Packers address needs, look to future in full 7-round mock draft

The Green Bay Packers will do anything to avoid another early playoff exit. They inked quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a new deal that made him the highest annually paid player but unfortunately could not retain All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams. Luckily, the Packers did acquire two high-draft picks in the process, arming themselves with 11 picks in the upcoming draft.

Mock Drafts are a dime a dozen these days, but this is also the dead period between free agency and the NFL draft. So, I decided to take a different approach with my mock. Rather than selecting players for which I have a personal bias, I tried my best to put myself in the shoes of GM Brian Gutekunst.

Using The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator, I conducted a seven-round mock draft and made what I thought were very Green Bay-like picks. I addressed positions of need and also looked towards the future, which is something the Packers do every year.

Here are the results, which do not include the seventh-round compensatory pick.

Green Bay wastes no time addressing their needs at wide receiver. Olave is the most polished route runner in this year’s draft and has a very high ceiling with a number one receiver potential. In 12 starts last season, Olave caught 65 passes for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns. For a more in-depth look at Olave, check out my recent film write-up here.

If there’s an outlier of the group, it’s definitely Faalele. Faalele is bigger than most tackles Green Bay typically selects (standing at 6-8) and is not as athletic. The Minnesota tackle was the heaviest player in combine history at 384 pounds and did not perform well during the agility drills. However, I had a difficult time picturing a scenario in which Gutekunst doesn’t address the right tackle spot in the first round. Faalele was the best tackle prospect available, and he is surprisingly nimble for his size when you turn on the tape. The Packers recently had Dennis Kelly and Jared Veldheer starting for them at tackle, and both were 6-8. Perhaps they will be more lenient towards Faalele, who already has a lot of intriguing tools even though he only started playing competitively in 2017.

With Za’Darius Smith no longer in the picture, Green Bay needs to add another edge rusher behind Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. Thomas was one of the most productive defensive players in college football last season, racking up 20.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. Getting drafted by the Packers could give the Mountain West product time to get bigger and stronger while refining his game. Eventually, Thomas’ upside as a run defender and pass rusher could help him emerge into a versatile defensive lineman. For a more in-depth look at Thomas, check out my recent film write-up here.

Green Bay has started to add more pieces around Kenny Clark, but their work isn’t over. You can never have too many defensive tackles, and Jones is a steal in the second round. Jones was a standout for a bad defense in college, where he became one of the best run-stuffers in the country. He tested extremely well at the combine and would be a great fit for the Packers as an early-down tackle.

Think of a young version of Marcedes Lewis. That’s Jelani Woods. Soon to be 38 years old, Lewis can’t play forever, and Green Bay needs to start thinking about the future of their tight end group. Robert Tonyan is coming off an ACL injury, and the early returns on Josiah Deguara have been average at best. Woods is a physical blocker who tested the best out of any tight ends at the combine and his pro day.

Similar to 2018, Gutekunst may add multiple wide receivers in the draft. Doubs is an intriguing prospect who was productive as an outside and slot receiver. In 2021, he led his team with 80 receptions, 1,109 receiving yards (13.9 yards per catch), and 11 touchdowns while also returning punts. Doubs could compete for return duties and fit in as a developmental piece for the Packers’ wide receiver room.

Speaking of special teams, Weatherford is a potential ace on day three. Its imposing size at 6-4 and 215 lbs is only one of the intriguing aspects of this player. Weatherford possesses booming hit power and is an excellent open-field tackler. Green Bay needs more players to reshape their special teams unit, and adding a guy like Weatherford is a good start. He could also compete for snaps as a sub-package safety or linebacker.

The Packers love versatile offensive linemen, and Tom is certainly that. After all, he is a center prospect who spent the last two years at left tackle. Tom could practically line up anywhere on the line at the next level. Despite his desired mass and length, he was surprisingly impressive in pass protection. Tom will have to overcome strength concerns, but overall, has a bright future if he lands on the right team. This guy would be a prime candidate for Green Bay’s draft and develop system.

Barno turned heads at this year’s combine when he ran a 4.36 and had a broad jump of 131 inches. His athleticism alone makes him worthy of a three flier day. Barno does not have a refined technique or aggressive playstyle, which caused his production to remain stagnant in college. Green Bay can add Barno for depth and then try to develop him into a formidable pass rusher. At the very least, he should be able to carve out a role on special teams.

Gutekunst has selected five corners in his four drafts as the Packers’ GM, so it’s a safe bet he will take at least one. Green Bay does not have any pressing needs at the corner, but Baker is an ideal candidate for special teams. This guy has basically done it all, as he has been a gunner and the contain man on kickoffs while also protecting the returner on punts. After five college seasons, Baker is a seasoned vet with experience at safety and corner.

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