With the 2019 NFL draft in the rearview mirror and teams beginning offseason activities, next year’s draft is the furthest from most teams’ minds. However, with an uber-talented draft class coming up, it’s always fun to speculate on what direction the Green Bay Packers may take in 2020.
The Packers are banking on key contributions from second year receivers Mercedes Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, and J’Mon Moore. They have also smartly hedged their bet by re-signing Geronimo Allison to a one year deal. Allison, the 2016 undrafted free agent out of Illinois, came on strong in 2018. Starting the season with 20 receptions for 303 yards and 2 touchdowns, number 81 looked set for a breakout before a concussion in week 4. He later suffered a painful abductor injury in practice, ending his season prematurely. With Allison hurt, Aaron Rodgers seemed loath to trust any of his young receivers, and communication issues plagued the Packers offense.
After passing on receivers in 2019, the Packers will wait for a loaded 2020 class. The 2020 wide receiver class could be historic, and take the entire NFL world by storm, similar to the 2014 class. Ceedee Lamb of Oklahoma, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs II from Alabama, and Tylan Wallace of Oklahoma State should all be on the Packers radar. Laviska Shenault, a 6’2, 220 pound Colorado Buffalo would be a perfect fit in Green Bay. Shenault is a Sammy Watkins clone, and absolute yards after the catch monster. He’d give Matt Lafleur’s offense that extra gear, and continue to take pressure off of Aaron Rodgers as he ages.
A strong defensive draft in 2019 should allow the Packers unit to take the step from being a constant liability. The inside linebacker position does remain one of need. Stalwart Blake Martinez improved tremendously in his first year under Mike Pettine’s tutelage. Even so, he will become a free agent after this season, and the Packers must decide whether or not he is worth a hefty second contract. Second year player Oren Burks remains on the roster, and he is another candidate for a breakout in this years Packers defense. With the offseason additions at edge rusher and along the defensive line, clear lanes towards ball carriers should be readily available for Burks to attack. If he can make the necessary mental progressions, and gain his coaches trust to remain on the field, a big year could be in store.
Should Burks struggle, and Martinez choose to move on after this season, a linebacker would become a dire need for the Packers. Projected early round picks Anfernee Jennings of Alabama, or Northwestern’s Paddy Fisher could be targets.
If Brian Bulaga can remain on the field in 2019, the tackle position becomes less of a need in Green Bay. With the additions of Billy Turner, and Elgton Jenkins this off-season, the Packers have reinforced the offensive interior. Despite that, preparations must be made for the future. Look for General Manager Brian Gutekunst to prioritize drafting at least one tackle prospect in 2020. The ability for offensive lineman to move fluidly in space is now critical in Lafleur’s zone blocking scheme. Remember athleticism is the top prerequisite to be considered as a prospect in Green Bay.
The starting left tackle for Notre Dame, Liam Eichenburg could play his way into green & gold with a strong season. Teammate Tommy Kraemer also impressed while watching new Packers running back Dexter Williams tape’, and would be a strong selection. Top tier 2020 tackles also include Andrew Thomas of Georgia, and the 6’7 Walker Little from Stanford.
Of course, predicting the future is often a fool’s errand. Everything that is to take place in the 2020 draft will be molded and shaped by the Green Bay Packers performance in the upcoming 2019 NFL season. One can only hope the Packers will be drafting at pick 32 next year.Nick is a lifelong Packers fan. 4th and 26 was on his 13th birthday, unlucky. Follow him @CANDRAFTGEEK647 on Twitter for all your Packers draft needs and questions.