One of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory will begin later tonight. The Packers pick 22nd and 28th in the first round, and while Brian Gutekunst has talked about taking the best player available, the reality is he’s going to try to fill needs – just like all GMs do every year.
The following are the 21 players I project to be off the board when the Packers make their pick at 22.
|WR||Chris Olave||Ohio St.|
|WR||Garrett Wilson||Ohio St.|
|OT||Charles Cross||Mississippi St.|
|OT||Ikem Ekwonu||North Carolina St.|
|OT||Trevor Penning||Northern Iowa|
|EDGE||Jermaine Johnson||Florida St.|
|CB||Derek Stingley Jr.||LSU|
|S||Kyle Hamilton||Notre Dame|
Assuming the 21 players listed above are no longer options for the Packers at 22, here are 20 more players who would be:
|WR||Jahan Dotson||Penn St.|
|WR||Christian Watson||North Dakota St.|
|OL||Kenyon Green||Texas A&M|
|OL||Zion Johnson||Boston College|
|OL||Bernhard Raimann||Central Michigan|
|EDGE||Arnold Ebiketie||Penn St.|
|CB||Andrew Booth Jr.||Clemson|
This is not the year to have two picks in the 20s. Aside from Tyler Linderbaum, there might not be another legitimate first-rounder still around when the Packers get on the clock at 22. That’s why I think there’s at least a 50-50 chance Gutekunst will trade up – most likely for one of the top four wide receivers (Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams, Drake London, or Chris Olave). Taking Treylon Burks – the consensus pick in most mocks – might be a bit of a reach at this point.
If the Packers stick at 22, the best choice would be Linderbaum, but it’s hard to imagine Gutekunst using a high pick on a center for the second year in a row (Josh Myers went 62nd overall last April). The next most attractive options would be wide receiver Jahan Dotson, safety Daxton Hill, guard Zion Johnson, and defensive ends Logan Hall and Devonte Wyatt.
Dotson (5-10 1/2, 178) might be too small for Gutekunst, but he’s the next best receiver after the top four, and the gap to No. 5 is sizeable. Still, Gutekunst likes big bodies at this position, so Burks and George Pickens can’t be discounted. Hill has the athleticism to play anywhere in the secondary, which would come in handy. The Packers don’t have a proven fourth cornerback or third safety on the roster. Johnson would be an instant starter at guard, and next to Linderbaum, he might be the safest player on the board. Hall is a fast riser, and Wyatt is a big-time athlete who turned 24 late last month.
Any of the players mentioned as possibilities at 22 would also be possibilities at 28. So would edge rushers Arnold Ebiketie, Drake Jackson, and Boye Mafe. These three extremely talented athletes will probably appeal to Gutekunst because of their ability to get after the quarterback, even though none of them consistently played like a No. 1 pick in college.
🏈 BIG QUESTION
Would the Packers really wait until the second round to draft a wide receiver? Maybe, but that would be risky. Sure the team has had success in the past with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams, but a different front office selected those players. Also, none of those receivers were expected to contribute right away. If Gutekunst can move up a handful of spots and grab whichever of the top receivers fall to the middle of the round, he definitely should.
🏈 AND THE PACKERS SELECT…
WR CHRIS OLAVE (trade)
OLB DRAKE JACKSON
(Disclaimer: I’ve been predicting first-round picks online since 2004. I’ve been right a grand total of three times)