Well, all the cool kids are doing it. In the spirit of the NFL Draft starting on Thursday I thought for my last publishing before the draft, I’d take my shot at some guesses. Everyone has thought they have a pulse on Brian Gutekunst’s draft strategy always seemingly grabbing defense early. But that was when he had a Legend named Aaron Rodgers at the helm of his offense. With Rodgers likely ending up in New York next year, things could change. Gute might start throwing more picks at the offense to help Jordan Love hit the ground running. Either way, things could get interesting. Here is my stab at a Green Bay Packers 2023 Mock Draft.
The Rodgers Trade
Alright, before we get into it, we have to address the elephant in the room. I’m not going to get in to leverage or anything like that right now, but I do believe a trade gets done before Thursday, or during the draft at some point.
In my head, I want the Packers to take the Jet’s 1st round pick, both their seconds, a conditional one or two next year, and David ‘God Damn’ Putney because they feel like it. (A little Draft Day reference in there for you). But I know that likely won’t happen.
It’s reported that the Jets have stayed pretty firm on that they don’t want to give up their first-round pick at number 13. The Packers might be content to let them do so, but it’ll cost them later. However, I see a chance that the Packers lay some pressure on or also give a little leeway if they see a player they really want still available come pick 13. Maybe they’ll ask for 13 for Rodgers but little to nothing after that.
For the sake of this mock though, I’m going to put it out there that the Packers get the Jets two second round picks this year, and their first-round pick next year for Rodgers and maybe a conditional fourth round pick that turns into a 3rd or something if Rodgers hangs it up after a year. Disagree? that’s fine, but I’m giving the Packers 42 and 43 overall this year because that’s what I’d like to at least have for this draft.
So, let’s get to it. I’ll be putting out there who I’d like to see in the round around that pick as well as name some other options.
First Round, 15th overall: Jaxon Smith-Njigba – WR
Outside of Motley Crue playing the NFL Draft on Thursday night, there’s one other thing that would kickstart the hearts of Packer fans. That’s taking a Wide Receiver in the first round. It would also be simply hilarious that the one-year Aaron Rodgers leaves they finally draft a first-round offensive weapon.
JSN has been named the safest receiver in this draft. He’s been compared to Dez Bryant and Mike Evans. He has great speed and athleticism; he would instantly be a top 2 receiver on the Packers roster.
Outside of JSN I feel like the other must draft player that could fall is OT Peter Skoronski. With David Bakhtiari possibly entering his final Packers season, There could be an OT early for the Packers. Skoronski would practically be a day 1 starter at any position on the Offensive Line for the Packers as he’s played it all, and well.
Here’s where it gets tricky for me. I’m not a big export, but I feel like unless one of those two guys falls, if I’m the Packers, I try to orchestrate a trade down in the first round. Maybe pick up an extra day 2 pick in the process. Why? Because I think many players that fit our mold will still be there in the 20s.
I’d trade down and maybe go after WR’s like Zay Flowers or Jordan Addison. Perhaps a Tight End like Michael Mayer or Darnell Washington. Or even an Edge Rusher if one of the top few are still on the board. Options are open.
Second Round, 42nd overall: Felix Anudike-Uzomah – EDGE
There’s a player I’ve seen fall on boards that I don’t quite understand. That is Edge Rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah. The Packers have to address Edge Rusher early in this draft I believe. If the Kansas State Edge Rusher falls down to this spot that the Packers receive from the Jets, I want them to send the card in immediately with his name on it. A very intense Edge Rusher who does very well getting off blocks in pursuit, he’ll be a monster along-side Rashan Gary.
43rd overall: Darnell Washington – TE
If the Packers don’t address Tight End earlier, I fully expect them to address it by this point. Washington just fits the mold of a Packers Tight End. He’s drawn comparisons to Marcedes Lewis and could go even beyond that.
45th overall: Keeanu Benton – DE/DT
Before I get into it, Benton could be available in the early to mid-50s I think. So, perhaps there’s a chance the Packers gain another pick later on and pick Keeanu Benton a few picks later. But nonetheless, this Defensive Lineman is a forceful player that doesn’t give up easily. If he’s beaten at first he’s always fighting his way right back in the play and that’s exactly what the Packers need alongside Kenny Clark.
Now given that I gave the Packers 42 and 43 in the Rodgers trade, there were a lot of options here. If Wide Receiver isn’t addressed in the first round, I could see Jalin Hyatt or maybe even Josh Downs here. Some have been iffy on Josh Downs given that he more has the size of a slot receiver. But with our other receivers being taller targets, Downs could fit in very well in a Randall Cobb-like role as he’s very quick, slippery, and has supreme confidence.
Outside Darnell Washington at Tight End I’d also put Luke Musgrave on my list. He has good height for a TE, and is an excellent route runner that could land him as a starter on day 1 for the Packers.
After Anudike-Uzomah at EDGE, I’d also like BJ Ojulari. Ojulari is another Edge Rusher that could fall a bit in the second round that also has a high motor that would complement Rashan Gary nicely.
My only other notation in the second is possibly Antonio Johnson at Safety. He’s a big athletic guy that fits the Packers mold. He can also double as a slot corner. I’d perhaps take him later in the 2nd round though after a trade-down. Maybe even early 3rd round.
Third Round, 78th overall – Jordan Battle – S
I’m not really sure where the Packers are Safety-wise right now. Are they waiting for the market to dissolve to sign someone or bring back Adrian Amos? Are they moving Rasul Douglas to safety? Either way, I could see them spending a day 3 pick on a Safety.
Jordan Battle would be a good fit as he is a patient safety that tends to stick to his assignment. He’s careful not to over-pursue and has great instincts for jumping passes. It’s worth noting he returned three of his six career interceptions for touchdowns in college.
I’ve also been high on Jammie Robinson at Safety after Jordan Battle and the Packers brought him in for a top-100 visit as well. Another very versatile Safety that could fit in.
Fourth Round, 116th overall: Tyjae Spears – RB
It’s very bold of me to think Tyjae Spears will fall to 116. So, the Packers might have to trade up in the late 3rd, early 4th to make it happen. But I believe Tyjae Spears is the Coke Zero version of Aaron Jones. Same athletic ability, same drive, same receiving features, same height, but a few pounds lighter.
Spears would be an excellent complement to Jones and AJ Dillon and if need be, could replace one of them when their time comes.
This is a bold prediction. Once again, this could be a trade-up into the late 3rd or early 4th, but I could see the Packers going after a Quarterback in the 3rd or 4th round. When they made the move from Favre to Rodgers, they drafted QB Brian Brohm in the second round, I could see a late 3rd, early 4th round pick of Tanner McKee.
Mckee operated an NFL offense at Stanford and is considered one of the most accurate passers in the draft. He could serve as a great backup to Jordan Love and maybe even develop into a starter should it be needed or give the Packers a nice trade piece later on in his time with them.
Regardless of direction, I’m looking forward to an exciting NFL Draft for Packers fans. This will start a new era of Packers football and I can’t wait to see what is in store.
Draft Day is always like Christmas to me. You’re unwrapping the next great Packers. It’s exciting! So, sit back and enjoy the ride!
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.