After an eventful couple of months that saw a handful of minor additions, three key re-signings, and two significant departures, Green Bay goes into this week’s draft with a surprising number of needs for a team coming off another 13-win season.
The following is a look at the offense, from the biggest need to the smallest (the number at the end of each positional analysis represents the level of concern (8.0-10 is a top priority; 6.0-7.9 is a mid-level priority; under 6.0 is the lowest priority):
1) WIDE RECEIVER: The Packers were likely to add talent to the top of the depth chart even before All-Pro Davante Adams was traded to Las Vegas and Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed with Kansas City, but now it’s a certainty. The only question is how many receivers will general manager Brian Gutekunst draft on Thursday and/or Friday? There’s not a No. 1 on the current roster, and while Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and newly-acquired Sammy Watkins are useful veterans, none of the three would be a No. 2 on any other contending team in the NFC. And while it’s too soon to write off Amari Rodgers, last year’s third-round pick can’t be counted on after an underwhelming rookie season. The other receivers on the roster are a collection of journeymen and undrafted free agents who don’t figure to be around come Week 1. (9.5)
2) OFFENSIVE LINE: Even if the Packers are confident that five-time All-Pro David Bakhtiari’s left knee won’t be a problem next season, there’s still a glaring lack of depth now that Lucas Patrick is in Chicago and Billy Turner is in Denver. Those two steady veterans combined for over 1,800 snaps last season. As of today, Jake Hanson is the only experienced backup at guard and center; he’s taken all of six snaps in his career. And while the expectation is for Yosh Nijman to start at right tackle, he’s never played on that side before, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be the answer. Adding a talented offensive lineman in the early rounds would go a long way in keeping things together until versatile Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins returns from ACL surgery around midseason. There’s also a chance Gutekunst will sign a stopgap veteran like Rick Wagner or Dennis Kelly at some point before now and the start of training camp in late July. (7.5)
3) TIGHT END: There’s a glaring lack of talent at this position, especially with Robert Tonyan expected to miss the early part of the season as he recovers from ACL surgery. It would be helpful to add a player who could be a factor in the passing game, especially while things sort themselves out at wide receiver. As of now, Marcedes Lewis and Jason Deguara figure to see the most action in September. The former is a good blocker who can’t run, and the latter is more of a fullback than a tight end. Tyler Davis and Dominique Dafney have some upside, but neither should be viewed as anything more than a No. 3. In a weak class of tight ends, Gutekunst probably can’t wait too long if he wants to find help. (7.0)
4) RUNNING BACK: Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon form arguably the best 1-2 punch in the league, but adding to this position on Day 3 would make sense. Kylin Hill flashed as a rookie, but he’s coming off ACL surgery and might not be available until October or November. That would leave an opening on the 53-man roster, and while Patrick Taylor did some nice things late last season, the No. 3 role might be better filled with a more explosive athlete who could help on returns. The other reason to invest in a running back is the uncertain future of Jones. His huge cap hit in 2023 makes him a candidate to be cut next March. And while Dillon would seamlessly take over as the starter, it would be nice to have another option besides Hill to compete for the backup job. Fortunately, this draft is filled with intriguing Day 3 prospects. (6.0)
5) QUARTERBACK: Unless Jordan Love is traded before or during the draft, there’s no reason to spend an early pick at this position. But it would make a lot of sense to grab a quarterback on Saturday. Fans love Kurt Benkert, but he’s going to be 27 in July, and that’s too old for a player who’ll likely spend next season on the practice squad. That spot should be filled by a young prospect with potential. Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf believed in drafting a quarterback every year, and that philosophy allowed him to turn Mark Brunnel, Aaron Brooks, and Matt Hasselbeck into trade assets. Gutekunst has drafted only one quarterback since being hired in 2018. He’d be wise to follow his mentor’s advice later this week. (5.0)