As expected this week has not disappointed as the Combine proved very interesting and Free Agency rumors ran rampant. We have yet to see the DB’s and Safeties who will perform their events today. The Packer’s shouldn’t have either of those positions very high on their list, but always look to improve the roster.
NFL Free Agency rumors have the Packer’s tied to Atlanta Falcon’s TE Austin Hooper, Chicago Bear’s ILB Nick Kwiatkostki, or possibly Cleveland Brown’s LB Joe Schobert (Wisconsin native). In order to sign any or even two of those Free Agents, Russ Ball, Packer’s financial guru, would have to work some CAP magic. Any FA signing would surely signal the exit of ILB Blake Martinez (seeking a $10M/year contract), TE Jimmy Graham (saving $8M in CAP) and RT Brian Bulaga (no team contact presently).
TE Austin Hooper appears to be at the top of the Packer’s Free Agent list. He would bring to the Packers a weapon for Aaron Rodgers that has been sorely missed. He’s young, 25 yrs old, 6’4″, 254 LBs and performed at or near the top for TE’s in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl twice! In 2019 he played in 13 games producing 75 receptions, 787 yards and 6 TDs, that’s quite a season. Imagine what his production would look like with Aaron Rodgers as his QB and HC Matt LaFleur’s offense. The cost would be high to obtain Hooper’s services, I’m hearing $10M/year over 4 years. The competition for his services will also heat up from potential suitors, Bears, Redskins and of course the Falcon’s.
On the defensive side of the ball there appear to be two targets to replace Blake Martinez. Nick Kwiatkostki (Bears) and Joe Schobert (Browns). Of the two, Kwiatkostki would come at a much cheaper price, in the vicinity of $6.5M over 2 years. Pro Bowler Joe Schobert on the other hand, the #2 FA LB on the market would cost the Packers closer to $44M over 4 years (don’t get your hopes too high for the former Badger coming home). Once again expect multiple teams to target both players, including their own. Kwiatkostki makes the most sense for the Packers, but expect the Bears to drive the cost up.
The Combine had multiple prospects for the Packers at WR, OL, DL RB and LB. Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray is intriguing to the Packers who met with him in Indianapolis. His skill set is exactly what the Packers need at ILB. At 6’2″, 241 LBs, 4.52 sec 40, 21 reps of 225#, and a 38″ vertical leap, his performance provided the verification teams needed. The obvious question is, will he be there at #30? Jordyn Brooks ILB Texas Tech is the #2 projected ILB, but possibly not worthy of #30. If Murray is off the board maybe the Packers target a WR there and bolster the ILB at #62 or trade up.
This 2020 Draft Class is deep at WR position and the Combine only confirmed what everyone predicted. Twenty WR’s ran their 40 in the 4.4 second range, with a dozen having a vertical leap over 38″. The performances of these WRs for the Packers couldn’t come at a better time as their need for an dependable, explosive WR is near the top of their NFL Draft board. One would think of the top WRs in the draft, at least one will be there at #30. Gone at that spot should be Jerry Jeudy, Alabama, CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma, Henry Ruggs, Alabama and after a superb Combine Justin Jefferson, LSU. In the next group the Packer’s should find their man, Jalen Reagor, TCU, Laviska Shenault Jr, Colorado, or Tee Higgins, Clemson would easily provide an instant producer opposite Davante Adams.
Other areas the Packers will target during the NFL Draft will be Offensive Line, Defensive Line, and possibly RB. A favorite target of mine on the OL was Tristan Wirfs Iowa, with size, speed and strength, will be gone by #30 after an impressive Combine. Next up might be Austin Jackson 6’6″, 305 LBs, USC or Trey Adams 6″ 7″, 334 LBs, Washington, both have first round talent. Defensive line prospects for the Packers in Round 2 (I don’t see the Packers going DL @ #30 in Round 1) if they trade up, could be DeVon Hamilton 6’3″, 327 LBs, Ohio State or Jordan Elliot, 6’4″, 315 LBs, Missouri. Intriguing RBs in the 2nd or 3rd Round could be Zach Moss Utah, Clyde Edwards-Helaire LSU or even Jonathan Talyor Wisconsin (although he had a great Combine).
In the end all we can is make our predictions for entertainment purposes. We have to place our trust in GM Brian Gutekunst, EVP Russ Ball, HC Matt LaFleur and his staff to bring the best talent possible to Green Bay. Three critical areas the Packers must land immediate starting talent to contend for a Super Bowl are WR, ILB and DL. Aaron Rodgers and the Offense need better weapons and Defense needs run stoppers. Let’s hear who your favorite’s are?
As Always, Go Pack Go!
PackerGregPackerGreg Veteran/Go Army @DrGTP on Twitter