The Green Bay Packers enter the 2023 NFL Draft with the 15th overall pick in the first round and one pick each in the second and third rounds. GM Brian Gutekunst may get additional early picks once the Aaron Rodgers trade with the Jets or another team goes through although we still don’t know if that will happen before this year’s draft.
While some fans want the Packers to trade up and grab one of the top talents available in this draft, it may make a lot more sense for the team to trade back from 15th and acquire more picks in the process.
Obviously, this will depend on how the board falls. If there is one player left at 15 that the Packers consider to be elite, that fills a need and will not be available if they trade back a few spots, they will take the player and not trade back. But otherwise, the move would make sense for the Packers right now.
Here are four reasons the Packers should consider trading back in the first round of this year’s draft unless one of the elite players they covet is still on the board at 15.
- The Packers Have a Lot of Needs
The Packers have plenty of needs to fill after losing free agents like Allen Lazard, Jarran Reed, Dean Lowry and Adrian Amos. The Packers don’t have the cap space to sign high-priced free agents to replace these players so drafting their eventual replacements becomes a must.
The Packers’ needs include a backup quarterback, a running back who can play a big role by 2024, wide receivers and tight ends who can contribute right away, offensive line depth, defensive line help, edge rushers, safeties and a kicker.
Simply put, the more picks the Packers can accumulate, the more chances they will have to fill these holes, so trading back a few spots in the first round to accumulate more picks in the second, third or fourth rounds would help the Packers do just that.
- The 2023 Draft Is Deep But Not Filled With Elite Players
The 2023 NFL Draft is not a top-heavy group. There are not many players judged by scouts to be potentially elite but there are a lot of good to very good players available.
The strength and value of this draft, according to experts, is the late first round, second round and third round. That means there will not be a huge difference between players available at 15 and players still on the board at 18 or 21. There is also a group of players who are ranked roughly the same that will carry the draft through the second and even into the third round.
Again, the Packers will get more value with a pick a few spots back in the first round that could yield them some additional day two picks since that coincides with the value available in this draft.
- The Packers Are a Team In Transition
Once Aaron Rodgers is traded, the Packers will take on a large dead cap hit. The last few years, the Packers kept restructuring contracts to try to keep the core of a contending team together. They also gave Rodgers a poorly structured contract that is now going to hurt the team’s cap situation more in the short run but by next year (assuming Rodgers is traded before June 1st) they should be clear of that cap crisis.
This is Jordan Love’s first year as a starter. In Rodgers’ first season as the starter, the team finished with a 6-10 record just one year after a 13-3 finish and a trip to the NFC Championship Game.
Love will need some time to adjust to the starting job and to show what he can do. Trading up for an elite player is something that is done by teams that are contenders and are one great player away from taking that next step. The Packers aren’t there anymore and should accumulate as many players as possible to replenish the depth and talent on this team as they put more talent around Love.
- Draft Picks Give the Packers Cap Relief
The Packers have been in cap hell lately, robbing Peter to pay Paul each offseason as they scrambled to stay under the cap ceiling. Adding more talented, young players on entry-level contracts makes the team less expensive and gives them a chance to retool the roster and have talent in place when Love is more comfortable as the starter.
The goal should be similar to the 1995 draft when they had four third-round picks and ended up with four starting players and two Pro Bowlers in Antonio Freeman, William Henderson, Darius Holland and Brian Williams. Those players all contributed to the team’s Super Bowl win a year later.
The Packers can get cap relief and replenish their roster in an inexpensive way by adding more draft picks and having more bites at the apple so to speak.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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