Last year, I wrote an article titled, “Is the Packers GM Batting .300?“ in which I dove into Brian Gutekunst’s draft record up to that point. Spoiler alert, the record wasn’t good. However, I left out the 2022 draft class because we only had one year of data. Now we have their second-year data, and the first-year data of the Green Bay Packers 2023 rookie class. Needless to say, Gutey has been on fire lately with his draft selections and in the last two drafts completely made the “Batting .300?” article obsolete.

I then followed up that article with “Packers Second Year Players Are Poised For A Huge Leap“, in which I tried to predict which 2022 draftees would have a breakout season in 2023. I’m proud to say that I was correct on about half of them!

Well, let’s run it back. Let’s try to predict which 2023 draftees will have a huge breakout 2024!

Second-Year: Lukas Van Ness

second-year van ness

In 2023, Lukas Van Ness had 32 total tackles, four sacks, and 6.5 tackles for a loss. Playing mostly on a rotational basis, Van Ness didn’t play a ton and was given an opportunity to really sit back and develop his craft.

I would expect Van Ness to have more opportunities in 2024. This is even more true considering the Packers are moving to four down linemen. On potential passing downs, the Packers could possibly have Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Kenny Clark, and Lukas Van Ness on the field at once with Van Ness playing on the inside to give him more opportunities from the interior.

Van Ness could quite possibly put on a Herculean effort and dominate in 2024. I mean, his nickname is Hercules.

Second-Year: Luke Musgrave

Aaron Rodgers isn’t the star quarterback for the Packers anymore. That’s Jordan Love and unlike Rodgers, Love is totally fine with attacking the middle of the field. In comes the talented Luke Musgrave.

In his rookie season, Musgrave had 34 catches on 46 targets for 352 yards and one touchdown. Outside of quarterback, the tight end position is quite possibly the hardest position to learn on offense. Not only do they need to know blocking concepts but they also need learn routes. And in today’s NFL, those routes can be very similar to an X receiver’s routes.

With their position being extremely difficult, the expectations for a rookie tight end should always be smaller. But with a year under his belt, Musgrave could have a huge season. Not to mention, Musgrave was injured for nearly two months. If he can come back healthy, look out!

Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks

The Packers didn’t select a wide receiver in the 2024 NFL Draft and the reason for that was because of the success they had in selecting receivers in the 2022 and the 2023 NFL Drafts. Last year, I mentioned a possible breakout season for Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, this year it’s Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks.

Reed had 64 catches on 94 targets for 793 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 11 rushing attempts for 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns, solidifying himself as a true Swiss-army knife weapon.

With more experience and an offseason for Matt LaFleur to cook up some creative plays for Reed, I would expect him to have an electric season. Wicks, on the other hand, is more of your traditional receiver who happens to have elite route running. Wicks had 39 catches on 58 targets for 581 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

In the first seven games of the season, Wicks had 10 catches for 99 yards and one touchdown. In the last ten, he had 29 catches for 482 yards and 3 touchdowns. His improvement and usage increased a ton! We can only expect that to increase in 2024.

Karl Brooks

Karl Brooks showed a ton of explosiveness from the defensive line position in 2024. Notching out a role as a rotational player, Brooks was able to have 20 total tackles, four sacks, one and a half tackles for a loss, one force fumble and two fumble recoveries. Oh and don’t forget his field goal block.

Brooks is a dynamic player, and with the Packers moving to a 4-2-5 defense, he could see more opportunities in the pass rush department. Only time will tell, but Brooks has the makings of a potential breakout season.

Second-Year Players That Will Contribute to Success

There are other potential breakout candidates from the 2023 NFL Draft class for the Packers but the ones above are the players I believe will have the most impact in 2024. However, here is a list of players from that class that still will contribute and could also be breakouts:

  • TE: Tucker Kraft
  • DL: Colby Wooden
  • CB: Carrington Valentine

Last season, the Packers turned over their roster and had the youngest team in the NFL. And, they just so happened to have a ton of success. The Packers will look to continue that trend so the expectation should be that the Packers will have some breakout second-year players. I’m excited to find out who will make that second-year leap.

Go Pack Go!


Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.