The Green Bay Packers made 11 picks during the three-day NFL draft, including two in the first round and four in the seventh round.
For the most part, the work done by general manager Brian Gutekunst has been well-received nationally.
There was a lot to like about the draft class in general. The Packers got bigger and faster overall and better and deeper at several key positions, added more top-tier on defense and gave special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia a few shiny new toys.
Here are five things to love and four things to question about the Packers’ 2022 draft class.
Love: Investment at wide receiver
No position on the roster was in need of competition more than wide receiver, so the Packers selected three intriguing receivers in an 11-player class. No, there wasn’t a first-round receiver for the first time in 20 years. But the Packers got Watson – a near-perfect fit for Matt LaFleur – at No. 34 overall, representing the highest selection at the position since Javon Walker in 2002, and added two more on Day 3, including Romeo Doubs in the fourth round. Watson is an alien athlete and has as much upside as any receiver in the class; Doubs quietly produced back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons as Carson Strong’s go-to target. There’s a chance they could be the future No. 1 and No. 2 at receiver. Given their speed, both could contribute immediately as deep threats. Seventh-round pick Samori Toure was an All-American at Montana before transferring to Nebraska and leading the Big Ten in yards per catch in 2021. He’ll have a chance to stick. This position has been long overdue for a big investment, but there’s no better time than now.
Question: Positional value at 22
(AP Photo/John Amis)
The Packers found out just how impactful a great inside linebacker can be when De’Vondre Campbell produced an All-Pro season in 2021. But it’s still fair to wonder if it’s truly worth spending a first-round pick on an off-ball linebacker after giving Campbell a $50 million deal, even if Quay Walker is an elite athlete and could be a dominant player against the run. To make the selection worth it, Walker will need to prove highly capable and disruptive in the passing game. There isn’t a great hit rate for inside linebackers late in the first round, and teams have found plenty of value on Day 2 and 3. Campbell, for instance, was a fourth-round pick. Among the recent All-Pros: Fred Warner (third round), Darrius Leonard (second round), Bobby Wagner (second round), Demario Davis (third round), Lavonte David (second round), Eric Kendricks (second round). The Packers are hoping having two elite linebackers on the field will take the defense to another level, but it’s a gamble nonetheless.
Love: Potential 2022 impact
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The Packers entered the 2022 draft with a strong overall roster, but Gutekunst still found players that could be instant impact contributors. Quay Walker is an expected starter at linebacker. There’s no reason why Devonte Wyatt can’t start or play a lot of snaps right away along the defensive line. Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs will have big opportunities at receiver and on special teams as returners. Sean Rhyan and Zach Tom should both get a chance to compete for the starting job at right guard, or even right tackle, while providing key depth inside along the offensive line. Kingsley Enagbare is good enough to step into the No. 3 outside linebacker role right away. Even on a Super Bowl-contending team, there could be 4-5 starters or important role players in 2022 from this rookie class.
Question: Big trade up
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
The Packers gave up a ton of draft capital to move up 19 spots and take Christian Watson at No. 34 overall in the second round. By just about any trade value chart, the Vikings won the deal by a landslide. The Packers had to get aggressive because of a massive need at receiver and the first-round run on receivers, and the Vikings weren’t going to give Brian Gutekunst an NFC North discount. If Watson becomes the team’s next second-round stud at receiver, the cost to move up won’t matter. But the Packers are really banking on their evaluation of Watson. Keep in mind, several receivers came off the board right around their original No. 53 pick, including Alec Pierce and George Pickens. Instead of taking two players with premium picks in the second round, the Packers got only one. That’s a big risk in an event with as much uncertainty as the draft.
Love: Strengthening the line of scrimmage
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Brian Gutekunst understands the value of investing along the offensive line to ensure his NFL MVP quarterback remains protected. He made three more picks on offensive linemen, including two in the first four rounds. There was a big need after losing Billy Turner, Lucas Patrick and (probably) Dennis Kelly this offseason. The Packers have now picked three offensive linemen in three straight drafts dating back to 2020 and 11 total since Gutekunst took over. Will Sean Rhyan or Zach Tom emerge as the next mid-round pick to become a starter? They are both athletic and versatile, fitting the team’s mould. Seventh-round pick Rasheed Walker has the profile of a late-round steal. Offensive line depth will always be an asset for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers if Gutekunst keeps making it a priority. And the draft wasn’t just an investment on the offensive side; the Packers also got a penetrator (Devonte Wyatt) and space-clogger (Jonathan Ford) for the defensive line. Good football teams win the line of scrimmage, and the Packers are better up front on both sides coming out of the draft.
Question: No tight ends
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The Packers have five tight ends they really like in Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Josiah Deguara, Dominique Dafney and Tyler Davis, but it was still somewhat surprising that Gutekunst didn’t add a developmental option to the mix. Tonyan is coming off a major knee injury and has a one-year deal. Lewis is going to be 38 and has a one-year deal. Deguara is somewhat of an unknown after two seasons. Gutekunst mentioned really liking Davis, so maybe he’s the developmental guy in the room. This could be a position where the Packers invest more in veterans (see: more developed) than draft picks, which is a defendable strategy given how difficult tight end is for young players.
Love: Day 3 value
The Packers had an excellent Saturday of the draft. There’s a lot to like about Romeo Doubs and Zach Tom as fourth-round picks, and Kingsley Enagbare in the fifth round and Rasheed Walker in the seventh round were two of the best values in the entire draft. Many thought Enagbare and Walker would be Day 2 picks. Tariq Carpenter is an elite athlete and a hybrid defender who could be terrific on special teams. Jonathan Ford is a massive human being with rare size who played a lot of football at Miami. Samori Toure was productive as a big-play threat no matter where he played, and he looked like a real player at the East-West Shrine Bowl. The Packers could get a bunch of value from the seven players they picked between Rounds 4-7.
Question: No cornerbacks
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The Packers are rock-solid in the top three at cornerback, but depth is a question mark and Gutekunst didn’t add any competition here during the draft. Was it a vote of confidence in 2021 fifth-round pick Shemar Jean-Charles and free-agent signing Keisean Nixon? One injury to Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes or Rasul Douglas and the complexion of the cornerback room would change in a hurry. It still feels unlikely, but maybe the Packers bring back Kevin King at some point. As a fourth cornerback, King could be a valuable player.
Love: Special teams additions
(AP Photo/AJ Mast)
The Packers prioritized special teams for Rich Bisaccia in this draft. Christian Watson was an All-American kickoff returner at North Dakota State and has the skillset to handle the job right away as a rookie. Romeo Doubs returned 39 points for Nevada, including one for a touchdown. The Packers need the spark in the return game. If he makes the roster, Tariq Carpenter could be a core special teamer. He has the size and athleticism to play every unit. As a likely backup edge rusher, Kingsley Enagbare will be expected to play on several special teams groups, and don’t be surprised if Samori Toure makes the team as a do-it-all special teamer who can cover kicks and punts and return them , too. Even Quay Walker, the Packers’ first-round pick, could contribute right away on teams. The arrow for the third phase is trending in the right direction.