Following yet another heartbreaking playoff loss, the Green Bay Packers now turn their attention to the offseason. They enter the next stage of the season $44 million over the cap space limit. Due to this fact, there is a very real chance that this is the beginning of a rebuild.
While Green Bay will likely try to do everything they can to keep key players, it will be hard given the financial hoops they’d have to jump through. Unfortunately for the Packers, they will likely have to say goodbye to players like Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Billy Turner.
Of course, these players could stick around if they restructure their deals to extremely team-friendly ones. However, these are human beings trying to secure their financial futures for future generations. They don’t owe teams anything, and if they want to make what they’re worth, they’ll probably have to look elsewhere for a worthy payday.
Cutting Players Creates Holes On the Roster
It’s an obvious statement, but it’s one that needs to be said. When you cut players to save money, you create holes in the roster. Green Bay’s 2021 roster was a very all-around team with few major holes. They had an explosive offense and a dominant defense, but they were horrible on special teams.
Before any moves are made, the biggest current positional needs for the Packers are wide receiver, edge rusher, and cornerback. With the potential losses of the Smith Brothers, linebacker immediately becomes a major hole on the roster. In addition, if Aaron Rodgers wants out or retires, Green Bay might explore some options at quarterback if they’re not sold on Jordan Love.
For the purpose of this article, the biggest positional needs that will be taken into account are as follows:
- Wide Receiver (WR)
- Cornerback (CB)
- Edge Rusher/Defensive Line (DL)
- Quarterback (QB)*
*The need for a QB depends on Rodgers’ decision and the team’s evaluation of Jordan Love.
Possible Draft Choices
Now it’s time for the encouraging part of the story: exploring potential Packers draft picks. With the Packers landing the 28th pick in the draft after the divisional round is complete, it is almost certain that most of the big-name prospects will be off the draft board by their turn to pick. Regardless, there will still be some extremely talented players available to choose from. Let’s jump right into some of the possible choices.
Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Devonte Wyatt is a 6’3″, 315 pound defensive tackle who played over 1,500 snaps for Georgia over the last three seasons. He was a key member of the dominant defensive unit that led Georgia to a national title, and he has the talent and stamina to perfectly compliment Packers DT, Kenny Clark.
Wyatt has had a prominent role at Georgia over the last three years. With 94 tackles in that span, as well as 76 QB pressures, Wyatt is a playmaker who can immediately improve any defense that picks him in this year’s draft. His strength, size, and experience alone make him a great choice for Green Bay. When you add in his potential fit with the Packers, this pick makes a lot of sense.
The Packers need to get Kenny Clark some more help on the defensive line. There is only so much he and Rashan Gary can do when they’re getting double-teamed and the rest of the defensive linemen aren’t talented enough to make plays. If the Packers can add a talented lineman like Wyatt, their defense becomes even more dangerous than this past season.
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Jahan Dotson is a 5′ 11″, 184 lbs wide receiver who lit up opposing defenses in his final season for Penn State. Wisconsin Badgers fans might remember Dotson from when he helped Penn State doom the Badgers 2021 season before it even began. The Packers have been in need of a boost at wide receiver, and 2022 might be the year they finally draft a wide receiver in the first round.
Dotson has always been undersized for a wide receiver, but his speed and toughness has silenced many doubters who questioned his ability to play against heavy hitters at the next level. His dominance against Big Ten opponents has proven that he is fully capable of playing on Sundays. In his senior season, he recorded 12 receiving touchdowns as well as 1,182 receiving yards, which was 18th in all of college football. His average of 15.1 yards per reception is proof of his vertical threat ability, and that’s something Green Bay loves to see when drafting wide receivers. For reference, Davante Adams averaged 12.6 yards per reception in 2021.
The Packers are at risk of losing Davante Adams this offseason due to the insane cap situation. Adding young talent at wide receiver is a must if Jordan Love is to find success as the Packers quarterback next season. By adding an explosive wide receiver like Dotson, the Packers would be setting Jordan Love up to begin creating a partnership that has the potential to be Rodgers and Adams level in a few years.
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
Roger McCreary is a 6-0, 190-pound defensive back who has played both safety and cornerback for the Auburn Tigers. He has played 2,200 defensive snaps played in his Auburn career, and as a result, McCreary is one of the more experienced cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
McCreary is one of the most talented cornerbacks in the draft this year. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the best corner in FBS this season, so it’s easy to see why he’s been rising up draft boards. In his senior season, he had two interceptions, one being a pick six, and one forced fumble. In addition, McCreary’s 16 passes defended and 14 pass breakups were the most among SEC defenders in 2021. His impressive numbers in a wide receiver dominant conference is an encouraging sign for teams like the Packers who need more talent in the secondary.
The Packers are likely to let Kevin King walk this offseason, and it’s unlikely they can afford to pay Rasual Douglas after the season he had. Given those situations, the Packers will be looking to round out their secondary through the draft. With young superstar Jaire Alexander back for 2022, and the rise of the talented Eric Stokes, the Packers secondary has the potential to become extremely dangerous with the addition of McCreary.
With the possibility of a rebuild looming over Green Bay, the front office might decide to trade back in the draft if they’re not 100% sold on any prospects when their pick rolls around. Packers fans might have mixed feelings about trading back, especially when they think about the years 2017 and 2018.
In 2017, they traded back and missed out on former Wisconsin Badger and current NFL superstar TJ Watt. In 2018, they traded back and landed superstar cornerback Jaire Alexander and then got Darnell Savage with the additional draft pick.
Trading back is always a risk, but with a rebuild looming, it might make sense for Green Bay to load up on as many draft picks as they can. It will be interesting to see how the Green Bay front office handles the upcoming offseason.
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