Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst negotiated a pair of team-friendly contracts for a new inside linebacker (Christian Kirksey) and offensive tackle (Ricky Wagner) last week and could still make a splash before the draft arrives next month, but there is much for the Packers to consider with 10 selections in their possession and an upcoming crop of prospects that are turning heads.
Here is a seven-round simulation for the Packers using The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator.
Round 1, Pick 30: Kenneth Murray, LB – Oklahoma
The Packers might have already locked down a starter in Kirksey if he can stay healthy, but the inside linebacker group was too much of a liability last season for Gutekunst to ignore Murray, who was the best available linebacker at No. 30 after Zack Baun and Patrick Queen both went off the board in the mid-to-late rounds. Murray is more than just a safeguard against Kirksey’s injury history; he can bring an immediate impact to the Packers defense with athleticism and pass-coverage skills that shadow anything Blake Martinez did in his four seasons in Green Bay.
Round 2, Pick 62: Brandon Aiyuk, WR – Arizona State
The moment half of the Packers’ fan base has been waiting for finally comes in the second round when they select the Sun Devils’ star as their heir apparent for the No. 2 receiver role. One of the biggest downsides to Aiyuk’s game is his unpolished route-running, but that problem could fix itself with an expert route artist like Davante Adams as a mentor. He is also quite the special teams asset, which could prove useful given the struggles the Packers endured throughout much of 2019.
Round 3, Pick 94: Ben Bartch, OT – St. John
The Packers’ investment in an early-round offensive lineman paid off in a massive way last year when they took Elgton Jenkins with the No. 44 overall pick, leading them to take Bartch with the hope that they can replicate the same type of magic at a tackle position desperate for depth. Wagner figures to be the starting right tackle (for now), but limited backup options and left tackle David Bakhtiari’s pending free agency in 2021 makes Bartch a sensible and future-building move with lots of upside.
Round 4, Pick 136: Leki Fotu, IDL – Utah
While tempted to take an interior defensive lineman in the first three rounds, the Packers spend their fourth pick on Fotu to install quality support alongside star nose tackle Kenny Clark. He might have to work to earn a starting shot with other younger pieces contending for playing time, but Fotu’s ability to penetrate the line and stuff the run with a motor that never seems to quit could see him thrive in a rotational role until he gets his NFL legs under him.
Round 5, Pick 175: Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR – Liberty
Gutekunst’s admiration for a historically deep receiver class sees the Packers double-dip, bringing along another rookie wideout to avoid letting the same drought hamper their success on offense in 2020. Gandy-Golden doesn’t project to have the same impact as someone like Aiyuk, but a strong training camp — if the coronavirus outbreak doesn’t eliminate it altogether — could see him push for a place on the active roster.
Round 6, Pick 192: Darryl Williams, IOL – Mississippi State
The Packers recognize tackle isn’t their only position of need along their offensive line and take steps to shore up their interior to begin the sixth round. Williams has positional flexibility to play both center and guard much like current backup Lucas Patrick, which could come in handy with starting center Corey Linsley expected to become a high-priced free agent next year. He needs to bring his play up to the NFL level, but a year in the reserves could see him emerge as quite the talent.
Round 6, Pick 208: Nevelle Clarke, CB – UCF
The Packers acquire depth for their cornerback position with the first of their back-to-back selections late in the sixth round, ensuring the ranks are strong behind starters Kevin King and Jaire Alexander. While re-signing veteran Tramon Williams could diminish the need here, the Packers could use more young blood with or without him to stack alongside Chandon Sullivan. Clarke offers them that as well as some insurance with King due to become an unrestricted free agent next year.
Round 6, Pick 209: James Morgan, QB – Florida International
Rather than take a big swing on a top quarterback prospect, the Packers invest in someone with Green Bay roots who can challenge immediately for the backup job and has the developmental upside of a future starter. Maybe Aaron Rodgers goes strong until his current contract expires after the 2023 season, but Tim Boyle doesn’t seem like an answer. Time to lay a new foundation.
Round 7, Pick 236: Stephen Sullivan, TE – LSU
After cashing in on a deep receiving class, the Packers take the risk on another pass-catching tight end to develop for the future. He doesn’t offer an immediate impact player like some fans want to fill Jimmy Graham’s void, but adding another youngster into the mix with Jace Sternberger and Robert Tonyan bodes well for the Packers’ future at the position.
Round 7, Pick 242: Reggie Corbin, RB – Illinois
The Packers pick up an athletic, strong-motored rusher to compete for reps alongside Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, setting up a three-man competition between Corbin, Dexter Williams and fullback Elijah Wellman to become the third running back next year’s rotation. Corbin also allows the Packers to explore their options with both Jones and Jamaal Williams set to be free agents in 2020.
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