The 2022 NFL Draft is almost here and the Green Bay Packers are stocked with two picks in both the first and second rounds. Overall, GM Brian Gutekunst presently has four of the top 59 picks in this year’s draft.
This is the next in a series of articles looking at players the Packers may be interested in selecting at this year’s draft. The only players listed here are realistic possibilities for the Packers to pick at 22 and 28 or if they trade up or down slightly from that spot.
Today we will examine wide receivers. This is by far the Packers’ biggest and most immediate need. Both Davante Adams and Marque Valdes-Scantling are gone and the Packers lack a bona fide WR1 on their roster at this time.
Green Bay did sign free agent Sammy Watkins to a one-year, incentive-laden contract which improves the position but doesn’t really alleviate the need for both short-term and long-term upgrades at this position.
Other returning players include Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers. Cobb and Rodgers are both at their best in the slot. Lazard is a steady receiver and one of the better blockers at the position. None of these three can really stretch the field and the Packers need to replace the speed that MVS provided.
There are five and perhaps six legitimate first-round receivers in this draft. The question is who will still be there when the Packers get on the board at 22? Will Gutekunst trade up to get the one receiver he truly covets or will he wait to see who is still available when the Packers are on the clock?
Expect the Packers to select more than one wide receiver in this draft with another player possible on day two and on day three. The Packers may trade for a receiver or add another moderately-priced free agent but this is the team’s biggest area of need.
So here is a list of possible wide receivers the Packers may take in the first round. They are not listed in any particular order:
Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Wilson is a smooth route runner with good hands and a versatile skill set. He may not have ideal height at 6’ and 185 pounds, but he is very dangerous after the catch and is tough to bring down once the ball gets to him.
He can line up in different spots on the field and because of his ability after the catch, you can see Matt LaFleur scheming up plays that would get him the ball in space and let him loose on opposing defenses.
Wilson may be best suited for the slot early in his career and that is perhaps the one area the Packers don’t have an immediate need for with Cobb and Amari Rodgers best suited for that position.
Overall, Wilson is considered the best all-around receiver in this year’s draft by many analysts.
Drake London, USC
London has the size the Packers have looked for in wide receivers at 6’4” and 210. He thrives on catching contested balls and has excellent hands. His size and upper-body strength make it difficult for most cornerbacks to stop him physically.
The former USC star also has a good understanding of routes and knows how to find the soft spot in a zone defense.
The biggest concern about London is his lack of initial burst. It takes time for him to get up to full speed which means he may not be as open on short routes. Also, while London is very good at catching contested balls, if he didn’t consistently get substantial separation in college, how will he fare against faster and more talented NFL cornerbacks?
London’s upside is substantial but the concern is if he can’t get enough separation on defensive backs, he may disappoint in the NFL.
Chris Olave, Ohio State
Olave has a little Davante Adams in him in that he does a good job of gaining an advantage on defensive backs by running precise routes and disguising his intentions at the snap of the ball. His hands are excellent and he can line up in several different spots on the field.
The question about Olave is how much better can he get? He may not have as much ceiling as some of the other receivers at the top of this draft class. At 6’ and 190 pounds, he’s got only average size and was not often the number one receiver at Ohio State.
Olave is likely going to be a solid NFL receiver, but will he develop into a star or even just a solid WR1 or is he more like a WR2? That remains to be seen.
George Pickens, Georgia
Pickens has good height at 6’3” and possesses the speed to get deep. He could be a replacement for MVS in that regard.
There is some injury concern with Pickens. He tore his ACL during spring football in 2021 but managed to return to the lineup and play four games last season.
Pickens is an outside receiver and if he can learn to run more precise routes, he could diversify his skill set. Pickens could use a little more upper-body strength, but he gets good separation and has the ability to go up and get high throws especially against smaller defensive backs.
If his knee checks out, Pickens can be an immediate deep threat with the ability to develop into a more well-rounded receiver.
Jameson Williams, Alabama
Williams has outstanding speed and hand and good size at 6’1”. The big issue with Williams is that he is coming off a torn ACL he suffered in the national championship game in January.
Williams can get deep with the best of them and runs good patterns on short and intermediate routes as well. He does a good job of separating from defenders and is very good running with the ball after the catch.
He may need to add a little upper body strength to maximize his ability in the NFL. He weighs 190 pounds but can use a little more muscle to fight off physical NFL defensive backs. Williams also had only one strong season in college, catching only 15 total passes in his first two NCAA seasons.
Of all the receivers in this year’s draft, Williams may have the most upside but may not be ready to start the season at full strength. Would he be worth the gamble for the Packers?
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