The Green Bay Packers will have many opportunities to make a splash in the 2019 NFL Draft. Will they take advantage like they did last year?
Brian Gutekunst’s debut draft with the Green Bay Packers last season was impressive. After accepting a trade with the New Orleans Saints to move from the 14th pick to the 23rd, Gutekunst was still able to select the guy he wanted –– Jaire Alexander –– with that 23rd pick, and received a 2019 first-round pick in the process.
He set a pretty lofty precedent for himself in year two. It is unlikely Gutekunst will be able to finesse the first round the way he did last year. However, there is still much potential for the Packers to come out as big winners on day one of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Here is what a perfect day one situation would look like for the Green Bay Packers in the 2019 NFL Draft:
New York gets antsy for a quarterback and trades up to 12
Thanks to a few brilliant free agency signings this offseason, the Packers enter this year’s draft without any glaring holes. Inside linebacker and receiver are two positions they will likely address at some point, but neither necessarily have to be addressed in the first round. This will allow them to have a “best player available” mindset going into each pick. It also gives them the flexibility to move down the board and accumulate more selections.
With the 12th pick, Green Bay is in a perfect position to trade with a quarterback-needy team. Presumably, Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins will both be off the board by this point, but teams will still have their choice between Daniel Jones, Drew Lock or even Will Grier.
Jones has been linked to the New York Giants with the 17th pick. But both the Miami Dolphins (13th pick) and the Washington Redskins (15th pick) are potentially in the QB market. New York could get impatient and try to jump in front of both those teams. Moving up just five spots probably won’t warrant giving up a first-round pick, but if the Giants fall in love with Jones and see him as the quarterback of the future, they will likely do whatever it takes to get him. I’m not going to rule anything out as long as Dave Gettleman is their GM.
This would be perfect for Green Bay not only because it would bolster their draft capital, but they would still have the opportunity to draft a meaningful contributor to their defense. Michigan linebacker Devin Bush would be the pick.
Bush would be a terrific plug-and-play guy for Mike Pettine’s defense, a unit that hasn’t had competent inside linebacker play since the 2010 Super Bowl. His versatility would be a major boon for Green Bay.
Noah Fant is on the board at 30
In my 7-round Packers mock draft, I slated Fant to Green Bay at 30. Since that time, however, he has generated more buzz, and his stock has risen. There is a good chance that he’s not on the board come Green Bay’s second selection. But while Fant is considered among the elite tight end prospects, this tight end class overall is very deep. Teams could see a guy like Irv Smith or Jace Sternberger in round 2 or 3 as better value. If that were the case, Fant would likely be available for Green Bay at 30.
Fant would be a significant red-zone weapon for Aaron Rodgers, and he could even be used as an outside receiver opposite of Davante Adams. His blend of size and athleticism would allow him to have an immediate impact on the Packers offense.
With ten picks already in this year’s draft, Green Bay has the potential to be pretty aggressive. The big question surrounding the Packers is how immediate will they try to win? Will they go all out in pursuit of a championship while Rogers still has something left in the tank, or will they strive for longevity in Matt Lafleur’s first year with the team? Regardless of what strategy they take, the scenario above would fit both molds. Both Fant and Bush can make immediate contributions to the team, but the acquisition of picks gives them more draft capital for future moves.