After filling a need at cornerback with the drafting of Eric Stokes in the first round of the NFL Draft, the Packers filled two more needs on the second day. They took a center in the second round and then traded up to take a wide receiver in the third. This is quite the change of strategy of previous drafts.
In the past, the Packers have not addressed immediate needs in the draft. Instead, they have drafted for the future. This season, though, for various reasons, they are in a position where they will need to use early draft picks on their immediate needs. Here, we introduce you to the newest Packers’ draft picks and give projections for how they will fit on the Packers’ roster.
Second Round Draft Pick- Josh Meyers: C, Ohio State University
Due to salary cap issues, the Packers were not able to retain All-Pro center, Corey Linsley. The former Ohio State center departed Green Bay for the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency. To replace him, the Packers selected another Ohio State center in Josh Meyers.
During Meyers’ tenure at Ohio State, the Buckeyes had one of the best offensive lines in college football. As the anchor of the line, Meyers is a huge reason for their success. An above-average run blocker, he will be key in creating space for Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.
The importance of selecting such a talented center cannot be overstated for the Packers. With David Bakhtiari out until December, the team needed immediate depth on the line. Going into the Draft, it appeared as if Pro Bowl lineman Elgton Jenkins would play center in 2021. While he played that position (he played all five positions on the line last season), and played it well, he is best used as a tackle and may fill in on the left side while Bakhtiari rehabs. The Meyers pick allows the Packers the ability to best utilize all of the other talents they have on the line.
Third Round Pick- Amari Rodgers: WR, Clemson
If anyone had asked Amari Rodgers what team he wanted to draft him, he would have said the Green Bay Packers. He got his wish when the Packers traded up in the third round to select the Clemson wide receiver. Green Bay sent their third-round pick and their first fourth-round pick (135 overall) to the Tennessee Titans to move up seven spots to get him.
There is some speculation that trading up to get Amari Rodgers was a move to placate the other Rodgers on the Packers roster. As everyone with a pulse knows, the Packers’ three-time MVP quarterback, and future Hall of Famer, is upset with management and has reportedly requested a trade. It seems, though, that the tension is not due to previously not drafting a wide receiver early. Rather, it is because the Packers drafted Jordan Love without talking to their current quarterback first.
Whether or not Aaron Rodgers’ happiness was a driving factor, the pick of Amari Rodgers was a vital one for the Packers for two reasons. First, the Packers do not have any of their current wide receivers under contract after this season. Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marques Valdez-Scantling, and Devin Funchess will all be free agents after 2021. While at least two of them may be re-signed, the need to add talent early in this Draft not only helps them in the immediate future but in 2022 and beyond.
Second, Amari Rodgers can fill two positions that the Packers desperately need on their roster. The first is as a jet back/wide receiver combo. Tyler Ervin filled this role when healthy, and Tavon Austin filled it (poorly) when Ervin got hurt. The Matt LaFleur offense is at its best when there is a wide receiver/running back hybrid who can move along the line of scrimmage to keep defenses guessing. Even if Rodgers does not receive a pass or hand-off on the play, the defenses will lose a step watching him, allowing a window for a larger gain.
The second position that Amari Rodgers will fill on the Packers’ roster is that of a kick returner. The Packers have not had a decent, consistent returner since the 1990s. Over the past couple of seasons, the special teams have been historically bad. Rodgers immediately makes this unit better.
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