Green Bay Packers April Scouting Report
This is the NFL draft report. What follows is my view of what the Packers need in the draft. The Packers have 10 draft picks – 7 picks of their own plus 3 compensation picks. This is an exercise in looking at what the roster says they need, guessing what the Packers might think of the players they own, and/or how they might want to add capability to the team. I will look at it by position.
Quarterback – the Packers have starter QB Aaron Rodgers and backup QB Jordan Love on the roster now. There may be a later round pick or an undrafted free agent or two to provide a 3rd quarterback for the team. Someone like QB Dustin Crum of Kent State or QB Payton Ramsey of Northwestern might be possibilities.
Running Back – RB Aaron Jones and RB AJ Dillion are now officially the 1-2 punch. RB Patrick Taylor had injury problems at Memphis and again last year. He was very productive in college when healthy. RB Dexter Williams was drafted mostly based on the promise. This is a big year for him if he is going to have an NFL career. RB Mike Weber was signed this past off season as a free agent. He might be able to take on the role RB Tyler Ervin had. I would expect at least one mid to late draft pick at this position. Players like RB Javian Hawkins of Louisville, RB Jamar Jefferson of Oregon State, RB Demetric Felton of UCLA, or RB Kenneth Gainwell of Memphis might be possibilities.
Tight End – The Packers have TE Mercedes Lewis, TE Robert Tonyan (RFA – and I will bet no team will give up a 2nd round pick to sign him), TE Josiah Deguara, and TE Dominique Dafney starting to come on – I don’t see the Packers as needing a tight end for any reason. They still need to find out about TE Jace Sternberger, TE Bronson Kaufusi, and TE Isaac Nauta – but that should not change their draft plans.
Wide Receiver – last month I said "the gang is all back". This month I will add "until next year". If WR Davante Adams isn’t extended, Adams, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (MVS), WR Equanimeous St. Brown (EQ), and WR Allen Lazard are free agents next year. And as far as we know, there isn’t a legit return man on the roster. If those concerns don’t drive a team to take at least one (if not two) wide receivers (with some return skills), then I don’t know what will. And besides, nothing like adding capability that will keep defensive coordinators up nights. The Packers seem to like WR Malik Taylor. I think WR Devin Funchess will have to prove he adds something to the team to stick. He just took a pay cut for about half of what he would have gotten this year – so it is a "cut-able" contract. The coaches have had the chance to see WR Reggie Begelton, WR Juwann Wilfree, WR Chris Blair, and WR Seth Roberts practice. This draft should tell us something about what the Packers think about them. Some candidates that might be fits include; WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette of Iowa, WR Amari Rodgers of Clemson, and Rondale Moore of Purdue. If the Packers want more of what they have already, then they should take WR Simi Fehoko of Stanford.
Offensive Line – I know this is fantasy football and there are no points for having or not having a good group. That said, if you have no confidence that what the skill players run will be blocked, those skill position players might have at least reduced fantasy value. In case you were wondering that is why I bring it up. At this point I have no clue if OG Lane Taylor (UFA) will be back or not. And if he is I have no confidence he will stay healthy. In other words, don’t count on him. Presently he remains unsigned anyway. The other wild card is how quickly will OT David Bakhtari heal and be available. The worst case is if neither is available and there are no draft picks – so let’s start there. I think that line will be, left to right, OT Elgton Jenkins, OG Jon Runyan, OC Lucas Patrick, OG Billy Turner, and OT Jared Valdheer (whom I think GB will talk into helping short term if need be). All the players in this lineup will have had some NFL experience. If I were GM and had any questions about the backups, I would be taking a draft pick or two this year. They include OC Jake Hanson, OG Simon Stapaniak, OL Ben Braden, OL Zack Johnson, and OT Yosh Nijam. As it is, an early pick at tackle would be advisable. Some suggestions include; the very versatile OT Rashawn Slater of Northwestern (but he should be gone early), OT Christian Darrisaw, OT Jalen Mayfield, OT Samuel Cosmi, or OT Tray Smith.
Defensive Line – The line now consists of DL Kenny Clark, DL Dean Lowry, DL Kingsley Keke, DL Willington Previlon, DL Anthony Rush, DL Delontae Scott, and DL Tyler Lancaster. DL Damon Harrison has not been re-signed. I thought they should have taken one last year to help plug the line. This looks like an early draft pick situation to me. Suggestions include; DL Christian Barmore of Alabama, DL Daviyon Nixon of Iowa, DL Ta’Quan Graham of Texas, or DL Bobby Brown of Texas A&M.
Inside Linebacker – the starters are ILB Kyrs Barnes and ILB Kamal Martin. The backups are ILB Ty Summers, ILB Owen Burks, ILB Ray Wilborn, and ILB De’Jon Harris. Summers is dependable and a good special teams player. Burks hasn’t developed. I don’t know about Wilborn or Harris because they haven’t played yet. They need someone who could come in and start should Barnes or Martin get injured. I don’t see that player on the roster. So it could come via a draft pick. Some possibilities include; ILB Zaven Collins of Tulsa, ILB Chazz Surratt of NC, ILB Baron Browning, or ILB Nate Landman of Colorado.
Outside Linebacker – OLB Za’Darius Smith, OLB Preston Smith, OLB Rashan Gary, OLB Jonathan Garvin, OLB Randy Ramsey, and OLB Tipa Galeai are all on the roster. Garvin seemed to play well when given a chance. And the Packers seem to like Ramsey. I don’t know about Galeai but he could be the odd man out. Unless they think they will lose one of the Smith brothers in free agency, I don’t see them taking a pick at this position.
Cornerback – Surprise! CB Kevin King is back! And so is CB Jaira Alexander, CB Josh Jackson, CB Stanford Samuels, CB Kadar Hollman, CB Kablon Ento, and CB KeiVarae Russell. CB Chandon Sullivan (RFA) is technically not signed to the roster. Chances are Sullivan will be. King was resigned to a one year deal that will count less than 2 mill against this year’s cap. No other team sniffed in his direction. But the King signing won’t change the Packers draft plans at the position. Ento couldn’t stay healthy. Jackson can’t cover. Samuels and Hollman were overlooked twice this past year in favor of Russell – a street free agent. I think the Packers take one in the first or second round – and maybe one later. From where I sit, this group needs improvement. Suggestion for players that might be available to the Packers include; CB Jaycee Horn of SC, CB Tyson Campbell of Georgia, CB Thomas Graham Jr. of Oregon, or CB Nate Hobbs of Illinois.
Safety – S Adrian Amos, S Darnell Savage, S Vernon Scott, S Henry Black, S Will Redmond and S Innis Gaines are on the roster. The Packers haven’t tried to sign S Raven Greene (RFA) as far as I know. The Packers are set with the first four. I don’t know about Gaines. They may want to find someone who can play the role Greene did only stay healthy doing it. Some suggestions include; S Trevon Moehrig of TCU, S Javon Holland of Oregon, or S Damar Hamlin of Pittsburg.
Special Teams – PK Mason Crosby now has some camp competition in the form of PK JJ Molson. I don’t know why, Crosby made every field goal last year he was given the chance to try and he is under contract for 2 more years. P PJ Scott now has some camp competition in the form of P Ryan Winslow. Last month I also mentioned that there was some talk about maybe replacing the long snapper. LS Hunter Bradley now has some camp competition in the form of LS Joe Fortunato. I don’t think there will be picks at any of these positions.
Free agency update:
The remaining Packer unrestricted free agents (UFA) are: RB Tyler Ervin, WR Tavon Austin, OG Lane Taylor, DL Damon Harrison, and ILB James Burgass.
The remaining Packer restricted free agents (RFA) are: TE Robert Tonyan received a second round tender, CB Chandon Sullivan received a right of first refusal tender, CB Parry Nickerson was not tendered, and S Raven Greene was not tendered. All the not tendered players are UFAs. However, the Packers can also negotiate with them. If any team signs Tonyan it will cost that team a second round pick. If any teams signs Sullivan the Packers get to match it to retain him.
I write all of this to say your best Packer pre-draft fantasy options are QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Aaron Jones, and WR Davante Adams – sound familiar? The next report will deal with the results of the draft. Don’t be too disappointed. The right munchies can make things "go down" better.
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