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 2023:
Packers High Draft Pick Number One: OL Sean Rhyan
GM Brian Gutekunst selected Sean Rhyan in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The former UCLA star got off to a very shaky start to his NFL career. He was quickly passed on the depth chart by fourth round pick Zach Tom. During the season, he played one snap in one game and that was it.
Later in the season, he was suspended by the league for six games for violating the NFL’s PED policy.
Rhyan did not stand out OTAs or minicamp although those activities are done without pads. He must make a strong showing in training camp and in the preseason just to earn a roster spot. He hopes to end the Packers long standing third-round jinx.
High Draft Pick Number Two: DL Devonte Wyatt
Devonte Wyatt was the Packers second selection in the first round of the 2022 draft. He didn’t see the field much as a rookie until late in the season when Dean Lowry suffered a season ending injury.
The Georgia alum did show flashes of ability when he finally got on the field. Wyatt made some plays and showed the ability to penetrate the line and disrupt running plays. He also recorded 1.5 sacks in the final four games of the season.
Wyatt is expected to start this season and the team will be counting on him to take a second-year jump and establish himself as a starter this season. The coaching staff needs Wyatt to be solid and consistent in his first year as a starter and they’re hoping he can be more than that.
High Draft Pick Number Three: RB A.J. Dillon
The Packers added A.J. Dillon in the second round in 2020. The former Boston College workhorse gained 770 yards and scored seven touchdowns in 2022 serving as the change of pace back behind Aaron Jones.
Dillon runs well between the tackles and is difficult to bring down one-on-one because of his 247-pound frame and his large quads.
Despite his solid statistics, both Dillon and the coaching staff feel he could have been even better in 2022. Despite that disappointment, many experts consider Dillon one of the best number two backs in the league.
He is also in the final year of his rookie contract. That means Dillon will have a lot of incentive to have a monster season and get a lucrative new deal whether it’s in Green Bay or elsewhere.
Packers High Draft Pick Number Four: S Darnell Savage
Darnell Savage will be playing 2023 on his fifth-year option. That means he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
The former first-round pick out of Maryland has been inconsistent during his first four years in the league. At times, he’s played quite well and been an impact player. At other times, he has been out of position and appeared lazy when trying to make tackles.
It got so bad the Packers benched Savage last season because of his poor play. He eventually returned to the lineup due to injuries and played better in the final few games of the season.
The Packers are counting on Savage to be their top safety this season. If he plays well, he can land another big contract. If not, he could struggle to earn a roster spot and will sign for a lot less money next year.
High Draft Pick Number One: QB Jordan Love
After three years of sitting behind Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love is set to take over as the Packers starting quarterback. He will have this season and probably part of next season to prove he is worthy of being the team’s next quality starter.
Love has done a lot of things right under difficult circumstances, working with his receivers at an informal quarterbacks camp and showing up for all OTAs. He’s also stepping up as a leader after being careful not to step on Rodgers’ toes the last three seasons.
Now Love must show he can get the job done on the field. If he doesn’t, his own job and the futures of Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur may be at stake.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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