The 2023 NFL Draft is almost here. As of now, the Green Bay Packers have the 15th overall pick in the first round and the 45th overall pick in the second round of the draft. More early round picks could be added if the trade of Aaron Rodgers is completed before or during the draft.
This is the first in a series of articles looking at players the Packers may be interested in selecting in this year’s draft. The only players listed here are realistic possibilities for the Packers to pick in the first or second round of the draft or who fill specific needs for the team right now.
Today we will examine wide receivers. The Packers have seen lots of changes this offseason at the position with Allen Lazard signing with the Jets and Randall Cobb likely to depart as an unrestricted free agent.
The Packers presently have five players on the roster and none with more than one year of NFL experience. Christian Watson gives the team a deep threat and elite playmaker if he reaches his full potential. Romeo Doubs is more of a possession receiver but who can help keep the chains moving. Both players need to continue their development in their second NFL seasons and need to improve their hands and consistency. Samori Toure should take on a bigger role in his second NFL season as well.
The only other players on the roster are Bo Melton and Jeff Cotton. Cotton has one game of NFL experience while Melton has never taken a snap in an NFL game.
Clearly, the Packers need more talent and depth here. A veteran presence may be desired, and the team is expected to draft at least one if not two players in at wideout in this year’s draft.
There are only one or two first-round players that fit the Packers usual criteria they look for at the receiver position in the first round of this year’s draft. There are more players that would make sense in the second or third rounds.
So here is a list of possible wide receivers the Packers may take early in the 2023 draft. They are not listed in any particular order:
Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
Smith-Njigba may be the best available receiver for the Packers in this year’s draft, but the big question is whether he’ll still be on the board at 15 when the Packers pick or if they’ll have to trade up if they want to take him.
JSN excelled in the slot at Ohio State and would be an ideal compliment to Watson and Doubs who would be the team’s top outside receivers.
Smith-Njigba is a precise route runner with average size at 6’0” and 198 pounds. He uses his body well to gain separation from defenders and is dangerous after the catch.
While his athleticism is slightly below what the Packers ideally look for in a first-round receiver, his other skills and attributes make him a great fit for Matt LaFleur’s offense.
The Packers would likely have to trade up to get him in the first round but will they be willing to do that in order to grab the receiver they covet?
Quentin Johnson, TCU
Johnson is a big receiver with the measurables the Packers love, but he may be too similar in size and skill set to Watson. Johnson is 6’4” and 215 pounds. He has elite speed and athleticism but did struggle at times to gain separation from corners in man coverage.
Johnson is an elite athlete but he’s also very raw and will need some time to adjust to the NFL. He’ll need some refinement but has the potential to become an elite receiver with the right coaching. His hands also need some work, but scouts said the same about Watson last year.
Johnson is also unlikely to be available when the Packers pick in the first round and his similarity to Watson may make them hesitate to pick him this year.
Josh Downs, North Carolina
Downs may be available in the second round and if he is, he’d be a very good fit for the Packers. The UNC alum is a vertical threat and a playmaker who can stretch the field. He has the elite athletic ability the Packers look for at receiver with an RAS score of 8.97.
In addition to possessing good speed, Downs is an expert at gaining an advantage on defenders with his footwork and quickness. He can make catches all over the field and is a precise route runner.
He’s only 5’10” and 172 pounds which means the Packers would have to go against their usual physical requirements for a wide receiver. He would be a great addition to the Packers as a slot receiver and could be a great addition in the middle of the field with Watson and Doubs lining up on the outside.
Jordan Addison, USC
Addison is slight at 6’0” and 175 pounds. He has good speed and was timed at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash and has excellent quickness to go with his speed. His route running and quickness make him adept at gaining separation from opposing defenders.
His lack of bulk and length makes it unlikely Packers GM Brian Gutekunst would go out of his way to take Addison in the first round.
Addison could be a very good receiver in the NFL, but unless he falls to the second round, it’s unlikely he’ll do it with the Packers.
Cedric Tillman, Tennessee
Tillman is big at 6’3” and 215 pounds and he has the athleticism the Packers love in receivers. He uses his size well to box out defenders and has good hands like his father before him.
Tillman also is a good blocker for a wide receiver and many scouts liken him to the skills of the recently departed Allen Lazard who the Packers need to replace. He’s not explosive and doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s tough, big and runs precise routes. He also knows how to patiently wait for his blockers on screens and short passes.
Tillman could be had later during day two or even early on day three. He’d be a good fit in the middle for the Packers and could do the little things that make scouts happy.
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