The Green Bay Packers draft class is officially determined with general manager Brian Gutekunst spending many of his top picks to strengthen a roster competing for a Super Bowl. While the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft might not have gone how fans hoped, there should be optimism after all seven rounds.
It’s very possible that Gutekunst wanted to add a receiver early in Round 1. Unfortunately for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, they started flying off the board early. Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jameson Williams were all selected before the 13th pick and the Washington Commanders reached for Jahan Dotson at 16th overall.
After watching six receivers fly off the board within the first 18 picks, Gutekunst knew taking a pass-catcher would be a reach. So, he did the next best thing for the Packers by making a great defense even better.
Green Bay Packers built an elite defense
Many in Wisconsin have been frustrated for years about the Green Bay Packers defense. So often, it was the thing that held this team back and proved costly in the NFL playoffs. During the 2021 season, this unit made huge strides.
From Week 9-18, Green Bay’s defense held up well against the pass. Opposing quarterbacks posted a 17-11 TD-INT ratio, completing just 60.4% of pass attempts with an 83.0 passer rating and 21 sacks taken. The group looked even better in the Divisional Round, holding the San Francisco 49ers to 212 total yards on 52 plays, surrendering just six points.
There were some issues with this defense, including struggles against the run. It became evident that the front seven needed help, especially at inside linebacker and on the defensive line.
Quay Walker, linebacker, Georgia
Walker, a 6-foot-4 linebacker, is precisely what this defense needed alongside All-Pro selection De’Vondre Campbell. Far too often last year, Green Bay didn’t have a second off-ball linebacker it could trust to play alongside Campbell. There are a lot of reasons to believe that will no longer be an issue.
There are a lot of traits Walker brings to the table. Unlike former teammate Nakobe Dean, he brings outstanding length (96th percentile wingspan) to the position. He also finished with a 9.63 Relative Athletic Score, highlighting his elite athleticism.
He earned the third-highest tackling grade in college football from Pro Football Focus, flying to the ball carrier and consistently bringing them down without issue. He’s also shown impressive ability in coverage, allowing zero touchdowns across 548 snaps when dropped into pass coverage. Receiving multiple comparisons to Campbell, his new teammate, the Packers made a huge upgrade at ILB2.
Devonte Wyatt, defensive tackle, Georgia
Before talking about Wyatt’s on-field impact, it’s important to note why he slid in Round 1 and the reason multiple teams took him off their draft boards. Wyatt was arrested on family violence charges in 2020 and faces other accusations of domestic issues. After making the pick, Gutekunst said the team did a ‘deep dive‘ into Wyatt’s history before they felt comfortable drafting him.
As for Wyatt’s fit with the Packers, he is the help Kenny Clark needed for years. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Clark has consistently dealt with double teams in recent years. Wyatt, who compares athletically to Quinnen Williams, will play multiple positions on the defensive line. The 6-foot-3 tackle’s movement skills make him dangerous, helping him stuff the run and create interior pressure.
Importantly for Green Bay, the 304-pound lineman also adds some much-needed bulk to the defensive line. He will see a ton of snaps as a rookie and should make life easier for Clark, too. With an improved front seven and an elite secondary, this can be one of the five best NFL defenses in 2022.
Green Bay Packers defense
- DL: Jarran Reed, Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt
- LB: Preston Smith, Quay Walker, De’Vondre Campbell, Rashan Gary
- CB: Jaire Alexander, Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas
- S: Darnell Savage, Adrian Amos
Christian Watson a risky pick in costly trade-up
Arguably the most questionable decision made by Gutekunst came at wide receiver. He traded the 53rd and 59th overall picks to the Minnesota Vikings, an overpay based on consensus trade charts, to draft Christian Watson.
There are qualities to like about the North Dakota State receiver. He’s in the 98th percentile for height, 91st percentile for hand size, 84th percentile for vertical jump and the 97th percentile for the 10-yard split. He’s an incredible athlete at 6-foot-4, moving easily with that frame and at times looking like a No. 1 receiver at the next level.
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However, he’s also very raw. He’s still learning how to use his size and Green Bay’s coaching staff will need to spend time working on Watson’s route-running. Not only that, he finished his college career with an alarming 12.7% drop rate.
Obviously, the physical traits are what Green Bay fell in love with. Watson can be a vertical threat in 2022 and there’s a strong possibility he returns kicks as a rookie. Realistically, though, fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs might have a bigger offense with the offense this season. Watson is a long-term fix.
Zach Tom, Kingsley Enagbare were Day 3 steals
While the Packers received a fair share of criticism for their selection in Round 2, Day 3 of the NFL Draft went extremely well. Frankly, the Packers draft grade for Rounds 4-7 is an A+ thanks to their steals with the later picks.
Zach Tom spent his final season at Wake Forest playing left tackle, but some believe his future is on the interior offensive line. As noted by Packers Wire, his Relative Athletic Score at guard (9.92) and center (10.0) are both historic for either position.
Excelling in pass protection is already a major plus in Tom’s favor. What made him perfect for Green Bay is positional versatility. Similar to Elgton Jenkins, just to a lesser level, Tom can play any position on the offensive line.
Following the departure of Za’Darius Smith, Green Bay needed a third edge rusher. When Kingsley Enagbare fell to the fifth round, Green Bay wasted little time grabbing him when it was put on the clock. While he needed hip surgery in college, Enagbare’s power, arm length (87th percentile) and powerful hands helped him post a 25% pass-rush win rate in 2021 outside of blitzes/stunts, per Austin Gayle.
Many would have supported the selections of Tom and Enagbare in the third round. Yet, Green Bay landed them on Day 3.
Green Bay Packers draft picks 2022
- Round 1, 22nd pick: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
- Round 1, 28th pick: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
- Round 2, 34th pick: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
- Round 3, 92nd pick: Sean Rhyan, iOL, UCLA
- Round 4, 132nd overall: Romeo Doubs, WR, Nevada
- Round 4, 140th pick: Zach Tom, iOL, Wake Forest
- Round 5, 179th pick: Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina
- Round 7, 228th pick: Tariq Carpenter, LB, Georgia Tech
- Round 7, 234th pick: Jonathan Ford, iDL, Miami
- Round 7, 249th pick: Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
- Round 7, 258th pick: Samori Toure, WR, Nebraska