The prevailing theory in the 2020 draft was that the Green Bay Packers would upgrade their wide receiver group by selecting a wideout early in a “historically loaded” class. That never happened, as the team didn’t select a receiver throughout the draft. However, the 2021 class is similarly loaded, begging the question once again.
Despite stronger needs, will the Packers spend a premium draft pick on a wide receiver in 2021?
In 2020, the board didn’t fall in a favorable way for receivers. Justin Jefferson, a fan favorite, went to the rival Vikings at pick 22. Jalen Reagor and Brandon Aiyuk also went in the 20s. The Packers chose to gamble on Jordan Love instead of reach for a receiver lower on their board.
Of course, we don’t know that the Packers would have taken one of these options anyway, as the team prefers to take premium positions in the first round.
In a video by Packer Report’s Andy Herman, Herman analyzed the Packers’ draft philosophy and found the Packers go for the high-impact positions of quarterback, defensive back, EDGE, offensive tackle, and defensive line. Positions that really affect the passing element of the game and bolster the trenches.
In Brian Gutekunst’s first three drafts, his first-round selections are a cornerback, EDGE, safety, and quarterback. In Ted Thompson’s last five drafts as general manager, he selected a defensive end, a safety, two cornerbacks (counting Kevin King despite being the first pick in round 2), and a nose tackle. All premium position picks, and many of whom were aggressively taken by trading up.
This philosophy suggests that a luxury position like wide receiver in the first round seems unlikely. The Packers have a major need at cornerback, and the 2021 class is deep at the position. In addition, cornerbacks tend to have a major drop in quality after the first couple of rounds. The Packers likely would not need to reach for a premium corner.
However, as mentioned last week, Gutekunst is a madlad and hard to predict. Last year, it was a given the Packers would take a receiver. This year, it seems less likely, which means it could happen.
This year’s wide receiver class is considered just as good as last year’s, if not better. For what it’s worth, many mock drafts predict the Packers take a new weapon on Day 1. Mel Kiper sees the Packers taking Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman in the first round, a fairly popular option for the Packers.
Acme Packing Company’s Jordan Smith, in his mock draft roundup, found Kadarius Toney and Ronald Moore as other options. Yet mock drafts are just that, mocks. No matter who appears to be ‘linked’ to a team
Ultimately, it depends on how the board plays out. If there aren’t appealing the options at the position, it’s a moot point. The Packers’ draft history shows that drafting a wide receiver in round one is unlikely. Round two is an option, as the Packers have had great success with receivers in that round.
With almost every receiver on the team approaching the end of their current deals, the Packers do need to find new weapons for Aaron Rodgers. It seems unlikely the team will splurge on one in the first round, but, with Gutekunst’s history, anything could happen.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.