The Green Bay Packers have a variety of needs that they need to fill in the 2023 NFL Draft. Among these are wide receiver, safety, tight end, and edge rusher. The amount of immediate positional needs has led many to disagree on what position the Packers will take in the first round. Some believe Green Bay may lean towards an offensive skill player like a wide receiver or tight end. Others think Brian Gutekunst will stick with a defensive player in the first round as he has in almost every year as general manager. There are still some that believe they could take an offensive lineman with their first pick.
Mel Kiper of ESPN recently published his latest mock draft on ESPN+. It was a two-round mock draft that did not see the Packers acquire any of the New York Jets’ first or second round picks. Therefore, in his mock draft Green Bay had the 15th overall pick in the first round and the 45th overall pick in the second. In this scenario, Kiper had the Packers selecting a tight end in the first round and a pass rusher in the second.
The Green Bay Packers Select Dalton Kincaid in the First Round
On of the most popular tight ends being mocked to the Packers is Utah’s Dalton Kincaid. He is six-foot-four and 242 pounds and could be a dynamic pass-catching tight end in the NFL for years to come. Of the Packers selecting Kincaid, Kiper wrote:
“Take a look at the Green Bay depth chart and tell me this: Who is going to catch passes from quarterback Jordan Love in 2023? OK, outside of second-year wideouts Christian Watson and Romeo Dobbs? There’s just not much there, and Josiah Deguara, who had 13 catches last season, is now the team’s No. 1 tight end. Kincaid is the best pass-catching tight end in this class. He had 16 touchdown receptions over the past two seasons. He can stretch the seams in the middle of the field, and he can create easy connections for Love. This is the pick to help a young signal-caller.”
Kiper does make some excellent points here. It is true that the Packers are shallow on pass catchers at both the wide receiver and tight end positions. Per PFF, Kincaid is the third-highest graded tight end overall (90.2) and has the highest receiving grade (91.8) of any tight end in the draft. That being said, Kincaid is a well-below average blocker (60.0 pass blocking grade; 59.5 run blocking grade).
With the team losing Marcedes Lewis, it is difficult to see them picking a tight end with such poor blocking skills, at least so early in the draft. This year’s tight end class is deep and a quality one can be found on Day Two.
There is also the fact that the Packers have not taken a tight end in the first round since Bubba Franks in 2000. That is an even longer time since they drafted a wide receiver in the first round (Javon Walker in 2002). It is more likely that they draft a defensive player or offensive lineman in the first round.
The Green Bay Packers Select Pass Rusher Byron Young in the Second Round
Edge rusher is one of the positions that the Packers do value early in drafts. Additionally, it happens to be a pressing need on the team at the moment. Rashan Gary is coming off of a torn ACL. Preston Smith played well last season as did Kingsley Enagbare in his rookie campaign. However, there is not much depth after that despite the re-signing of veteran Justin Hollins. Certainly drafting an edge rusher early makes sense for Green Bay. Of Byron Young, an edge rusher out of Tennessee, Kiper wrote:
“This defense really struggled after Rashan Gary went down last season, and the Packers need to rebuild their edge-rushing depth. Young is an ideal fit for a team that runs a 3-4. He can explode at the snap and bend around offensive tackles to get to quarterbacks. He tested extremely well at the combine. One thing to keep in mind: At 25, he’s one of the oldest prospects in this class. That could push him down the boards of some teams.”
The combine measurements are important, but so is the film and scouting reports. In these, Young as a second round pick is a real reach. Ian Cummings of Pro Football Network has Young as a late Day Two or even an early Day Three draft pick. This is because Young is easily moved off of his spot and cannot shed double teams. Other than an exciting motor, he does not have any skills in which he is projected to be elite. His age is also a concern as Gutekunst has tended to avoid drafting older players.
Personally, I believe that Kiper has his positions switched in his mock. It is far more likely that the Packers will taken an edge rushers like Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness in the first round and a tight end or wide receiver in the second round.
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Glad to see the back end of Rodgers! He’s become a distraction as of recent years. Frankly, compared to other super star QB’s, the guy has won only one title.
Let’s get Love in there now.