Welcome to Fixing the Franchise!
This is a brand new article series where I will move from division to division, giving you my takes on how the four teams may attack the NFL Draft.
I’ll talk about what I think each team’s draft strategy might be, team needs, players who I think fill those needs at the relative value and a perfect prospect fit for each.
I’m going to kick the series off with the NCF North, I will drop four teams each Saturday for you guys to enjoy! Let’s get to it!
The defeated NFC conference finalists are heading into 2021 in pretty good shape! They have a superstar QB who whilst is aging, shows absolutely no signs of slowing down – At age 37, Aaron Rogers just came off a season where he set career highs in completion percentage (70.7%) and touchdowns (48) as well his second highest QB rating on a season (121.5). Outside of Rodgers the Packers have arguably the best left tackle in football, a top 5 wide receiver, a top 5 corner and a pass rushing duo who can get after opposing quarterbacks.
So what do they need?
The one unit where things aren’t settled in on the offensive line – Rick Wagner was recently released by the team and Corey Linsley and Lane Taylor are free agents to be, meaning the Packers need to replace a left guard, a center and a right tackle.
Outside of the line, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are also set to hit the open market, so a running back may be needed to support A.J Dillon, whom they drafted last year.
Kevin King is also out of contract and probably won’t be invited back after his NFC Championship game performance, so a cornerback to play opposite Jaire Alexander is on the cards too.
Outside of the players they are potentially losing to free agency, another receiver, some help on the defensive line and maybe a tight end, could make up the rest of the shopping list.
Even more good news for the Packers is that they look like they are going to be awarded with three compensatory picks for the 2021 draft after losing Blake Martinez, Kyler Fackrell and Bryan Bulaga last year. So ten picks total gives Green Bay the potential to package a trade deal or two on draft weekend, which should allow them to move around the board.
Picks available (Round) (all compensatory picks are projected, not confirmed):
Picks 29 (1), 62 (2), 92 (3), 131 (4), 138 (Compensatory 4), 170 (5), 174 (Comp 5), 211 (6), 217 (Comp 6), 260 (7)
What could the strategy be?
As mentioned above, the Packers probably won’t need to make 10 selections, so they could use some of those day three picks to make little jumps to get guys they really want. Why make seven selections on day three of draft weekend when you can package a pick or two to get guys who you think can be real difference makers earlier in the draft? After all, Rodgers isn’t going to be around forever
Early Draft Business
As I mentioned on this week’s podcast, in our two round mock draft I was picking for Green Bay and I took Teven Jenkins, the right tackle out of Oklahoma State and followed that up in the second round with Tyson Campbell, the cornerback from Georgia.
I feel like both of these picks filled an immediate need with players who can be starters from day 1 in the NFL. If you haven’t listened to that podcast, go back and listen to it!
The Packers may also look at the interior of the line, perhaps with their third round pick they may look at a versatile offensive linemen – Two that immediately spring to mind are two guys who stood out at the Senior Bowl; David Moore of Grambling State and Quinn Meinerz of Wisconsin-Whitewater (DIII). Both of these guys played a lower level of college football, especially Meinerz, but both also looked like they could play at the level of their peers whilst in Mobile.
Pick 29 feels like it’s going to be a great spot to pick up one of the offensive tackles; outside of Jenkins, Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield would also be a good fit at right tackle or they could opt for one of the draft’s top interior linemen – Wyatt Davis of Ohio State, Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey or Alabama’s Landon Dickerson will be available. I personally like Dickerson a touch more than Davis and Humphrey but his injuries scare me a little bit – Dickerson has suffered 4 season ending injuries in college but he’s also got a great anchor and loves to finish by putting a defensive lineman into the turf.
Any late round gems that could take their fancy?
Green Bay’s wide receiver room is like the land of the giants outside of Devante Adams! Equanimeous St. Brown, Allan Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are all over 6”4 and as much as the NFL is trending towards big slot receivers, Aaron Rodgers doesn’t seem to fully trust St. Brown or MVS. So I feel giving them a slot receiver like UNC’s Dazz Newsome could offer some real diversity to the receivers room. Newsome is also a great blocker so he could be very useful in the run game, if the Packers do want to take some of the load off Aaron Rodgers.
Perfect prospect fit?
I am going to steal this one off my colleague from the college team, Liam Lodge – Liam mentioned Quinn Meinerz going to Green Bay would be a perfect prospect fit in last week’s podcast.
It’s a great fit in terms of need, he’s a high ceiling, versatile linemen and keeps him in the state of Wisconsin. Sometimes the stars just align perfectly.