas in 2019. Regardless, I like my pick of Franks. He’s exactly the type of very raw but very talented quarterback a team should take in the seventh round.