3 reasons why the Packers will draft a receiver in the early rounds

Mar 1, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Green Bay Packers franchise has historically not taken wide receivers in the first round, but they have been prolific in selecting them on Day 2 of the draft. This trend was nearly broken last year when they selected Christian Watson with the 34th pick overall.

There are many reasons why I believe Green Bay will be in the market for a receiver early on, but much of this could be dependent on Aaron Rodgers and his looming decision. Let’s take a look at Green Bay’s wide receiver room and how they could supplement it this year.

Packers Current Roster

According to Over The Cap, Green Bay has five wide receivers currently under contract for the 2023 season, and four of them, Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson, Samori Toure, and Bo Melton,  will be going into their second season in the NFL. Jeff Cotton, meanwhile, was a 20202 undrafted rookie.

Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard are pending free agents, creating a need at the position. Both players are favorites of Rodgers, but the team may not want to bring either of them back. If Rodgers does return, then Cobb would almost certainly be back on a low-money deal, but it is nearly impossible to see a situation where they would pay Lazard.

It would make sense for this team to supplement the position with a free agent or a trade, but if  Rodgers isn’t back, this feels unlikely. The Packers are currently about 16 million over the salary cap, so making significant veteran additions seem unlikely.

Watson could be a bonafide number-one receiver if he is able to stay healthy. His speed is game-changing and he grew into a more complete receiver last season than we ever saw at North Dakota State.

Doubs showed flashes of being a legitimate receiver in the NFL in 2022. He projects as a really good number three receiver and reminds me of James Jones in many ways.

Toure showed some really nice flashes but ultimately is still a lottery ticket as a seventh-round pick who played few snaps in 2022. He was predominantly used out of the slot and could be a long-term replacement there, but he isn’t somebody who should block them from selecting a higher-pedigree player.

Ultimately this roster is thin at the receiver position, and they could use an influx of early-round talent. Brian Gutenkunst has been reluctant to add a ton of talent at the receiver position during his tenure, but pairing Watson with another high-level player is a huge key.

Draft Capital

Last year the Packers selected Watson in the second round and Doubs in the fourth, followed by Toure in the seventh round. They used the extra draft capital used from trading Davante Adams to move up and select Watson in the second round.

The Packers may find themselves in a similar situation in the 2023 draft if they trade Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers would net this team a first-round pick and potentially more in a trade, giving them two first-round picks in the 2023 draft.

Any trade of Rodgers would get them high draft picks for the 2023 NFL Draft. I believe this could help Gutenkunst be more willing to spend one of the higher picks on a pass catcher, knowing that they will have multiple selections on the first two days.

There are between four and six receivers that fit Green Bay’s height and weight thresholds being mocked in the first 50 picks.

Quentin Johnson is a physical freak and is likely going to be the first receiver selected in the draft. Green Bay loves big-bodied receivers, so we will need to see what his testing numbers look like.

Jordan Addison and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are both do-it-all type receivers who stand six feet tall and operate from the slot or the outside. Neither player has top-end speed, but both are polished route runners who could take over as the number two receiver in this offense.

My favorite name for Green Bay in this draft is 2022 Biletnikoff Award winner Jalin Hyatt. He is likely a slot receiver in the NFL but is explosive and could be a high-end number-two receiver. His speed should be sub-4.3 at the combine, and Green Bay could use a weapon like him.

Kayshon Boutte and Rashee Rice are two other names to watch out for.

Love is in the air

There is a real possibility that Green Bay could turn to Jordan Love as the starting quarterback in 2023. If the reigns are turned over to Love, it doesn’t make sense for the team to acquire a veteran receiver who would cost a lot of money.

Drafting another young receiver would be the perfect choice to grow with the young quarterback, giving him a stable of young wide receivers to learn and grow with over the next four seasons.

In order to help out Love, the Packers would benefit from getting him playmakers. The best teams around the league have multiple skill position players that make the life of a quarterback much easier, and adding another high-level talent here makes sense.

A player like Jalin Hyatt could be ideal because of his ability to work from the slot and get vertical, and also make plays with the ball in his hands. His speed is game-changing, and this offense could use a player who can just make plays with the ball in his hands.

A young receiver could still make sense with Rodgers under center, but the team would likely need to add another veteran as well. This could just be Cobb or a trade addition like Brandin Cooks.

Overall I expect the Packers to take a receiver at some point in the first two rounds again this season. This team has had its most explosive offenses over the last 15 years with a stable of young wide receivers back in the early 2010s, and this draft is their chance to recreate that.