Packers Nation, In a few short days we’ll be able cheer for a new class of rookie Packers! Until then I offer one last prediction model. Let’s take the top-5 NFL salaries per position and compare them to the Packers needs to see if that gives us an interesting lens to analyze Green Bay’s approach in the early rounds of the upcoming NFL draft.

NFL Draft: 1. Quarterback

According to ESPN’s analysis, the highest paid position per year is Quarterback. Joe Burrow is pulling in a cool $62.9M per season. Every QB in the top-5 is making north of $50M/year.

As I wrote in my review of Jordan Love’s superlative first season as starter, he is already performing at the top-10 at the position. Jordan is widely expected to sign an extension after the draft that will pay him more than $40M per season, squarely in the top-10 at the position.

While the Packers will not be looking at QB on day 1, I would not be shocked to see them take a QB in round 3 to give Sean Clifford some competition. GM Brian Gutekunst has already stated that “getting back to drafting multiple quarterbacks is something that I’ve wanted to do.” Even if it doesn’t happen early, expect to see and new Packers QB added during the 2024 NFL Draft. Players to watch for are Sam Hartman, Joe Milton, and Michael Pratt.  

NFL Draft: 2. Edge Rusher

The second highest paid position after QB is Edge Rusher. Nick Bosa is bringing in $34.7M per season. Four of the top-5 players are making $30M per year or more, with Myles Garret the only one outside at $26.7M/year.

The Packers obviously invested their top pick in an Edge last year, Lukas Van Ness, that makes it unlikely they will do the same this year, but with Preston Smith getting towards the tail end of his Packers career, you can never discount the fact that a good player like Chris Braswell, Chop Robinson, or Marshawn Kneeland falls to Green Bay, the value proposition will be too great to overlook.

NFL Draft: 3. Defensive Tackle

I was surprised to see that the Defensive tackles are doing better that Cornerbacks and Offensive Tackles, but at $31.7M per year, Chris Jones is making more than the highest OT or CB by a considerable margin. The NFL clearly values the ability to disrupt the QB over all other skill sets right now. All of the top-4 DTs make more than $24M per year, which is more than Jaire Alexander’s $21.8M, the top-CB salary in the league.

Although not a glaring weakness on this current team, Green Bay will have several of the top DT’s like Johnny Newton, Byron Murphy II, or Kris Jenkins available to them in the early rounds. Don’t be surprised if they decide to invest more at the position, especially if they’ve decided against giving Kenny Clark another big deal.

NFL Draft: 4. Offensive Tackle

It is no wonder that the players tasked with protecting the Quarterback, the most valuable position, would themselves be the second highest paid offensive players. Houston’s Laremy Tunsil makes $25M/year. The top-3 players are all making more than $21.2M.

After losing future Packer hall-of-famer, David Bahktiari, the Packers were fortunate to learn that they had more than one outstanding Tackle to protect Jordan Love’s blind side. After alternating time with Yosh Nijman for a while, Rasheed Walker took over the role in December and performed extremely well. Yosh is now in Carolina, however, so we should expect the Packers to be looking to add depth to this position in this draft. Players to watch for early are Tyler Guyton, Amarius Mims, and Kingsley Suamataia.  

NFL Draft: 5. Offensive Guard

I can hear what you’re thinking already, “Jack, are you telling me that the NFL values Offensive Guards more than Cornerbacks??” I know it sounds crazy, especially since we frequently refer to CB’s as a “Premium Position” and we never refer to interior lineman this way. However, when asked to put their money where they mouths are, NFL teams are paying top guards more. While Jaire has the same annual salary as the top guard in the game, Chris Lindstrom, I broke the tie in favor of the guards as the 2nd and 3rd highest paid guards, Robert Hunt and Quenton Nelson, both make more than the 2nd and 3rd highest paid CB, Jalen Ramsey and Marshon Lattimore.

The Packers have a question mark at Right Guard with John Runyon Jr. leaving in free agency. He had rotational duty with Sean Rhyan at RG, so now there is a gap in competition. It is for this reason that in Packers Mock Drafts you frequently see interior players projected for Green Bay early. I’ve written about Jackson Powers-Johnson who could be a plug-and-play interior lineman for Green Bay for the next decade. Also don’t be surprised if Graham Barton or Zach Frazier end up wearing Green and Gold by this time next week.