Relax, it’s a joke! If you’re still miserable about the Packers trading up last year to select a quarterback, that’s on you. Move on.
The front office showed its aggressive side last year, when in past season the strategy was: Stand firm with your selection or trade back. Naturally, the mind wanders. Would the Packers entertain another trade up if one of their top targets starts to slip? And who exactly could it be?
When the Packers traded up from No. 30 to No. 26 last year, the thought was that they must be taking a wide receiver. The consensus opinion was that an instant-impact wideout to work opposite Davante Adams would be the final piece of the puzzle. Henry Ruggs was off the board, as were Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Jalen Reagor, Justin Jefferson, and Brandon Aiyuk. That’s six — yes, six! — wideouts selected in the first 25 picks. But there appeared to be plenty of talent left available to potentially warrant a late first-round pick. Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman, and Laviska Shenault were all candidates.
The Packers chose Jordan Love instead.
Let’s fast forward to 2021. I still sincerely believe the Packers will have to address their wide-receiver shortage through the draft. They will have to do a lot of maneuvering just to free up some cap space this offseason. Doing all that work just to unload a bag on a wide receiver seems fairly unlikely.
There appear to be two early tiers of wide receivers in this draft class. It would take a haul and then some to move up far enough to get the likes Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith, if the early projections hold true. But that second group of Rondale Moore and Rashod Bateman is more plausible. Both project as instant-impact players with wildly different skill sets. If Moore and/or Bateman start to fall in to the 20s, why not move up and shoot your shot? Last year the cost was pick No. 30 and No. 136 to move to No. 26. It wouldn’t dissolve all the shock of what the Packers did in the first round last year, but it certainly wouldn’t piss off your franchise quarterback this time around.
There’s a legitimate debate to be had about whether the Packers’ offense did fine without drafting a first-round wide receiver last year and if they would be fine without taking one again in 2021. Other immediate needs must be addressed.
One large and looming question mark is the offensive line. The unit dominated almost all of 2020 in both pass protection and paving the way for the ground game. However, first-team All-Pro center Corey Linsley is now a free agent and might not be within the Packers budget. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari is coming off a brutal knee injury with a foggy timeline to return. The Packers all of a sudden could find themselves in a spot where they need to add a linemen early. There are definitely enough options around pick 30 that the Packers could sit back and wait to see where the chips fall.
One option that likely won’t be available at 30 is Alijah Vera-Tucker. Unless something unforeseen happens, Vera-Tucker will likely be taken in the mid first round, possibly somewhere in the early 20s. And he has one big thing the Packers love: versatility.
Vera-Tucker was a left guard early in his career at the University of Southern California but transitioned to left tackle last season and really grew into the role. He can play outside, he can play inside, and he’s pretty solid across the board — although he’s slightly better at paving holes in the run game. This suggests he could be used more at guard with the option to kick him outside in a pinch. And the Packers line could start the season in a pinch.
It’s highly doubtful they make a trade in the 15-20 range but, again, if Vera-Tucker starts to drift towards the mid 20s, you better believe the Packers may consider putting the pieces together for a potential deal.
Those are just a couple of avenues Green Bay could explore. There’s more potential talent available and even greater need at offensive line, but can you imagine this offense being better than last year if they trade up for Rondale Moore or Rashad Bateman? There are options to explore on defense as well, primarily at cornerback and linebacker. We can bookmark it for a later time. Let’s enjoy the possibility of the Packers offense being even more lethal in 2021, if they put their foot on the gas in the draft.