The Green Bay Packers‘ shot at making the playoffs came up just short with their 20-16 loss against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Sunday night.
Now the attention turns to the 2023 NFL Draft, which is 108 days away. The Packers will own the 15th overall pick in the first round. Let’s take an early look at nine players that the Packers could target.
S Brian Branch, Alabama
The Alabama product is as versatile as they come. He plays the Star position for Nick Saban and can be viewed as a versatile chess piece for defensive coordinators. He has the ability to play nickel, on the boundary or safety.
Branch has the footwork and fluid athleticism to man the nickel position at the next level. On top of his ability in coverage, Branch is an excellent open-field tackler and is fearless coming downhill.
OT Broderick Jones, Georgia
The Packers have enough Georgia players on the defensive side of the ball. Let’s start adding some to the offensive side of the ball.
At 6-4, 315 pounds, Jones looks the part. Jones is an excellent athlete and can get out in space and move people.
The first-year starter at left tackle has the quick feet to protect the corner in pass protection and has powerful hands. According to PFF, Jones has given up zero sacks and just nine pressures in 439 pass-blocking reps.
Edge rusher Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
The Texas Tech edge rusher passes the eye test with his long arms and size (6-6, 270 pounds). With his size, length, and closing speed, Wilson consistently gets to the quarterback to disrupt passing plays.
According to PFF, Wilson finished the season with 50 pressures.
Wilson is not just a pass-rush specialist, he’d be able to step in from day one and be a starter with his ability to set the edge and create havoc in the backfield against the run.
Wilson is likely to be off the board by the time the Packers are on the clock. However, stranger things have happened and if Wilson is still available, the Texas Tech edge rusher would be a slam-dunk pick for Brian Gutekunst and the Packers.
TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
The only tight end on Green Bay’s roster under contract for next season is Josiah Deguara. The Packers are going to need immediate help at the position and Mayer could be a plug-and-play starter with his natural pass-catching abilities.
He has outstanding body control and is able to make catches through contact. According to PFF, Mayer finished this season with just four drops and 17 contested catches.
He’s not an explosive athlete, but he’s a natural route runner and with his size (6-5 and 251 pounds), he’s a mismatch working the middle of the field.
The last time the Packers drafted a tight end in the first round was in 2000 when they selected Bubba Franks with the 14th overall pick. The Packers need tight end help and Mayer is one of the Top 15 players in this draft and is pro-ready.
OL Paris Johnson, Ohio State
Last season Johnson started 13 games at right guard and this season the Ohio State offensive lineman protected the blind side of C.J. Stroud.
Johnson has good size and length (6-6, 315 pounds). He has quick feet and lower body flexibility to redirect edge rushers. All season, Johnson stonewalled edge rushers in pass protection, giving up just two sacks and 14 pressures, while logging 449 snaps in pass protection.
OL Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Would the Packers draft an offensive tackle with short arms in the top half of the first round? Never say never. Skoronski may get dinged by teams due to his arm length and it’s why he could go anywhere from the fifth overall pick or the 25th overall pick.
Skoronski plays with good bend and quick feet in pass protection. He has a high football IQ and is quick to react, playing with the savviness of a 10-year pro.
Bryan Bulaga didn’t have the longest of arms and the Packers selected him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Skornoski may have shorter arms than the former Iowa Hawkeye and he may wind up not being on Green Bay’s board, but if he lands with the Packers he could be a plug-and-play starter at right tackle, with the potential to kick inside to guard.
WR Quentin Johnston, TCU
The Packers haven’t selected a wide receiver in the first round since 2002 when they drafted Javon Walker with the 20th overall pick.
With his size, athleticism, and big-play ability, Johnston would be hard to pass. Having Johnston and Christian Watson on the field together would put a lot of stress on the defense.
The issue is, the TCU wide receiver will likely be off the board by the time the Packers are on the clock. If he somehow is on the board when the Packers are on the clock, it wouldn’t surprising to see the Packers finally take a wide receiver in the first round.
WR Jordan Addison, USC
Would the Packers really draft a wide receiver that doesn’t hit their weight threshold? Highly unlikley. Jordan Addison checks in at 6-0, 180 pounds. He’s a little light for Green Bay’s liking.
Addison is a bonafide playmaker and could provide an immediate impact playing alongside Watson in Green Bay’s aerial attack.
Addison is a sudden athlete and a crisp route runner. The Pittsburgh Panther transfer does a good job of changing up his route speed to keep defensive backs off balance and create separation.
RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
I know, I know. A running back in the first round. The Packers have a better shot of taking a 180-pound wide receiver!
Aaron Jones could be a cap casualty this offseason and the Packers will likely look to draft a running back to pair with A.J. Dillon. Why not get the best running back in the draft?
Robinson is a game-changer. Vision, contact balance, elusiveness, and ability as a pass catcher out of the backfield. You name it, Robinson has it in spades.
A talented running back can be found in the seventh round. It can be found in the fifth round, like Jones. There are so many talented running backs in this draft class that it would make sense to wait to address the position outside of the first round. The Packers have more pressing needs than running back, even if Jones is cut.
However, none of those running backs are Bijan Robinson. You can either have a nice, thick, juicy steak, or you can wait to have a hamburger. The Packers don’t get many chances to add elite talent, like Robinson very often. Add Robinson to this offense and prosper.