The 2023 NFL draft is now in the books, and both fans and analysts alike are eagerly evaluating how their teams performed. For Green Bay, this draft class was one that has been met with mostly widespread praise and admiration. The Packers’ front office made some shrewd picks, addressing areas of need and taking calculated risks on players with high potential. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why the Packers draft class could be great, and how some players could potentially impact the team’s future success.
Quickest Impact: Luke Musgrave
Taken at 42 overall, Luke Musgrave immediately enters the Packers locker room as tight end number 1. At 6’6″ and 250 pounds, Musgrave has the size and athleticism to be a matchup problem for opposing defenses, and his soft hands and ability to make contested catches make him an intriguing prospect for the Packers. While he will likely face competition to be the starter from fellow rookie Tucker Kraft, Musgrave’s potential and versatility could make him an irreplaceable addition to the Packers’ offensive gameplans. Jordan Love is going to enjoy targeting his new 6-6 weapon down the middle of the field.
Best Value: Anthony Johnson Jr.
Thought to go much earlier in the draft, Anthony Johnson Jr. was the gem of the 7th round. Johnson Jr. was a productive player during his time at Iowa State, where he played in 49 games and finished his college career with 185 tackles, 10 passes defensed, and six interceptions. At 6’0″ and 205 pounds, Johnson Jr. has the size and athleticism to play in the NFL, and his versatility as a safety and special teams player could make him an asset to Green Bay. While he faces additional challenges to make the roster as a day three pick, Johnson Jr.’s skillset, work ethic and the Packers wide open competition at safety could help him carve out a role with the team.
Most to Prove: Anders Carlson
In a clear sign of a changing of the guard, the Packers drafted kicker Anders Carlson in the 6th round. During his time at Auburn, Carlson established himself as one of the top kickers in the country, finishing his career with a field goal percentage of 81.4% and a long of 53 yards. Carlson was also a reliable kicker on kickoffs, routinely forcing touchbacks and limiting opposing teams’ return opportunities. With his strong leg and accuracy, Carlson is penciled in as the potential new starting kicker for Green Bay, a position that has been stable for 16 years under Crosby. Those are big shoes to fill, but he looks to have the skill to be in Green Bay for a long time.
Best Pick: Lukas Van Ness
It’s always ideal when a team’s best pick is their first-round pick. Lukas Van Ness was a true first round player who has a chance to pair with Rashan Gary to be one of the most disruptive pass rushing duos in the NFL. At 6’5″ and 270 pounds, Van Ness has the size and athleticism to be a disruptive force on the edge, and his ability to generate consistent pressure on the quarterback is apparent on film. While he still has a lot room to develop his skillset, Van Ness’s potential could lead to early success during his rookie season. He could end up be a key player for the Packers in the coming seasons and a potential cornerstone of the defense.
The Packers’ 2023 NFL Draft class has the potential to be a great one. From top to bottom, it oozes athletic prospects who can contribute immediately and develop as the team grows into a post Aaron Rodgers era. Draft grades are completely irrelevant at this point in time, but fans should be thrilled with how the three-day draft played out for the Green and Gold.
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.