Before the Green Bay Packers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, GM Brian Gutekunst made a pit stop in Happy Valley to take in the Michigan vs. Penn State game, according to Matt Schneidman of The Athletic.
At 3-5, the Packers currently hold the seventh overall pick in next year’s draft. After trading Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets and Rasul Douglas to the Buffalo Bills recently, Green Bay also has a total of five selections within the top 100.
As far as team needs, there really isn’t a position on this roster that the team couldn’t justify adding to. The big one, of course, could be quarterback, depending on how the team feels about Jordan Love and whether or not they want to fully commit to him beyond this season.
However, in order for the Packers to properly evaluate Love, things around him have to consistently improve. When Gutekunst met with the media two weeks ago, he acknowledged that truly evaluating Love has not been an easy task given all the chaos around him, from poor offensive line play to issues at the receiver position.
Offensive tackle is another path that the Packers could go down as well. A number of the issues that the offense has experienced this season can be traced back to inconsistent play from the offensive line, whether that’s Love not having enough time or not being able to get the run game going. As we saw this past week against Los Angeles, when Love isn’t under constant pressure, and there’s a run game to lean on, the offense looks a lot better.
Looking ahead to 2024, there is very much uncertainty around the offensive tackle position for Green Bay. We do not know what the future holds for David Bakhtiari; Yosh Nijman is a free agent, and whether or not Rasheed Walker can be a long-term option is still unknown.
Safety and running back are two other big needs for Green Bay. The only safety under contract after the 2023 season is Anthony Johnson, while at running back, AJ Dillon is a free agent in 2024, and Aaron Jones comes with a cap hit north of $17 million, which could lead to him being a cut candidate.
The interior offensive line and receiver positions have underwhelmed this season, the cornerback depth isn’t as strong as it seemed to be just a few months ago, and the Packers could always use more help along the interior defensive line.
There are more positions on this Packers team that you could justify addressing than not, so taking the best-player-available approach rather than honing in on one specific position group, maybe the preferred method for Green Bay in 2024–and many would argue that’s how the draft should always be approached.
To help us get an idea of who Gutekunst may have had his eyes on as he took in this Big-10 matchup, Packers Wire’s own Brennen Rupp is here to break down which prospects likely had Gutey’s attention.
Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State: The Packers will likely have to own a top five pick in order to have a shot to land the Penn State left tackle. With his long frame, athleticism, and strength, Fashanu checks all the boxes.
Caedan Wallace, OT, Penn State: Wallace entered Saturday’s matchup against Michigan with 36 career starts at right tackle for Penn State. Wallace checks the boxes with his size and movement skills.
Hunter Nourzad, C, Penn State: The Cornell transfer has five-position versatility. He started 20 games at right tackle during his time at Cornell and has started games at guard and center as a Nittany Lion.
Kalen King, CB, Penn State: King has coordinated body control with quick feet and loose hips. He’s quick to recognize routes and finished last season with 18 pass deflections.
Kris Jenkins, DL, Michigan: Jenkins, the nephew of Cullen Jenkins, is a powerful defensive lineman. To go along with all that raw power, Jenkins is quick out of his stance, showcasing explosive movements to get upfield quickly.
Rod Moore, S, Michigan: Moore, a former track athlete, has the quickness to cover a lot of ground. He has disciplined eyes and shows good route anticipation. He’s a well-rounded safety that would be a welcome addition to Green Bay’s secondary.
Donovan Edwards, RB, Michigan: Edwards is an explosive running back with just 249 carries to his name. He’s a weapon out of the backfield as a wide reciever, with 62 career receptions for 690 yards and three touchdowns.
Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan: Wilson is an explosive playmaker. The former track athlete has the game-chaning speed to keep defensive backs off balance. A team can never have enough explosive playmakers, and while Wilson does a lot of the same things that Jayden Reed does, there is always room for speed merchants like Wilson.
Zak Zinter, G, Michigan: Zinter has over 40-career starts at guard to his name. He’s one of the most experienced interior offensive lineman in college football. Prior to Saturday’s matchup against Penn State, Zinter had only given up four pressures and zero sacks in nine games this season. A high football IQ, physical run blocker and an above-average athlete. Zinter could be a plug and play starter at guard.
Cornelius Johnson, WR, Michigan: Johnson checks all the boxes in terms of what the Packers look for in wide receivers. However, he’s a day three prospect. Over the past two drafts Brian Gutekunst has drafted four wide receivers on day three of the draft. Not sure he’ll add another one on day three in 2024.
Other names that may not hit Green Bay’s threshold marks include Blake Corum, RB, Michigan. Chop Robinson, Edge, Penn State. Adisa Isaac, Edge, Penn State.