5 Quick Things: Days 2 & 3

Here are five thoughts following the final two days of the 2023 National Football League draft:

1) It was surprising to see general manager Brian Gutekunst expend a second-round pick on Jayden Reed. Not because the Packers don’t need a slot receiver – they do – but because the former Michigan State star stands a tick under 5-foot-11 and weighs only 187 pounds. That’s roughly three inches smaller and 20 pounds lighter than the average of the nine other wide receivers drafted by Gutekunst since he was hired in 2018 (J’Mon Moore, Marques Valdez-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Amari Rodgers, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Samori Toure, Dontavious Wicks, and Grant DuBose). I will not comment on Reed’s potential until I have a chance to watch more tape, but it’s nice to see a legitimately quick slot receiver added to the offense. Green Bay hasn’t had that kind of player since Randall Cobb was in his prime. Reed can also help out right away on punt returns, where he’s much more experienced and natural than All-Pro kick returner Keisean Nixon.

2) Fourth-round pick Colby Wooden reminds me of Kingsley Keke, who had some good moments for the Packers in 2020 and 2021 before his entitled personality got him in trouble with the coaching staff and eventually earned him a pink slip from Gutekunst. Attitude won’t be a problem with Wooden, who’s a terrific young man and a solid prospect. He’s a bit of a tweener, which is why a productive player and plus-athlete from the SEC lasted until Saturday. He’s not dynamic enough to be a legit threat off the edge, and he’s a bit small (6-4, 283) to consistently hold up as a 3-4 end. The guess here is that Wooden will see limited snaps backing up Devonte Wyatt and T.J. Slaton in the base next season and contribute some as a nickel pass rusher while he adds weight and strength in an effort to earn a more significant role in 2024.

3) While fifth-round pick Sean Clifford went a round or two earlier than expected, he makes all the sense in the world for Green Bay. The former Penn State standout, who performed well enough from 2018 through 2020 to keep the more heralded Will Levis on the bench, may lack the arm talent to be a starter at the next level, but he’s the perfect backup quarterback. He’s smart, athletic, and, more often than not, finds a way to move the ball down the field. Perhaps most importantly, he’ll pose absolutely no threat to Jordan Love, who’ll be under enough pressure trying to replace future first-ballot Hall of Famer and four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers without having to look over his shoulder after every bad throw in practice or interception in a game. Amazingly, Clifford is three months older than Love, who was drafted in 2020.

4) It’s difficult to blame Gutekunst for not addressing the secondary until the seventh round of the draft. It was a weak year for cornerbacks and especially safeties, and the Packers had so many needs. But it won’t be difficult to blame him if the regular season begins with Keisean Nixon, Darnell Savage, and Rudy Ford or Tavarius Moore comprising 60% of the nickel package. That simply can’t happen. Cap space might be very limited, but Gutekunst must find a way to make room for an inexpensive but competent veteran. If that means extending a still-rehabbing Rashan Gary or moving on from a decent starter, so be it. Spending five No. 1 picks on defensive linemen and linebackers and having three stiffs behind them makes absolutely no sense. Would adding one proven player be a cure-all? Probably not, but it’s better than doing nothing and accepting the inevitability of wide receivers and tight ends running free in the secondary all season.

5) It was refreshing to see Gutekunst trade down a couple of times in the second round and acquire extra picks on Day 3. Now he needs to start making some noise late in the draft. Of the 31 prospects he’s selected between 2018 and 2022, thus far, only three became full-time starters (Valdes-Scantling, Doubs, and right guard Jon Runyan Jr.). The rest are either backups, on the roster of other teams, or out of the league. In comparison, former general managers Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson unearthed the following gems in their first handful of drafts: quarterback Mark Brunell, running backs Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens, wide receiver Billy Schroeder, tight end Mark Chmura, guards Marco Rivera, Adam Timmerman, Josh Sitton, and T.J. Lang, inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, cornerback Doug Evans, and kicker Mason Crosby.

(I didn’t forget about the tight ends. I’m working on a full-length post on Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft for later this week)

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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.

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Bryan Johnson
Bryan Johnson
Reply to  Michael Rodney
May 1, 2023 11:43 am

Yes – I’m on the mobile version on an iPhone. Only problem I’ve noticed is sometimes your stories don’t post right away, or they aren’t easily accessible.

On your desktop version, for example, this post doesn’t appear anywhere.

Thanks for the recap. Excited to get your thoughts on the tight ends.

Bryan Johnson
Bryan Johnson
Reply to  Michael Rodney
May 1, 2023 1:30 pm

Ah. Seems the site wasn’t updating on my desktop. When I hit refresh everything popped up like I was thinking it would. Sorry for the confusion.

Augusto Rodríguez
Augusto Rodríguez
Reply to  Michael Rodney
May 1, 2023 12:16 pm

I had trouble accessing some post in the past, but now it’s working perfectly and looking exactly as the image you posted.
Thanks for the content.

Brad H
Brad H
Reply to  Michael Rodney
May 2, 2023 5:34 pm

I usually can’t see the most recent post on my phone. It’s quite odd. I usually come here via your twitter postings.

One “hack” I found is if I click on the story tags on the bottom, that will take me to whatever stories I can’t see. Of course, that works only as long as I can guess a good name/tag for the story.

Whole thing is weird, but I’m a biologist, not a computer guy.

Brad H
Brad H
Reply to  Brad H
May 2, 2023 5:35 pm

And right now, I cannot see the Love post from today on my phone. Unless I click on Jordan Love at the very bottom of the page. Then it pops up along with other tagged posts.

Brad H
Brad H
Reply to  Michael Rodney
May 2, 2023 6:36 pm

Nope, I’m using the mobile version on my phone. I only don’t see the most recent one. I thought maybe it was a twitter issue. Then I tried toggling the desktop version… nothing really works. If I cannot wait to view your content (and sometimes I can’t 🙂 ), I use the tags to take me to the missing article.

It’s mildly annoying, but it’s not a deal breaker. I usually have access to a computer if necessary.

May 1, 2023 2:07 pm

Reed impressed me against Wisconsin last season. It’s good to see Gutekunst draft a real slot receiver. I know Amari Rodgers was also a slot, but he didn’t come close to having Reed’s quickness.

May 1, 2023 4:00 pm

This was a really solid draft for a rebuilding team, at least in theory. As Michael said, now some of these later picks need to actually do something.

As Michael and others have mentioned, it was nice to see Gute finally take a true slot WR with some quickness. These big long striding WRs that the Packers always draft aren’t cut out for that role. It’s never worked, and it’s nice to see a change in strategy.

But what really stood out to me about this draft is the character of the players. The Packers have been a nice soft piece of Charmin for other teams to play against for far too long. Reed and his “dog mentality” is something MLF mentioned, and he said he wants that at ALL positions. I loved hearing that.

The Packers just haven’t played with much fire in recent years. They don’t intimidate anyone. They routinely were bullied by the likes of SF, and now the Lions. Another welcome change might be on the way.

Some draft pick comparisons:

  • Agreed on the Paup / Van Ness comparison. Two strong players with non-stop motors.
  • Musgrave reminds me of J Finley, although Finley looks like he was harder to bring down.
  • Reed reminds me of Steve Smith – dog mentality!
  • Wicks reminds me of James Jones, but with worse hands. Possession WRs that don’t have strong hands don’t have much value.

I don’t have a comparison for Tucker Kraft, but I can’t wait to see him play.

May 2, 2023 1:32 am

Of the 31 prospects he’s selected between 2018 and 2022, thus far, only three became full-time starters..

this is something i have also noticed about Gutekunst compared to Ted. with Gute, i think he has been showing round 1 and 2 prowess.. this year’s draft too, i feel is good.. that said, Gutey’s late round results haven”t been to “the TT standard”. with 9 Day 3 draftees in 2023, this year is the perfect opportunity for Gutekunst to show he can hit in later rounds. late round hits have the added benefit of being kind on the salary cap.

May 2, 2023 1:44 am

with the drafting of Van Ness, Wooden and “EDGE” rusher Karl Brooks, i see a lot of tweener attributes with most of the Packers front-line defenders. Rashaan Gary and Preston Smith also fit into this description. i see these players fitting a one-gap scheme better than a 2-gap scheme. with a general lack of two-gappers on the defensive front, i wonder if we are going to see the Packers in a 4-3 base more often this year. drafting Quay Walker in the first round last year might also signal investment in a guy suited to play Mike linebacker in a 4-3. i am not sure though.. just speculation.

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