Packers 2024 NFL Draft: Final thoughts before Day 1

Well, we’ve finally made it. The first day of the 2024 NFL draft has arrived. But before the Green Bay Packers on the clock at pick 25 and making their first selection, here are some final thoughts on Day 1 of the draft.

Trade up or trade down? I am really torn on this one. My gut says that the Packers would be more likely to trade up, but my brain says that if they are to make a move, it’s down. The reason being that if we look at the strength of this draft class, the Packers should have options at both tackle and cornerback positions when on the clock at 25. Other positions of need, like linebacker or safety, may not even be in play at that point either, which could facilitate a trade-down scenario. Also, while we need to take everything with a grain of salt, Gutekunst has continually talked about the importance of adding competition to the roster this offseason, so I do think he would prefer to hold or even accumulate draft capital to help add more high-end talent to the team.

Stay away from linebacker in the first round: Linebacker is certainly a big need, but from a value standpoint, I don’t think there is a prospect that should be selected at that stage of the draft. In Round 2? Sure. Trade back in Round 1, accumulate an extra pick, and make the selection? Sure. But not at pick 25. As I wrote about recently, I just get the sense that, internally, the Packers aren’t as concerned about this position as many on the outside are.

Cornerback or offensive tackle? Brian Gutekunst can certainly throw us a curveball as he has done on a few occassions in the first round, but it just feels like the Packers first round pick is going to be from one of these positions groups. As already mentioned, both positions have a ton of talent in this class, and there is a good chance that the best player available on the Packers’ board when picking is either a tackle or cornerback. These also happen to be two of the bigger needs that the Packers have.

Graham Barton: If the Packers view Barton as an interior lineman, well, that’s not a position they’ve prioritized in the first round. If they view him as a tackle, he’s a bit undersized compared to what they typically draft. Barton also could be off the board before the Packers pick. However, this is my favorite player for the Packers in the first round. I love his play style and versatility. The offensive line will determine how good the Packers’ offense is in 2024, and Barton could fill any role that they’d need him to, helping to elevate the entire unit.

A surprise pick: I’ll throw BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia out there as a surprise pick for the Packers. Depending on which big board you look at, you might see Suamataia in the 20s or the 120s in terms of ranking. But, when it comes to what the Packers look for in first-round prospects, he checks just about every box. He’s 21 years old, plays a premier position, has very good size, has experience at both right and left tackle, and is an excellent athlete.

My Packers’ shortlist: You can read more here, but in what has become a pre-draft tradition, I built out my Round 1 shortlist. Looking at past draft tendencies, I whittled my original prospects list down to just six players who check all the boxes. This group includes Tyler Guyton, Kingsley Suamataia, Cooper DeJean, Chop Robinson, Amarius Mims, and Johnny Newton.

My official prediction: I’m picking Tyler Guyton as the Packers’ first-round pick because, in addition to hitting the metrics referenced above, he also participated in the Senior Bowl and a pre-draft visit with the Packers–two other trends that have developed.

An interior defensive lineman? If Illinois’ Johnny Newton is available at pick 25, I have to imagine that would be a hard prospect for Gutekunst to pass up. For 2024, the Packers are in good shape up front, but this still remains an upgradeable position, not to mention that, as of now, both Kenny Clark and TJ Slaton are set to be free agents in 2025. Newton is an All-American, who impacted both the run and the passing games. Admittedly, with the shift to a 4-3, this could be a crowded position for the Packers, but success for any defense begins in the trenches, an area where the Packers need more consistent disruption.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire