There’s no doubt, the Green Bay Packers 2022 NFL Draft needs a wide receiver in it. Nearly a dozen WRs are expected to be selected in the first few days (rounds 1-3). The Packers have more than a great opportunity to select one or more talented players, even trading up for an elite talent with their current accrue draft capital.
While this year’s draft probably won’t be the most controversial in recent memory (Jordan Love, AJ Dillon, Josiah Deguara), there’s potential for some surprises. The Packers have several needs beyond the obvious hole(s) at WR — TE, Safety, OL, and EDGE all present opportunities for the Packers to create depth and ensure bargaining power to move on from soon-to-be free agents or rookie deals who won’t be turning into a second contract.
The most obvious need behind WR is EDGE. The loss of Za’Darius Smith leaves a lack of depth behind Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. Gary, who every draft grader panned as a pic, is unquestionably making an impact every time he’s on the field and has shown up in key moments late in the regular season and playoffs.
Preston Smith could put together a year like the last and leave the Packers simply needing depth at this position, or he could return to 2021 form and leave the Packers needing an impact player this year — hoping they would mature to replace Smith if he decides he no longer wants to stay on such team-friendly deals.
Offensive Line (OL)
If the Packers took the best OL in the draft every single year in the first round, I’d never complain. If the Packers wanted to ensure an “A” grade every year, they could do this as well. Currently, the Packers are in need with the departure of Billy Turner. David Bakhtiari is expected to be healthy, but Elgton Jenkins is questionable with his own ACL tear to return in some form. If both get and stay healthy, the Packers should be setting up depth around those premiere talents and Josh Myers (expected to be healthy and take a big leap this year).
The Packers have a history of grabbing quality players in the 3rd and 4th rounds that start for years, and other players on the last day of the draft that can start multiple positions. They’ll need to — once again — find a little magic on the OL and hope for consistency in a starting five.
Tight End (TE)
Mercedes Lewis is year-to-year at this point in his career. Robert Tonyan is either going to be a breakout TE looking for a major deal or suffer a major setback from his ACL tear. Josiah Deguara is unproven past being a solid special teams players and showing a few flashes of reliability. The Packers could choose to replace Lewis or Tonyan, hoping Deguara improves in either the direction of blocking or pass catching. Given that LaFeur’s offense runs through the middle of the field, having a bevy of RBs and TEs (FBs even) isn’t out of the question for the next phase of the Packers offense without DaVante Adams.
While the Packers haven’t had any issues at Safety perse, it’s been one of the more reliable and healthy units in the Gutenkust/LaFleur era — it’s about to be decision time. Adrian Amos is so valuable, it’s possible another team snatches him up in free agency if the Packers don’t want to pay top market value. Safety isn’t a lucrative position right now, so the Packers might be in luck to keep Amos longer than in another era.
However, it’s Darnell Savage in the spotlight. He is either going to become elite and demand a second contract, which the Packers would likely give with an extension before he has major market value testing ground in free agency, or he’s not the answer.
If the case, this wouldn’t be Savage’s fault, continuing the sad tradition of miscast Packers DB talent in a variety of defensive schemes (Damarius Randall, Josh Jackson). The idea of Savage being a slot DB has been floated around, he has the skills, but he was a high-flying robber-style safety from college, and the Packers just want him to play centerfield while Amos strengthens the run defense and matches up well against most TEs in the league. Savage could return when the Packers finally decide the Kevin King experiment is over, taking his position in the slot, or the Packers will have a Pro Bowl free safety on the roster in 2022.
Best Player Available (BPA)
The Packers subscribe to the BPA mentality, and should keep to it. They have three decades of quality drafts, with only a few years of issues (late Ted Thompson era) that effected the result on the field in an obvious way.
The bottom line is the Packers need an impact player at a valuable position like EDGE, OL or WR in this draft. Someone who can contribute immediately and likely become worth of a second contract. The Packers also need to make decisions on free agents and rookie deals across Safety and TE positions. If they can accomplish both of those, it’s a successful year — no matter if a WR comes off the board to the Packers in the first round.
Lee carries the G from Texas. Yes, the “C” stands for Cheesehead. When not watching the Packers or writing for Packerstalk.com, you can find Lee cooking or camping. You can follow him on twitter at @leecjaster.