The Green Bay Packers will never come out and say it, but this upcoming season, and potentially next, will be rebuilding years. Due to the Aaron Rodgers contract, the Packers have virtually no salary cap flexibility even after the trade. The franchise needs a year or two to cycle through some of these bloated contracts that have continued to get pushed back year after year.
I shy away from calling it a full rebuild because there is still plenty of talent on this roster. That’s not even taking into account the potential of Jordan Love. This process becomes much shorter if he turns out to be the next in line of top-end Green Bay quarterbacks. With that said, jumping the gun would be ill-advised, and settling somewhere in the range of an average NFL starter in season 1 as a starter is a good place to set expectations.
Over the next Packers Draft or two, Green Bay will likely focus on acquiring as much young, inexpensive talent as possible. This franchise has always been tight with their picks which is good news because they matter more now than ever. With the news of the Aaron Rodgers trade coming down the pipe, the front office has more ammunition heading into this weekend.
The Packers added a second-round pick (42) and a sixth-round pick (207) this season while moving up from 15th to 13th overall. They did have to give up this season’s fifth-rounder (170), but they have a conditional second-round pick coming next year, which has a good chance of becoming a first-rounder.
Who Could We See the Packers Draft Thursday Night?
From 2016 on, the Packers have utilized their first-round picks well. The Packers draft picks in the first round during this time are: Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander, Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, Jordan Love, Eric Stokes, Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt. Overall, those are some extremely impressive picks – even more so if Love proves to be a quality NFL starting quarterback. Outside of Wyatt, who will get way more run this season, they have all played a ton of snaps for this team. Not only are they playing, but many are playing at a high level.
Why is this important? Mainly because of when the majority of these players were drafted. Everyone but Gary was taken in the second half of the first round, with Alexander being the only other player inside the top 20. The Packers have consistently found high-level contributors late in the first round.
With the value of this year’s Draft class being later in the first round into the second and third rounds, it makes sense for Green Bay to do everything they can to trade back. Moving up from 15 to 13 makes it more likely a team would be interested in moving up, not to mention a better return. With so many solid players waiting for their names to be called on day two, getting as many cracks as possible would be ideal.
The Packers draft picks need to help the team to get younger but, more importantly, cheaper. They’ve been riding with veteran players for years, and rightfully so. This season’s cap difficulties were always going to happen eventually. There is no way to avoid paying that money; they had just continued to delay the inevitable to chase Super Bowls. Now that expectations have shifted, so too should the strategy Thursday night.
If a talented player falls to 13, should the Packers take them? Absolutely. Stocking up on Draft picks isn’t the only way to succeed in this league. With how consistently this franchise has drafted, it could be argued it’s less important to them than most. Unfortunately, things are different in Green Bay than we’ve seen for quite some time. Although this team likely won’t be chasing a title this year, we’ll be able to see growth.
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst has been impressive in Packers Drafts since taking over in 2018. Rodgers’ fans would beg to differ, but it’s hard to argue with his track record. He’s done a little bit of everything in the first round. He’s traded back to gain more assets, and he’s traded back in for a player he liked. It may not be flashy or exciting, but moving back this season is likely what we’ll see Thursday night, and the team will be better for it.
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