Green Bay Packers NFL Draft 2018
The Green Bay Packers find themselves in a unique situation within the Rodgers-McCarthy era. They hold the 14th overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft and have an 11 total picks in 2018. The team is also no longer under salary cap stress thanks to the NFL increasing the salary cap limit to $177.2 million. The Packers are arguably in a good position to improve.
At pick #14 in the first round, Packers GM, Brian Gutekunst has the rare opportunity to go out and draft one of the top difference makers in this year’s talent pool. It’s no secret that Green Bay needs to focus on defense, and with many talented players projected highly, this year is the prime time to do just that.
Most mock drafts out right now have the Green Bay Packers taking Defensive End Marcus Davenport out of UT San Antonio. Davenport is the second rated DE in the draft and standing at 6’6 264lbs is a very raw, quick-twitch athlete. Davenport posted impressive combine numbers, running a 4.58 40 which was 2nd best among his position. In addition, he finished top 5 in the 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle which very well could have increased his draft stock. Even with an impressive combine, he is not someone that is expected to come in and be a day one star.
Developing behind Nick Perry and Clay Matthews could do wonders for Davenport, eventually giving Mike Pettine more tools to get after opposing QBs.
The Packers have a need at CB and OLBs, Davenport could be beneficial, but what if they went out and did something that is almost heresy for this organization? I’m talking about trading up in the draft.
Gutekunst could capitalize on the #14 overall pick by packaging it with another pick or player to move up into the top 10 of the NFL Draft and try and draft one of the top secondary players coming out this year. A player such as Minkah Fitzpatrick (unlikely) or the much more attainable Denzel Ward out of Ohio State would be ideal for the Packers Defense. Selling the house for a high draft pick isn’t the best option as the team does need depth, however, if a player somehow falls into a more reasonable position, it could be in the Pack’s best interest to go out and get a day one stud.
Some mock drafts have Ward falling to 14. However, I doubt that happens as the need for quality CBs is too high in this pass-happy league. Ward ran a 4.32 40 which is lightning fast and is considered the best man to man coverage corner in this draft class. He is expected to go top 10.
A potentially even more realistic CB prospect is Joshua Jackson out of Iowa State, the tall, freakishly athletic CB is the prototypical hybrid corner. The concern for him is that he never played significant time until this season but he would fit the standard NFL corner mold well. Jackson and last year’s pick Kevin King could be a nice duo for years to come, plus the alliteration in the secondary would be off the charts.
When looking at the looming free agents for the Packers the biggest name is Morgan Burnett, who has been as steady as the best at his position. Unfortunately, Green Bay probably won’t be able to give him what he’s worth in the open market since they need to prepare to make Rodgers the highest paid player (again). One can only hope Burnett takes a team friendly deal. It is a business though and we can’t fault Burnett for taking the highest paycheck if he so chooses. This would leave a hole in the secondary which could change the draft day strategy. Morgan Burnett should be re-signing priority #1, allowing second-year player Josh Jones more time to learn and develop so he can one day fill in for all Burnett does, such as CB and ILB play.
Could The Packers Be Looking For a Tight End?
We’ve covered the needs at defense, but when it comes to offense Green Bay is pretty much hot to trot right? Well not quite, there’s an essential position that Green Bay has lacked star power at since Jermichael Finley, that’s right we’re looking at TE. In comes Trey Burton, the proud owner of one of the best QB stat lines in SB history 1/1 for 1yd and 1td, sporting a higher QBR than Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles and GOAT Brady. Since Green Bay won’t need him for his quarterback skills he would fill in quite nicely as the TE. Burton is a little undersized but he is still an able and willing blocker as well as being an excellent receiving threat. The only reason Trey Burton isn’t a more common household name is that he’s been stuck behind Zach Ertz, the 3rd best TE in the league. Green Bay tried to get a playmaking TE last year with Martellus Bennet but that pretty much blew up, not in a good way. Trey Burton would give Rodgers an athletic TE to stretch the field and open more throws to the rest of the receiving corp. Another free agent TE is Tyler Eifert, the always hurt touchdown machine. Eifert won’t command the contract that Burton will and with Eifert, we could see the forgotten acquisition from last year Lance Kendricks get some action. Even if crowd favorite, Richard Rodgers returns the Pack should still be looking to improve on the TE position in free agency.
With free agency being roughly one week away, there’s still time for the new Green Bay staff to analyze everything and probably make better decisions than I would. It’s hard to tell how they’ll handle the offseason process since we’ve never seen this crew work together. Personally, I’d like to see new GM Gutekunst be more aggressive and proactive in attaining players that can make an immediate impact. At this point in the offseason, all we can do is speculate, be patient, and wait, which coincidently is the hardest thing to do.
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