We are in the midst of mock draft season, and as I look through various mock drafts every Sunday night for the latest edition of ‘Mock Draft Roundup & Takeaways,’ there are two positions in particular that have been constants at pick 29 for the Green Bay Packers—wide receiver and linebacker.
Many draft analysts out there is determined to get Aaron Rodgers a first-round receiver, and see it as a “must,” even if Green Bay did lead the NFL in scoring last season and ranked first by DVOA.
That may come across as snarky on my part, but that’s not my intention. Of course, another weapon on offense is a good thing, and if the Packers do take a receiver in Round 1, I’ll have zero issues with it.
But I don’t see it as something the Green Bay Packers have to do either. The Packers should address cornerback, offensive tackle, and the interior defensive line; however, I wouldn’t put receiver in that category. The same goes for linebacker—another position frequently mocked to Green Bay.
With Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin already on the roster, my guess is that GM Brian Gutekunst doesn’t feel the same urgency when it comes to addressing the linebacker position as many draft analysts do. Now, that isn’t to say that they couldn’t benefit from Zaven Collins, for example, but this isn’t a position that Green Bay typically values highly either.
Perhaps that changes under new defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who is bringing in a Vic Fangio-style system to Green Bay. But it’s not as if the Los Angels Rams linebackers were lights out last season; that was a unit with a very good secondary and defensive front.
Recently, Ross Uglem, the site publisher over at Packer Report, did some digging on the Green Bay Packers’ first-round history during the Ted Thompson and Gutekunst eras. Since 2005, the Packers have spent 15 combined first-round picks on quarterback, offensive tackle, interior defensive line, cornerback, safety, and edge rusher.
Do you know how many first-round picks were spent on a receiver or linebacker during that span?
That’s right, one—AJ Hawk in 2006. Other positions that you can lump in with receiver and linebacker are the interior offensive line, fullback, and tight end.
With that said, of course we can’t say with absolute certainty that they won’t take a receiver or a linebacker in the first round this year. After all, there are a lot of unknown variables at this point that go into the draft, some of which include free agency and how the draft board falls. But recent drafts tell us that Green Bay is going to use that pick on a more premium position.
So, in addition to looking at what needs a team has to fill on paper, it’s also valuable to look at their draft history. In the Packers’ case, they typically like bigger-bodied receivers, likely won’t spend draft capital on players who don’t test well at the NFL Combine, and they don’t spend first-round picks on the linebacker or receiver positions, among other things.
As I said, anything can happen, but as more and more mock drafts come out with Green Bay taking a receiver or linebacker at pick 29, keep in mind that this goes against what they typically do. And it’s not as if either of these positions are major needs—there are much bigger ones to address.