With their first three picks in the 2020 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Jordan Love, the gunslinging quarterback out of Utah State; AJ Dillon, the bowling ball running back from Boston College; and versatile tight end Josiah Deguara out of Cincinnati. All three remain mostly unknown quantities after not seeing the field much or at all last year. But we should get plenty of clarity on them this season.
Nobody knows what the hell Aaron Rodgers is going to do yet. Does that sound like a broken record at this point? Does anyone else want to drown the sorrows of the unknown in a pound of cheese curds and a great-tasting, less-filling beer? It’s understandable.
Jordan Love has been in stealth mode all season, staying quiet behind the scenes while putting in the work. Love worked with the first team during a Rodgers-less minicamp earlier this summer and went through the expected ups and downs for a quarterback who was getting all the reps for the first time.
Love mostly remains a mystery. But if Rodgers decides to tell Green Bay to shove it, the spotlight will be on the former first-round pick. Don’t be fooled by the signings of Blake Bortles and Kurt Benkert — if the reigning MVP refuses to come back, Love will have every opportunity to win the starting gig.
The Packers couldn’t have planned to have Love starting in just his second season. But drafting a quarterback in Round 1 is a clear indicator that you intended to hand over the keys to him at some point; it could just come earlier than expected for Love. Luckily for him, the Packers have plenty of talent around him on offense.
If Love starts next year, he will be under the most intense microscope imaginable. Comparisons will begin right from the jump, unfair as they may be. Rodgers went through the same scrutiny when replacing Brett Favre, but social media didn’t exist back then. Still, there is a significant contingent in the land of cheese that would prefer to see Rodgers gone at this point and Love rocking under center for the Packers.
However, Love wasn’t the only controversial pick from last year. When the Packers took Dillon in the second round, many Wisconsinites spilled Spotted Cow and sprayed bits of their butter burgers while yelling at the television screen because Green Bay already had Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. First they took this Love guy when they had Rodgers, then they selected a running back? It was enough to fully clog an artery already pasted over with plenty of plaque from years of housing Miller High Lifes and brats. Living in the present can be a bold strategy. Fast forward to now: Williams has signed with the Detroit Lions, and the Packers were lucky to find a way to work out an extension with Jones.
Matt LaFleur has shown a fondness for working in multiple running backs throughout the season, so Dillon will have ample opportunity next year. Of the three first-round selections from 2020, his situation is the most stable. Dillon will be the No. 2 behind Jones, but he will be worked into the game plan weekly. After shining late in the season against the Tennessee Titans in the snow globe that was Lambeau Field, “Quadzilla” will have plenty of touches.
It remains to be seen how Dillon will fare with an expanded NFL workload, but this is a dude who was fed the rock for 300 rushing attempts in his freshman season at Boston College, 227 in his sophomore season, and 318 in his junior season. It shouldn’t be an issue. The wear and tear down the road will be a bigger concern, but for now, Dillon has fresh tires and should be a crucial element of Green Bay’s attack.
Deguara was a Swiss Army Knife of sorts for Green Bay before he tore his ACL last October. The rookie wasn’t used often, but he lined up at tight end and fullback when he was. This year figures to be much of the same.
Robert Tonyan will get the majority of the snaps, and Jace Sternberger and Marcedes Lewis are still in the picture as well. Deguara will have to establish a place for himself in the crowded tight end room. And can he stay healthy after coming off a torn ACL? Deguara missed a game last September with a shin injury before the season-ender later in the year.
There was some bewilderment when the Packers went quarterback, running back, tight end to start their 2020 NFL Draft. A year later, all three selections could have meaningful roles in Green Bay’s offense. And who knows, there may be some plays where all three are in the backfield at once. Imagine Love under center, Deguara at fullback, and Dillon dotting the I. Those picks don’t look too shabby now.