We are all familiar with the story now. Aaron Rodgers, and plenty of Green Bay Packers fans, were looking for offensive weapons ahead of the 2020 draft.
Instead, Green Bay traded up for quarterback Jordan Love, who basically spent the entire 2020 season inactive. The next round was AJ Dillion. Not a terrible pick at all, but a third-string running back at the time. He ended up playing 11 games after missing some time on the COVID-19 list. If Green Bay doesn’t re-sign Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams, Dillon will be the premier back.
Why wasn’t Dillon used more during the NFC Championship game? Who knows. He was running the defense over, but Green Bay was playing from behind.
The Packers then used the remainder of the draft on a tight end, three offensive linemen and a safety. It wasn’t a terrible draft overall, but one thing was missing: An explosive wide receiver from a stacked class available in the draft. So between the draft and basically the middle of the season, all of the talk and speculation was that the Packers didn’t do a good enough job helping out Rodgers.
Here’s the real question, though: Would drafting a wide receiver HAVE helped them make it to the Super Bowl?
The defense gave up 31 points in the NFC Championship against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Did the Packers still have a chance to win? Absolutely. They even picked off Tom Brady three times. It still wasn’t enough. How could a wide receiver have helped the Buccaneers score fewer points? He couldn’t have. And that is half the battle right there. A better defensive performance would have helped get Green Bay to the Super Bowl, not another wide receiver.
Jones also got hurt during the game. He coughed up two fumbles before that, including a crucial lost fumble that led to more points for Tampa Bay in the third quarter. This isn’t a slander against Jones; he is a top-five running back in the NFL. He made a mistake, and that isn’t in my top 10 frustrating things I saw during the game. Again, a wide receiver, unless his job would have been shadowing Jones, wouldn’t have been able to recover that fumble.
Let’s take a look at the Packers receiving corps for the game.
Davante Adams had nine receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown. He had a costly dropped pass in the second quarter in the end zone that removed six or seven points from the scoreboard. Again, this isn’t about ripping on Adams. There is no way you could determine that Rodgers would have instead looked for a rookie wide receiver instead of Adams on that play. Adams and Rodgers had one of the best WR/QB seasons ever. Adams was arguably the best wide receiver in 2020. Of course, you would go to him as much as Rodgers did during the NFC Championship.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a great game. He had 115 yards and a touchdown with four catches. That included a 50-yard catch that reached the end zone for Green Bay. He played his role on the team perfectly. You can’t say a rookie there instead would have done better.
Allen Lazard had three receptions for 62 yards. Equanimeous St. Brown had one catch for 10 yards, and might be the only case for a rookie and impactful wide receiver. St. Brown dropped a two-point conversion that could have changed the course of the game and several decisions down the line. Two drops by current and more experienced receivers was a part of the string of issues the Packers had against the Bucs. Would a rookie even have been in for those plays?
Would drafting a wide receiver like a Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins or Chase Claypool have helped the Packers? For sure. But the Packers went 13-3. How many more wins did they need? They were the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They had home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Jefferson wouldn’t have missed a wide open interception chance at the end of the second quarter. Aiyuk didn’t let Scotty Miller score a touchdown. Higgins wouldn’t have been making the offensive play calls after Jaire Alexander made two interceptions in a row. Claypool didn’t kick a field goal instead of playing for a tie.
We can play this “what if” game all day and offseason. But it turned out that the Packers didn’t need to draft a wide receiver. Instead, they drafted a potential future franchise quarterback who got developed for an entire year, all while watching Rodgers have one of the best seasons of his career. And Rodgers shouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Do you know when the Packers can draft a wide receiver? In the 2021 draft. That’s the crazy thing about the NFL; they have a draft every year! Did KJ Hamler have a breakout season with Denver Broncos? Did he get them to the playoffs? What about Denzel Mims of the New York Jets? Or Bryan Edwards for the Las Vegas Raiders? I bet half of you forgot about that pick or player entirely.
So no, it didn’t matter.
The day after the 2020 draft? I completely understand your thoughts, concern, and frustration. But it turned out the Packers didn’t need a wide receiver to get to the Super Bowl. They needed 11 fewer mistakes and for Tom Brady to play a little bit worse.
Oh yeah, and for the refs to call one stupid holding or pass interference call for the Packers during the game. That also would have helped.