For the first time in over a decade, the Green Bay Packers are entering the NFL Draft with a new regime in charge — but Aaron Rodgers remains a constant.
State Of The Team
Any team with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback should contend for a championship every year, but the Green Bay Packers have failed to reach the playoffs two years running. And now here we are, at the 2019 NFL Draft, after what has already been an exciting offseason. A change was necessary at head coach, and the Matt LaFleur era is underway in Titletown. And it truly is a new era.
The first day of the new league year used to just be another Wednesday in Green Bay, but second-year general manager Brian Gutekunst kicked off free agency with four big signings this year, perhaps understanding the time to win is now. The Packers can become contenders again with a strong offseason. For now, they’re trending up. The trend needs to continue in this year’s draft.
Total Draft Picks
Thanks to the trade with the New Orleans Saints last year, the Green Bay Packers have two first-round picks and a total of 10 in this year’s draft.
- Round 1, No. 12
- Round 1, No. 30
- Round 2, No. 12 (44th overall)
- Round 3, No. 12 (75th overall)
- Round 4, No. 12 (114th overall)
- Round 4, No. 16 (118th overall)
- Round 5, No. 12 (150th overall)
- Round 6, No. 12 (185th overall)
- Round 6, No. 22 (194th overall)
- Round 7, No. 12 (226th overall)
Top 3 Draft Needs
Edge Rusher: The Packers recognized that edge rusher was their top need, signing Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to big deals in free agency. That’s a strong start, but edge rusher is still the team’s top need entering the draft. With the addition of an early-round selection at the position, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will have more than enough talent to work with at edge rusher.
Tight End: After swinging and missing three years in a row at tight end in free agency, it’s time for Brian Gutekunst to use an early draft pick at the position. The Packers haven’t had a top receiving tight end since Jermichael Finley. Imagine Aaron Rodgers throwing to Travis Kelce or George Kittle. Tight end is a huge need for the Packers.
Offensive Line: No matter how many receivers Rodgers has to throw to, he also needs time. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Corey Linsley give the Packers a strong foundation. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is an excellent pass-protector when healthy, and Green Bay added versatility with Billy Turner this offseason. Adding offensive line depth in the draft is key.
Top 3 Draft Targets
T.J. Hockenson /Noah Fant
The Packers should seriously consider selecting one of the two Iowa tight ends with the 12th-overall pick. Hockenson may win when it comes to blocking, but Fant could be the vertical threat in the middle of the field the offense has been missing. Both players would be perfect for Matt LaFleur’s offense.
EDGE, Florida State
Brian Burns might be the best player remaining at any position at No. 12, and as edge rusher is also the team’s biggest need, it would be an easy decision for GM Brian Gutekunst. Burns posted 10 sacks for Florida State in 2018 and could be a difference-maker from Day 1 in Green Bay.
Forget about drafting for need. The Packers could take one of the best prospects in the entire class if defensive lineman Ed Oliver is still there at No. 12. Few defensive lines in the NFL would be as strong as a trio of Oliver, Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels. With 8.5 sacks over the past two seasons, Oliver could also help the pass rush.
Decision Maker (Or Who To Blame If Things Go Wrong)
Second-year general manager Brian Gutekunst.
Gutekunst replaced longtime GM Ted Thompson last offseason, and he’s brought a fresh approach to the job. Not only is Gutekunst more aggressive in free agency, but he pulled off an excellent draft-day move last year, trading twice in the first round to select cornerback Jaire Alexander (who made the PFWA All-Rookie Team), while also receiving a 2019 first-round pick from the Saints.
Best/Worst Pick In Current Draft Slot
Historically, who was the best pick and/or the worst pick based on where the team is currently picking.
Best: Herb Adderley, cornerback, 12th overall, 1961 NFL Draft
Who is the best player to be selected at No. 12 overall? It has to be Herb Adderley, who was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the 12th pick in 1961. A three-time Super Bowl champion, a five-time NFL champion, a five-time Pro Bowler and a seven-time All-Pro, Adderley is also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
Worst: Rich Moore, defensive line, 12th overall, 1969 NFL Draft
Green Bay hasn’t picked at No. 12 overall often, but the team’s worst choice in that position was defensive lineman Rich Moore. According to Pro Football Reference, Moore played just two seasons in Green Bay (20 games) and had one fumble recovery. One pick later, the New York Giants selected defensive end Fred Dryer, who later became a Pro Bowler and All-Pro with the Los Angeles Rams.