Last week’s trade of Davante Adams for a few draft picks totally resets pre-draft speculation for the Packers blogosphere. Mock drafts with two first round receivers are rampant and Brian Gutekunst, who has nailed his top 60 draft picks, now has four top 60 picks to use this season. Here’s what positions I think the Packers first round pick might be.
This is probably the year. The Packers have held to the organizational philosophy to not draft a wide receiver in the first round since 2004. Wide receiver is probably the second most important position on offense. Especially, if you consider the fact that the Packers have two likely perennial pro-bowlers at tackle (Bakhtiari and Jenkins). Best case, the Packers take one of the several 4.40 second or faster 40-yard dash wide receivers with their first pick, or trade back into the second round and take one.
Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard are coming back. It sounds like MVS will head to the Chiefs, the offense desperately needs someone with speed. Cobb is like 57 years old and Lazard would probably be better off playing tight end. The offense needs someone to stretch the field to make it go and unless Will Fuller is signed soon that guy has to come from the draft.
Interior Defensive Line
A second wide receiver is the biggest need on the offense; interior defensive line is certainly the biggest need on defense. Kenny Clark is Kenny Clark. Dean Lowry had a career year last year. Kinglsey Keke was cut midseason. Tyler Lancaster is likely gone. Jarran Reed was recently signed, but his historical PFF grades are a big pile of meh. The run defense was fairly close to a disaster last season, and there’s no way it has improved with the moves the team has made so far.
They could take a behemoth nose tackle and stop the run with a Kenny Clark – TJ Slaton – Rookie 3-man line even in nickel personnel. They could take a twitched up 3-technique to do his best Aaron Donald impression. They could take a tweener 5-tech who can play on the edge on run downs. A talented player in any one of these spots would improve the defense.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot of talent in the draft at the position who fall into the Packers’ traditional buckets. This could be another spot that the team trades back into the second round to take.
This one may surprise some Packers fans because Preston Smith just received a big contract extension, but Packers GMs love first round edges. When the third edge, right now, is Randy Ramsey and Preston’s contract has an easy out after just one season, I wouldn’t blame Gute for keeping the tradition going.
You can never have enough edges, especially when they can move inside. Gary and Smith can both rush effectively from inside on pass downs, so an edge who can drop into coverage (think a Leonard Floyd type) could take that pressure off Preston while also contributing to a NASCAR like package to put the pressure on the QB on third downs.
It’s also worth noting that this draft has a lot of good edge rushers. There are at least 11 guys expected to go in the first two rounds. That means a player who may usually go top 15 could be available for the picking at the end of the first.
It’s not easy to predict Brian Gutekunst first round picks. You can make an argument for almost any position after the fact. He could take a safety because Savage hasn’t performed well, and Amos is in the last year of his deal. He could take a linebacker because the team is now converted to liking good linebackers. He could take an offensive linemen because you can never have enough offensive linemen. They could take a corner because they don’t have a good slot guy there right now. They could take a punter because they had the worst special teams that I’ve ever seen last year (that was a joke). Really anything but running back or quarterback wouldn’t surprise me.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.