Gentlemen prefer blondes. At least, that’s what they say. Now, I am certainly no gentleman, but, I always adhered to this statement anyway. At least, I did until August 6, 2006. Throughout my long and not particularly illustrious dating career, most the gals I went with (went with? good hell? who am I, Jimmy Freaking Stewart?) were cut from a certain cloth. A thin, blonde cloth. I eyeballed blondes like Brian Gutekunst eyeballs offensive linemen from Power 5 conferences (ie–lustily). Then, on a scorching hot Sunday evening in the August of aught six, I came across a scorching hot brunette in a tight black shirt and gold stripper shoes standing in the gutter outside of a log cabin. That was all she wrote. It was like hearing Dylan go electric. It was like Otto Hahn splitting the atom. Blonde was so 2005. When you know, you know. And, I knew. Spoiler alert–10 months later, I put a ring on this brunette’s finger. And if the Green Bay Packers want to be putting rings on their fingers in ten months, the next two weeks are absolutely crucial. Grab some coffee, settle in, and let’s take a look at four draft sleepers the Packers should consider in this year’s NFL Draft.
There is certainly a through-line from Ron Wolf to Ted Thompson to Brian Gutekunst. Some call it the Packer way. Some call it antiquated. But, whatever nomenclature you choose, you cannot call it unsuccessful. The Green Bay Packers have made the playoffs 16 times since 2000, second only to the New England Patriots. While that stretch has been a little light on jewelry, it is hard to argue with the Packers overarching modus operandi. Now, you may want to sit down for this next sentence–Green Bay is not known as a “free agent destination”. Aaron Rodgers echoed this belief last summer in his now legendary training camp press conference. Whether it’s the sub freezing temperatures or the dearth of night life, Green Bay’s pitch to potential free agents has, more often than not, fallen on deaf ears. Which makes the NFL draft the universe around which Green Bay’s hopes and dreams orbits. As New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft would so often say, “I was just here for a massage”, er, um, my bad, I meant his other famous quote–“consistently good teams are built through the draft”.
Last week, I touched on the criteria a draft prospect must meet to arouse Brian Gutekunst’s interests (that sounded way more dirty than I meant it to). To recap–Brian likes them young, athletic, and famous (I use the same strategy for my Instagram follows). But, that was just touching the surface. Since the days of Ron Wolf, Green Bay has had a pretty stringent criteria for certain positions. It’s not hard to size up a prospect and determine if they fit the Packers particular sensibilities. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown football, but, more specifically, this draft class, into pandemonium. One of the Packers drafting bugaboos has been selecting young players. Given the bonus covid year that all college players were afforded, this year’s crop of athletes is older than usual. The Packers prefer tall wide receivers, yet this year’s class is littered with munchins. How Green Bay chooses to navigate this draft is going to be extremely fascinating. So, I thought this week, in lieu of endless paragraphs of meaningless pop culture references and forced double entendres, I would focus on four draft prospects that Green Bay is most likely not considering, but, absolutely should be.
Saying Green Bay has wide receiver issues is like saying Peloton is having stock price issues. It is imperative that the Packers leave the draft with a few wide receiving arrows in their dilapidated quiver. Enter David Bell. Now, we know how much Brian Gutekunst values athletic testing and David Bell’s combine numbers were about as successful as that Spiderman play from a few years ago. Never mind that. Bell stands a shade under 6’1″ and weighs in around 212 pounds. He “blazed” a 4.65 40 yard dash, while posting a mediocre 1.56 10 yard split. He boasts 9.25″ hands. Now, none of this is anything to write home about, just like it was nothing to write home about when Davante Adams put up nearly the exact same athletic metrics at the 2014 NFL Combine. Or, when DeAndre Hopkins posted eerily similar testing numbers at his combine in 2013. Or, when Cooper Kupp accomplished essentially the same stat line at the 2017 combine. David Bell is a football player, plain and simple. The kid was born to be a receiver. He played his high school ball at legendary Warren Central High in Indianapolis, Indiana where he led his football and basketball team to multiple state championships. Key word in that sentence–lead. Coaches and teammates rave about David’s leadership skills. Bell has consistently ranked amongst the national leaders in receptions and touchdowns in his three seasons at Purdue. And a deep dive of his game film displays a lot of the same traits that Packers fans have enjoyed from Davante Adams for the last 7 years. Simply put–The Packers need an X receiver, and David Bell can fill that need.
While inside linebacker is not a pressing need for the Packers after resigning All Pro world destroyer Devondre Campbell this offseason, Andersen is just too tempting to pass up. Andersen’s athletic testing was, quite literally, insane. He scored a perfect 10 RAS score (is that a banana in your pants, Mr. Gutekunst, or did you just read that previous sentence?). He ran a 4.42 40 yard dash, which would be sterling for a wide receiver, but is downright jaw dropping for a 6’4″ 245 linebacker. While Andersen has only played linebacker for one year (a jack of all trades, Andersen was previously an All Big Sky first team quarterback in 2019), his coaches describe him as an extremely fast learner and a natural leader. There is that word again! I don’t know about you, but I love when former quarterbacks make the move to the defensive side of the ball. Their QB instincts allow them to see the field in a different way. Another selling point for Andersen would be the boost he could lend our special teams unit. Can you imagine being a kick returner and seeing some crazy Montanan that is roughly the size of a VW Atlas bearing down at you like a bullet train? Sure, it may require a few years of on the job training, but an athlete like Andersen’s caliber is worth the wait.
Max Mitchell is another casualty of poor athletic testing. Look beyond the testing metrics and you see an absolute mountain of man (6’6″ tall and weighing in at 307 pounds) who ranked as Pro Football Focus top offensive tackle in all of college football last year. Max has played over 1000 pass blocking snaps in his time at Louisiana, and only surrendered 5 sacks. That is astounding. And, Max is not too shabby against the run either. He boasts 10″ hands and a pretty solid 8.04 10 yard split (picture your refrigerator sprouting legs and running at 18 miles per hour). Max definitely needs to work on improving his strength, and the NFL will be a significant step up in competition level, but Mitchell will find his way onto the field sooner rather than later.
This is a bit of a homer pick, given that I have held Utah Utes season tickets for 31 years (Britian was a sophomore when I first started going to games!). I have watched every snap Covey has played for Utah over his 7 YEAR career!!! So, yes, let’s get that out of the way–Given injuries and a Mormon mission, Britian Covey is going to be 26 years old next season. The sound you just heard is Brian Gutekunst leaving the conversation! But, hear me out–Utah has had some of the top kick/punt returning specialists in the NCAA dating back to the late 90’s. I have watched them all and I can confirm–Covey is the best we have ever had. The Packers need a solid returner like grass needs water. Or, like Kanye West needs attention. Covey is the grandson of Stephen Covey, the guy who invented those stupid day planners we all carried around in the early 2000’s. He is a solid and fearless slot receiver. He is a natural leader (noticing a theme?). He would be a Packer favorite from day one.
The year after I married that brunette, we moved into a shabby apartment in a shabby part of Northern Utah. We wiled away our days as young married folk do (playing board games and discussing whether dinosaurs ever really existed). And we watched a lot of TV. And, by TV, I mean football. One particular Saturday, I was watching this meaningless game between Iowa State and Kansas State, and this white dude from Kansas State went off for 14 catches for 214 yards. I mentioned to my wife that this kid was going to be an incredible pro. Three years later I was sitting in a less shabby townhouse in a less shabby part of Northern Utah watching Jordy Nelson lead the Packers to a win in Super Bowl XLV. When you know, you know. That smoking hot brunette was sitting next to me. And she was wearing a tight black shirt.
Timothy Preece has been a Packers fan since 1991 and currently lives in Utah because he makes bad decisions. You can follow him on twitter at @LegitimateTimP.