Green Bay Packers

Should the Packers Trade Out Of the First Round?

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2024 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers join the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, and Buffalo Bills in having the most selections – 11 each.

Green Bay has the 25th pick in the first round. Over the 63 years of draft history, the Packers have traded out of the first round twice, both times under Ted Thompson. In 2008, Thompson traded Green Bay’s first-round pick to the New York Jets, acquiring an extra second-round pick and a fourth-rounder in return. In 2017, the Packers traded their first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for their second- and fourth-round picks.

The Packers head into the draft with needs at safety, linebacker, and along the offensive line. Green Bay made a significant move in free agency by acquiring Xavier McKinney. However, while McKinney’s presence addresses a crucial need, we don’t know who will play alongside him.

Quay Walker is Green Bay’s only linebacker with significant starting experience. Zach Tom and Rasheed Walker form a solid tackle duo. However, they need to address the interior offensive line. Green Bay only has four interior offensive linemen under contract for the 2024 season.

Armarius Mims, Graham Barton, and Jackson Powers-Johnson should be available for the Packers at the 25. However, it’s worth noting that Green Bay last selected an offensive lineman in the first round in 2011. If the Packers trade down, there’s a good chance that at least one of these highly-rated offensive line prospects will still be available for Brian Gutekunst when the Packers are on the clock.

Among the mentioned prospects, Barton and Powers-Johnson are considered the most likely to be available when the Packers are on the clock. Most scouts in the league view them primarily as interior lineman prospects rather than tackles.

Interior lineman positions are not typically considered premium positions in the same way tackles are perceived. By trading down, Green Bay can still position itself to draft one of those prospects while stacking more picks to address depth along the offensive line.

Green Bay usually does an excellent job finding value along the offensive line in the later rounds. They took David Bakhtiari, Zach Tom, and Josh Sitton in the fourth round, Corey Linsley in the fifth, and Rasheed Walker in the seventh. So, why fix what isn’t broken?

Payton Wilson is the sole linebacker among the top-32 prospects on the board. Wilson’s 9.81 Relative Athletic Score may be the primary reason the Packers would be in on him. However, he will turn 24 in April and has an injury history, particularly concerning his neck.

Edgerrin Cooper is a potential fit for the Packers. With a RAS score of 9.34 and a college career featuring 1,569 snaps and 585 special teams snaps, Cooper presents a compelling case as a versatile and durable linebacker option. On the other hand, Green Bay should not take him on Day 1. The Packers’ recent track record with off-ball linebackers is less than stellar, exemplified by Walker’s performance in 2023, where he received a subpar 58.3 PFF grade, the lowest among linebackers in his class.

Furthermore, the Packers probably recognize the necessity of drafting multiple off-ball linebackers to fortify their roster. Trading down offers an opportunity to enhance the team’s chances of acquiring better value in a draft class that isn’t particularly strong.

Tyler Nubin emerges as the sole safety ranked in the first 32 players on the board. However, with a relatively low RAS of 2.91, Nubin may not align with Green Bay’s preferences. Moreover, the safety class isn’t particularly strong in this draft.

Nonetheless, intriguing prospects who could offer significant value for Green Bay are available in the later rounds. Names like Javon Bullard present themselves as potential Day 2 options, while Malik Mustapha and Cole Bishop could be in the conversation on Day 3. By trading down, the Packers can acquire additional capital, allowing them to move up for one of these prospects and pair them with McKinney.

If Green Bay trades down, it’s unlikely that they will receive a future first-round pick in return. In 2018, the Packers held the 14th-overall pick and traded down 13 slots with the New Orleans Saints, acquiring a first-round pick in 2019. That trade made sense, given Green Bay’s high draft position and the Saints’ pick near the end of the first round. However, with the Packers holding the 25th pick this year, it’s unlikely any team would offer a future first-round pick for a selection later in the first round. The value proposition simply isn’t as compelling for potential trade partners.

Green Bay will have ample opportunities to find good fits for their roster needs on Days 2 and 3 of the draft. Unless a highly coveted prospect like Cooper DeJean or Graham Barton (who I love) falls to the 25th pick, the Packers should strongly consider trading down to stockpile picks. That gives them the ammo to trade up for a player they like while not compromising the rest of their draft, and it also positions them favorably for the future, potentially acquiring additional picks in 2025 and beyond.

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