The Green Bay Packers are entering another uncertain offseason as quarterback Aaron Rodgers figures out his future. While Rodgers contemplates his 2023 plans, the Packers simply have to worry about adding talent. The Packers “absolutely” want Rodgers back in 2023, as both head coach Matt LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst have stated after the team made a “big commitment to him” last year.
Whether it’s Rodgers or Jordan Love, this team expects to get back to the postseason after missing out in 2022. This roster is aging and expensive, though, so the Packers’ 2023 NFL Draft prospect haul must deliver results. Gutekunst has his work cut out for him to keep the team relevant right now and in the future.
Packers 2023 Draft Prospects To Target at NFL Combine
Considering the team’s frugal nature in free agency, the Packers’ best avenue to maintain their title hopes is to re-tool in the draft. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, LaFleur and the Packers staff won’t attend the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine as they take advantage of recorded workouts. Gutekunst and the personnel department will attend, though.
We’re going to help the Packers’ staff by breaking down the top 2023 NFL Draft prospects for Green Bay to target at the NFL Combine. With three projected compensatory picks, the Packers should have a total of 11 draft picks. Here are 10 draft prospects Green Bay should monitor closely at the Combine as they form their draft board.
TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah
The pipeline between former basketball players who turn to football as tight ends continues. Utah’s Dalton Kincaid is one of the higher-profile pass catchers in this class at his position for good reason. He’s played only six seasons of football but possesses a skill set that can make him a special NFL contributor.
Kincaid spent the last three seasons at Utah after starting his collegiate career in the FCS, breaking out in 2021 and then improving again in 2022. With his 6’4″, 240-pound frame, Kincaid is expected to run well and be a distinguished receiving threat. A strong set of agility and speed times can vault his name into the Round 2 mix in a deep tight end class.
TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa
With the Packers only having one drafted tight end on their roster entering the offseason, there’s a huge opportunity for even a late-Day 2 or early-Day 3 rookie to make a difference. Iowa’s Sam LaPorta is behind Kincaid on some draft boards, but the former can be a huge winner at the Combine. He’s the latest productive Hawkeye to enter the league as a polished receiving option.
Though he’s not the elite athlete on film that George Kittle and T.J. Hockenson were, LaPorta moves like a receiver playing TE more than a big-bodied, lumbering presence. He’s an instinctive player who wins with nuance and agility more than speed and explosiveness. However, a big Combine could show a higher upside and dramatically increase his stock, or at least attract attention from Green Bay.
EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson
A productive player who’s similarly built to 2022’s No. 1 overall pick, Travon Walker, Myles Murphy now has the chance to show his athleticism. He’s a wild card entering the Combine, as his explosiveness is clear. But we need to know what his true athletic ceiling is. If Murphy crushes the jumping and running tests, the Packers may not even get the chance to draft him in the first round.
But adding an EDGE talent has to be a serious consideration for Green Bay. Murphy, at 6’5″, 275 pounds, produced 18.5 sacks in his three seasons at Clemson and could develop as Rashan Gary did, and the two could comprise a scary duo for years to come. A poor performance, though, could cause the Packers to lose interest and wonder if Murphy is more of a tweener along the defensive line.
EDGE Keion White, Georgia Tech
If the Packers don’t land Murphy, then considering a Day 2 option is a must. A former tight end, Keion White developed quickly at Old Dominion before transferring to Georgia Tech. He blossomed in 2022, finishing with 7.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss thanks to his explosiveness and length.
White is a sleeper to get into the back end of Round 1, especially if he does as well at the Combine as expected. But if he doesn’t, or if the Packers trade down to target him, he’d be a phenomenal situational pass rusher to develop behind Preston Smith until White can take over in 2024. He has fantastic length, which Green Bay values.
WR Josh Downs, North Carolina
The Packers have to continue revitalizing their receiving corps regardless of whether Rodgers returns or not. Adding explosive targets in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs was wise, but help is necessary. North Carolina’s Josh Downs would bring a different skill set to the unit compared to what Green Bay has under contract next year.
Downs is speedy but small, measuring only 5’10” and 180 pounds. In general, the Packers don’t like to roster receivers that short or light. He has more quickness than speed to get past defenders on vertical routes. Pairing him with bigger downfield threats can lead to a ton of yard-after-the-catch opportunities.
Downs can come away as a winner from the Combine if he can reaffirm his quickness and agility in the short shuttle drills. He may require a second-round pick if that’s the case, but the Packers would have cost-controlled and explosive weapons for their quarterback for years to come.
WR Parker Washington, Penn State
Another smaller receiver who should still merit a look is Penn State’s Parker Washington. Unlike Downs, Washington is more of a brute force who endures hits and goes through contact instead of around it. I consider him a more skilled and impactful upgrade to former Packer Ty Montgomery.
Being a thick 215 pounds at 5’10” would bring a new element to the offense. Watson is strong but not like Washington, and LaFleur has the ability to move each playmaker around formations to manipulate coverages. Adding a solid player with the skill set to contribute right away would be wise and could cost just a third-round pick.
S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
Green Bay loves versatility and size, and Antonio Johnson has both. The Aggies safety is 6’3″, 200 pounds, and has the ability to play in the slot as a coverage option or drop into the box to play the run. He’s a perfect fit to replace veteran Adrian Amos.
Johnson’s rare size allows him to be an effective, efficient tackler in space, so he can be trusted by defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Johnson appears to be in the late-first to early-second-round range entering the Combine, with his speed and fluidity needing to be addressed in drills.
S Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State
There hasn’t been a safety in college football more productive than Penn State’s Ji’Ayir Brown over the last two years. He’s a tackling machine who does extremely well when plays are in front of him. He was also a ball hawk, totaling 10 interceptions over his last 26 games.
A strong Combine showing would reaffirm the film that shows Brown’s short-area explosiveness and overall speed. His weaknesses, though, are notable, as he struggled with discipline on play-action and was overaggressive. Still, Brown would be a worthwhile early-Day 3 investment for Green Bay as a developmental depth piece with upside.
DT Gervon Dexter, Florida
The thought of Green Bay adding another defensive lineman in the first round is a tough sell, but the team does need to bulk up the unit with some young talent. Both Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed are free agents. Looking at Day 2 contributors with upside makes sense for the franchise.
Florida’s Gervon Dexter is a former five-star prospect who is massive at 6’6″ and 313 pounds. He needs to add more bulk to overcome issues regarding leverage of a player his size, but not too much because he needs his explosiveness to win as a pass rusher. His length and first step are impressive, making it possible he’s being undervalued by the media right now.
Dexter has the skill set to complement 2022 first-round pick Devonte Wyatt nicely, as the latter is more of a run defender than someone who gets into the backfield often. The question with Dexter is whether he’ll cost too much for the Packers to invest in, or if they can get him on Day 2 without moving up.
DT Siaki Ika, Baylor
A good mid-round nose tackle is hard to find, but as the NFL embraces fewer heavy fronts, it’s increasingly likely that someone who can contribute in Year 1 will be available on late Day 2 or early Day 3. The best of the bunch is Baylor’s Siaki Ika. The 6’4″, 358-pounder can be the literal anchor who opens up lanes for everyone around him.
He’s not someone who will pad stats, but finding a quality nose tackle who can make the lives of Wyatt and Kenny Clark easier is important. Ika is a value version of Eagles 2022 first-round pick Jordan Davis. Davis made a big impact on Philly’s run defense when healthy, and the Packers can pin similar expectations on Ika.
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