There is no question that wide receiver is the biggest need for the Green Bay Packers in next week’s draft. Therefore, general manager Brian Gutekunst could end a 20-year drought and finally select a receiver in the first round. But it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the Packers get not only one but two pass-catchers early in the draft. That could be a smart approach if the right prospects are available because the WR market had a recent explosion, and it’s intelligent to have high-end, cheap talent at the position.
“We need a legit guy that can take the top off the coverage,” said head coach Matt LaFleur during the combine week.
But there are also drawbacks if the Packers decide to heavily invest in receivers. The team needs to add offensive line depth. Safety is a sneaky need. And there’s no sure answer at tight end, considering Robert Tonyan is still recovering from an ACL injury.
So, I mocked a seven-round draft on the PFF Draft Simulator tool. I selected two first-round receivers to analyze how the Packers can add multiple pass-catchers high and fill the rest of the roster with lower picks. I used default settings and didn’t make any trades for the sake of this exercise.
Pick 22: WR George Pickens, Georgia
Pickens is the perfect WR for the Packers. He’s athletic (9.37 Relative Athletic Score) and has the size and speed Green Bay values. His production in college wasn’t there because of an ACL injury, but Pickens’ ceiling is high. His characteristics indicate he can be an X-type receiver, unlike other receivers in this class.
Pick 28: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
Dotson is not a Packers-type receiver like Pickens because his athletic numbers aren’t as exciting. But he’s a fast receiver who can create separation. His NFL Network’s pro comparison is Emmanuel Sanders, a veteran the Packers tried to sign in free agency two years ago.
Pick 53: EDGE Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina
Enagbare is a raw prospect but powerful and with heavy hands. The Packers don’t need an edge defender to start right away, so Enagbare could be drafted to complement Rashan Gary and Preston Smith, with a good chance of being a future starter.
Pick 59: OT Abraham Lucas, Washington State
Lucas has played as a right tackle and was a four-year starter in college. He has good length and strength to play in the NFL. It’s not impossible to project him as a left guard, although right tackle is his ideal scenario. Lucas could start immediately until Elgton Jenkins is fully healthy and could be a long-term depth piece on the offensive line.
As offensive line coach Luke Butkus highlighted, the Packers may add pieces to the unit.
“We have a lot of good players that sat in this room this past year, and we’ll probably add a few more,” said Butkus.
Pick 92: TE Greg Dulcich, UCLA
Dulcich isn’t a developed blocker, as you should expect from most of the college tight ends, but that’s not why the Packers would draft him anyway. The offense needs a pass-catching tight end, and Dulcich is one of the best in the class. He can run longer routes and has long strides, plus the ability to get yards after the reception.
Pick 132: CB Cordale Flott, LSU
Flott is not a complete cornerback but can be a perfect fit for what Joe Barry runs schematically. He is a willing tackler and a smart cornerback playing in zone coverage with the ability to read the offense. Flott plays better from the slot, something the Packers need after losing Chandon Sullivan in free agency, and could also play special teams.
Pick 140: S Markquese Bell, Florida A&M
Safety is a sneaky need for the Packers, and Bell could be a perfect third safety right now with some potential to be a future starter. He’s fast and was frequently used as a box defender and blitzer. He needs to be developed as a deep-cover defensive back, but that’s not a role he would have to fit immediately.
Pick 171: OG Josh Rivas, Kansas State
Rivas could be a good depth addition to the offensive line. He is a strong, agile interior player who can succeed in zone schemes. He needs to work on his footwork after the initial contact, but it’s a decent bet in the fifth round.
Pick 228: EDGE Carson Wells, Colorado
Wells’ style reminds me of Kyler Fackrell. He’s a situational pass rusher and special teamer.
Pick 249: TE Lucas Krull, Pittsburgh
Krull is a tall, quick tight end. He blocks relatively well and has good acceleration. He’s not strong but could be helpful for special teams and as a developmental offensive weapon.
Pick 258: LB Jeremiah Gemmel, North Carolina
The Packers don’t need linebackers after re-signing De’Vondre Campbell. Still, Gemmel is a physical linebacker with burst and good play recognition traits who could compete with Krys Barnes and Ty Summers for defensive snaps, plus help on special teams.
Looking at the Packers’ roster, the receiving group is by far the weakest unit, so it makes sense to invest high picks in the position. Moreover, the wide-receiver market has had a big inflation this year with new deals for the top guys, like Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill, and even average players, such as Mike Williams and Christian Kirk. The alternative of having two high-end talents under controlled cost is attractive.
Besides the wide-receiver reality, the Packers don’t have any other significant hole on the roster. Therefore, even if Green Bay uses its two higher picks to select players of the same position, the team won’t suffer much in other areas — especially because of the extra draft capital acquired in the Davante Adams trade.