Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Was Wise Not To Panic-Pick A Wideout Late In Round 1

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The writing seemed to be on the wall for the Green Bay Packers entering the draft. It was all about using at least one of their two first-round picks on a wide receiver. Instead, general manager Brian Gutekunst and the front office held firm at No. 22 and No. 28 and left with two defensive players.

While many are furious the Packers didn’t take a wideout on Day 1, the brain trust was wise not to panic-pick.

Front offices hear the noise. Regardless of whether they admit it, at a minimum they are aware of the chatter among their fanbase.

Everyone who’s anyone expected Green Bay to go wide receiver on Thursday night. The board seemed to be falling in favor of the Packers adding a weapon to the offense for Aaron Rodgers. Not a single wideout was selected through the first seven picks.

Then a flurry of wideouts were scooped up.

Four receivers went in a five-pick span, capped by the Detroit Lions trading up to No. 12 to select Alabama playmaker Jameson Williams. All of a sudden, it was looking bleak for the Packers to snag one of their top wideout targets. After Jahan Dotson and Treylon Burks also went before Green Bay selected at No. 22, it seemed obvious that they wouldn’t go wide receiver at that point. And they didn’t.

While many clamored for Green Bay to select George Pickens from Georgia, they instead took two Georgia defenders in Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt. For those up in arms about the Packers not taking a wideout on Day 1, be thankful they didn’t panic.

There is a clear need at wide receiver after the departures of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Signing Sammy Watkins barely moves the needle. The front office knows this.

Still, it took guts to not panic and select a wideout in the first round that they didn’t have a Round 1 grade on.

Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show as the opening night of the draft came to a close, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hinted at that notion. Green Bay’s board of first-round-graded receivers had all been plucked up.

“I know that they really liked Wyatt.…  The linebacker [Walker] was there in the 20s, and all six of the receivers. I believe it was six wide receivers that [the front office] had first-round grades on were gone. I think it was pretty obvious that they wanted to shore up those two spots.”

Green Bay’s front office isn’t one to hover over the panic button and take a player at a position just to appeal to the masses. It wasn’t popular when they selected Jordan Love in the first round in 2020, and it wasn’t popular that they didn’t go wideout this year. What’s most important is that, according to their board, they didn’t reach.

It’s fine to be upset that Green Bay left Thursday night without a new weapon on offense, but it needs to be taken into context of how everything played out in front of them.

If the anger stems from the Packers not being more aggressive in pursuing one of the wideouts they valued in Round 1, that’s a conversation that can be had. It is a bit puzzling that Green Bay didn’t opt to pull the trigger on a trade to slide up a few spots and take one of the six wideouts that went before they were on the clock.

On the other hand, if the anger stems from seeing the Arizona Cardinals scoop up Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles nab A.J. Brown in a trade with the Tennessee Titans, keep in mind this thought from Rodgers.

“I think we’ve been in the mix with some of these guys, that’s what it seems like,” he said. “Now, not a lot of teams that probably want to trade receivers to Green Bay. … Nobody wants to trade within the conference with a guy like Deebo.”

Nobody wants to give the team that’s been the top seed in the NFC in back-to-back years any handouts. Look at the wide receivers who were traded and in both instances it was one conference trading to a team in the other conference.

The Titans don’t want to see Brown more than they have to on the field, and the same can be said with the Ravens not wanting to have to deal with preparing for Hollywood Brown once or twice a season. D.K. Metcalf or Samuel coming to Green Bay was fun in theory but ultimately unrealistic.

If the Packers end Friday evening without selecting a wideout, the angry mob can be unleashed. It’s unfathomable to imagine them not taking a receiver sometime relatively soon in the draft given that they know they need to add to the room and spent their first two picks on the defense. Give this front office credit for at least one thing: They had the stones to stick to their board and not take a chance on a wide receiver that they didn’t have valued as a first-round pick.

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