The Green Bay Packers currently have 10 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Knowing general manager Brian Gutekunst, there’s a good chance he will be using some of those picks to trade up for a player they really want. But who will that be? The Packers are a good football team, but they absolutely need two or three players from this year’s draft to make an immediate impact.
Green Bay might not survive another heartbreaking loss in the NFC Championship for the third year in a row. Yes, a lot of offensive players had their worst game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the defense also allowed way too many points — again.
The Packers need depth at cornerback, linebacker, lineman on both sides of the ball, and wide receiver. When you look at this year’s first-round draft class, they have multiple angles to take. What team are you on? Team Offensive Line? Maybe Team Cornerback? Perhaps Team Defense? Still Team Wide Receiver?
Green Bay currently has the 29th pick, but it doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Let’s examine a few players by position within their pick range.
Team Offensive Line
The Packers lost Corey Linsley to free agency and don’t have an exact timetable on when David Bakhtiari will return. They will need to spend a few draft picks on the offensive line. It doesn’t have to be in the first round, but there are plenty of candidates if they want to.
If they stay at 29, Jalen Mayfield from Michigan is expected to go somewhere in that range. He’s a tackle and would be a perfect fit in an area of need. He is also getting a lot of attention from several teams right now and will be a very popular late-first/early-second-round candidate.
If the Packers trade up, five other linemen are also expected to go the first round. Green Bay won’t trade up high enough for Penei Sewell, who is expected to go in the top five. The early teens sound a bit high, too, for players like Rashawn Slater and Christian Darrisaw.
However, two other linemen stand out if the Packers would trade up to the late teens or early 20s. Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC or Teven Jenkins out of Oklahoma State are both possibilities at offensive tackle. It probably wouldn’t be the most popular pick among fans, but it would be smart to add depth to the group protecting Aaron Rodgers. Being without No. 69 during the NFC Championship game was a huge blow. They should certainly draft a few linemen in the later rounds if they don’t take care of that need right away.
There are so many good cornerbacks! Did I just reveal what team I am on? Maybe.
The Packers won’t reach for a Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain II. They will go in the top 15, and Green Bay would have to give up too much. But you have Tyson Campbell from Georgia around 26, Asante Samuel Jr. 27 (yes, son of THAT Asante Samuel), and Jaycee Horn from South Carolina at 35. All three of those players would be great.
Green Bay did just re-sign Kevin King, but it was only a one-year deal. There is no guarantee he will take a step in the right direction opposite Jaire Alexander. King is a good player, but his performance in the NFC Championship game really hurt the team.
Grabbing a first-round cornerback would add some great depth and an immediate-impact player in your secondary. You could also sprinkle him around at nickel or other spots if needed. I would love to see them grab a cornerback, but anything could happen after 2020’s draft class.
Team Defense Help
We have to loop the rest of the defensive positions together here, or this will take all day.
Green Bay has one of the best safety duos in the NFL in Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, so they are set there. They are also set at the edge, but the only player available there is Jayson Oweh. Again, be prepared for anything, but I don’t see the Packers taking him.
To bolster the defensive line, the Packers have a chance at Jaelan Phillips if he drops a bit. If they get really crazy, they could trade up into the teens and pick Kwity Paye.
The defense doesn’t exactly NEED another linebacker, but there is a lot of youth at the position right now. Some extra depth wouldn’t hurt. Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin both had solid rookie seasons, but if either one has a sophomore slump, Green Bay will need players to plug in.
You’ve got some solid options around the Packers’ range, too. Zaven Collins from Tulsa and Joseph Ossai from Texas both stand out. The latest mock draft out of CBS Sports has the Packers picking Jamin Davis out of Kentucky, who was originally seen as a second-round player.
Team Wide Receiver
Green Bay does not need to do this. Yes, I hope they draft a receiver at some point in the draft, but this year promises another stacked class at wideout. They can wait a few rounds.
They still also have Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Devin Funchess, and Equanimeous St. Brown. Not to mention a deep tight end group. But what if they don’t listen to me and grab a receiver? There are definitely a few options.
Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota would be in the Packers’ range. Kadarius Toney from Florida and Rondale Moore from Purdue are solid options in the late teens and early 20s. The one receiver I would be okay with them trading up for is DeVonta Smith. Some mocks have him going as early as eight or nine, while others have him dropping to 17 or 18. Smith would be an automatic WR2 opposite of Adams and make the offense even more dangerous. Smith had 117 receptions, 1,856 yards, and 23 touchdowns in 2020. I will say it again: 23 touchdowns. That is a player I would love to have, even if I would be annoyed if they used a first-round pick for him.
So what team am I on? I think I revealed it, but I would love a cornerback. If not, I would choose an offensive tackle or linebacker. Anything else would not thrill me, but I doubt the Packers will be thinking about my feelings. (No quarterbacks, please!)