As soon as the San Francisco 49ers made former Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy Mr. Irrelevant, the draft industrial complex went straight into their favorite form post-draft analysis: instant reaction draft grades. One of the more interesting looks at the draft this year came from number-cruncher Warren Sharp, who compared the value of draft selections made to where players were ranked on the consensus big board. The objective measurement had the Green Bay Packers ranked with the second-best class based on “value” while naming the selections of Penn State tackle Rasheed Walker (#249) and South Carolina edge defender Kingsley Enagbare (#179) as two of the best three picks of the entire draft.
best value NFL draft classes:
1. Carolina Panthers
2. Green Bay Packers
3.Kansas City Chiefs
4. Las Vegas Raiders
6.New York Jets
9. Philadelphia Eagles
10. Atlanta Falcons
see pic for 1-32 plus methodology pic.twitter.com/JbFjPEWN1Y
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) April 30, 2022
The opinion that the Packers had one of the best draft hauls was not shared by everyone analyzing the week, though. According to Rene Bugner, who posted an aggregate of 18 instant evaluations on Twitter that included the likes of ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., Green Bay actually had one more of the more controversial drafts in the class. 4 of the 18 graders gave the Packers an A while the team was given multiple C-grades and even a D by one writer. Overall, the team ranked 14th when the grades were averaged, far from where Sharp’s numbers had Green Bay slated when the draft went final.
The Packers packaged the 53rd and 59th overall picks to climb up for Watson, a tall and agile receiver who offers the downfield speed they recently lost when Marques Valdes-Scantling left in free agency. Dealing a mid-second-round pick to move up 19 spots was a steep price to pay, but that’s what the market demanded given the heavy focus on receivers. As the first of seven wideouts selected in the second round, the North Dakota State product will be compared with guys like Skyy Moore and George Pickens for years to come. Rhyan played tackle in college but could slide inside because of his powerful base and mobility. He’s a perfect value in the third round.
It took a while for the Packers to make Aaron Rodgers a little less miserable by taking receivers in this draft, but they may have hit a home run with North Dakota State’s Christian Watson, who can win from any area of the field, and has special potential as a deep target. Nevada’s Romeo Doubs, last seen catching bombs from Carson Strong, was one of the NCAA’s most productive deep receivers in 2021, so if Rodgers wants to air it out in 2022, he’s got the guys who can make that work.
But it’s on the defensive side of the ball where the Pack really made strides. Georgia linebacker Quay Walker is a do-it-all guy who can play off-ball and rush the quarterback, Devonte Wyatt looks like a Kenny Clark clone, and South Carolina EDGE Kingsley Enagbare fell far below his potential from him. If those three prospects ascend to their potential in 2022, the Packers might challenge for the title of the NFL’s most balanced team.
Brian Gutekunst and the Packers reached a little to start with Walker, but he did fill a key defensive need and backing him up with fellow Georgia product Wyatt up front made it better. Then came the great trade up to get Watson, a potential outside replacement No. 1 for Davante Adams. Doubs added more big-play upside for Aaron Rodgers later. Rhyan and Tom satisfied another need for interior upgrades between David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins. Enagbare was a late steal as a complementary pass rusher.
I’ll use this space to continue my rant from Thursday. It befuddles me that we depict Aaron Rodgers as this Wizard of Oz-ian character sitting behind the curtain bellowing about the team’s lack of wide receiver talent. Rodgers has been incredibly blessed throughout his career to work with a bevy of talented wideouts supplied to him by the Packers’ front office. Their process has expertly identified high-upside players in the second round and beyond. So when Green Bay took their Davante Adams haul and used it toward patching up the defense, why would he be upset? Wyatt is going to add a fascinating upfield interior pressure component to the Packers defense. A true run disruptor, he’ll help Green Bay become less reliant on their exceptional linebacker play. And, lo and behold, they still end up with Watson, who, in the FCS, looked a little like the 6′ 5” kid on the 9-year-old AAU team, completely dominant in an effortless sort of way. The Packers have succeeded with this big-bodied receiver profile before.
Thank god the Vikings allowed Green Bay to trade up and bail them out, because this class was ugly otherwise. Christian Watson has huge potential to become a stud, but both Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt will turn into mediocre, wasted picks. There was some nice depth in the later rounds, but this draft was largely a failure in terms of making this team better, which is terrible when you enter with two first round picks.
The Packers, even after trading WR Davante Adams, maintained their tradition of not using a first-round pick on a wideout. They did take WR Christian Watson early in the second round. But was that enough help for QB Aaron Rodgers, under the circumstances? It actually might have been appropriate to use two early picks on receivers. Green Bay focused on defense in Round 1 by taking LB Quay Walker and DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia teammates.
Have not picked a first-round offensive weapon during QB Aaron Rodgers’ 17-season career. Bold trade up to get Watson early in the second round, after taking the pair from college football’s best defense. Walker was a one-year starter. Wyatt is a character concern.
Vote on what you think the Packers’ draft grade should be for their 2022 class and sound off in the comments with your thoughts.