GREEN BAY, Erase. – The NFL Draft is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s fun to dig into a batch of prospects and try to figure out who the Green Bay Packers will like and who they will discard. Sometimes, I’m right. Sometimes, I’m wrong.
Here are some of my takeaways.
One: Age Is Just a Number
I did a bunch of mock drafts because, A, early in the process, it forces me to learn about some of the deep prospects and, B, you like to read them. Pretty early, I focused on Georgia defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt as an obvious first-round prospect. Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery wanted a player with some juice for third down. That’s Wyatt.
Wyatt is an older prospect, I was reminded frequently, having turned 24 in March. The Packers haven’t drafted many older prospects, in general, and certainly not with early-round picks. The selection of Wyatt in the first round blew that too-old theory to hell. And rightly so. You still have a 20-something player at the end of his four-year contract, in the case of seventh-round receiver Samori Toure, or after a potential fifth-year option, in the case of Wyatt. After his contract is up, who cares?
Two: Athletic Traits
I wrote mini-features on about 200 prospects before the draft. When doing my rankings, I keep close tabs on the measurables – height, 40-yard times, 20-yard shuttles and so on. I chose not to write about three of the 11 picks.
One was South Carolina edge Kingsley Enagbare, the fifth-round choice. Enagbare ran a bad 40-yard time at the Scouting Combine and was even slower at pro day. Over the last decade of drafts, the Packers didn’t draft an outside linebacker prospect with a 40 time slower than the historic Combine average of 4.82 seconds. Engabare ran his in 4.87 at Indianapolis and 4.96 at pro day.
Another was Miami defensive lineman Jonathan Ford, a mammoth man with poor athletic traits who was taken in the seventh. Since the team went to the 3-4 in 2009, the only defensive tackle prospect selected with a Relative Athletic Score of less than 6.0 was BJ Raji. Ford’s was 3.56. Moreover, Ford’s production had really dwindled the past two years. I didn’t think twice about discarding him.
The third was Nebraska receiver Samari Toure, the team’s final pick. This miss on my end had nothing to do with testing traits. There are a million receiver prospects in every draft and you’ve got to stop at some point – especially with kids practice schedules eating into the day. So, I didn’t write about Toure, which was stupid, in retrospect given his size (6-0 7/8), speed (4.44) and hands (46 receptions, two drops).
So, here’s what I need to keep in mind. The Packers seem to really stick to their guns with testing traits with the early picks but are more lenient later in the draft, which makes sense.
Three: Here’s Where I Was Right
It didn’t take a genius to predict the Packers would go early and often at receiver. And it wasn’t just the immediate need – prodigious and obvious as it’s been since the Davante Adams trade. Their three established veterans – Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins – will be free agents next offseason. So, the Packers took three. Christian Watson was a high second-round pick, Romeo Doubs was taken in the fourth and Toure was added in the seventh. They’ve all got size and big-play ability.
Individually, the moment I was told Georgia Tech safety Tariq Carpenter was coming to Green Bay for a predraft visit, he seemed like a perfect fit. A seventh-round pick, he’ll be an instant contributor on special teams and he should earn a role at some point as a sixth defensive back.
Four: Here’s Where I Was Wrong
I really thought tight end was an under-the-radar need with Robert Tonyan (coming off a torn ACL) and Marcedes Lewis entering their final season under contract. But the Packers didn’t dive into a deep group of tight ends at all – not even undrafted free agency.
Quay Walker was a popular pick for Green Bay in the late mock drafts. I didn’t see it, though. The Packers had bigger needs than inside linebacker – it’s not as if Krys Barnes is terrible as De’Vondre Campbell’s sidekick – and Walker produced zero turnover plays in 1,133 defensive snaps his last three seasons.
Five: The Draft Steal
I was much lower on Penn State offensive tackle Rasheed Walker than most in the media. The traits were there but the performance was not. Dane Brugler of The Athletic, who knows much more about this stuff than I do, had him as a potential Day 3 pick. He wound up being the 25th of 26 offensive tackles selected.
Six: The Draft Question Mark
North Dakota State’s Christian Watson is one heck of a talent. He’s big and he’s fast. He’s not raw, which is the lazy narrative just because he played at an FCS program. North Dakota State has won nine of the last 11 national championships. The coaches there are good and Watson knows what he’s doing. Having a former NFL player as his father and a coach, he might be ahead of the curve in a lot of ways.
But how quickly can he adjust to NFL competition? And an NFL playbook? And what will be asked of him by Aaron Rodgers? Those questions would exist had Watson played at North Carolina State instead of North Dakota State, and they would exist had the Packers drafted any of the big-school receivers in the first round.
The 2022 NFL Draft
Six takeaways from the Packers’ draft class
Final NFL Draft Grades
Elite 11: One fun fact about 11 draft picks
no. 255: Nebraska WR Samori Toure
no. 249: Penn State OT Rasheed Walker
no. 234: Miami DT Jonathan Ford
no. 228: Georgia Tech S Tariq Carpenter
no. 179: South Carolina edge Kingsley Enagbare
no. 140: Wake Forest OL Zach Tom
no. 132: Nevada WR Romeo Doubs
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Day 2 NFL Draft grades
Packers have picked four elite athletes
no. 92: UCLA OL Sean Rhyan
Great talent, great expectations, great challenges for Christian Watson
no. 34: North Dakota State WR Christian Watson
Comparing Christian Watson to other Day 2 options at receiver
Check out a bunch of Day 2 mock drafts
Day 2 mock drafts deliver receivers
First round draft grades
Once again, no first round receiver. So, who’s left?
Packers add a couple of bulldogs to the kennel
no. 28: Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt
no. 22: Georgia LB Quay Walker