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3 Out of the Box First Round Choices To Improve The Packers

What If They don’t take The Obvious Receiver?

 

Every Packer Fan is praying for Rodgers to have another weapon in the passing game. The 2020 draft class might be so deep in wide receiver that the Packers could wait to find LaFleur’s new tool. So if the Packers skip on a wide receiver in the first round, who should they target?

 

Wisconsin Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor

Feb 28, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor (RB27) participates in a workout drill during the 2020 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jonathan Taylor – Running Back

College: University of Wisconsin

Year: Junior

– Over Taylor’s three years in Madison, he ran for over 6,000 yards and averaged almost seven yards per carry. He is one of the fastest running backs in this draft class, clocking a 4.4 40-yard dash time. Taylor is a durable and quick back that can add some juice for the Green Bay backfield coming in when Aaron Jones needs a rest.

What makes him so dangerous?

Taylor would fit in the passing part of Green Bay’s offense on all downs eventually. Even though he only had a little over 400 receiving yards in college, he started to show his true receiving skills in his final year as a Badger. Coach LaFleur  will be able to recognize how elusive he is when he gets into the open field and how hard it is to bring him down when the ball is in his hands. I can see the Packers splitting him out as a slot receiver and have him run mesh routes on critical downs. He can also be valuable running smash routes, curls, and screens out of the backfield. Jonathan Taylor could thrive in this offense because Lafleur always keeps his running backs active and Rodgers is always best finding a running back on a checkdown letting them make a play in the open field.

 

Aaron Jones Factor

Aaron Jones’ rookie contract will expire after this year’s season, as well as Jamaal Williams. Jones will most likely be re-signed after this year’s season proving to be the franchise back. The only question that makes this decision hard is veterans, Kenny Clark, Corey Linsley, and Kevin Kings contracts will expire too.

The Packers could go a different route and re-sign Pro Bowler Kenny Clark and veteran Center Corey Linsley, while also giving the same opportunity to Kevin King(5 INT last season). This would mean that they would have to let Jones walk. Jones will become an expensive target for teams, and if Green Bay doesn’t want to go the expensive route, they have to start looking for the future and heavily consider taking a shot at Jonathan Taylor. Even if Aaron Jones does re-sign long term, Taylor could be a great aspect to the offense opening up new challenges for opposing defenses.

 

Final Analysis

– Wisconsin Alumni already making him a fan favorite

– Able to make a play when the play is already busted (Comparison= Saquon Barkley)

– A bruiser in traffic and slippery in the open field

– Has talent as a receiver and could make a living in the empty set or in the checkdown
game

– Can become a number one RB if Aaron Jones does not re-sign

Louisiana State ILB Patrick Queen

Feb 29, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Louisiana State Tigers linebacker Patrick Queen (LB32) runs the 40 yard dash during the 2020 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

2. Patrick Queen – Inside Linebacker

College: LSU

Year: Junior

– The inside linebacker out of Baton Rouge recorded 85 tackles with 12 of them being for a loss of yards. He also added three sacks to the Tigers’ historical run and an interception off of Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama QB) in the game of the year. The Packers have never had an inside linebacker that would stick around and Queen could finally fill that gap in Pettine’s defense.

Why Would Queen Stand Out In The Packers Defense?

Defensive MVP of The National Championship, Patrick Queen was able to lead his defense by calling every play. What really opens the Packers eyes is his aggressiveness when there is a ball carrier in sight. Also, Queen plays with a different type of swagger that would fit the Packers defense. His biggest impact on the Tigers defense was how well he covered the tight end in deep routes and mesh routes. He was also able to cover running backs in checkdown situations and blew up most screens in sight. Ex Packers Linebacker Blake Martinez struggled to cover tight ends on seam routes and had trouble picking up receivers over the middle. What would make Queen so special is he would be able to pick up on passing situations easily and has the intelligence to call the defense as a rookie. Also, with offensive lines and quarterbacks already focusing on how to contain the Smith brothers, this will give Queen a chance to make big plays in the backfield. The Packers past linebackers have always struggled against tight ends and picking up receivers on broken plays, so making the addition of Queen to Pettine’s defense will only make them more exciting to watch this season.

 

Signing of Christian Kirksey

Recently the Packers were able to sign former Browns Linebacker Christian Kirksey, filling Blake Martinez’s spot temporarily. Kirksey is a veteran who brings a lot of knowledge to the Packers defense. Kirksey is also known to be injury prone, playing only nine games for Cleveland last year. If the Packers draft Queen, he will be able to rotate with Kirksey and be able to gain knowledge from the veteran. Eventually Queen would prove himself and push out Christian Kirksey becoming a leader for the Packers young defense.

Final Analysis

– Intense hard hitting Linebacker

– Able to cover receiving Running Backs and Tight Ends

– Recognizes the screen well – Plays with the Packers type of Swagger

– Has experience being the Play caller already

– Will have chances to make big plays with opposing teams fearing the Packers front.

 

Ezra Cleveland

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

3. Erza Cleveland- Offensive Tackle

College: Boise State

Year: Junior

– The junior tackle out of Boise is an athletic big man that played every game since 2017 and also ran a 4.93 at the NFL Combine. He is able to move quickly to the block and does the best in pass protection. He does well in the run game when sealing off blocks that open up holes that can provide a spark to the Jones/Williams backfield.

Why Would Cleveland Make The Packers O-Line Better?

Erza Cleveland is a quick guy who produced a lot of open holes for the run game at Boise State. He has quick feet making him able to seal off fast linebackers and defensive ends. In the run protection he is best on stretch plays because of his quickness and his ability to reach for a block. Cleveland also is able to play both left and right tackles which fits with the Packers history of producing versatile linemen. It seems that Cleveland might be a work in progress for
the first year or so because he would need to put some weight and muscle tone on giving him a stockier build giving him an advantage at being able to protect the inside run. Cleveland may be a bridge at first, but has the athletic ability to soon fill for the loss of Bryan Bulaga.

Bryan Bulaga Signing With The Los Angeles Chargers

Recently, the Packers lost long time veteran, Bryan Bulaga, to the Chargers. Bulaga was able to protect Rodgers when All-Pro defensive ends would line up on the other side. He was able to shut down defensive ends Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, who were quick players that easily got after the quarterback. Rick Wagner of the Detroit Lions will be replacing Bulaga and will have to fill a big role. Cleveland would be able to prove himself in the preseason by beating out Wagner and becoming that quick lineman that can keep up with all these fast moving defensive ends and outside linebackers. He will also be successful because the Packers like to run toss/stretch plays where it will be easy for him to get out of his stance and go make a block up the field. The same thing applies for when they run screens with Davante Adams and Aaron Jones.

Final Analysis

– Agile

– Quick feet and able to seal blocks to make holes for the running back

– Will thrive in Outside zone runs and screens passes – Quick enough to keep up with fast defensive linemen

– Will have to put more weight on to be able to have a wide base in the Inside Run
protection

– Can be a starter to fill Bulaga’s role

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Tommy Pernetti

Tommy will soon enter his sophomore year in college. He is a Packer Junky and has been playing or watching football since little. Go Pack GO!

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15 Comments

  1. PF4L April 20, 2020

    Welcome aboard Tom Pernetti…You should know a little about me. I speak my mind with no filter, and i pretend i know what i’m talking about at all times. I am proudly the 59th most respect commentators in here. According to the last census, there are 60 of us here.
    *
    When you have a record of 13-3. There are positives and negatives you can draw from that. It’s a positive you went 13-3. The negative is you pick 30th in the draft.
    *
    I’m almost happy we don’t have a higher pick in the first round. If we had the 12th pick, my blood pressure would rise so high on Thursday night i would probably suffer certain death.
    *
    I need to comment on the article below of “Gute still defends…..” But after that i’ll actually come back and read this article.

    1. Tom Pernetti April 20, 2020

      Thanks for the response, I love the no filter attitude. I am the same way. Can’t wait for Thursday. GO Pack!

    2. tommypernetti15 April 20, 2020

      Thanks for the response! Hoping Thursday goes in our favor!!!

  2. Howard April 20, 2020

    Tom, I do think there is a good chance that the Packers take an OT in round 1, if the right one is there. With that in mind I previously looked at some of the OTs and one I thought was probably not first round material is Cleveland.
    Maybe it is to close to the bust called Spriggs, but if you compare Spriggs and Cleveland you have almost the same player based on the combine workouts. In addition scouts appear to almost use the same language addressing both Spriggs and Cleveland’s strengths and weakness. If you want a competent OT starter in the first year, even if it is late in the year, I question Cleveland being that player, but I’ve been wrong before.
    The other issue with Cleveland is Boise State does not play against the best defenses in college football week in and week out. Spriggs at least was going up against defensive ends from one of the better conferences in college.
    Welcome aboard Tom.

    1. PF4L April 20, 2020

      FYI Tom….Howard is the #1 most respected commentator in here. But as God as my witness, i’m hoping to catch up with him somewhere in the next 25-30 years.

  3. Big B April 20, 2020

    JT- fan favorite? Who cares, I want production. He’s had it, a lot of it. Makes me wonder if the tread is pretty worn. I’d take an RB later.
    PQ- I like it. Fits what the Packers need, but may not be there.
    EC- I share Howard’s concerns; I’d prefer Jones or Jackson if available.

    I foresee sitting in front of my TV for 4+ hours then at #30 the Pack trades back….to Friday. That will give me time to dwell on the Justin Harrell selection once again. I just can’t let it go. I was more prepped than Mel Kiper and I had never heard of him or his injured triceps. Thanks for listening.

  4. tommypernetti15 April 20, 2020

    Thanks for the response! Would love to see queen in GB.

  5. GreenRaider76 April 20, 2020

    Tommy- This is a very thoughtful piece. I am especially intrigued by Taylor. This is an especially deep draft at WR. I hadn’t been thinking like this but what if they do take Taylor at 30, draft from that deep WR pool in the 2nd and have Sternberger take the next step? Wow. This offense can be lethal again with those two picks. Really interesting thought. Thanks for the work.

  6. MJ April 20, 2020

    Until I read PF4L’s comment above, I would have thought this was an article by Rob. That’s a good thing. Cool to have an active player as a writer here. It seems Jason outdid himself by hiring you.

    Looks like you’ve been studying your fellow players as a freshman. I am on the “let’s get a difference-making WR” train. I want one of the highly-touted guys from this year’s class. Preferably, a shifty guy for the slot. We already have plenty of tall and straight-line fast guys, Adams being the shifty sharp route-runner of the bunch, though not take-it-to-the-house fast.

    You got me to buy in on the Taylor pick. He could double as Jones-like threat and as flex RB. At 30, Queen will be gone. But as the RB position is devalued, at that spot you can get a top-of-the-shelf RB. Therefore, I won’t be mad if we skip WR in favor of this Taylor guy.

    Can’t say much of any OL. We need one to be brought up for 2021, so, maybe there’s some wiggle room to bet on potential vs proven performance. For the DL, we need a run stuffer. Those are in lower demand than pass-rushing IDLs, so we could get a good deal in Rd 3 (assuming we get the OL in Rd 2).

  7. Chad Donny April 20, 2020

    I like all 3 of these guys. Jonathan Taylor is a beast. I would love that pick.

  8. Larry April 20, 2020

    It’s insane to pay Rogers 135 million and not give him the talent to succeed. Just trade up and grab Jefferson and you have a pro bowl caliber slot WR for the next 10 yrs. This miss-conception that 1 WR is as good as the next is moronic.

    1. Ferris April 21, 2020

      Not sure you trade up in a draft filled with WR talent. Just wait and get someone talented.
      I should apply for an NFL GM job. They all are under so much pressure they overthink. Like TT when he was not senile. Waited….had TJ Watt fall to him and traded out. Senile fool. Stupid. Waited and had Aaron Rodgers fall to him. Made the pick. Yay. Davante Adams was a second rounder by Ted. At first seemed bad but now great pick. Jennings, Nelson, 2nd rounders. Don’t trade up it costs too much.

  9. Skinny April 21, 2020

    Ive been in on Taylor as well because i dont know but to me it feels almost certain that Jones will get hurt at some point this year. I just feel like hes a ticking time bomb with the way he plays. If he goes down the running game is so screwed! Taylor would be an unreal insurance policy.

  10. James Adlebush April 23, 2020

    I think Taylor is a great pick at#30 .
    The WR class is deep.
    The best LB’S will be gone by#30.
    Take Taylor At #30, then DL to stop the run,then WR,ILB/OLB,OT/C,TE and CB.

  11. PF4L April 24, 2020

    “3 Out of the Box First Round Choices To Improve The Packers”
    *
    Hindsight can be comical sometimes.