Packers mock drafts: One position keeps coming up
We're still a month away from the NFL Draft, taking place April 27-29, but it's been mock-draft season for quite some time now. Packers fans who observe such things likely see one or two names popping up over and over for Green Bay with the No. 15 pick: Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer and Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid. But as you might expect, there's still some variance in opinion.
Here's a recent roundup of selections:
NFL.com: Michael Mayer, Paris Johnson or Dalton Kincaid
Chad Reuter of NFL.com imagines that the Packers do get the Jets' No. 13 pick in exchange for Aaron Rodgers and gives the Packers Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. with that pick.
"Johnson possesses the length and power to back up veteran left tackle David Bakhtiari or start at right tackle, allowing Elgton Jenkins to play guard," Reuter writes.
At 15, it's Mayer who gets the nod.
"Green Bay must consider the top receiver or tight end on the board at this spot," Reuter writes. "Mayer is a great fit, not only for his excellence as a receiver but also his prowess as a blocker in the running game, which should be more of a focus with Jordan Love expected to run the show in 2023."
Then, there's Charles Davis of NFL.com, who just has the Packers taking a tight end at No. 15 … but he has Kincaid as the choice.
"Tight end is a trendy pick for the Packers here, and I concur," Davis says. "So the best pure receiver at the position heads to Titletown."
Pro Football Network: Michael Mayer
James Fragoza agrees that Johnson will go No. 13 (to the Jets), and Mayer lands with Green Bay.
"Michael Mayer to the Green Bay Packers — a tale as old as any in mock drafts this cycle," Fragoza writes. "But if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Mayer fills a glaring need for Green Bay, and while tight end is rarely a position worth first-round capital, Mayer provides presumed QB1 Jordan Love with a safety blanket while also mauling defenders in the ground game."
ESPN: Michael Mayer
Todd McShay's most recent mock draft is more than two weeks old, but he envisions the Packers taking Mayer.
"Let's improve this offensive supporting cast," McShay says. "Christian Watson looked awesome last season, but Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan are free agents. It doesn't matter if it's Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love or me throwing the ball, this has to be a focus this offseason. Perhaps GM Brian Gutekunst becomes enamored with a receiver like USC's Jordan Addison or Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but I'm leaning toward Mayer, a 6-5 tight end with a wide catch radius and some physical traits after the catch. He came down with 67 catches for 809 yards and nine TDs last season, and he can be a serious matchup problem for opponents in the red zone."
The Athletic: Dalton Kincaid or Brian Branch
The beat writer mock draft features Packers writer Matt Schneidman taking the tight end from Utah, though the theoretical trade for No. 13 doesn't quite work out in time for the draft.
"The Packers take the best pass-catching tight end in the draft to replace Robert Tonyan, who never returned to his 2020 form after his torn ACL suffered midway through the 2021 season," Schneidman writes in his summary of the pick. "What better way to start Jordan Love off on the right foot than giving him a trio of talented pass catchers in Kincaid and receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs to throw to?"
The Athletic writer Dane Brugler's last mock draft is three weeks old, but he had Green Bay selecting Alabama defensive back Brian Branch.
"Though many will be hung up on his lackluster 4.58 40 time, Branch was outstanding during the combine positional drills and 'stellar' in meetings, according to one NFL team source," Brugler wrote. "He met with the Packers in Indianapolis, and his versatility would be a great fit in Green Bay’s scheme."
USA Today (DraftWire): Lukas Van Ness and Dalton Kincaid
We'll end where we started, with a mock draft imagining the Packers land No. 13 from the Jets in a trade for Aaron Rodgers, though this mock is coming up on three weeks old, as well.
Luke Easterling gives the Packers Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness and the Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid with picks Nos. 13 and 15.
"We all love to send receivers to the Packers in the first round, but it never happens in real life," Easterling writes. "Instead, they go defense (as usual), with a high-upside power rusher who can line up inside or out.
"It’s not a receiver, but the Packers do grab a pass-catcher here to help Jordan Love after sending Rodgers to the Jets. Kincaid is the best pure receiver in this year’s loaded tight end class, and he would make an immediate impact in a young and promising passing attack."
CBS Sports: Jordan Addison
Not everyone thinks the Packers would choose tight end over receiver. Ryan Wilson thinks Green Bay would go after the USC wideout, ranked by the site as the second-best receiver in the draft.
"Wide receiver Allen Lazard signed with the Jets and Randall Cobb might not be far behind, and the same could be true for tight end Marcedes Lewis," Wilson writes. "The other tight end, Robert Tonyan, already signed with the Bears. Put another way: even though the Packers have not historically used first-round picks on wide receivers, this might be the year. And with this tight-end class being so deep, Green Bay can address that need with their 45th selection. Addison isn't a big target, but he's one of the most dynamic players in the country who can line up anywhere. He "only" managed a 4.49 40 at the combine but the tape is the tape -- and it consistently showed that he was regularly the best player on the field who can win at all three levels, playing either outside or in the slot."
Wilson's three-round mock had Green Bay taking Texas A&M safety Antonio Johnson with pick No. 45 and Notre Dame edge rusher Isaiah Foskey with pick No. 78.
University of Wisconsin players selected included center Joe Tippman with the second pick of the second round (No. 33, by the Texans) and linebacker Nick Herbig with pick No. 47 (by the Commanders). Waukesha North alumnus Will McDonald goes to the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs with pick No. 63. The edge rusher went to college at Iowa State.
Yahoo! Sports: Jaxon Smith-Njigba
How about a different receiver? The Ohio State star goes at No. 15 to the Packers according to Charles McDonald's mock draft. He'd be the second wide receiver off the board behind TCU's Quentin Johnson, who slots at No. 12.
McDonald has Wisconsin defensive tackle Keeanu Benton getting taken in the first round at pick No. 26 to the Dallas Cowboys. Benton has been rising up mock drafts and, in this scenario, would land in a place that has drafted several Wisconsin products in recent years with successful results (Jake Ferguson, Tyler Biadasz, Travis Frederick).
Sports Illustrated: Bryan Bresee
The Packers have a habit of confounding expectations when it comes to drafting offensive playmakers. So Bill Huber, who covers Green Bay for Sports Illustrated, goes defense with Clemson defensive tackle Bryan Bresee.
"With size (6-foot-5) and athleticism (4.86 in the 40), Bresee could develop into a real game-wrecker on the defensive line," Huber writes. "He missed most of 2021 with a torn ACL and a chunk of 2022 following a kidney infection and the death of his sister. So, Bresee is rawer than you’d like. The Packers might be able to trade back a bit to get him but a mock draft is make-believe enough without adding more make-believe trades."
The Ringer: Broderick Jones
Danny Kelly noticed that the Packers took two players from Georgia in the first round last year. So why break with tradition? He views the Packers taking an offensive tackle from Georgia.
"Longtime starter David Bakhtiari has missed 23 of 35 possible games over the past two seasons (including playoffs), and even if he does return healthy in 2023, the team needs to start looking for a successor on the blind side," Kelly wrote. "Jones is athletic and long, and gives the team a potential stalwart for the future at left tackle."
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Mock drafts see tight end in future for Green Bay Packers