The final element of the plan of attack for the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft relates to special teams, a sour subject when it comes to how their 2021 season ultimately ended in the postseason. While selecting a kicker or a punter is not a common occurrence for most teams, the Packers should at least be considering that for one of their late-round selections.
ST coordinator Rich Bisaccia has been brought in to hopefully rectify a struggling unit that has cost the Packers in too many big moments over the years. With Mason Crosby looking to be facing competition in camp this year, Pat O’Donnell brought in as the team’s next shot at punter, and the return game a jumbled mess, this unit has a lot of steps to take this offseason.
The last time the Packers drafted a kicker was when they selected Crosby out of Colorado with the 193rd overall selection of the 2007 draft. Continuing this franchise’s long-standing history of solid kickers, Crosby has been a fantastic kicker in the elements that Lambeau Field presents.
Crosby has never missed a game in his 15-year career, but his performance in ‘21 certainly left a lot to be desired, going 25/34 on all field goals, his second-worst FG percentage in his career.
While there are no real standout options here in the draft, LSU’s Cade York, Wake Forest’s Nick Sciba, and Texas Tech’s Jonathan Garibay are the best options this class provides.
York was 100% on his XP attempts and made a 50-yard FG in four consecutive games, Sciba set the NCAA career mark for FG percentage (89.9%), and Garibay hit a game-winning 62-yard FG and only missed two kicks this past season.
While the Packers signed O’Donnell to a one-year deal, they certainly should be looking into a long-term option at this position. The last time they drafted a punter was Alabama’s J.K. Scott, who did not pan out, but the Green Bay front office certainly has shown its willingness to go that route.
San Diego State’s Matt Araiza headlines one of the stronger classes of late, as he possesses a great combination of power and accuracy. Having showcased these skills at the NFL Draft Combine helped keep Araiza at the top of the board at this position, ahead of the likes of Georgia’s Jake Camarda, Penn State’s Jordan Stout, and Texas’ Cameron Dicker.
Returners & Role Players
Houston’s Marcus Jones and Tennessee’s Velus Jones Jr. headline the group of returners in this year’s class. Marcus Jones is a CB who is likely a mid-round value, and Velus Jones Jr. is a speedy receiver that will likely be a Day 3 selection himself.
Plenty of other players on both sides of the ball fit the mold to be role players on special teams, as either gunners or players that will mainly play on kick or punt coverage. With Bisaccia building his unit, you will likely see a fresh approach to how well this unit works and its efficiency, along with a lot of fresh faces too.
While special teams are not usually a highly thought-of option when it comes to a draft class, the Packers must factor that into their selections this year. As ST has forced them into too many poor situations, it is past time they decide to do something about it.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