Was It the Right Move? What’s Next?

Packers select Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness at No. 13 overall in 2023  NFL draft
Lukas Van Ness was drafted 13th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft and will wear #90.

Much has been made on social media, both from fans and “experts” about Packers General Manager, Brian Gutekunst, passing on fan-favorite, Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – Ohio St.) and taking, yet another defender. The claim is that it’s the wrong move for various reasons:

  1. Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry “sucks” so why keep giving him talent? If that doesn’t answer itself, you may be passed helping.
  2. Jordan Love has no experience, why not surround him with weapons to give him a chance? Again, when I judge Aaron Rodgers for only have 1 ring (which is almost entirely due to his defense), a QB’s best friend is a great offensive line, and a great defense. Weapons/Skill players are the most likely to develop.

How “Bad” is Joe Barry?

While this may not be the best judgement of a DC (Defensive Coordinator), I’ll play Devil’s Advocate, or at least offer a different perspective on viewing Green Bay’s DC. His track record is not impressive, hell its straight up bad. He served 2 years as the Redskins DC (2015 and 2016), ranking 17th and 19th in scoring, respectively. Since taking over in Green Bay, in 2021, the last two season’s he’s ranked 14th (2021) and 17th (2022).

I took a look at his track record of games in December and January to see if there’s been improvement. The verdict? Not really…well, maybe.

2022 (GB)PtsYds
2021 (GB)
2016 (Was)
2015 (Was)
Total Avg.22.5360.2

The numbers seems to be consistent, except for this past season. Considering he’s only had 1 good year of QB play (Rodgers’ MVP in 2021), that’s what led to the playoffs, as well as Washington making the postseason in 2015 where Green Bay came in, fell down 11-0, early, then took over and won 35-18 after a huge goal line stand.

What’s interesting is this past season, 2022. The Packers got “hot” and it was actually due to their defense. Many may forget, it was hobbled, missing Rashan Gary and Eric Stokes, as well, but found a way to give up 17.6 points per game, which would’ve ranked them 2nd in scoring. Keep in mind that was with Minnesota putting up 14 in the 4th quarter of a game that was 41-3 with all the starters pulled.

In Joe Barry’s two elimination games (context: games where the Packers were eliminated), Green Bay gave up 20 points and 323 to the Lions in Week 18. Detroit ended up being the 5th scoring offense, averaging 26.6 points/game. The flip side, the Packers scored 16 against the 28th scoring defense, giving up an average of 25.5 points/game. Barry’s unit came through.

Shall I bring up the prior elimination game? The San Francisco 49ers had a total of -15 yards of offense with 6:41 left in the 1st half. Once they actually crossed midfield, they ended the drive by throwing an interception in the end zone. On the game, Barry’s unit relinquished 6 points and 212 yards. I’m not advocating for him to keep his job, or that he’s not the problem — I’m offering a different perspective into why using top draft picks on defense isn’t a bad idea because the DC is bad. (How’s that for a few double/triple negatives?)

University of Tennessee QB, Hendon Hooker, was having a monster season prior to tearing his ACL.

Now Who to Keep an Eye On?

Rounds 2 and 3 are where teams truly separate themselves from the pack in terms of true value and talent-add. The Packers (as of 5:30 pm) hold the 42nd, 45th, and 78th overall selections tonight. There are quite a few players that could truly help the team that will be available.

Let this marinate for a minute, but if Hooker is available when the Packers are on the clock at 78, don’t be surprised if they snag him. Would he be an insurance plan for Love should he suck or get hurt? Probably not, at least that wouldn’t be the intention. He’s a promising QB and if he’s hurt, teams will shy away from him because he may not be 100% by the start of the season. You know how Green Bay has been great at finding QBs? They keep taking them. It’s that simple. Let’s say Jordan Love is the next Tom Brady, if Hooker is the Jimmy Garoppolo, how is that a bad thing? The Packers would then have a huge asset they could trade for immense value in the future. If Hooker doesn’t pan out…well, most draft picks don’t…

The Packers Will Select _____ in Rounds 2 & 3

I’m guessing the Packers will take best available, per usual, however that may not be a WR or a TE. However, there are plenty of talented WRs and TEs still on the board and the value in taking those at 42, 45, and 78 far outweigh taking one at 13. Don’t be shocked if they trade up (Green Bay will have 7 picks tomorrow for rounds 4-7) to snag an additional guy in Round 2.

The Tight Ends:

  1. Michael Mayer – Notre Dame
  2. Luke Musgrave – Oregon St.
  3. Darnell Washington – Georgia
  4. Sam LaPorta – Iowa

The Iowa pedigree, especially for tight ends is no joke. Remember the combine and hype for George Kittle? No, you don’t? That’s because no one (aside from Hawkeye Nation) did, because he was a 5th round draft pick and is now a certifiable stud. La Porta may be there in Round 3, but if GB takes him, there might be something there…

The Wide Receivers:

  1. Jonathan Mingo – Ole Miss
  2. Jayden Reed – Michigan St.
  3. Jalin Hyatt – Tennessee
  4. Cedric Tillman – Tennessee
  5. Marvin Mims – Oklahoma

There are a ton, but these are a few. Hyatt was a game-breaker. For the common fan, but knowledgeable fan, he may be akin to Mecole Hardman – an all or nothing guy. Maybe a better version of MVS…

I’d list offensive lineman too, because they’re always a need – remember, Elgton Jenkins was a 2nd round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Why the Packers Will Select, Who they Select.

2019 NFL Draft: The Packers are on the clock, but who will they take? -  Behind the Steel Curtain
After (finally) trading Aaron Rodgers, the 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers select 13th overall, as of now.

Aaron Rodgers Trade

The inevitable trade, that transpired over months, finally occurred on April 24th. For tonight’s purpose, the Packers swapped first round picks with the New York Jets, moving up from 15th to 13th. While it’s only a difference of 2 spots, the perspective is a ton of leverage against others. The Packers added the 13th, 42nd, and 207th picks in this year’s draft, while giving up the 170th – if you’re keeping score at home for this weekend’s draft.

WR #13 Mike Evans (drafted in 2014).

What NOT to Draft in the 1st Round

There are “professional” mock drafters everywhere, showing the Packers taking either a Tight End, Wide Receiver, and even God forbid a Running Back. The enticement of the shiny object is far too much temptation for the average fan to endure. Many of those fans parade around with Twitter accounts and even their own web channels, and they claim to know who will be good and help this team. There are catastrophic flaws in all of that – not saying I’m immune to this, but my approach is far different – the main issue is that Rookies are never the difference-maker to winning a Super Bowl. The best rookies are typically highly drafted, thus ending up on an awful team that’s rebuilding. Also, rookies take quite a bit of time to truly contribute.

The other factor is value. Positions, like any team sport, range in values. We all know that QB is the most important position in the NFL. Based on pay scales the “most important” positions are QB, WR, Edge Rusher, OL, DT, CB, S, TE, RB, and LB. With wide receiver being slated 2nd, it’s considered important, yet it’s just not the case. Reasons being, every team carries 6+, meaning there are almost 200 wide receivers on active rosters each week. This means there are a ton of WRs in each draft, and needing a superstar is not necessary to win a title.

I chose an arbitrary year (2010), and of all of the wide receivers taken in the 1st round (50 of them) there were only 2 selected that eventually won the Super Bowl with the team that picked them. Those two?

  1. Demaryius Thomas, drafted in 2010, won the Super Bowl in 2015.
  2. Mike Evans, drafted in 2014, won the Super Bowl in 2020.

There’s a common theme with those two gentlemen…each was drafted then their team acquired an all-time great QB. Thomas was drafted by Denver and they signed Peyton Manning in 2012, similar to the Buccaneers drafting Mike Evans in 2014 and signing Tom Brady in 2020.

The point being, the Packers haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the 1st round since 2002, Javon Walker. Also, the missed opportunities of winning Super Bowls never came down to not having a wide receiver (yes, it was almost always QB play).

Notre Dame Tight End, Michael Mayer, is considered the #1 TE prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft.

How About a Tight End?

Like Wide Receivers, Tight Ends can be found a-plenty in later rounds. There’s much ado about the Packers “need(ing) to surround Jordan Love with weapons to make him successful.” While weapons and massive talent doesn’t hurt, teams are built on the line of scrimmage. Skill players are plentiful and the weak ones still get massive playing time while bad Offensive or Defensive linemen get exposed, early and often. Just off the top my head, Rob Gronkowski was drafted in the 2nd round. Travis Kelce was drafted in the 3rd round, George Kittle? A 5th round draft pick. How about the Packers’ previous starter, “Bobby T”??? Oh, he was an undrafted free agent.

Teams that pick WR and/or TE are your typical bad teams. There’s a reason. Skill guys are fun to watch, but you can’t have a great defense without a solid D line and pass rush. If you have a great QB, protecting him with a solid O line allowing him to read the defense matters far more than some sweet skill players.

OT Broderick Jones, from the University of Georgia, CBSSports’ 23rd rated prospect.

Who Will the Packers Draft?

There are a slew of players I’d love Green Bay to draft. They’re in the trenches. That list looks like this, in no particular order:

  1. Peter Skoronski, OT – Northwestern
  2. Paris Johnson, Jr., OT – Ohio St.
  3. Lukas Van Ness, DL – Iowa
  4. Joey Porter, Jr., CB – Penn St.

While it looks like a Big Ten love fest, there are a few others that I’d love to see Green Bay take, however, my guess is they’ll be off the board. Also, I’m terrible at guessing who Gutekunst will take, although I correctly selected Devonte Wyatt last year – Quay Walker was not on my radar, so we’ll see.