Green Bay Packers NFL Draft Grades 2023: Lukas Van Ness, Tucker Kraft Join Team

    What are the Green Bay Packers' grades for their selections in the 2023 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

    The Green Bay Packers‘ 2023 NFL Draft grades depend on their efforts to support newly anointed starting quarterback Jordan Love. Did they use their ammunition in the 2023 cycle to their advantage? Let’s follow along and see for ourselves.

    Green Bay Packers NFL Draft Grades

    Round 1, Pick 13: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

    The Packers could have gone a couple of different routes here. Both tight ends — Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer — were still on the board, as was Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Smith-Njigba, in particular, would have been a perfect complement for Jordan Love’s current weapons corps. But let’s not sleep on the potential Lukas Van Ness brings to this defense.

    Van Ness perfectly fits the mold of edge rusher that the Packers prefer. He’s 6’5”, 272 pounds, with 34” arms. That size, combined with his searing explosiveness off the line, culminates in elite power capacity, and while his hands are relatively raw at this point, he has the flexibility and easy leverage acquisition to maximize his physical traits. He can also disrupt while stunting inside.

    The Packers’ overall situation at EDGE is hazy long term, with Rashan Gary entering a contract year and Preston Smith aging. It makes sense to invest in a young talent with incredibly high upside, immediate alignment versatility, and a functional failsafe that exists in his natural leverage acquisition. This grade is contingent on development, but that’s easy to bank on.

    Grade: A-

    Round 2, Pick 42: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State

    We knew the Packers were going to target a tight end at some point in the Day 2 range. We just didn’t know which tight end it would be. It could have been South Dakota State’s Tucker Kraft or Georgia’s Darnell Washington, but instead, Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave is the selection.

    Musgrave is an intriguing selection for the Packers, who are clearly favoring explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball. Musgrave’s top selling point is his elite acceleration and long-strider speed, and at 6’6”, 251 pounds, with near-33” arms, he has great size and reach as well.

    Of the three TEs mentioned here, Musgrave provides the least blocking utility by a wide margin, and even as a catcher, he can still refine his hand technique. Head-to-head, I would have preferred Kraft. But Musgrave’s size-explosiveness combination can be deadly alongside Christian Watson, and he has the ankle flexion to glide through blind spots while testing angles in coverage. It’s a high-upside pick that could work out for Jordan Love and Company.

    Grade: B

    Round 2, Pick 50: Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State

    This was an unexpected diversion from the Packers’ usual preferences at the wide receiver position. At around 5’11”, 191 pounds, with arms under 31”, Jayden Reed doesn’t have the size or density that Green Bay generally prefers. But he complements what the Packers have very well and provides a safety blanket with built-in vertical ability for Jordan Love.

    At times, the Michigan State passing offense diluted Reed’s production, but he’s quietly a very complete WR at his size. He’s a fleet-footed, explosive receiver off the line, who can offset DBs with brisk releases and stack with his 4.45 speed. He can separate downfield and track the ball, and he’s an acrobatic contested-catch artist with elite instincts. And after the catch, Reed has slippery utility as well.

    Reed was a top-50 prospect for me, so getting him at the 50 mark is a great move for the Packers. He has the traits to hit the ground running as a versatile receiving threat for Love, and his complete three-level appeal makes him an easy player to project production for moving forward.

    Grade: A

    Round 3, Pick 78: Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State

    There was a sneaking suspicion among draft analysts that the Packers would double up on tight end prospects in the middle-round range. They did just that on Day 2, getting Luke Musgrave in Round 2 and Tucker Kraft in Round 3.

    Interestingly, Kraft is the TE I would’ve preferred over Musgrave in Round 2, so this is phenomenal value for the Packers, getting him midway through Round 3. At 6’5”, 255 pounds, Kraft has great size and density, and he’s also a smooth athlete in space with untapped route-running upside.

    Kraft passes all the physical thresholds, and he’s also an instinctive catcher in space. He’s not quite the dynamic vertical threat that Musgrave is. Rather, Kraft does most of his damage working up the seam, as well as catching short passes in stride over the middle of the field. He’s one of the class’ best RAC threats with his contact balance and physicality, and he’s also a terrific blocker.

    Grade: A+

    Round 4, Pick 116: Colby Wooden, DL, Auburn

    Colby Wooden is just outside my top 100, so getting him at 116 is a win for Green Bay. He has the size and athleticism to play inside at 3-tech and 4i or function as a big EDGE with speed to power in Green Bay’s scheme. He’s versatile, multifaceted with his rushing arsenal, and his blend of tools provides exciting potential.

    Grade: A

    Round 5, Pick 149: Sean Clifford, QB, Penn State

    Sean Clifford can be a solid backup QB in the NFL. He’s actually a very good athlete and pocket navigator, and his starting experience should help him adjust early. But the Packers could have gotten a comparable backup QB later on, and there are still talented players on the board at more valuable positions, like cornerback and defensive tackle.

    Grade: C

    Round 5, Pick 159: Dontayvion Wicks, WR, Virginia

    Dontayvion Wicks is a very intriguing three-level threat at this point. At 6’1”, 206 pounds with over 32” arms, he has the build the Packers like, and he’s supremely explosive and twitchy. Wicks doesn’t have great long speed or fluidity, but his contact balance after the catch, combined with his physicality, presents appeal. A.T. Perry is considerably higher on my board, but Wicks fits the Packers’ preferences well.

    Grade: A-

    Round 6, Pick 179: Karl Brooks, DT, Bowling Green

    Continuing to add to their defensive line, the Green Bay Packers get an alignment-versatile talent with proven pass-rushing capabilities in Karl Brooks. Brooks logged 10 sacks and 18 TFLs in 2022. He’s built like a traditional 3-tech at around 6’3”, 300 pounds, and he can play that role well, but he’s also flexible enough, with the proactive hands to stunt outside and play at 5-tech. His versatility and rotational value holds plenty of weight here.

    Grade: A-

    Round 6, Pick 207: Anders Carlson, K, Auburn

    The Packers needed to add a kicker at some point. Anders Carlson has a big leg at 6’5”, 215 pounds, with a career-long of 53 yards achieved back in 2018. But accuracy and consistency remain concerns for Carlson.

    Across five years with the Tigers, he had a career conversion rate of just 71.8% on field goals. He was 14 of 21 in 2021 and 12 of 17 in 2022. He’ll need to find consistency quickly at the NFL level, or Carlson’s stint in Green Bay may be short.

    Grade: C

    Round 7, Pick 232: Carrington Valentine, CB, Kentucky

    Carrington Valentine is another CB prospect I’m extremely high on in this class. He’s built incredibly well at 6’0”, 193 pounds, with over 32” arms, and he’s an elite athlete with a 39” vertical.

    Valentine springs out of his stance and jars receivers with ruthless physicality, and he has the speed and coordination to close gaps and disrupt at the catch point. His technique needs refinement, but he’s still very young. This is a pick that could pay back surprising dividends with a couple of years of development.

    Grade: A+

    Round 7, Pick 235: Lew Nichols III, RB, Central Michigan

    AJ Dillon is up for a new contract in 2024, and Aaron Jones is up the year after that. With so many picks, it made sense for Green Bay to add at least one running back, and they get a quality player in Lew Nichols III in Round 7.

    At 5’10”, 220 pounds, Nichols is very dense and compact, and there’s a degree of contact balance that comes with that. His 37” vertical corroborates his burst through initial lanes, and he has utility as a fast-paced, north-south back between the tackles.

    Grade: B

    Round 7, Pick 242: Anthony Johnson Jr., S, Iowa State

    Another need is filled for the Packers. This time, it’s safety depth and versatility on the back end. Anthony Johnson Jr. had a very productive career at Iowa State, putting up 28 pass deflections over five years while playing boundary cornerback, safety, and in the slot.

    At 6’0”, 205 pounds, he has good size and explosiveness, and his built-in versatility gives Green Bay a valuable safety blanket on the roster.

    Grade: A-

    Round 7, Pick 256: Grant DuBose, WR, Charlotte

    The Packers ended their draft on a strong note, adding yet another receiver with a compelling blend of size, catching ability, and athletic functionality.

    Grant DuBose brings coveted measurables at 6’2”, 200, with 32” arms, and for his size, he has surprising short-area agility and sink on transitions — a trait he can further unearth with time. And quietly, he’s one of the best at contorting for high-difficulty throws. DuBose is a quality rotational WR early on, who could grow into a larger role if he’s able to expand his route tree.

    Grade: A

    What Were the Packers’ Biggest Needs Entering the Draft?

    • WR, TE, S, EDGE, DT

    Does anybody who doesn’t write or talk about football for a living know who Samori Toure is? Bo Melton and Jeff Cotton round out the Packers’ receiving corps currently, meaning they have absolutely no depth to go along with an inexperienced starting group.

    Green Bay also needs to address tight end, so a playmaker is likely a sure thing midway through the first round when they’re on the board. Safety is another massive need for the team.

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