The 2021 NFL Draft has arrived and the Green Bay Packers are set to make a decision that could decide the team’s title hopes in 2020 and its long-term outlook. A year after making a pick that shocked the NFL world, Green Bay might have something very different in mind this year.
Few expected the Packers to draft a quarterback early in the 2020 NFL Draft, especially not trading up for Jordan Love. The decision received overwhelming criticism. Instead of strengthening the roster to contend for a Super Bowl, general manager Brian Gutekunst drafted for a future without Aaron Rodgers.
Fast forward to April 29, things could play out very differently. Following weeks of drama between the Packers and Rodgers, primarily regarding his contract and future with the club, it seems the Packers might take a draft-day approach that could make their NFL MVP quarterback very happy.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano, the Packers have done “a lot of research” on Minnesota Golden Gophers star receiver Rashod Bateman. Gutekunst personally attended Minnesota’s Pro Day and met with Bateman after.
It’s a bit surprising, given this team’s history. The Packers haven’t spend a first-round pick on a wide receiver since they selected Javon Walker with the 20th pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. It’s led many to believe Gutekunst will look to address another position, either offensive tackle or cornerback, but things might now get even more interesting.
Who will the Green Bay Packers draft in 2021?
In our recent 2021 NFL mock draft, the Packers traded up to the 26th overall pick. It’s important to note, Gutekunst has made a first-round trade in every NFL Draft since he took over as general manager. With Green Bay holding a pair of fourth-round picks, moving up is very possible.
Cornerback, offensive tackle and wide receiver are clear needs for the Packers. While they re-signed Kevin King, he is a temporary starter and this defense needs a lot better opposite Jaire Alexander on the outside. One of the best potential fits for Green Bay might be Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II, who would fit nicely in Green Bay’s system. If the Packers don’t trade up, Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. is a player the front office is very high on.
One of the NFL’s best offensive lines in 2020 will look different this fall. All-Pro tackle David Bakhtiari is still recovering from a torn ACL and might miss the start of the season. Meanwhile, All-Pro center Corey Linsley signed with the Los Angeles Chargers and Green Bay has a void at right tackle. Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins or USC offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker could be top targets for Green Bay.
If the Packers are truly committed to Rodgers, we might see them draft a wide receiver. Bateman has drawn comparisons to Allen Robinson and he profiles as an outstanding No. 2 receiver opposite Davante Adams. Another target could be Elijah Moore, an explosive slot receiver who would make an immediate impact as a rookie.