The Reese’s Senior Bowl took place this past Saturday, February 3. For many front offices, it marks a significant shift in attention from the regular season to the pre-NFL draft process. The Senior Bowl has been an excellent place for players to showcase their skills in a good-on-good matchup against the best players entering the draft this cycle.
Historically, Brian Gutekunst the Green Bay Packers have paid close attention to the Senior Bowl and often drafted standouts from the showcase. In the past two drafts, the Packers have selected Jayden Reed and Christian Watson, who received “Player of the Week” honors at the Senior Bowl. Green Bay’s 2022 draft class featured five players who were Senior Bowl participants.
The Packers may have their eye on University of Connecticut guard Christian Haynes this year, another Senior Bowl standout. For one, the interior offensive line is a need for the Packers. They will likely let guard Jon Runyan Jr. walk in free agency this year, and interior offensive linemen Royce Newman and Josh Myers are set to hit free agency next year. Additionally, Runyan, Newman, and Myers have not shown enough on the field to block young competition.
Additionally, the Packers are likely impressed with Haynes’ performance at the Senior Bowl. For one, he earned “Player of the Week” honors as voted on by the defensive lineman and linebackers he faced throughout the week. There were also plenty of positives Haynes put on film against strong competition.
Here’s every one-on-one repetition Haynes had throughout the week in practice:
Watching Haynes, you’ll immediately notice his hands. He doesn’t let go once he has his grip on the inside of a defender’s pads. He also positions himself fairly well butt facing the quarterback and stays balanced. That may indicate he would be strong in pass protection, a skill the Packers covet. Haynes’ most viral moment from the week was his one-on-one rep against LSU’s Jordan Jefferson, who ripped off Haynes’ helmet and swung it back at him.
That rep is a solid example of Haynes’ vice grip hands and his ability to anchor and hold his ground fairly well. But the biggest takeaway may be Haynes keeping a level head and shouting back at Jefferson, “If you’re scared, go to church.” A funny moment, but it is illuminative of Haynes’ toughness and desire to win on the field.
Haynes possesses a prototypical build for a Packers offensive lineman. Haynes is a similar size to most of Green Bay’s linemen at 6’2”, 313 lbs., according to PFF. Packers prefer guys who are a bit smaller, more athletic, and have the ability to move in space in outside-zone concepts. Haynes showed some of that athleticism at UConn in the run game.
If Haynes tests well athletically at the Combine, he profiles as a perfect Packer in a lot of ways. Has played in cold weather. Is athletic. Showed out at the Senior Bowl against good competition. Check, check, and check.
Coming out of the Senior Bowl, Haynes is the primary player on the offensive side of the ball who I could realistically see the Packers drafting. The top-end guards and interior offensive linemen can often be had at the end of the first round and into the second round, which profiles well for the Packers picks at 25, 41, or 58 overall.
Western Kentucky University’s wide receiver Malachi Corley was also a “Player of the Week” honoree, and he’s one other honorable mention for me from the Senior Bowl. At 5’11” and 210 lbs., Corley shows solid releases, the ability to create separation, and has the size to show some toughness in yards after catch and blocking in the run game. That could pique Green Bay’s interest. But with their depth at wide receiver, I’m imagining they’ll invest their draft assets elsewhere. Still, he’s a good fit for the Packers.
Keep an eye out for both Haynes and Corley as rockwide receiver depth who could end up in the green and gold.