Thursday, June 30, 2022

Packers pass on first-round WR for 20th straight year: Here’s what Green Bay could have done with its picks

In the least surprising news in the history of the NFL, the Packers elected not to pick a receiver in the first round. Again. For the 20th-straight year. 

Instead, they opted for Georgia linebacker Quay Walker at No. 22 overall and his Bulldogs teammate Devonte Wyatt at No. 28. Walker is a big, fast, old-school thumping second-level defender who rarely misses a tackle. But his change-of-direction ability is labored, he’s not nearly as impactful defeating blocks as his 6-foot-3, 241-pound frame would indicate, and he’s very inexperienced in coverage. 

The last part is damning for a first-round linebacker. Ask the likes of Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen, and Jordyn Brooks, all big, rangy, athletic second-level defenders picked in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft. What’s weird too — the Packers have a big, fast, rangy linebacker — who can really cover — in reigning All-Pro De’Vondre Campbell

He’s nearly identically sized to Campbell at 6-4 and around 230 pounds. 

Now defensive coordinator Joe Barry loves oversized, attacking inside linebackers, and he’ll have that now. But Walker will be a target for opposing offenses that will force him to coverage. It could get ugly. 

As for Wyatt, he’s a quality player. Much stronger likelihood he thrives in the NFL than Walker. There’s not a glaring flaw to his game. He’s just not sensational in any area. And he’s already 24 years old. Starting your career next to Kenny Clark as nose tackle is one hell of a luxury for a rookie defensive tackle, but Wyatt doesn’t feel like a defender who’s going to move the needle as much as you’d normally want or expect from a first-round pick.

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Instead of bolstering the defense, the Packers could’ve and probably should’ve addressed the offense with at least one of their two first-round picks. But the receiver well in Round 1 was mostly dried up, so they get the benefit of the doubt there. Skyy Moore from Western Michigan was the best receiver available on my board, and Georgia’s George Pickens was another wideout I had a first-round grade on who was waiting for his named to be called in the first round. They’re both big-time talents. 

Trading up for a receiver, of course, was on the table, but the run on that position — at No. 8, No. 10, No. 11 and No. 12 — was probably too rich for the Packers’ liking. 

Tyler Smith, the offensive tackle from Tulsa, who went to the Cowboys at No. 24, would’ve been an ideal redshirt-y type to learn for a season behind David Bakhtiari, and actually, is similar stylistically on the field to Billy Turner, who spent the past three seasons in Green Bay as the club’s swing tackle. 

Believe it or not — it wasn’t so much the ignoring of a receiver again that made it a strange night for the Packers. It was the two prospects — especially Walker. 

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