Green Bay Packers

What If the Packers Drafted Solely On Relative Athletic Score?

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers have typically weighed relative athletic score (RAS) heavily when drafting. Therefore, I’ve created a three-round mock draft based solely on draft prospects with an RAS above 9.15.

Since Brian Gutekunst assumed his role in 2018, Green Bay’s draft classes have maintained an average RAS of 8.20. Notably, the 2018 draft class stands out with a score of 8.89. In contrast, the 2021 class recorded the lowest average RAS (7.34).

Without further ado, let’s get to the mock draft:

First Round, Pick 25: EDGE Laiatu Latu, UCLA

Under Gutekunst, the Packers have a habit of selecting athletic pass rushers in the first round. For example, they took Rashan Gary and Lukas Van Ness despite having established starters at the edge position.

Despite being 23 years old and facing concerns about a neck injury, experts widely regard Latu as the most polished pass rusher in his class. If Latu can stay healthy, the Packers would get exceptional value taking him at pick No. 25.

Second Round, Pick 41: LB Payton Wilson, North Carolina State

The Packers have a pressing need at linebacker and may target multiple players at this position in the upcoming draft to address this roster deficiency. Selecting a linebacker like Wilson in the second round would align with Green Bay’s positional needs.

Payton has a significant injury track record, which could give the Packers pause. In 2018, Payton spent his first season at NC State recovering from a knee injury sustained in high school. Furthermore, in 2021, NC State curtailed Payton’s playing time due to a shoulder injury, restricting him to only two games.

Payton’s age is also a factor; he will turn 24 in April. His relatively advanced age for a draft prospect may deter the Packers from selecting him early on Day 2. However, if Payton’s injury history causes him to slide down the draft board, he could become a viable option for the Packers.

Second Round, Pick 58: DL Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson

It’s a old adage in football that you can never have enough talented defensive linemen. Adding Orhorhoro to the defensive line would inject even more athleticism into a unit already brimming with talent.

The Packers boast a formidable defensive line, with standout performers like Kenny Clark, who is coming off a career-high in sacks. Devonte Wyatt led all defensive linemen in every major statistical category in his draft class. Karl Brooks ranked among the top-eight defensive linemen in batted passes last season.

Recent trends in the NFL, exemplified by the last two NFC champions, the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, underscore the significance of depth and rotation on the defensive line. These teams succeeded by consistently bolstering their defensive fronts with talent and implementing robust rotation strategies throughout games.

Third Round, Pick 88: HB Jaylen Wright, Tennessee

The Packers made a significant move by signing Josh Jacobs to a four-year deal worth $48 million. Meanwhile, A.J. Dillon agreed to a four-year player-qualifying contract with Green Bay, with a manageable cap number of $1,292,500. His contract structure doesn’t guarantee his spot as the second-string running back on the roster.

Wright brings a different playing style to Green Bay’s running back corps, distinct from the backs currently on the roster. His style is similar to that of Aaron Jones, who is known for his agility, vision, and playmaking ability. If Wright follows a similar path to Jones in Green Bay, we can only hope he doesn’t go to Minnesota once his time with the Packers is over.

Third-Round, Pick 91: OG Mason McCormick, South Dakota State

Green Bay’s interior offensive line for the upcoming season revolves around a core group consisting of Elgton Jenkins, Royce Newman, Sean Rhyan, and Josh Myers. When healthy, Jenkins is one of the league’s premier guards. However, concerns arise with Newman, whose pass protection and run-blocking performance fell significantly below the league average.

Rhyan has shown promise as a run-blocker but needs further refinement in pass protection. Despite finishing the previous season positively, Myers struggled with inconsistency throughout the regular season, with all his PFF grades falling below 55.0.

Having played guard and center at South Dakota, McCormick’s versatility is a standout feature. His ability to seamlessly transition between positions aligns well with the typical versatile profile that the Packers favor. It’s worth noting that Green Bay chose not to select any offensive lineman in the 2023 draft. If McCormick ends up in Green Bay, it’s reasonable to expect that he won’t be the lone offensive lineman Gutekunst drafts this year.

Linebacker, safety, and offensive line are all primary needs for the Packers heading into the draft. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Gutekunst opted to pivot in a different direction more than once during Days 1 and 2 of the draft. While these positions are areas of focus, Green Bay has a track record of finding value along the offensive line on Day 3. Additionally, off-ball linebacker isn’t traditionally considered a premium position in the draft.

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