The Packers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 24-12 win over the floundering Rams. It was easily the most complete game Green Bay has played this season, with all three phases playing well. Their 2022 draft class was at the forefront of why. From top to bottom, the rookies are making a strong impression. If the Packers want to continue Run the Table 2.0, they will be fueled by the Packers draft class, particularly three players.
Finally healthy, Christian Watson is showing exactly what Gutekunst saw when he traded up to 34th overall. His speed and athleticism has transformed the offense. Teams have no choice but respect his deep speed. When they haven’t, he has made them pay in ways he wasn’t earlier in the season. He now paces all rookies with 9 total touchdowns (7 receiving, 2 rushing). He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Beyond his duties as a pass catcher, he is impressive in run support, blocking downfield to break his teammates free.
The Packers will need Watson to continue his late season tear as they wrap up their season. As they go into the final stretch, the quality of their opponents (Miami, Minnesota, and Detroit) goes way up. However, none of these teams have see this version of Watson.
The ultra-athletic first round pick has had the typical ups and downs of a rookie linebacker. Quay Walker has had a couple of jaw dropping plays each game. He also has had some plays where it’s clear he didn’t know what his assignment was. As the season has progressed, Walker has looked more comfortable and the explosiveness that was evident in college is showing up. Look no further to Monday night, where Quay was a game wrecker, racking up 5 tackles (1 for loss), 1 sack, and a forced fumble. He also had two passes breakups. He was everywhere on the field and the Rams had no solution for him.
Joe Barry and the Packers defense need repeat performances from Walker if they intend to slow down the high flying offenses they are about to encounter. It’s one thing to shut down the Bears and Rams, but it’s quite another beast with the playoff bound teams on their schedule.
Expectations for 5th round rookie Kingsley Enagbare have been sky high since he stepped into Rashan Gary’s starting role. In the face of needing to keep the pass rush effective without their star edge, Enagbare has blossomed into a menace that opposing offenses need to account for. Per Pro Football Focus, he is boasting a 16% pass rush win rate. It is one of the highest marks of any rookie and is an effective NFL rate. Beyond that, he has shown impressive strength in the run game and his instincts have blown up several screen passes.
If the Packers are going to take care of business over the remainder of the season, they will need big things from Enagbare. If he can continue to provide consistent pressure opposite veteran Preston Smith and Kenny Clark, Packer fans will see more and more pressure from this defensive front. Without that pressure, the defense cannot hope to keep their win streak alive.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.