In a recent 2021 mock draft from Pro Football Network, the Green Bay Packers land an uber-productive wide receiver from Alabama in the first round.
As every Green Bay Packers fan is aware, in what was a loaded 2020 draft class at the wide receiver position, the Packers went all seven rounds, and nine draft picks without selecting one of them. This is a move that still has many scratching their heads after a 2019 season, where the overall production from the Packer wide receivers was quite underwhelming.
But have no fear, while the 2020 class certainly had a lot of talent and depth, many draft analysts consider the 2021 class even better as there is more high-end talent available.
So as we saw last week in version 2.0 of my ‘Way Too Early 2021 Mock Draft Roundup,’ many believe that next year is the year that Green Bay finally takes a first-round wide receiver. Something that hasn’t been done since Javon Walker in 2002.
And the latest mock draft from Ian Cummings at Pro Football Network is no different as he has the Packers taking DeVonta Smith from Alabama with the 28th pick. Here is what Cummings had to say about the selection:
“After the Packers’ 2020 NFL Draft performance, it’s a little tough to expect what they might do in 2021. But I think sensibility will return to Green Bay once the team’s need at wide receiver becomes more profound.
They’ll want an immediate contributor with a high floor to help maximize the twilight of Aaron Rodgers’ career, and Alabama’s Devonta Smith, a workmanlike route runner, and a tireless producer is the right man for the job.”
After putting up 693 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018, Smith would nearly double his production last season. In 13 games, he totaled 1,256 receiving yards at a whopping 18.3 yards per catch with 14 touchdown receptions. And Alabama quarterbacks had an insane 152.5 passer rating when targeting Smith in 2019.
According to Pro Football Focus, of Smith’s 68 receptions, 29 of them came with him picking up 10 or more yards after the catch, which is the most among all returning wide receivers. He would also have 31 receptions off of play-action, and that is the fourth most of all returning receivers. Not to mention that he was very good on wide receiver screens as well.
These are two elements of Smith’s game that would be a much-needed and welcomed sight in Green Bay. With Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s ups and downs in 2019, the Packers lacked that big-play ability, and overall, this wasn’t a wide receiver unit that made a lot of plays with the ball in their hands. Well, Smith can fix that.
And for a Packers’ offense that utilizes play-action heavily and will continue to do so, Smith could also give them a boost there as Aaron Rodgers wasn’t very efficient off play-action last season.
Smith could have entered the 2020 draft where he very well could have been a first-round pick, but by returning to Alabama for another year, we could actually see Smith outperform his impressive 2019 season.
Sure Bama still has receivers like Jaylen Waddle alongside of Smith, but with Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs now in the NFL, there should be some extra targets heading Smith’s way this season.
Of course with the 2020 season still to be played, a lot is going to change both for the Green Bay Packers and with the college football landscape as well. But it’s never too early to begin looking ahead and the addition of DeVonta Smith is one that would provide a major boost to the passing game and one that fans should be thrilled with.