GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Green Bay Packers have had an interesting offseason, to say the least. The speculation of quarterback Aaron Rodgers retiring/leaving to trading away arguably the best wide receiver in Davante Adams.
The Packers are in a bit of a chokehold when it comes to the salary cap, so finding players through the draft is going to be key to their success in future seasons. With Aaron Rodgers’s 3yr/$150M, David Bakhtiari’s 4yr/$92M, and Kenny Clark’s 4yr/$70M, it is going to be hard for Green Bay to sign anyone through Free Agency. Those three superstars do have one thing in common though, they were all drafted by Green Bay.
Finding talent through the draft has been hit or miss for Green Bay in the last couple of years. First-round picks are extremely important in any sport, so making the correct decision is crucial. Fans of the green and gold have expected a receiver in the first round the last few years but were given Cornerback Eric Stokes in 2021 and surprise pick quarterback Jordan Love in 2020.
This year, the Packers’ front office has to select a wide receiver, and the earlier they do the better they’ll be. Even with the addition of WR Sammy Watkins, the Packers need more. The talent in the 2022 NFL Draft is already there, especially for the route-runners. From the names of Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson to USC’s Drake London, talent is abundant.
Green Bay has had a knack for finding talent at the wide receiver position in round 2. After all, the franchise has only taken one major offensive player in the first round since drafting Aaron Rodgers in 2005 (QB, Jordan Love, 2020) and hasn’t selected a wide receiver in the first round since 2002 (Javon Walker, Florida State).
Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Greg Jennings were all drafted in the 2nd round and went on to become key offensive pieces for the Packers. So is selecting a wide receiver in the first round the move? Should they go with a defensive piece? A lineman? Only time will tell what the Packers’ front office does, but here is a list of players Green Bay could take in the 2022 NFL Draft.
This list is in no particular order, rather just a representation of who the Green Bay Packers could select.
WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
The 6’0″ product out of San Ysidro, California has a tremendous amount of upside to him and the Packers should take him if he’s available with either of their first-round picks. Olave finished his senior season at Ohio State just shy of 1,000 yards. His 65 catches and elusive speed allowed him to find the endzone 13 times.
Olave earned All-AP Second Team, was an All-American, and All-Big Ten First Team. He also became Ohio State’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns passing NFL stars David Boston, Cris Carter, and Santonio Holmes.
During the NFL Combine, Olave recorded a 4.39 40-yard dash time, which put him just behind his teammate Garrett Wilson who ran a 4.38. NFL Scouts love his ball skills and speed but question his size and strength.
Green Bay needs a player like Olave, someone who has great ball skills and speed. After losing their best route-runner Davante Adams and their fastest receiver in Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Olave could help fill those two roles. While his size and physique may cause for concern, the Packers would welcome the Ohio State standout with open arms due to his route-running abilities.
WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Burks spent three years in his home state of Arkansas outmuscling his defenders. His height and physical abilities are what make Burks a projected first-round pick. His 11 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards receiving in his junior year as a Razorback garnered him All-SEC First Team and set a school record with six games of over 100 yards.
At the NFL Combine, Burks ran a 4.55 40-yard dash time that raised some eyebrows as NFL Scouts expected a much better time. Most aren’t worried about that time though as he consistently outran his opponents in the SEC. Just ask Alabama. The 6’2″ junior had 8 catches for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Warren, Arkansas native fits with just about every team and Green Bay would love to snag a player like Burks. At only 22, he still hasn’t even hit his potential. He does need to become more consistent with catches in traffic but having a QB like Aaron Rodgers throwing to you should sort that out on its own.
EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
George Karlaftis didn’t start playing football until he was in eighth grade when his family moved to West Lafayette, Indiana from Athens, Greece. From the moment he hit the field at Purdue, he’s been special. Karlaftis finished his 2021 campaign as a Boilermaker with 36 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. It is also worth a note that Karlaftis had 7.5 sacks as a freshman.
Scouts love Karlaftis for many reasons including his physicality on the offensive line. He loves to create havoc and brush off offensive tackles. His high energy and persistence are what make him stand out from other edge rushers as he never gives up on a play. When you have a player like Karlaftis on the field, you can expect him to give it his all every down of every play.
He does struggle with a few things such as changing direction quickly. Scouts say he has “sticky feet” when it comes to that and his movements tend to be segmented but with a little development from the Packers Defensive Line Coach, he could be well on his way to a solid career in the NFL. Karlaftis is expected to be drafted in the first round, so depending on availability we could see Green Bay select him with either of their two first-round selections.
WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
Dotson was a solid number one receiver for Penn State and he just might find himself sneaking his way into the first round. A lot of mock drafts have him right around the mid to late 20s and the Packers could find themselves taking him with one of those two picks. His ability to fully operate all three levels of the field is what got him All-Big Ten First Team in 2021.
Dotson was a 1,100-yard receiver, hauling in 12 touchdowns, including that beautiful one-handed snag against Ohio State. The receiver position wasn’t the only thing that made Dotson lethal, he was also a star punt returner.
The Penn State wide receiver ran a 4.43, which was slower than the scouts thought he’d run but Dotson made up for it with his catching ability. Many are saying the 5’11” Nazareth, Pennsylvania native has the best hands in the draft class.
Dotson is the speedy wideout Rodgers will love opposite Allen Lazard. His ability to line up in the slot and burn corners downfield is enough for the Packers to select him. Rodgers doesn’t miss often and if Dotson can break open over the top, it’s likely going to be a touchdown.
WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
Could we see Green Bay select an FCS wide receiver in the first round? Well if we do, it has to be Christian Watson. Watson’s another prospect with intriguing measures. Standing 6’4″ and weighing 208lbs, he shows a very good blend of size, speed, and strength. The Tampa, Florida native was a Second-Team FCS AP All-American and helped the Bison win yet another FCS National Championship.
Watson hauled in 43 catches for 800 yards and 7 touchdowns. The FCS product will need to hit the weight room a bit, but the upside is there for Watson. Another thing that has scouts in love with Watson is his work ethic. His strong belief in the team aspect of football alongside his work ethic is one of the intangibles that could have a team eager to select Waston.
At the NFL Combine, he ran a remarkable 4.36 for being 6’4″. Christian Watson can give Aaron Rodgers and company that outside edge option. With the height, he should fit in nicely with Green Bay and could be selected in the first round. Need I mention Green Bay’s Special Teams struggle? Watson can help them out with returning as he did so very well for the Bison.
OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
While we’re on the topic of FCS schools, Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa could be another piece to the puzzle to get Aaron Rodgers and the Packers back to the super bowl. Green Bay has a hitch for finding great o-line talent and Penning might just be that next guy. His athleticism might be the best out of all the other offensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft. Penning was the only offensive lineman named as a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, presented to the national offensive player of the year.
Penning helped Northern Iowa to lethal 25/30 (83%) red zone scores and was a part of an offensive line that only gave up 36 sacks. He’ll need to clean up the holding calls in the NFL as he can be a little sloppy. New offensive line coach Adam Stenavich will have to help Penning get his hands up and steer clear of the holding calls but if put in the right system, Penning can be a huge piece to the Packers’ run game.
At the NFL Combine, Penning showed his potential, placing himself around the top in the 40-yard dash, broad jump, and three-cone. His three-cone was the one that stood out as he tied for first with a 7.25 time. An offensive line pick in the first round might not be pretty, but Trevor Penning would add to the well-ironed-out offensive line in Green Bay.
DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
Have you ever heard of a 340lb guy running a 4.78 40-yard dash time? Well, that is exactly what Georgia standout Jordan Davis did. The 6’6″ unit can stonewall blockers and can cover multiple lanes at once. If you need someone to clog up the middle and take away the opponent’s run game up the middle, Jordan Davis is your guy. While he can disrupt the run game, Davis also succeeds in defending the pass. He can overpower his blockers and run right through them.
Falling to the Packers might be a bit out of reach as Davis’ potential has most mock drafts putting him within the top 20, but if he is there, Green Bay shouldn’t hesitate to scoop him. Adding depth to an already solid defensive line can do nothing but improve the Packers’ defense and he’ll have time to learn from Kenny Clark.
Davis won’t be filling out the stat sheet, but clogging the middle and allowing other players to make the easy play is a luxury that he brings. Teams that run to the outside could combat Davis, but his ability to plug up the middle is just too good to pass on.
WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
Do you want an underrated sleeper pick in the first round? Here it is. The Skyy is the limit for Skyy Moore and his ability to play the slot position can benefit Green Bay. His 5’9″ frame is a bit small for a receiver but his speed to beat defenders over the top might just get him drafted in the first round. Rodgers needs a replacement for Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Moore fits that role perfectly.
Moore can also be utilized as an underneath receiver. Using his good route-running skills and good footwork, he should be able to beat defenders and create space for himself. Effective on all three levels of the field, Moore can use his quickness in the short game, route-running in medium, and pure speed for a deep ball.
Moore is a projected second-round pick but he might not be there by the time Green Bay goes. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the New Kensington, Pennslyvania native selected by Green Bay with their 28th overall pick.
EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota
Mafe has the ability to become a defensive nightmare for quarterbacks in the NFL. Just ask Bailey Zappe from Western Kentucky. Mafe was able to swarm Zappe several times during the 2022 Senior Bowl and finished the game with 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. Those stats were good enough to earn himself Player of the Game honors.
Drawing comparisons to current Green Bay Packer Rashan Gary, Mafe finished his senior season as a Golden Gopher with 34 tackles, 7 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, and 1 forced fumble. The 6’4″ Minnesota native finished his career with 15 sacks, which is 9th most in school history. His 2021 season earned him All-Big Ten Second Team.
Boye Mafe ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, scored 38 on the vertical jump, and 125 on the broad jump during the 2022 NFL Combine. Scouts rave about Mafe’s ability to explode off the line and get to the quarterback. He possesses a powerful chop and can get off a blocker quickly to make the play.
One thing to watch out for with Mafe is the number of false steps in his take-off as a pass rusher. His explosiveness and quickness can make him off-balanced, but the strengths outweigh the weaknesses by a longshot with Boye Mafe.
Mafe is projected late first-round pick or early second-round and the Packers might make Mafe’s dream of being a first-round draft choice possible at 28th overall. They’d love to add more depth to the EDGE position and depending on who is available, Mafe might be a clear choice for the Green Bay Packers.
WR Drake London, USC
This could be a little far-fetched as Drake London might be too good to fall to the Packers at 22. London is oozing with potential and has NFL Scouts drooling because of his 6’4″ frame. His physicality allows any 50-50 ball thrown by Rodgers to be turned into a 60-40 or even 70-30. His ability to position himself while being defended and scoring 7 touchdowns in 8 starts is what led London to earn All-AP Third Team. He was able to muster over 1,000 yards despite missing the end of the 2021 season with a fractured right ankle.
London did not participate in the NFL Combine, but that hasn’t stopped scouts from raving about the 20-year-old from Moorpark, California. His ball skills are so special and similar to Treylon Burks, he’d fit in with just about any team.
Something London plays with is maturity and fluidity, something that Aaron Rodgers would love from a rookie receiver. Rodgers has had a tough time in the past trusting rookie receivers, but it’s something he is going to have to do this year and London might just be the most trustworthy option in the draft.
S Daxton Hill, Michigan
Daxton Hill was a great three-year player at the University of Michigan and should make a smooth transition to the NFL. The former Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year posted some good stats his junior year with 69 total tackles, 2 interceptions, and 8 pass deflections. The stats were good enough to earn All-Big Ten First Team and help lead the Wolverines to their first College Football Playoff.
At the NFL Combine, Hill was able to showcase his speed and athleticism, posting a 4.38 40-yard dash time. Hill added to an impressive resume with a 33.5 vertical jump, a 121 broad jump, a 6.57 3 cone drill, and a 4.06 20-yard shuttle. Hill is ready to take the next step as Jim Harbaugh and Michigan like to run a system with pro coverages and pressure schemes. This should allow Packers Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry to lean on Daxton’s movement and have him matchup against interior receivers.
Hill’s rare speed and explosiveness for a safety makes him fit in with any team, but Green Bay could certainly use a player like him. With Amos and Savage, Hill would add some valuable depth to the position and some scouts even believe he could be converted into a full-time cornerback at the next level. The Packers probably won’t select two receivers in the first round (let alone one), so Hill falling to the Packers at 28 would be a match made in heaven.
Only time will tell what Green Bay decides to do with their draft picks in the first round. Although it appears they must select a wide receiver in the first round, Brian Gutekunst has been known for selecting defense first. One thing is almost certain heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers will not be selecting a quarterback in the first round… We hope.
The first round of the NFL Draft is scheduled to start on Thursday, April 28 at 7:00 p.m. For more information about the NFL Draft, click here.