The 11 draft picks made by Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst in the 2022 NFL draft all made the team’s initial 53-man roster on Tuesday.
Even the four seventh-round picks – Tariq Carpenter, Jonathan Ford, Rasheed Walker and Samori Toure – made the cut.
The first seven were locks, and several will be expected to play important roles – either as starters or key backups – during the 2022 season. For instance, first-round pick Quay Walker is a starter alongside De’Vondre Campbell at linebacker. Receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs should each have a role in the passing game. And fourth-round pick Zach Tom is still competing to be a starter along the offensive line.
Some of the seventh-round picks were a bit of a surprise.
Carpenter looked strong as a tackler but lost in coverage. He was at least partially responsible for two big coverage breakdowns in the preseason, including one resulting in a touchdown. The Packers got stung by injury at safety, so he survived. And given his size and speed, he’ll be expected to contribute in a big way on special teams.
Ford was the Packers’ worst-graded player at Pro Football Focus during the preseason but still made the roster over Jack Heflin and Chris Slayton, who played ahead of Ford and made far more big plays during the three-game exhibition schedule.
Walker beat out standout rookie Caleb Jones at offensive tackle. This one isn’t as big of a surprise; Walker might have a bigger upside, and he performed well at right tackle in the preseason finale in Kansas City.
Toure got the call as the seventh receiver over Juwann Winfree, who is more experienced and had earned the trust of Aaron Rodgers. But the rookie from Nebraska lead the team in receiving during the preseason and showed off legitimate separation talent in games.
Teams will always value draft picks slightly more, especially in Year 1. There’s belief in the long-term growth and potential of the player. Did the Packers pick the 53 best players on Tuesday? That’s hard to argue, given some of the decisions on the seventh-round picks. But did they pick the best 53 players for the long term? That’s a much easier argument to make.