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GM Brian Gutekunst showed us with his free agency signings that he is committed to winning now – not building up for 2020 or 2021. For this and other reasons, Green Bay should be aiming to send one, or possibly two, of its 2019 draftees out on the field as starters on September 5.

It’s financially advantageous to get as much playing time as possible out of all players while they are operating under their rookie contracts. Finances aside, it’s a waste of resources to plant a first-rounder’s butt on the bench for a year or two. It’s also been established over and over that every year there are many more than 32 college players who have the ability to start from Game 1 – especially if you look to premier college football programs, like Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame. And especially O-linemen.

I’d add that if you’re looking for a player to have an instant impact, it helps if he has three solid years as a collegiate starter, and if he’s gotten better each year. Players who merely busted out for one big year are too risky and unproven to select in the first round.

After the cruddy 2018 season, everyone has been saying the team has more gaping roster holes to fill than usual. That’s the clinching argument: we need a couple of draftees who are ready to meaningfully contribute NOW.

Last year the Packers had the luxury of selecting in the first round at number 18. They did well – Jaire Alexander started almost every week, and played significant amounts of time in all 16 games.

Let’s have no more of those Ted Thompson drafts, where we squandered first round picks on the likes of Datone Jones, Nick Perry, Derek Sherrod, and Justin Harrell.

 

Green Bay currently has the following overall picks: 12 and 30 in Round 1, 44 (Rd. 2), 75 (Rd. 3), 114 and 118 (Rd. 4), 150 (Rd. 5), 185 and 194 (Rd. 6), and 226 (Rd. 7).

 

Packers’ Pre-draft Visits to Date

 

Each year at this time I look to who the Packers have interviewed or invited for a workout as the draft nears. These visits provide real clues as to what the Packers’ brain trust is thinking.

I always concentrate on which positions are likely to be targeted in the early rounds, as opposed to which of over 300 players the Packers might select.

As I write, I believe that twenty players have been interviewed or scheduled for pre-draft visits – 11 on offense and nine on defense. Most teams schedule more interviews, with some teams doing 40 or more.

The Packers often interview players who they don’t intend to draft at all, but might want to bring to camp as undrafted prospects. I’m not interested in the long shots – my focus is on the first four rounds, and this year the Packers have six picks in those rounds. Having six of the first 118 picks is an opportunity that has to be maximized if the Packers are to return to winning football over the next half-dozen years or so.

I’ve found WalterFootball.com (WF) to be smart draft forecasters. The lists below are the collegians I’m aware of who the Pack has scheduled or held pre-draft visits with this year, along with WF’s estimate of when each player will be selected in the draft.

Draft Prospects – Offense

 

WR Penny Hart, Georgia State – unranked

WR Cody Thompson, Toledo – unranked

WR Jeff Smith, Boston College – unranked

WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss – # 26

OT Kaleb McGary, Washington – # 66

OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida – # 7

OT Olisameka Udoh, Elon – # 137

TE Noah Fant, Iowa – # 21

TE Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M – # 69

TE Andrew Beck, Texas – unranked

RB Nick Brossette, LSU – unranked

Draft Prospects – Defense

 

DT Daylon Mack, Texas A&M – unranked

DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama – # 2

DT Ed Oliver, Houston – # 9

Edge Jachai Polite, Florida – # 42

Edge Montez Sweat, Miss. State – # 5

Edge Randy Ramsey, Arkansas – unranked

CB Tim Harris, Virginia – unranked

CB Blace Brown, Troy – unranked

S Lukas Denis, Boston College – # 157

 

Jachai Polite sacks Joe Burrow

Jachai Polite (99) pressures LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow (9) during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Analysis

What’s the first thing you notice? The Packers would appear to have no chance at getting Williams (2), Sweat (5), or Taylor (7). They might be thinking about trying to move up from the # 12 spot – but I doubt it, in part because the team initiating the trade almost always get the worst of the deal. Maybe they just want to be prepared in case one of the three is surprisingly still available at # 12. Opinions vary re Montez Sweat, so he could still be around at # 12. If Ed Oliver were to be available, he would be hard to pass up.

At any rate, let’s drop Williams, Sweat, and Taylor, as likely being gone before the twelfth pick. Let’s also exclude those who might not even be selected in the upcoming draft. That leaves:

WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss – # 26

OT Kaleb McGary, Washington – # 66

OT Olisameka Udoh, Elon – # 137

TE Noah Fant, Iowa – # 21

TE Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M – # 69

DT Ed Oliver, Houston – # 9

Edge Jachai Polite, Florida – # 42

S Lukas Denis, Boston College – # 157

 

Wide Receiver

I’m been puzzled for many years by the Packers’ thinking regarding wide receivers. A team with Aaron Rodgers should at some point expend a first round pick on a sure-fire wideout. Given they’ve got a surplus of mid- and late-round WRs on the roster, I can’t imagine why they’d be looking for more of the same, much less at receivers who are likely to go undrafted. And yet they seem to be.

The biggest clue I see in looking at the pre-draft invitees is Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown – who WF projects as being drafted # 26. Why would Green Bay be scrutinizing a guy almost certain to be selected before the second round, and especially now that they are in the final assembly stage of constructing their draft board?

There’s one and only one reason: they are contemplating selecting a wideout in the first round – to which I can only say: finally! I have no idea if it will be Brown, only that they are looking at a first round WR. For what it’s worth, WF has only three WRs forecast to go in Round 1: D.K. Metcalf (also Ole Miss!) at 13, Parris Campbell (Ohio State) at 22, and Brown at 26; they list five more WRs as Round 2 choices.

I’m inclined to think the Pack will use pick # 12 on a wideout. I don’t see another position that cries out for an instant starter.

 

Offensive tackle

In interviewing two highly-ranked offensive tackles, the Pack is signifying to me that they hope to pick up an OT early on – probably to compete with Bryan Bulaga this year and replace him next year. I think either the # 44 or the # 30 pick will be used. WF lists the top OTs as being selected as #’s 7, 17, 18, 23, and 30 – and none taken in the second round.

Normally I’d never use a first round pick for an O-line player, and the Packers have subscribed by this theory, and still got quality players, in the past (Sitton, Linsley, Tretter, even Bakhtiari). This year, though, might be the exception. If not used for the 30th pick, McGary would be good value if he’s around at # 44.

 

Tight End

Gutekunst, barring a sudden trade, has committed to Jimmie Graham for the next year at least. He’s being paid to be a starter, and in fact a star, at tight end. So, why are the Packers looking closely at Noah Fant and Jace Sternberger? Sure, for the post-Graham future, but the future is now for this team. The earliest I can see Green Bay drafting a TE would be in Round 3, with pick # 75.

Many others, however, think this will happen no later than the 44th overall pick, in Round 2. I’d add that, much like the McCarthy-Thompson Packers, up to now I haven’t seen Coach LaFleur intent on making a TE a key receiver. He seems to look for tight ends who can block – and they can be readily found in the middle rounds.

 

Safety

With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Kentrell Brice gone, we’ve got Adrian Amos and Josh Jones at the top of the depth chart. I believe Jones will step up at the least to being a solid starter this year. That pretty much leaves the Packers with Tramon Williams as the backup. Experience tells us we can almost count on losing one or two starting DBs for a good part of the season. We need more depth, and someone to step in if Jones bombs out.

It must be a rotten year for safeties: Walter Football has none forecast to be a first round selection. It does, however have four second round picks: #’s 24, 36, 58, and 61. Sounds to me like the # 44 slot is ideal for this.

 

Defensive tackle

I don’t view this as a big need for the Packers, but many other forecasters disagree. As often as not the Packers only have two interior linemen out on the field at a time, and we have rock-solid Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels, plus improving Dean Lowry as a fill-in. After seven seasons, Daniels has started to miss games, and his production is waning – including just two sacks in 2018. My hunch is that the Packers will look for Daniels’ eventual replacement (and a contributing backup this year) in Round 4.

 

Quarterback

The Packers lacked a competent backup QB through nearly all of the McCarthy-Thompson era, other than for Matt Flynn. They’ve paid heavily for it in both 2013 and 2017. Though they’ve so far had no luck with Brian Brohm (Round 2 in 2008), Brett Hundley (Round 5 in 2015), Joe Callahan, or DeShone Kizer, there are always QB prospects still around in the middle rounds.

The Cowboys came up with Dak Prescott at pick # 135 – maybe Green Bay can scoop up a similar bargain with one of its two Round 4 picks. Too bad they let Taysom Hill get away. My druthers, however, since we dare not yet mention seeking out a replacement for Rodgers, would be to pick up an NFL journeyman backup QB, as so many other teams have done.

 

Edge

Forgetaboutit. $118 million was invested in the free agent Smiths. That’s the route we’re going.

 

Summary

# 12 – wide receiver

# 30 – offensive tackle

# 44 – safety

# 75 – tight end

# 114 – defensive tackle

# 118 – quarterback

In 2019, I’m ready to see six new players starting for the Packers: a newly drafted wide receiver and O-lineman, the two free-agent OLBs, Adrian Amos at safety, and free agent lineman Billy Turner.

Tags:
Rob Born

Someone else said it first but I popularized it: “Athleticism is important in athletic pursuits.” It took three years, but the Packers finally listened. My new mantra: “Trading down is fine, but never trade up.”

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24 Comments

  1. Ron Wolowich April 10, 2019

    I believe we should draft one of the better O lineman with first or second pick. then safety Abrams would loo great beside Amos and both are thumpers in the middle. I would draft tight end 3rd

  2. PF4L April 10, 2019

    We have been in the position of needing draft picks to be starter quality for years.
    This is not an enviable position. It means your team is weak. I can’t recall a lower half NFL team becoming Championship caliber because of a rookie draft class.

    Again, as i seem to say annually. If you have to rely on a rookie draft class for success that season in a win now mode, you are dead in the water.

    Lower talent teams need to have above average drafts, You want to see flashes from these players that show you they may become impact players as they develop in the following year or two. It’s a process that TAKES TIME., it’s not a win now mode. You can’t be relying on a draft class, and be in a win now mode, at the same time. That’s living in fantasy land.

    Go to last years draft….was that draft a difference maker? No, drafts rarely, if ever, are. Hopefully Alexander’s flashes are future indicators of an above average ball hawk and cover man….we will see, he isn’t there yet.

    Equally important is hoping for a 2nd year jump from MVS, and St. Brown. If they don’t make a jump, this offense is in trouble. Even if we draft a talented receiver high, that could help. But that doesn’t guarantee he steps on a NFL and just “gets it”.

    Yes, we got some free agents. Hopefully they will be 10x as good as that shit show of free agents we got last off season. Signing free agents is half that battle, signing ones that come in and help your team is the other half.

    Gute spent what?… 55 million on signing bonus’s on free agents this year. If i’m Gute, i’m on my knee’s praying i get more than 5-6 sacks from the Smith’s. I’m praying that PF4L is wrong about Billy Turner being a disaster.

    I guess my main point is, the “winning now” talk, or as Gute says “We are always in a win mode.” Here’s what i think…..How about, we put the win now mode talk on the back burner? At least until the team can finish, idk……a .500 team or better?

    Because if we are in a win now mode NOW. I’m wayyyy behind in saving for my Super Bowl tickets.

    1. PF4L April 10, 2019

      Jason…just as my post stated, i clicked, post the comment, and nothing happened. So obviously i thought it didn’t take. I don’t know how long the delay was for it to show up, because the site no longer contains the time posted anymore, Just the date.

    2. thomaslind949yahoocom April 13, 2019

      PF4L, Look at the jump the Saints made 2 years ago with their rookies.

    3. PF4L April 15, 2019

      Excellent point thomas.

      I am now officially starting my Green Bay Packer 2019 Super Bowl ticket fund.

      Contributions can be made in my newly created “Gofundme” account titled PackerFan4Life needs SB tickets.

      My fund goal is $60,000.00.
      6 grand for tickets and hotel, 4 grand for food and souvenoirs.
      50 grand for a new truck…..to get there.

      Help a brother out!!

  3. PF4L April 10, 2019

    MOF”R…i just spent 20 minutes or so and i clicked post comment…and nothing…..wtf ml,/,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,wvasnk;jebnkJ

  4. PF4L April 10, 2019

    …..l..

  5. PF4L April 10, 2019

    ……

  6. Scott April 10, 2019

    Sounds reasonable

  7. PF4L April 10, 2019

    smfh….Listen….i need this site to work….what do you expect me to do all day…..work?

    1. Jason Parker April 10, 2019

      What issue are you having?

    2. PF4L April 10, 2019

      Jason…just as my post stated, i clicked, post the comment, and nothing happened. So obviously i thought it didn’t take. I don’t know how long the delay was for it to show up, because the site no longer contains the time posted anymore, Just the date.

      1. Jason Parker April 10, 2019

        Maybe it was intercepted, Favre. Don’t force posts in heavy coverage.

    3. PF4L April 11, 2019

      I’m a highly successful gunslinger, it’s who i am. Gotta take the good with the bad.

  8. KILLER April 10, 2019

    Since Piffle is unable to communicate I will communicate on his behalf. I’m there for you, Piffle!

    I checked out a comprehensive listing of draft prospects “visiting” teams. I put that in quotes because it often is not a visit, it is actually an interview, often brief, at the Senior Bowl or Combine or wherever.

    Green Bay has a history of not fully using this process. Not even close. I see they have not changed under Gute the Bad.

    The Packers have a grand total of 20 “visits”. Only one team has less (Bengals:18) and one as many (Seahawks:20). (Most teams have 45 or even 60) However, at least those two teams had more Private visits. This is where the player flies in, spends the night, goes out to dinner with coaching and GM types, tours the facilities, meets players and coaches. Good stuff. Great chance to really get to know them. Each team is allowed 30. Most teams use all 30. Packers have used six. 6.

    You see, these private visits involve Work and Effort and Caring. Numerous GMs have relayed stories of how these visits saved them from drafting losers or led them to take a guy earlier who really paid off. So, to not do them as much as possible is just plain Dereliction of Duty.

    That’s your new management team. Same as the old management team.

    Piffle wishes you all the best. Says be patient, Aaron Rodgers career will be over soon.

  9. PF4L April 10, 2019

    KILLER April 10, 2019

    Green Bay has a history of not fully using this process. Not even close. But one thing Green Bay does well, is win multiple Super Bowls.

    It’s hard to win Super Bowls, some teams can’t even win one.

    1. PF4L April 10, 2019

      On the rare instance i read a Lonely Boy post, he actually sounded intelligent.

      Go figure. But then again, a broken clock is right twice a day

  10. Jason Parker April 10, 2019

    Going to adjust comment font size so it is more obvious what is a root comment and what is someone’s reply

    I’ll also try to bring comment timestamps back

    1. PF4L April 11, 2019

      The problem with the font being larger is you lose content per display. I think the largest it should be is my response here.

      Just trying to help. As always……no charge.

  11. Deepsky April 11, 2019

    The Packers better not screw up this 12th pick. There’s been some real studs taken in the 12th position. In the last 20 years, better than half the players taken at this position have been Pro Bowlers and only a handful have been busts and of those it was mainly at the quarterback position. Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata, Shawne Merriman, Jonathan Vilma, Warren Sapp are a few of the big names.

  12. Ferris April 11, 2019

    The research on visits and other garbage that LB does just makes me feel more sorry for him. Go research the Vikings Super Bowl success….then report back.

  13. Jerry Kramer April 13, 2019

    I don’t know. If you’re looking for help this season, I think you take a pass rusher first. How many rookie receivers contribute the first year? How long did it take Davante Adams?

    1. Deepsky April 13, 2019

      I agree with taking a pass rusher. How many times, because they draft late in the first round, have the Packers taken tweeners or other compromise players to generate a pass rush? Difference makers are rarely available at 30 because they’re gone by 15. That’s why the Packers end up with guys like Nick Perry, Justin Harrell, or Datone Jones. The Packers have a chance to get a premium pass rusher and they should do it.

    2. PF4L April 15, 2019

      The man had 11 sacks…lets show some respect…Russ and Ted did.