The Case For Trading Up

General manager Brian Gutekunst loves to trade up in the draft for the player he wants, and while it hasn’t always worked out in the past (i.e., inside linebacker Oren Burks, safety Darnell Savage, quarterback Jordan Love, and wide receiver Amari Rodgers), he shouldn’t be afraid to try again. In fact, armed with four picks in the top 59 and a clear drop-off in talent at about 16, he should absolutely use the assets received in the Davante Adams deal to move up in round 1.

Considering Gutekunst’s past aggressiveness and the fact that some scouts believe there are less than 20 true first-round picks in this year’s draft, it would be a surprise to see him sit at 22 – especially if getting a wide receiver is his top priority. With the big event now just eight days away, it’s evident that Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, Alabama’s Jameson Williams, and USC’s Drake London have separated themselves from the pack, although the latter is a wild card. Because London hasn’t run a 40, there’s a chance he could go in the top 10 or be in for a much longer wait next Thursday. Either way, he doesn’t seem like a good fit for the Packers, who need an outside receiver with big-time speed.

While the recent signing of veteran Sammy Watkins improves the depth at wide receiver, the Packers still don’t have a No. 1, and it’s debatable whether they even have a low-end No. 2. Barring a trade, that player will have to come via the draft. Could Gutekunst sit at 22 and hope somebody like Treylon Burks, George Pickens, or Jahan Dotson becomes that receiver? He could, but that would be risky. While Burks and Pickens have the physical skills to be a No. 1, both players are awfully raw and will need time to develop. A team with a soon-to-be 39-year-old quarterback shouldn’t be drafting for the future in round 1. Dotson figures to be productive right away, but his ceiling projects more as a No. 2 at the next level.

So if Gutekunst wants to find a future No. 1 wide receiver who could also be a major contributor in 2022, his options would seem to be Wilson, Olave, or, if team doctors feel really good about his recovery from ACL surgery in January, Williams.

With so many teams expected to be interested in wide receivers, it’s hard to imagine Wilson, Olave, or Williams being around at 22. Philadelphia and New Orleans select four times between 15 and 19, and both teams are in the market for pass catchers. So if either Wilson, Olave, or Williams is still available when Baltimore is on the clock at 14, Gutekunst would be wise to pounce. Moving up eight spots from 22 would cost a second-round pick (#59), and while that’s a high price to pay, it shouldn’t be a hindrance, especially in a draft where the Packers have five selections on Thursday and Friday.

Olave is the most NFL-ready of the top receivers, and he’s the one who makes the most sense for the Packers. He’s also the most likely to still be available in the middle of the first round. It’s hard to imagine Wilson getting past Atlanta at 8 or the Jets at 10, and Williams seems to be flying up boards in recent days. That’s because his recovery is reportedly ahead of schedule and because most of the teams picking in the top half of round 1 have the luxury of being extremely patient.

Even if all three wide receivers are gone by 14, trading up still makes sense. Gutekunst could grab an offensive tackle (Missouri’s Charles Cross or Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning), an edge rusher (Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson or Purdue’s George Karlaftis), or even a unicorn safety (Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton). Whether Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis would be an option is debatable. While he’s undeniably a unique talent, he’s also best-suited to play nose tackle in the NFL, and the Packers already have a Pro Bowler at that position in Kenny Clark. Moving either player to end would be a bit risky. The team tried that with 2009 No. 1 pick B.J. Raji, and he went from a star to just a guy very quickly.

Many people believe it’s best to either stay put in round 1 or trade down and accumulate more picks, but this isn’t the year for the Packers to play it safe. They’ve invested $50 million in a quarterback who hasn’t committed to sticking around past the upcoming season, and they have four of the first 59 selections. If Gutekunst was willing to trade up in the first round in 2018, 2019, and 2020, there’s absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be willing to do the same thing in 2022.


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POLL: All things considered, who was GM Brian Gutekunst's best draft pick?
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Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

10 thoughts on “The Case For Trading Up

  1. Totally agree on the trade up for one of the OSU receivers. This makes too much sense not to do this, if there’s a willing trade partner. Given the lack of talent in the second half of the first round, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a team like the Ravens did some price gouging. If the top three are gone by 14 or so, though, I don’t see the point in trading up to get someone they don’t desperately. In fact, I think that’s worse case scenario in my view – losing a second rounder to get, say, a third EDGE guy sounds like too much to me.

    1. If to keep both first-round picks I would like to see at least one of them select Skyy Moore. I sound too good to pass up. If we don’t take him Chiefs will. It may be a little high I think some people say by mid second round

      1. I also like Moore, but I’ve kind of dismissed him as a possibility for the Packers because I just don’t see Gutekunst using an early pick on a receiver under 5’10.

  2. If the Packers did part with #59 to move up in the first round, they could always trade back from #29 and acquire more premium picks. I can’t wait until next Thursday. It’s going to be an exciting night.

    1. That’s a great point, Jack. I’d feel much better about getting a stud OL or EDGE at 14 if they could slide back to, say, the top of the 2nd round to draft a WR – and pick up an extra 4th to continue adding depth in a round that’s treated the Packers very well over the years.

  3. It seems as if the Packers picked the wrong draft to need a wide receiver. Justin Jefferson lasted into the 20s a few years ago, and this year four arguably less talented receivers could go in the top 15.

    I still wouldn’t be surprised if Gutekunst waits until the second round to take a receiver. That’s been the Packers’ MO for 20 years and it’s worked out very well.

  4. I don’t think Watkins will be the only veteran wide receiver added to the roster. This signing reminds me of the Funchess signing from a few years ago. Gutey is taking another low-risk gamble on an injury-prone receiver with experience and a few good seasons on his resume.

  5. I’ve been really opposed to trading up because I didn’t want GB to part with any of the top 4 picks, but you make a good case. If they do trade up, Gute could still trade back with their second 1st rounder to recoup the “lost” 2nd rounder if they didn’t find value at #28.

  6. Williams seems like the only really special player available at that position who can make a Chase-style impact. If he’s there at 14, I’m comfortable parting with a 2nd to get him.

  7. if the Packers are truly in an “all-in now” year, this may be the year to trade future draft capital for current. i cannot remember the Packers ever doing this, and i don’t necessarily recommend it; however, the Packers can better their team by keeping their Day 2 picks this year and moving up using next year pick(s). some teams think next years QB class will be great and already a few teams have multiple first round picks stockpiled for next year. without question, there are GMs looking for additional 2023 draft capital.

    some potential 2022 draftee roles for 2022: 1-2 starting WRs, a rotational EDGE, a rotational DE, a db (the Packers are razor thin on depth at both cb and safety), possibly an RT or interior OL, a TE to play behind role players or in 2 TE sets.. that is 6-7 players, add another special team player and that is 7-8 potential 2022 draftees who could play in the first year their careers. of the Packers 11 draft picks, 3 are 7th rounders. i think that the Packers can use all 8 of their 1st-5th round picks to help the 2022 roster compete this year.

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