NFL Draft Talk Volume XXXV
As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level. What will the Green Bay Packers do with their two first round picks? The team switched up their usual mindset of sticking with their homegrown talent and spent significant amounts of cap space in free agency on some of the top available players from other teams. They invested heavily on the defensive side of the ball in free agency bringing in versatile pass rushers Za’Darius Smith, who led the Baltimore Ravens in sacks last year with 8.5, and Preston Smith from the Washington Redskins. After addressing their defense which has been not been a top 15 unit since they won the Superbowl in the 2010 season in with free agents, they are expected to add some more playmaking pass catchers for their All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers. They made Rodgers the highest paid player at his position last offseason and have two-time Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams locked up through the 2021 season. There are plenty of playmakers in this year’s draft and they hold the 12th and 31st overall selections. They might look to invest their top selections to improve at the wide receiver and tight end positions. What they might do at 12: They signed tight end Jimmy Graham in free agency last offseason and while his 636 yards receiving on 55 catches in 12 starts was admirable production, it is not indicative of the hefty investment that they put in him when they signed him to a three-year deal worth $30 million. They have a chance to rectify that decision and create a dynamic tight end duo with Graham and one of the top prospects at the position in this year’s draft. Iowa has two tight ends that are expected to go in the first round and while TJ Hockenson is projected to go before they are on the clock and perhaps the in the top 10, his teammate Noah Fant should be available at 13. Hockenson is viewed as the most complete and well-rounded of the two Hawkeyes, but Fant is the more athletic player and possesses more of a vertical threat. He’s already being compared to a younger Jimmy Graham and could flourish if paired with Rodgers in the Green Bay offense. What they might do at 31: There are a lot of dynamic wide receivers that are slated to get selected in the late first and early second. The Packers could find a good No.2 or even a No.1B to line up across from Adams, who is the No.1 target in their offense. Ole Miss receiver AJ Brown would be a good pick here of Green Bay since he was the most productive of the two Rebel receivers in this year’s draft and his versatility to run routes from the slot in addition to being a threat out wide would make a great fit with a quarterback like Rodgers who likes to roll out of the pocket and buy more time for his targets to uncover downfield.