The Green Bay Packers are going into the first round of the 2023 NFL draft with the No. 13 overall pick and many different available options for how to use it.
Who knows how the first 12 picks will pan out, and who will be available. But in assessing the draft class and the likely options, some paths look better and far more likely than others.
What should the Packers do in the first round on Thursday night? Here are the top four options:
Take Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Will Smith-Njigba, the near-consensus No. 1 wide receiver in the class, last until No. 13? It’s hard to say. In a so-so class of receivers, Smith-Njigba — who dominated during the 2021 season at Ohio State — could be a top-10 pick. And there are certainly teams ahead of the Packers needing a receiver. But if JSN is there at No. 13? It’s a slam dunk for the Packers, who could throw him in the slot between Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs and immediately re-energize the passing game weaponry for Jordan Love. Everyone knows the Packers’ receiver-in-the-first-round-drought, but Smith-Njigba is an incredible fit and an incredible talent at a position where the Packers need to make another big investment.
Take top remaining offensive tackle
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive tackle is a premium position for good reason. These massive human beings are tasked with protecting the most important position in the game from other massive, insanely athletic human beings who tirelessly hunt the quarterback. There are only so many 6-5, 310-pounders who can move effortlessly and do the job, so taking them early in the draft is usually a good idea and a smart investment of a valuable resource. The Packers have uncertainty at offensive tackle past 2023, especially when considering the financial situation of David Bakhtiari ($40.6 million cap hit in 2024) and contract status of Yosh Nijman (unrestricted free agent in 2024). Love needs weapons, but he needs to stay protected, too, and this class isn’t exactly deep on offensive tackles. Broderick Jones, Paris Johnson Jr. and Darnell Wright are all first-round options.
Take top remaining edge rusher
Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy (98)
Everything said about offensive tackles above applies to edge rushers. These massive human beings are tasked with beating other massive, insanely athletic human beings, and they need to be powerful enough to stand their ground against the run and athletic enough to win against the pass. The Packers have more stability at edge rusher, but Rashan Gary is coming off a major injury, Preston Smith turns 31 in November and the depth behind the two starters is only so-so. Are the Packers comfortable making Kingsley Enagbare the only high-end developmental prospect at edge rusher? Taking one in the first round would give the Packers an impressive arsenal of rushers and provide long-term stability at an important position. Want Joe Barry’s defense to play better? Disrupt the quarterback. Want the ball back in Love’s hands more? Disrupt the quarterback. Usually, getting the best disruptors requires using premium draft capital. Lukas Van Ness, Myles Murphy and Nolan Smith all make sense at No. 13.
Trade down, take top remaining tight end
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Taking a tight end in the top 15 picks probably isn’t the best use of a premium resource, but the Packers have a gigantic need at tight end and this class offers up several intriguing first-round options. If the Packers truly want to a tight end like Michael Mayer or Dalton Kincaid (or even Darnell Washington or Luke Musgrave), trading down, acquiring more draft capital and taking the best remaining tight end works better than staying put and taking one in the half of the first round. Of course, trading down requires finding another team willing to trade up, and moving down risks losing players. But tight end is a top need, the Packers could use more draft capital and the top tight ends in this class would be strong picks in the 20s.