Green Bay Packers

Two Early Favorites From Green Bay's 2021 Draft Class

Photo Credit: John David Mercer (USA TODAY Sports)

Aaron Rodgers dominated the headlines but, believe it or not, the Green Bay Packers still had a draft to complete over the weekend.

The Packers walked away with nine selections from this year’s draft: two cornerbacks, three offensive linemen, a wide receiver, a linebacker, a defensive lineman, and a running back. Green Bay originally had 10 selections thanks to compensatory picks and only had to give up one to trade up in the third round.

Besides that, they also have a group of undrafted signees. A few of those players could make the practice squad and will have a chance to compete for a roster spot. That means there are 16 new Green Bay Packers to start learning about.

This was a year of filling needs. There should be a decent group of playmakers to emerge from this class. A few of them are sure to become Packers superstars and maybe even legends. All are potentially great players, but here are my two favorites.

Amari Rodgers

The first-round pick of Eric Stokes at cornerback was an unsexy but solid choice. Taking center Josh Myers from Ohio State in the second round was smart. It helps replace Corey Linsley after losing him to free agency and helps with offensive line depth. They were picks to nod your head at, but nothing that really excited everyone immediately.

That all changed in the third round. After going to the kitchen, I walked into the room and saw that the Packers were suddenly on the clock. The excitement was immediate. I assumed that Green Bay would stay where they were and someone like Amon-Ra St. Brown would drop to them. He would have, but that didn’t matter.

The Packers moved up seven spots in that third round. They had to give up a fourth-round pick to make their move, so having 10 picks came in handy. When they announced the name, it was the first time I have yelled at the TV in delight during a Packers draft since I can remember. My phone immediately blew up with friends and family thrilled by the pick. And I was too.

Green Bay took wide receiver Amari Rodgers out of Clemson 85th overall. Before the draft, any research on wide receivers and connections to the Packers had Amari’s name close it. He was exactly what the team needs: the kind of talented slot receiver they haven’t seen since Randall Cobb. And Rodgers is just fine with the comparison. In fact, the new Packer has ties to the Cobb family.

I know it’s already hack at this point, but who isn’t excited about a Rodgers-to-Rodgers connection? I can already see the off-market t-shirts being sold outside of Lambeau Field. It’s those merchandise stands in between the Resch Center and the group of religious people telling you that your sins will send you to eternal damnation.

Davante Adams is elite. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is your deep threat. Allen Lazard and Devin Funchess are looking to prove everyone wrong. And now you have Amari Rodgers as your rookie slot receiver who wants to make a name for himself among a deep team of receivers. It’s the spark this offense needed, and trading up to grab him should have made all Packers fans happy.

Cole Van Lanen

In the sixth round, the Packers picked their third offensive lineman of the draft. But it wasn’t just any lineman. Van Lanen is a Green Bay native. He went to Bay Port High School. My grandma, who is also a GB native, knows his mom! After high school, the 6’4″, 300-plus-lb. tackle stayed in state and went to the University of Wisconsin.

If there is one thing that Wisconsin can produce, it’s NFL-caliber offensive linemen. When they announced the pick, it was in the middle of my son’s fifth birthday party. I raised my fists in the air and yelled “Wisconsin lineman!” way too loud. I may have scared a few kids.

It’s cliché, but it’s always fun when the Packers pick Wisconsin Badger players. You automatically root for them. Cole will join Royce Newman from Mississippi as tackle depth. They are a great insurance policy in case David Bakhtiari is still recovering from injury.

Van Lanen started 18 games at left tackle for the Badgers. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2019 and first-team recognition in 2020 from the league’s coaches. He now gets to play alongside Aaron Rodgers, who he grew up watching in the Frozen Tundra. There is already talk that Van Lanen might move to guard for Green Bay, but he is just happy to be drafted and a chance to play for the green and gold.

I mean, he can’t really say he’s traveled the country or lived in other states besides Big 10 cities, but there is plenty of time for that.

This doesn’t mean the other seven picks are bad. These two just got me more excited than the others, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they play at training camp — which is only a few short months away already.

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