If I Were The GM: 2023 Draft

I hate when people say they would’ve drafted this guy instead of that guy a year or two after the fact. It’s too easy. So I decided to choose along with GM Brian Gutekunst and make my selections right before he made his. Here were my picks:

1LB Lukas Van NessOT Broderick Jones
2TE Luke MusgraveTE Luke Musgrave
2WR Jayden ReedOL O'Cyrus Torrence
3TE Tucker KraftLB DJ Johnson
4DE Colby WoodenWR A.T. Perry
5QB Sean CliffordDL Mike Morris
5WR Dontayvion WicksDB Antonio Johnson
6DE Karl BrooksWR Trey Palmer
6PK Anders CarlsonLB Dee Winters
7CB Carrington ValentineQB Max Duggan
7RB Lew NicholsCB Eli Ricks
7DB Anthony Johnson Jr.DE Moro Ojomo
7WR Chris DuBoseED Andre Carter

Round 1 – For weeks, I expected Gutekunst to choose between Van Ness, Jones, and Myles Murphy at No. 15 and then No. 13, so I had no problem with this pick. My preference was Jones for a couple of reasons. He would add another elite talent to an O-line that will almost certainly be losing David Bakhtiari next spring, and I thought he was the best player available.

Round 2a – Before the draft, I opined that Musgrave would be a steal late in the first round, so I obviously thought this was a no-brainer at No. 42. Apparently, so did Gutekunst. Only two things can keep the former Oregon State star from becoming one of the best tight ends in the league within two or three years – injuries and/or ineffective quarterback play.

Round 2b – I wanted to take a wide receiver here, so while I understand Gutekunst going with Reed, the opportunity to add the best interior offensive lineman in the draft was too tempting. Torrence would supplant steady but limited Jon Runyan Jr. at right guard and add much-needed size and athleticism between center Josh Myers and right tackle Yosh Nijman.

Round 3 – I was very high on Kraft prior to the draft but didn’t think Gutekunst would take another tight end on Day 2. Johnson is a raw player who didn’t take snaps at outside linebacker until 2021. The former Oregon showed flashes of brilliance last season and ran sub-4.5 at 260 pounds at the Combine. In time, he could develop into a dynamic pass rusher.

Round 4 – I thought Perry was one of the top handful of bigger wide receivers heading into the draft, so I couldn’t pass him up at this point in the proceedings. People paid to scout thought differently since he wasn’t selected until the sixth round. Gutekunst went with Wooden, which is difficult to argue with, considering how thin the Packers were on the D-line.

Round 5a – I probably watched at least 20 of Clifford’s starts at Penn State and never once imagined him going in the fifth round of the NFL draft. I get that quarterbacks were flying off the board, but there were too many better players available to settle for, at best, a career understudy. One of those better players was Morris, who was productive in big games.

Round 5b – I studied Wicks before the draft and wasn’t impressed. To be fair, I watched tape from last season, and he was much better in 2021. Regardless, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to select arguably the most physically talented safety in the draft. Johnson is far from a perfect prospect, but he’s exactly the type of player you take late in round 5.

Round 6a – It’s impossible to argue with this pick. Brooks was dominant in the MAC, and even with Wooden going two rounds earlier, the Packers needed another D-lineman. I chose Palmer because he was one of my favorite “under-the-radar” offensive players going into the draft, and there’s no harm in adding another body to the depleted wide receiver room.

Round 6b – Drafting a kicker here wasn’t a big surprise; the surprise was the kicker. Carlson’s field goal percentage in college was only 71%. Gutekunst blamed injuries. We’ll see. I went with Winters, an undersized inside linebacker who always seemed to be around the ball in college. I figure, at worst, he’ll be a really good special teams player at the next level.

Round 7a – I knew Gutekunst had already drafted a quarterback a few rounds earlier, but the thought of Duggan and Clifford battling it out in training camp was intriguing. Besides, I preferred the former TCU star and Heisman Trophy finalist heading into the weekend. Gutekunst made the more predictable choice and finally added a cornerback to his haul.

Round 7b – Ricks was my best available player, so I had no problem taking him three spots after Valentine. The Packers will need a No. 5 cornerback, so why not let the two former SEC rivals duke it out in training camp? While Ricks never lived up to his potential in college, first at LSU and then at Bama, he’s blessed with prototypical size and length for the position.

Round 7c – Gutekunst finally got around to filling arguably the team’s biggest need heading into the draft, but I didn’t see Johnson as any better than some of the young safeties already on the Packers’ roster. Plus, adding a big body in the seventh round always makes sense. Ojoro flashed more than enough times in college to merit being the 242nd player selected.

Round 7d – The more I watched tape of DuBose after the draft, the more I liked this pick. But at the time, Carter was my preference. The former Army standout was considered a potential Day 2 pick heading into 2022, but a disappointing season and a slow 40 sent him careening down draft boards. This choice might’ve been made more with my heart than my head.

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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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Corey Schultz
Corey Schultz
May 5, 2023 8:25 pm

Cool review. Sounds like a positive draft all around. I loved using up all the picks to fill the team. Competition at every position group will benefit this team greatly. Fingers crossed but if Love is for real, this very young team will be very exciting!

May 6, 2023 9:14 am

Thanks, I was wondering if you were going to post this. My favorite post of the year.

Bryan Johnson
Bryan Johnson
Reply to  Joe
May 7, 2023 7:26 am

Right there with you. It’s fun to go back and see previous editions, as well. There isn’t anyone else who does something like this that I am aware of.

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