Packers Showing Significant Interest in 1st-Round Cornerback: Report

Kool-Aid McKinstry

Getty Kool-Aid McKinstry.

The Green Bay Packers will have plenty of options with the 25th overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft, but the team seems to be showing interest in Kool-Aid McKinstry, a potential first-round cornerback out of Alabama, according to local media.

General manager Brian Gutekunst attended Alabama’s pro day on Wednesday, March 20, along with at least one Packers scout. The Crimson Tide have plenty of top prospects in this year’s draft, but according to Tide 100.9’s Wyatt Fulton, the Packers were particularly interested in McKinstry during the day.

Gutekunst and his staff could have been at Alabama to watch other potential first-round prospects, including offensive tackle JC Latham as well as pass rushers Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell. However, the fact that one of Green Bay’s scouts spent time talking with McKinstry is an interesting development as the Packers figure out what they want to do with their first-round pick.

Does Kool-Aid McKinstry Fit With the Packers?

Packers fans may be a bit surprised that the team is showing interest in a cornerback prospect that currently ranks 26th on the consensus big board given the team’s other needs.

Green Bay already seems to have plenty of competition at cornerback heading into the draft. Jaire Alexander is coming off of a down year but is still one of the top-paid players at his position. Meanwhile, former first-round pick Eric Stokes is hoping to stay healthy in 2024, while Carrington Valentine showed legitimate flashes as a rookie this past season.

Cornerback and kickoff return specialist Keisean Nixon is also returning to Green Bay on a three-year, $18 million contract to hold down the slot position. All of these players will be competing for starting roles, but it could be that Gutekunst and his staff want to find a long-term upgrade in the slot over Nixon.

However, McKinstry has extremely limited reps in the slot, playing just six of his 848 defensive snaps in the slot in 2023 according to Pro Football Focus. While he has the frame and athleticism to handle the role at the NFL level in coverage, his deficiencies in run support would make him a more ideal fit on the outside, at least earlier in his NFL career.

Even if the Packers don’t appear to need a cornerback from the outside looking in, Gutekunst and his staff may feel differently.

Other 1st-Round Options for Green Bay

If the Packers don’t end up pursuing McKinstry in the first round, there are plenty of other options for the team with the 25th overall pick.

Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean has been a popular pick in recent mock drafts. His versatility and aggressiveness could allow him to play box safety or in the slot for the Packers as a rookie while they figure out what his long-term role would be.

An offensive lineman is the most likely move for the Packers given their lack of depth behind their starters. Green Bay is known for developing versatile lineman who can play tackle or kick inside to guard or center, which is why a prospect like Washington’s Troy Fautanu or Duke’s Graham Barton could make sense.

Still, Gutekunst is known for surprising Packers fans with his first-round picks, so fans won’t know for sure until the 2024 NFL draft rolls around at the end of April.