Prospects we love for Packers coming out of 2023 NFL Scouting Combine

The interviews and 40-yard dashes are done. So, which draft prospects make the most sense for the Green Bay Packers coming out of the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine?

The staff at Packers Wire individually picked one player to love for Green Bay coming out of the combine in Indianapolis:

Zach Kruse: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

He weighed in a little under 200 pounds and didn’t run the 40-yard dash, but Smith-Njigba aced the agility tests (6.57-second three-cone, 3.93-second short shuttle) and the position drills in Indianapolis, cementing his status as a first-round wide receiver in this class. The 21-year-old is an excellent route runner with explosive quickness who catches everything and wins to all parts of the field. Throw him in the slot between Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs and the Packers could have a dynamic wide receiver trio in 2023 and beyond. Taking Smith-Njigba becomes even more intriguing as a first-round option in Green Bay if the Packers trade away Aaron Rodgers and get an extra first-rounder. With easy separation ability, JSN could create a lot of easy completions and chunk plays for whoever is playing quarterback for the Packers.

Paul Bretl: TE Darnell Washington, Georgia

Perhaps I’m a prisoner of the moment, but tight end is a major need, with Josiah Deguara the only one under contract with any NFL experience currently, and Washington put on a show at the NFL Combine. He measured in at 6-6 and 264 pounds and posted an elite RAS of 9.85. While known for his run-blocking abilities, finishing fifth among all tight ends in PFF’s run-blocking grade in 2022, Washington also brings upside as a pass-catcher with that athleticism and does have experience playing out of the slot at Georgia. He averaged an impressive 16.1 yards per catch on 25 receptions last season and ranked 14th in average YAC – showcasing some of those pass-catching abilities. Right away, he could help the Green Bay run game and be an immediate threat in the red zone, an area where the Packers lacked a go-to target this past season

Brandon Carwile: Edge rusher Nolan Smith, Georgia

It was hard not to watch Smith’s performance at the combine and not be blown away. His 4.39 40-yard dash was the fastest for an edge rusher since 2003, and his vertical jump was three inches higher than the second best. He also had the fastest 10-yard split and finished third in the broad jump to cap off an RAS of 9.20. This could have been even higher if Smith wasn’t undersized. At 6-2, 238, he may fall below the Packers size thresholds, but that shouldn’t stop them from taking an intriguing prospect. I realize Smith didn’t post gaudy sack numbers in college, but neither did Rashan Gary and that worked out pretty well. Smith’s tape shows a player that knows how to get to quarterback, and he is also quiet proficient against the run. With Preston Smith getting up there in age and Kingsley Enagbare not being a sure thing, Green Bay may use the 15th overall pick to find an edge rusher they can develop into a future starter alongside Gary. That plan worked when Gary was the 12th overall pick in 2019, and Smith has the tools to follow a similar path. 

Brennen Rupp: TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa

If it were a typical tight end class, LaPorta would have a strong case to be the first tight end off the board. Instead, LaPorta will likely watch Michael Meyer, Dalton Kincaid, Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft and Darnell Washington all hear their name called in the first two rounds. LaPorta reminded everybody this weekend that he’s still here. His 4.59 40-time was third best among tight ends. LaPorta is pro-ready. He can be a weapon in the passing game and he’s wired right as a blocker. The Packers need more weapons on offense and LaPorta could prove to be a reliable target for first-year starter Jordan Love or veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire