Packers Tried to Trade up for WR in 2nd Round of NFL Draft

Packers Tried Trade WRs

Getty Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers looks on in the first half against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field on November 10, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Green Bay Packers came away from the 2020 NFL Draft without selecting a single new wide receiver with any of their nine picks, but not for a lack of trying.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst told Peter King of NBC Sports that he tried to find a suitable wideout in the second round of the draft after trading up to take quarterback Jordan Love in the first round. According to King, the Packers were targetting two specific receivers in the “early and middle part of the second round.”

“They tried to move up with several teams, (Gutekunst) said, until the second receiver they preferred go picked, and then they stopped,” King wrote in his massive post-draft roundup.

Gutekunst didn’t reveal to King which two receivers the Packers had been interested in taking, but seven were drafted before Green Bay was on the clock at No. 62 overall: Tee Higgins (Bengals), Michael Pittman Jr. (Colts), Laviska Shenault Jr. (Jaguars), KJ Hamler (Broncos), Chase Claypool (Steelers), Van Jefferson (Rams), Denzel Mims (Jets).

Mims was among the most popular fits out of the group for the Packers and even took a virtual meeting with the team ahead of the draft, but the Baylor standout was picked just three spots ahead of them at No. 59 overall. The Packers then selected Boston College rusher A.J. Dillon with their second-round selection and avoided wideouts for the remainder of the draft.

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Packers Confident in Current WR Corps

As Gutekunst reminded during his teleconferences through the draft, the Packers’ selections were a result of them staying true to their draft board, but a complete lack of new receiving talent for quarterback Aaron Rodgers left some discouraged about what the future holds.

Rodgers depended on star Davante Adams as often as he could during the 2019 season, excluding the four games Adams missed with a turf toe injury in the first half of the year; though, he struggled to get consistency from some of his other pass-catchers. While Allen Lazard was a bright spot with his second-most 477 receiving yards during a breakout year, none of the roster’s remaining receivers were able to stay consistent for long enough stretches.

Things aren’t entirely the same for the Packers’ receivers heading into 2020. Geronimo Allison, once expected to develop into a dangerous slot weapon, has moved on to Detroit while Devin Funchess was brought in to supplement the receiving room with more experience. The Packers also promoted offensive assistant Jason Vrable to wide receivers coach to replace Alvis Whitted, who was fired shortly after the team’s postseason run ended.

But otherwise, Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur are confident heading into next season without making wholesale changes to the group, which includes Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jake Kumerow, Equanimeous St. Brown (on IR for all of 2019), Darrius Shepherd and Malik Taylor. The Packers also have former CFL standout Reggie Begelton and undrafted free agent Darrell Stewart Jr. — who has yet to be officially added to the roster.

Here’s what LaFleur said on next year’s receiving group:

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our receiving corps,” LaFleur said on Saturday night. “Jake Kumerow made big plays for us last year. We need to find ways to get him more involved. And then I think you look at MVS, the season that he had, he’s got to take that next step and that’s going to be a challenge for him, and we’re going to be all over him to do that. EQ is coming back, I’m really excited about him being back in the fold. And then you add a guy like Devin Funchess, who I can’t wait to start to work with because here’s a big, physical receiver that is extremely talented and a good veteran presence, so I feel really confident in our receiving corps.”

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