With many teams being stuck up against the sunken salary cap for the upcoming 2021 NFL season, additions through the draft will become the easiest and cheapest tactic this offseason. For the Green Bay Packers, their draft picks will need to hit and hit often this class, an area that general manager Brian Gutekunst has been able to use to his advantage in the past.
Being able to unearth gems and solid role players, like Sam Shields, Kenny Clark, and Chandon Sullivan among others, is something that has helped keep the Packers competitive across various timeframes. With this year’s draft having some underrated players of its own on the defensive side of the ball, Green Bay would be smart to look into these three following players.
Linebacker – Georgia
Devoid of a strong coverage linebacker, Green Bay would be smart to look for complements for Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes moving forward – and while Georgia’s Monty Rice is better against the run than the pass, his recent strides in the latter have made him into more of a well-rounded linebacker.
The former Bulldog stands 6’ even and brings a sense of physicality to the game, something that this Packers defense needs more of. While seen as a potential better fit in a scheme that utilizes more bodies upfront on the line, Rice would still be a solid option for DC Joe Barry to throw out there.
His height isn’t ideal for a ‘backer, but Rice could eventually develop into a strong three-down option, provided his coverage skills continue to grow. A round 4 selection of Rice would be a smart investment for Green Bay, as bringing in more competition to the LB group is never a bad thing.
Defensive Tackle – Florida State
The first of two Florida State prospects on this list, defensive tackle Marvin Wilson would be a nice addition to help Kenny Clark out. With not having a solid DT2 behind Clark, this defense’s rotations are not going to be the cleanest, even with the potential to rotate in some edge rushers to the middle in certain passing situations.
For Wilson, coming into the league and being a member of a strong defensive line unit will only help his development, as his time as a Seminole helped him key in on his strengths – pass rush abilities and quickness are some of his best traits, something not commonly seen out of a DT.
To keep Clark fresh and healthy for the entirety of the season and into the playoffs, adding a body like Wilson to eat up a good chunk of snaps is a great way to see that through. While the need for Wilson to improve upon certain elements of his game, like establishing a better sense of balance and leverage in his get-off, is certainly there, he would be a sound get for GB around rounds 3-4.
Safety – Florida State
Between Jevon Holland and Hamsah Nisilrideen, Green Bay could really luck out with grabbing either of these above-average safeties in this year’s draft. With Holland being projected to go higher, let’s put more of a focus on Nisilrideen.
The second FSU prospect on this list, Nisilrideen comes with a slightly-checked background when it concerns injuries – having missed the end of the 2019 season and all but two games of the 2020 season due to a torn ACL, Nisilrideen will need to work on getting his feet back underneath him in camps, something that could potentially drive down his price tag.
Standing 6’3 and showing copious amounts of versatility, Nisilrideen’s name should be flying up draft boards, but for Green Bay’s sake, let’s hope they stay quiet. He would be an excellent third safety in Barry’s scheme, allowing for Darnell Savage to be able to play around the line of scrimmage, messing with overhang and running back coverage roles.
While not guaranteed to earn the starting role next to Adrian Amos straight away, using a third-round selection on Nisilrideen would be a strong move made by GM Brian Gutekunst, as it would help improve this team now while also keeping an eye towards the future.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23