Surprising Packers’ First Round Pick Candidates

Jaire Alexander

I’ve somehow managed to be utterly surprised by each one of Packers’ first round picks in the Brian Gutekunst era. Jaire Alexander was too short. Twitter people said Rashan Gary had bad tape. Darnell Savage and Eric Stokes were mocked in the third round. Jordan Love was a quarterback.

I’m sure there were plenty of fans who had a feeling about each of these guys and maybe even a few mocks. But for the most part each one of these picks was unexpected. Let’s go through a few potential guys who Brian Gutekunst may like far more than we expect.

Breece Hall

Let’s start with the craziest. Obviously Gutekunst wouldn’t pick a running back in the first-round right? Not only do running backs not matter in the first place, if you combine Aaron Jones’ big contract and AJ Dillon’s draft spot, the team already has a top five investment in the position. This would be insane. But…

Matt LaFleur prefers to have two plus running backs in his offense. Aaron Jones’ contract has an obvious out after this season. AJ Dillon might not get a second contract. Brian Gutekunst loves replacing starters with draft picks a year or two earlier. And most important, Hall is an extreme athlete. Like 9.96 RAS athlete.

If Gutekunst has shown anything, it’s that he’ll reach for athletes. Let’s say the Packers add to the defensive line with the 22nd pick and when it gets to pick 28 all of the first-round level receivers are gone. Couldn’t you at least imagine a scenario where they decide to convert Aaron Jones to part-time slot receiver and take Hall as future RB 1, current offensive weapon?

Remember these are supposed to be surprising.

Kayvon Thibodeaux

OK, here’s a surprise in the opposite direction. Instead of reaching on a third-round running back, Gutekunst goes all in to move up for a top 5 talent on the edge.

It would have to take a gas mask bong type of fall for Thibodeaux, which has already sort of started, and probably using both first round picks to trade up. Who needs the second one anyway? The Packers specialize in second round wide receivers.

Which scenario would you prefer: Thibodeaux, George Pickens, and Jalen Tolbert in the first two rounds or Bernhard Raiman, Jahan Dotson, Kingsley Enagbare, and Leo Chenal? Give me the generational talent.

Lewis Cine

We’ve had a reach, an unlikely trade up, and now a just right pick at an unlikely position. Cine is 28th on the PFF big board. Although other draft analysts have him lower, PFF’s reported strengths fit the Packers’ needs perfectly.

“Need?” You say, “ The Packers already have two starting safeties, why bother spending a first-round pick on another one?” Well, first of all, Cine has a 9.90 RAS. That level of athleticism in Rashan Gary was enough to spend a first-round pick even after Preston and Za’Darius Smith.

And safety is an underrated need for the Packers. They restructured Adrian Amos’ contract instead of extending him this off-season. Last year they made the same move with Za’Darius Smith and now he’s on the Vikings. Remember, Mark Murphy said only hall of fame level players are worthy of third contracts (Preston Smith is an exception to this because of the low guaranteed money, easy outs, and cap savings involved in his deal). Adrian Amos is likely to pull a top 10 or so safety contract with his next deal, and Green Bay may not be willing to be the team paying it.

As for Savage, he’s been underwhelming in 2.5 of the last 3 years and his strengths, playing robber (not used a lot in this defense and at slot corner (doesn’t seem to be in the cards for him in Green Bay), don’t align well with the team.

Take Cine, who PFF says is great at identifying routes and playing on the back end and play him along with Amos and Savage. Both of them are better closer to the line of scrimmage anyway. If Savage has a strong fourth year, Cine is a great player to pair him with going forward.

No One Knows

Each of these picks is unlikely. If I had to bet right now, some combination of wide receiver and pass rusher is the most likely scenario for the Packers first round picks. Of course, I won’t be surprised to be surprised this year.

Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.

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