There seems to be a new draft trend emerging with the Green Bay Packers and general manager Brian Gutekunst — look at wide receivers early and often.
The team traded up to draft Christian Watson at the beginning of the second round last season then pounced on Romeo Doubs in the fourth. This year, Green Bay is expected to go tight end or defensive line with the No. 15 overall pick and then turn to a wideout somewhere in the second round. The Packers own the 45th selection and are expected to pick up either No. 42 or No. 43 from the New York Jets once the long-awaited trade of quarterback Aaron Rodgers is finally completed.
If Gutekunst does select a receiver in the low- to mid-40s, Jalin Hyatt of the Tennessee Volunteers will be among the names at the top of his list. The GM visited Hyatt’s pro day on Thursday, per Peter Burkowski of The Leap.
“Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman will get the headlines at the Tennessee pro day today. Brian Gutekunst will be there,” Bukowski tweeted on March 30. “But don’t sleep on OT Darnell Wright as a potential Packer. Premium position. 9.8 RAS. Locked down Will Anderson in their matchup last year. Sleeper.”
Hyatt Offers Packers Dynamic Deep Threat in Receiver Room
Hyatt is the fifth-ranked receiver prospect on the big board of ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., who has the other top four wideouts selected by the 25th overall pick in his latest mock draft.
Standing at 6-feet tall and weighing 176 pounds with 4.4 speed and a 40-inch vertical, Hyatt’s professional player comparison is Desean Jackson, according to Lance Zierlein of NFL Network.
“Hyatt is an instantly credible WR2 with the ability to make a huge impact, but production could be erratic due to the limitations of his game,” Zierlein wrote.
Hyatt made 67 catches for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns across 12 games last season, per Football Reference. He averaged 18.9 yards per reception.
Packers May Go Wide Receiver, Tight End in Second Round of NFL Draft
Surrounding new starting quarterback Jordan Love with premier offensive weapons is going to be paramount for the Packers this offseason if the team hopes to take a simple step back from the Rodgers era rather than a precipitous slide.
Watson and Doubs are quality targets, but each has his issues holding onto the football. More breakaway speed in the receiver room will help keep defenses honest in the secondary, which will mean at least some relief for Love as he navigates the pocket amid the pass rush.
A tight end is also an important addition the Packers must make ahead of the 2023 campaign. For months, Michael Mayer of Notre Dame was the frontrunner to land in Green Bay with the 15th pick. However, more recent predictions project the Packers will look for an edge rusher or a defensive tackle at that spot, meaning the team could turn to tight end just before or just after it procures Love another quality wide receiver.
Kiper has three tight ends off the board in the first round, leaving Luke Musgrave of Oregon State, Tucker Kraft of South Dakota State and Sam LaPorta of Iowa the top three options available once second-round selections begin.