Players selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft start with a definite advantage. They have almost guaranteed roster spots in their first season, but they also face high expectations from coaches, fans, and the media. The Green Bay Packers are no exception. Here are five recent high Packers draft picks who are facing critical seasons in 2024:

Packers High Draft Choices Facing Critical Seasons Number Five: G Sean Rhyan

Sean Rhyan has yet to start a game in his first two NFL seasons with the Packers. His rookie year was a tough one that saw him appear in one play of one game before being suspended for violating the NFL’s rules against PEDs.

In his second season, Rhyan played more frequently, playing in 23 percent of the Packers offensive plays in the 12 games he appeared in. With Jon Runyan Jr. playing through injuries, the coaching staff elected to rotate Rhyan into the lineup for several series per game.

Rhyan is a solid run blocker but has struggled in pass protection. He will need to improve in that area to earn a starting job in 2024.

With head coach Matt LaFleur committed to playing the “best five” offensive linemen, Rhyan has to overcome the competition and proven he deserves to start. If he doesn’t, he will be well on the way to being a career backup or fringe player. If he does start and play well, this could be the first of several good seasons for the former UCLA star.

Number Four: RB A.J. Dillon

A.J. Dillon had a rough start in 2023. When Aaron Jones missed time due to injury, he became the Pack’s de facto number one back but struggled in that role. Dillon gained 613 yards and averaged 3.4-yards per carry last season. Both were his lowest numbers since his rookie campaign in 2020.

Dillon re-signed with the Packers on a team-friendly deal. The Packers also signed free agent running back Josh Jacobs and selected MarShawn Lloyd in the third round to compete with Dillon.

The former Boston College star will need to show he can still be a solid contributor if he hopes to return to Green Bay in 2025 or to earn a good contract with another team.

He will need to have a strong training camp to solidify his role on the team this season.

Packers High Draft Choices Facing Critical Seasons Number Three: C Josh Myers

GM Brian Gutekunst selected Myers in the second round in 2021. The former Ohio State star has never lived up to his high draft status although he did start when healthy during all three years he’s been a pro.

Myers has been inconsistent. His pass blocking has been satisfactory, but he struggles opening holes for the run. He has graded out in the bottom third of starting centers over the last two seasons according to Pro Football Focus.

The 2024 season will be the final year of Myers’ entry-level contract. If he wants to return to Green Bay next year, he will need to show he deserves a second contract with the team and will need to up his game this season.

Number Two: WR Christian Watson

Christian Watson has played well when he’s been on the field in his first two seasons with the Packers. His problem has been staying healthy. Watson has played in 23 of a possible 34 games thus far and has been limited in several games he did appear in.

Watson’s combination of size and speed gives him elite potential. When he is healthy and in the lineup, he creates time and space for teammates because defenses have to respect his talent.

The Packers have a deep and talented receiving room. If he’s healthy, Watson has the most upside of any of them. He needs to stay healthy and show more of that potential this season to solidify his long-term role with the team.

Packers High Draft Choices Facing Critical Seasons Number One: CB Eric Stokes

Eric Stokes had a strong rookie season but the former first round pick out of Georgia has struggled since then.

His performance took a major step back in 2022 before he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9. Last season, he played in just three games and was clearly not back to his rookie form.

Stokes will battle Carrington Valentine for the starting boundary corner spot opposite Jaire Alexander in training camp. Coaches praised his performance at OTAs and in minicamp.

If he stays healthy and plays well, he could earn another contract with the Pack. If not, he will likely be elsewhere next season and will be fighting to extend his NFL career.




Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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