The 2022 NFL Draft is just a few weeks away and this will be a critical draft for the Green Bay Packers. The Packers are coming off three straight 13-win seasons but have been unable to win a title. The window to win another Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback is fast closing.
The Packers have tried to keep as many of their current players in the lineup and were able to bring back De’Vondre Campbell, Rasul Douglas and Preston Smith. Still, the Pack traded Davante Adams and lost Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Billy Turner and Za’Darius Smith in free agency.
Here are five things to look for from the Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft:
- The Packers Will Make a Trade in the First Round
This will be the fifth draft for GM Brian Gutekunst since he took over the position for the Packers in 2018 and in three of the first four, he’s made at least one trade in the first round of the draft.
Gutekunst has traded down and traded up, sometimes in the same draft to grab the player he really covets.
With four picks in the top 59, Gutekunst has lots of options if he wants to make a trade. If there’s one player he truly covets, he has the ammunition to pull off a trade with an extra pick in the first, second and fourth rounds.
Gute could also take one of those top 59 and trade down to add more picks if he feels there isn’t a player available at that spot he absolutely must have or that there are several roughly equally rated players who will still be available a few picks later.
- The Packers Will Draft At least 2 WRs This Year Including One in the 1st round
The Packers only urgent need right now is at wide receiver. The Packers need to replace two of their top three wideouts and they have no clear-cut number one receiver on their roster.
Fortunately, this is a deep draft at the wide receiver position. While Gutekunst is still likely to add an experienced veteran via a trade or free agency before training camp opens, look for the Packers to select at least two wide receivers in this year’s draft including one in the first round.
Another could follow on day two of the draft and maybe even another on day three depending on how many picks the Packers have and how they are able to fill their other needs.
The Packers haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round since selecting Javon Walker in 2002 but that streak will end this year.
- Safety and Edge Rusher Will Be Addressed in the First Three Rounds
Safety and edge rusher are two areas where the Packers are set at starter but are lacking depth. As a result, look for Gutekunst to fill these positions on the first two days of the draft.
Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage are both quality starters at safety, but Henry Black was not qualified and the Packers would have no proven players if either of their starters got injured.
The same is true at edge where Preston Smith and Rashan Gary give the Packers quality starters but if either were to miss significant action, the Packers would find themselves in a bind.
The Packers need to select players at both these positions who can be rotational players as rookies and then be developed to take over as a starter in a year or two depending on what the situation is with the current starters is by then.
- The Packers Will Draft Multiple Offensive Linemen
The Packers have drafted at least one offensive lineman in all four of Gutekunst’s drafts and at least two in three of the four years he has been picking players for the team.
Offensive line depth is also needed with Elgton Jenkins unlikely to be ready to start the season and with Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick both playing elsewhere in 2022.
The Packers have depth needs at tackle, guard and center. The Pack may not pick an offensive lineman in the first round, but Gutekunst tends to take a flier on multiple players in the later rounds of the draft with the hope that some of them will develop into useful players or even starters.
That strategy has yielded players like Jon Runyan Jr., Corey Linsley and Royce Newman over the last decade. Look for Gutekunst to employ a similar strategy this year.
- The Packers Will Draft a Tight End for the Third Time in Four Years
In 2019, the Packers used a third-round pick on tight end Jace Sternberger. One year later, Gutekunst added another tight end in the third round when he added Josiah Deguara. He will likely add another tight end in this year’s draft.
The Packers face uncertainty at the position after 2022 with Robert Tonyan coming off an injury and on a one-year deal and Marcedes Lewis about to turn 38 this season.
Head coach Matt LaFleur likes to utilize his tight ends in a variety of ways and while there may not be a big immediate need at the position, the Packers will want to add someone who can learn in 2022 and can assume a much larger role in 2023 and beyond.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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