Packers GM Spotted at Pro Day With Potential 1st-Round Targets: Report

Packers NW Pro Day

Getty Jalen Berger #8 of the Wisconsin Badgers is chased by Greg Newsome II #2 of the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on November 21, 2020 in Evanston, Illinois.

Two potential 2021 first-round picks in the same place? You bet the Green Bay Packers had a front-row seat.

According to Stacey Dales on NFL Network’s broadcast, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst was on hand Tuesday for the Northwestern Pro Day, where offensive tackle Rashawn Slater and cornerback Greg Newsome II made strong cases for being first-round selections in the 2021 NFL draft next month.

The Packers could realistically target an offensive lineman or cornerback with the No. 29 overall selection in this year’s draft. Starting center Corey Linsley and No. 2 cornerback Kevin King are both set to become unrestricted free agents next week with slim chances of returning in 2021. Green Bay is also lacking substantial tackle depth after cutting veteran right tackle Rick Wagner earlier this offseason.

Could either Slater or Newsome provide the Packers with a first-round solution, though?

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Slater Entices With Versatility, Effectiveness

Slater emerged from Tuesday’s pro day looking like a certified first-round talent with positional flexibility that could see him become a top-20 pick next month despite him opting out of the 2020 season. As a junior in 2019, he allowed zero sacks, one quarterback hit and five pressures through 11 games at left tackle, delivering a standout performance against Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young prior to the latter’s NFL leap.

Slater’s build at 6-foot-4 and 304 pounds has some analysts questioning whether he would be better off working as an interior presence at the NFL level, but he asserted when speaking with Dales that he is “the most consistent tackle in this draft.” Either way, his versatility is something Packers should view as an asset given the wonders that Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner have worked for them on their offensive line.

Sadly, the Packers would likely have to trade up — possibly quite high — in the first round to land Slater unless he took a dramatic fall. The Draft Network’s 2021 prospects ratings put him as the 12th-best overall talent and third-best offensive tackle behind only Oregon’s Penei Sewell and Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw.

Newsome Clocks Nearly as Fast as MVS

Anyone who has seen Newsome’s tape from the past few seasons knows the 6-foot-1, 190-pound cornerback is beyond fast. Deep-threat receivers struggle to get away from him, while his extraordinary length acts as one of his greatest tools when shutting down any longballs thrown his way. Newsome’s attacking instincts have also made him a run-stopping asset even against sturdier backs.

Just to reinforce his speed, Newsome went ahead and clocked an official 4.38 in the 40-meter dash on Tuesday — just 0.01 seconds slower than blazing-fast Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling clocked at his 2018 NFL Combine.

Newsome could be an easier target for the No. 29 overall pick than Slater. While he is considered a prospect who could be an immediate starter for an NFL defense, the dominance of top cornerback prospects such as Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn may lead to him falling later into the first round. Depending on how fast the comparable talent is taken off the board, the Packers could find Newsome within reach when their time to pick draws near.

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