After a tough 6-9-1 season, the Green Bay Packers began retooling first with the hiring of Matt LaFleur as new head coach, quickly followed by Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. Looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft in April, the Packers have numerous needs; none of which more apparent than wide receiver and offensive line.
Davante Adams and his 111 receptions and 13 touchdowns are a given as the number one wide receiver. However, behind him there are big question marks. Randall Cobb caught only 38 passes, missing six games due to injury and is free agent and might not return. Rookies Marquez Valdes- Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown had 38 and 21 receptions, respectively. Third-year pro Geronimo Allison had 20 receptions, but is also a free agent.
The offensive line gave up 53 sacks this year and backups Lucas Patrick, Justin McCray and Adam Pankey are all “exclusive rights free agents”. Corey Linsley has been a rock at center, but Byron Bell missed significant time due to injury. Aaron Rodgers was under a lot interior pressure this season and the Packers would be wise to address this early in the draft. The Packers have the 12th and 30th picks in the first round and should have over $40 million in salary cap space. They should be able to fill some holes as we take a closer look at players likely available in the middle and late first round.
Ben Powers (Oklahoma, guard)
In need of interior pass protection, Powers could be the best of a relatively thin offensive guard class. The tackles and center have been more or less solid for the Packers, but because of the glaring need for better guard play, Powers would be a wise early pick.
Chris Lindstrom (Boston College, guard)
Although Boston College used a heavy run-oriented attack, Lindstrom started as a tackle, so he’s likely ready for pass blocking duties in the NFL. Don’t be fooled by his “power blocker” reputation. Lindstrom has quick side-to-side movement, essential to handle quick interior pass rushers.
Dalton Risner (Kansas State, offensive line)
The fact that Risner can handle multiply positions across the offensive line makes him immediately stand out. He enters the draft with solid fundamentals and could be a top back up or move right in at one of the potential openings the Packers may have. David Bakhtiai and Corey Lndsley should be mainstays on the line, ,but opportunities are wide open at the other positions.
If none of the above three are on the board, Beau Benzschawel out of Wisconsin is also a solid option.
The Packers went with wide receiver in the draft last season, but with the uncertainty of Cobb’s situation, the need for a receiver is still present. Here’s the top receivers that the Packers should target:
Marquise Brown (Oklahoma)
Brown is lightning fast, quick, small and is great after the catch. His skill set fits perfectly in the Green Bay offense and would be an excellent replacement for Cobb, should he move elsewhere as a free agent.
Hunter Renfrow (Clemson)
The Tigers have had numerous weapons over the past few seasons and Refrow has been one of the most consistent. He hauled in 178 passes for 15 touchdowns in his collegiate career. While not a highlight reel player, Refrow possesses toughness, strong hands and good quickness and would be a solid option for the Packers.
Although the tight end position was manned by veteran Jimmy Graham, he is 32-years old and not as dynamic as once was. He caught 55 passes for only 636 yards and two touchdowns. This position could become thin quickly, so here’s the tight end prospects worth considering:
Irv Smith, Jr. (Alabama)
The exposure in the big games certainly didn’t hurt Smith’s cause his overall athletic ability is intriguing. What he does at the combines could determine where Smith falls in the draft. He hauled in 44 passes for seven touchdowns, strong enough to handle passes in traffic and tough to bring down after the catch.
Noah Fant (Iowa)
Fant has great size at 6-foot-5 and will use that to his advantage over much smaller defenders. Drafting Fant would be a dream for Rodgers, adding another huge target, particularly in the red zone. Fant has a knack for for finding the end one, having scored 18 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He is Iowa’s all-time leader in touchdowns by a tight end.
Clay Matthews has been excellent for many years in Green Bay, but he’s an unrestricted free agent and coming off a season with only 43 tackles and 3.5 sacks. There are questions about his return and his future effectiveness. A couple linebackers the Packers could consider are Brian Burns out of Florida State and Jachai Polite out of Florida.
A clear hole was created with the Ha Ha Clinton-Dix trade. Therefore, the safety position could be addressed via free agency or the draft. If so, keep your eyes on Juan Thornhill of Virginia and Deionte Thompson of Alabama.
Finally, considering the need to improve the pass rush, the Packers could consider the likes of Josh Allen (Kentucky), Joe Jackson (Miami) and Montez Sweat (Mississippi State)
No matter which dirction the Packers take with their upper round draft picks, there is plenty of talent on the board to fill some much needed holes entering the 2019 season.
Correction: Packers have the 12th pick, not 10th as stated before.
What happened to the OL guy they drafted last year and then he never showed up? Nice pick guys. I have already forgotten his name.
I’ve been seeing some recent tweets that his closest friend committed suicide and he’s had a hard time dealing with it. I have absolutely no idea if there’s any truth to that or not, but it’s the only actual explanation I’ve seen floating around.
What they don’t tweet is that his friend died last January, but he was ok to go through his Pro days and the draft, he was ok to attend Packers minicamp and OTA’s and he was ok to cash the $324,000 signing bonus he got. So my question being, if he’s ok to do all that, why couldn’t he show up to camp?
I know hundreds of people who had loved ones die and come back to work. I know of a QB who’s Dad died and he didn’t even take a game off.
Finally….if someone is so distraught that they can’t show up to work for a year, I’m pretty sure he would need treatment on an inpatient basis in my uneducated opinion..
Now you know the rest of the story
Its actually pick #12 and #30
And I agree that offensive line needs to get addressed early, but I think OLB, safety and TE would be higher needs than WR. I like T.J. Hockenson at TE better personally.
“the Packers have numerous needs; none of which more apparent than wide receiver and offensive line.”
The Packers drafted three WR’s last year. I’m not sure a bunch more rookie WR’s is what this team needs.
Slot WR is a Glaring NEED. The other guys are perimeter people. Those who want to re-sign Cobb will have to chip into a go fund me link. Quick, fast guys to hit he inside seam and mis-match the LBs.
So true. Get Beasley from Dallas, Edelman light. Re-sign Allison, and Pursue John Brown. Brown was great until Baltimore stopped throwing the ball with Lamar Jackson. No drafted WRs. OL and OLB then sign Earl Thomas or Landon Collins and maybe Eric Reid.
Appreciate the article Ed.
I’m PF4L…just a guy at work calling this day “Fuck it Friday” and i’m going to enjoy every minute of….not doing a f…ing thing today.
So i’ll agree the Packers have a shit ton of holes to fill. The question is, are they capable of filling them and how long will it take for those players to play at a NFL level?
Lets examine two things. Capability…..We had the same amount of needs basically as last off season, give or take. In other words technically speaking we could have filled some holes in last years draft and free agency, but did we?. We drafted a corner who may have a chance (lets see), i’ll grant you that. But after ditching Burnett (last season) and Dix, coupled with losing Mathews and Cobb and maybe Graham and Bulaga, You could make the case we have more holes than last off season.which shouldn’t be shocking news to any informed Packer fan. What i’m trying to say is being capable, is best described when and after you achieve it. Otherwise it’s just another season staying the same or falling further behind. I’m fairly certain Packer Nation has seen enough of that.
We are coming up to the part of the year where the draft pundits are going to have an opinion on who a team should draft, and how many holes they can fill, and why they will have immediate impact and start on a NFL team right away possibly even going to the Pro Bowl in year one, all while curing cancer. It’s often referred to as Fantasy land or the silly season.
Here’s the reality. ….Rookies rarely have an impact their rookie season. The majority can’t hack the jump form college ball to the NFL and will be gone before their second contract. 8-12 players will become above average or star players, and the remainder who stay are basically bodies to fill a roster. Lastly….. The good teams do not rely on a rookie draft class to make their team better, but it’s a bonus if they do. If you have to rely on a rookie draft class to greatly improve your NFL team for the last 4 or 5 years….you might want to consider updating your resume, unless of course you work for the Green Bay Packers where you only have to answer to yourself.
Only silver lining with the reliance on rookies to improve is the packers have a couple weak spots where rookies can traditionally step in and at least provide serviceable play.
Guard is one area that can be properly addressed and is inexcusable if they don’t.
Safety is another area rookies have excelled.
As far as improving the roster the #1 free agent on my wishlist is Cole beasley.
Give the young bucks there chance but bring in the proven slot wide out to push them.
Stiggy…you are absolutely correct. I should have expended about the potential positives rookie players can contribute in the aspect of some rookies are at least serviceable to fill some holes. I guess that’s what i meant by being a body on the roster.
It is quite clear that i don’t have the positive optimist spirit of this team that you have. Stay with it as long as you can. I’m just too far past that point until i actually see some tangible results and i’ll be honest, i’m not expecting much. If we had a better results from the 2018 draft and free agency, i might be feeling different.That was Gutes Mulligan, but damn…. it’s a bad start.
As Bill Micheals said yesterday, Gute has to hit on at least 50 percent of his picks, and at least two in free agency, he has no more room for error.
Haha I’m a realist. Boss is a bears fan and I called the bears division championship before the season.. even called the vikings demise.
After a deflating defeat to the lions in no other than 2010 I told my friends the pack would still make the playoffs… wish I had predicated the super bowl but I’ll take it.
But my best prediction ever was calling the ravens super bowl win in 2003?? I believe half way through the 2002 season.
Point being I’m not an optimist or a pessimist per say.. just call it how I see it.
Toss in a few guards… a safety who doesn’t smash wilkerson’s leg in to pieces… and an impact slot wideout/tight end with a presumed new offensive scheme and we could at least be competitive again.
Or we totally blow it. Could go either way at this point
You are talking to a true realist. Being optimistic or pessimistic is directly related and born from reality.
Reality lets you know whether you should be optimistic or pessimistic. The reality of this team has given me no real reason for optimism. Just because they replaced some of the decision makers, that alone isn’t a fix….it’s a starting point.
If something can go either way, it’s not a stretch to describe that as a coin flip. If you think this team has a 50% chance of taking it home at this point, i don’t know what to tell you.
Most fans that have followed this team for a long time aren’t exactly predicting a deep playoff run. Hell…you won’t find many who will declare the Packers will win the division next season.
Congrats on calling the bears and the queens. I wish i had that skill. What’s your prediction for the Packers this coming season? I’ll take notes.
Couldnt respond to your response below.
Predictions for pack this year? Ill share my thoughts after the draft and the off season as assessing the packers current roster for next year is a useless endeavor. But… for arguments sake if they trotted this same lineup out there I would go no better than 8-8. They were exactly what their record was this year… a medicore/below average team.
I feel that “naming every hole” and then fixing it is not possible with the parity in the NFL. So for arguments sake I feel they can be a playoff team if they address the following areas. Super bowl rosters are very hard to predict given injuries/emergence of new players/and late season momentum unless they have all world defense… ala 2003 Ravens, 85 bears, and the legion of boom in seattle.
Pack need new guard play. I saw how quentin nelson transformed the colts. The pack were at their best with sitton/wahle/Rivera/lang manning the guard position over the years. They need a tone setter… a mean SOB ala Nelson/Richie Incognito (psychotic behavior aside) mold. Ill take a personal foul here and there for that tone setter.
Middle of the field help on offense. Either a dynamic tight end or slot wideout. I dont care which. You cant have a consistent offense with relying on Adams outside every game. Also need 1 of the young buck wideouts to progress… and maybe keep allison for cheap.
Defensively… I like our DBs moving forward but feel Jackson (who is a zone ball hawk player) MAY be better served as a safety. Clinton dix was trash so at least the pack realize they need help there.
Frankly… I’ve questions why the pack dont consider going back to an oversized 4-3 defense. Daniels/Clark would be exceptional in the middle… and they could possibly find some servicable ends much easier that a 3-4 EDGE. Those are very hard to come by… and much harder to develop. I realize their roster is built around 3-4 players… but… I still see the possibility of playing more 4 dlineman sets… especially since that is one of their positions of strength.
Its much easier (imo) to say what the pack SHOULDNT do this off season on defense. Do not under any circumstance sign Clowney to a contract. I was actually considering him as a good fit until I watched his dissapearing act against a playoff caliber colts O-line. He was manhandled… on national tv… by a rookie guard (albeit all-pro). He will be the next haynesworth of free agent busts.
I do apologize as im all over the board… but as far as division predictions?
I (unfortunately) expect Trubisky to take another step forward and roquan smith as well. The bears are likely my pick (once again based on the off season) but we are one Khalil mack/Hicks Acl from that projection changing.
Lions? patricia is the new buffoon in the division. They will continue to be the Lions.
Vikings? They are jeckyl and Hyde but looks like they will finally have to pay the piper. When you are paying Kirk Cousins A-rod money its going to go south quick. They may have 1 year left… but they… more than any team in this division.. need to knock the draft out of the park. Thing is… Rodgers was by all means equivalent to Kirk cousins last year… his floor is cousins ceiling. La fleur may be able to scheme rodgers back in to being rodgers…. but cousins? He will never be rodgers.
I was being sarcastic, but ok :)
This is a nice time of the year, isn’t it? Get out the free-agent wish list and while it is minus 8 outside, go through some pages of mock drafts. Now mocks are nothing but click bait mind candy for bored football fans but hey, sometimes you find one that gets about 20% of the picks correct in the first round. I’m guilty as hell for wasting a lot of time on them. Since I’ve wasted a bunch of time on them already I’ll say that I agree on a possible pick of Noah Fant but he might be gone by pick 30. Hockenson might be the better value at a pick for TE.
Next up, the undi-lympics. This is where we’ll see the buzz on someone’s stock rising or falling based a couple tenths, or hundreds, of a second in some drill. Know what I’d rather see? Let’s get some of these guys playing Jeopardy or something where we can find out which ones actually have something between the ears because smarter players are often better and less risky than the dumber ones. Smarter players learn schemes, plays, routes, and assignments better and faster.
How about a test for low impulse control? Certainly would weed out bozos with off-field issues, bad decision makers, and penalty magnets. Think about a player who gets flagged for taunting when their team is down by two scores. Think about a player who is told to field a kick off in the end zone and down the ball for a touch back, but freelances anyway. Who needs those type of players?
Just musing. Thanks for the write up and keep’em coming. Last thing we want to see during this dwell time is TMZ style gossip.
Credit were credit is due. Great job Jason in not having the gossip/stalking type articles about the Packer players.
Hope you plan on keeping it that way.
Very much agreed. Who cares if Rodgers dates Olivia Munn, or a big black defensive lineman, for that matter? Most of us care about him as a player, what he does outside is neither our concern nor ours to judge.
You don’t draft need, you draft future hopeful stars. If you need rooks to start, you’re already fighting an uphill battle. Get the absolute best player regardless of position and fill immediate needs with affordable veterans.
We’re absolutely stacked with young talent at receiver, with Adams, MVS, ESB, Kumerow, and Moore. Losing Cobb and Allison means nothing.
It amazes me how some writers forget it took guys like Adams, Driver, Nelson, and others a year or two to learn the pro game and click with Aaron. Remember when everyone panicked and wanted Adams cut?
We now have more big young talent at receiver than I’ve ever seen in Green Bay, and several positions–OLB, RG, TE, Safety–completely bereft of talent. And this writer actually wants us blowing high picks on receiver?
Laughable. Utterly laughable.
You raise valid points. However other than mvs… the packers wideouts are built on size and 1 v1 matchups. Under the new offense you need a sproles..cooper kupp… tyreek.hill…or Tariq Cohen type speed demon to create mist matches.
I am big on the pack drafting one undersized mismatch nightmare pr signing a lethal route runner like cole Beasley