Dale Money | April 1st, 2020
The speculation on whether Green Bay would payout for Blake Martinez and/or Bryan Bulaga was answered, as both players would sign on with new clubs at the beginning of free agency. In order to try and best make up for those two big losses, the Packers would make some of their own additions. But after last season’s $182 million dollar spending spree, GM Brian Gutekunst was very strategic in how he used the team’s limited funds.
Inside linebacker Christian Kirksey and right tackle Ricky Wagner were each signed to affordable two-year deals in mid-March. Kirksey and Wagner will be making $7.5 million in guaranteed money combined, the rest is tied up in escalators and incentives. Kirksey is certainly the bigger injury risk of the two, given he’s played just nine games in the last two seasons, although with that said there is still a lot to like about Kirksey. In the two seasons leading up to 2018, he would play the full 16 game slate, racking up over 135 tackles in back to back years.
Also in an attempt to add a bit more wide receiving depth prior to the upcoming NFL Draft, the Packers would bring Devin Funchess on board. Funchess played four seasons in Carolina collecting 2,200 yards receiving and 21 touchdowns. Unfortunately in 2019, he would suffer a broken collarbone after signing on with the Indianapolis Colts. The injury would keep him out the remainder of the season.
The deal with Green Bay pays him $2.5 million for the one season, plus numerous incentives. It’s certainly not an exciting signing but is one that does not carry a lot of risk. And lets also not forget Funchess does bring with him plenty of playoff experience, having been to a Super Bowl with the Panthers in 2015.
Taking a look at some of the Packers’ needs heading into April, and projecting what they might decide to do with their selections, wide receiver, offensive tackle, linebacker, and interior offensive line are all positions that will need to be addressed.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team mock drafts here.
To help with this mock draft, I used the Fanspeak mock draft simulator.
Round 1, Pick 30: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
It wasn’t just the run defense that was severely lacking in the conference final against the Niners, but the receiving game was devoid of weapons outside Davante Adams. It’s no secret the Packers have focused on the defensive side of the ball in the first round over the past few years. However, they need to finally buck that trend a bit and add that second wide receiver to pair with Adams.
Jefferson was a huge weapon in that Joe Burrow passing game, ranking second and first in the SEC for both receiving yards and receptions respectively. Jefferson has some of the best hands in the draft, along with very solid concentration when jumping up and dealing with those highly contested balls. Jefferson ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, which tied for the eighth-fastest time at the Scouting Combine among wide receivers. Jefferson would be a fantastic second option, opposite Adams.
Round 2, Pick 62: Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State
With Martinez having now departed Green Bay, to sign on with the New York Giants for the next three seasons, it now leaves a huge hole at the inside linebacker position. The addition of Kirksey in free agency is more of a band-aid signing then anything else. They will undoubtedly be looking to help replenish that linebacker group. Harrison would be a great addition in the second round, he was Ohio’s leading tackler in 2019 and would increase his sacks and tackles for loss in each of his three seasons as a starter with the club. Also in 2019, Harrison would earn himself third-team All-American honors and be voted first-team All-Big Ten.
Round 3, Pick 94: Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn
The Packers still have four of their starting five offensive linemen under contract next season, including David Bakhtiari and Billy Turner. However, the one name missing out of that core group is arguably the most notable in Bulaga. Bulaga would sign a three-year, $30 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Chargers. Adding Wagner was a nice low key signing, a player that has been able to stay pretty healthy over his NFL career. Over his last three seasons with Detroit, Wagner has started in all of the 40 games he has played.
Wanogho has a lot of raw potential, as he would not become an offensive lineman until his sophomore year at Auburn. He could beef up a bit more, but still has good size with long arms with which to keep enemy tacklers off of his quarterback. He was a big reason for the Tigers only allowing 18 sacks in 2019, good for fourth-best in the SEC. A true boom or bust pick, Green Bay could potentially land themselves a future franchise tackle in Wanogho.
Round 4, Pick 136: Shane Lemieux, G, Oregon
Still needing to shore up that interior and give Aaron Rodgers more much-needed help, picking Lemieux at this spot would certainly be a very nice value. An ultra-consistent player, in the four years he played at Oregon, Lemieux started 49 straight games.
Round 5, Pick 176: Raequan Williams, DL, Michigan St.
The Packers ranked 23rd in rushing yards allowed last season, and things didn’t get any better through the playoffs. I expect they will try and pick up a run defender in free agency, but if that doesn’t work out I like Williams in the middle rounds as a draft pairing with Harrison. Williams had by far his best season statistically for sacks, more than doubling his numbers from a season ago. He would also have two defended passes as well as a forced fumble.
Round 6, Pick 192: Lavert Hill, CB, Michigan
With Jaire Alexander, Tramon Williams, and Kevin King, the corner position isn’t as dire as it once was in Green Bay, however, they can still use some more depth at the position. King played 14 games in 2019, but his first couple of seasons was mired by injury problems. Hill has very good cover skills, and would often line up against the opposing team’s top receiver. Hill started 23 games in his last two seasons at Michigan, combining for four interceptions and a defensive touchdown.
Round 6, Pick 208: John Hightower, WR, Boise State
After the first-round selection of Jefferson, the Packers double up on wide receiver in the sixth round. Hightower offers some tools that should interest Matt LaFleur and this offense. Not only is Hightower a burner, but also very crafty at working in open space. In just two seasons at Boise State, he would finish with 1,442 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns on 82 receptions.
Round 6, Pick 209: Darryl Williams, C, Miss State
Corey Linsley is signed through next year but will become an unrestricted free agent after that. Williams doesn’t bring a lot of red flags but is still considered a developmental project. He has one year of center experience, having moved over from left tackle.
Round 7, Pick 225: Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia
I’m of the opinion the Packers still have time to hold out, on drafting high on a future replacement for Rodgers. However, it can’t hurt at this point in the draft to select a quarterback that can potentially give Tim Boyle some healthy competition. Perkins had a very impressive showing in the Orange Bowl against Florida, throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns with just the lone interception.
Round 7, Pick 243: Jon Runyan, OT, Michigan
A fifth-year senior, Runyan Jr. appeared in 13 games at left tackle last season, starting in 12 of them. He was honored with first-team All-Big 10, in back to back years and was also a winner of the Hugh H. Rader award for the top offensive lineman on the team. He has pretty good size at 6’5″ and weighing in at 321 pounds.
Questions and comments?
Follow Us on Twitter @thescorecrow
Follow Us on Reddit at u/TheScorecrow
Follow Us on Facebook at The Scorecrow
Follow Us on Instagram at The Scorecrow
Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow Dale Money on Twitter @packerd_00
Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images