The Green Bay Packers have had a long run of disappointing picks in the third round of the NFL Draft. Since Brian Gutekunst took over as GM in 2018, none of the players the Packers selected in the third round lived up to expectations and their status of a day two draft pick. But the Packers now have two candidates on the team who are in a position to break that third-round draft jinx.

The History of the Packers Third-Round Jinx

Gutekunst’s first selection in the third round was ILB Oren Burks. The former Vanderbilt star spent four seasons with the Packers but started a total of seven games on defense. Most of those were due to injuries to the starters ahead of him on the depth chart.

Burks was a mainstay on special teams, but never contributed much on defense. In 2022, he signed as a free agent with the 49ers where again he is a special teams ace and an occasional starter when injuries strike elsewhere.

In 2019, the Packers selected tight end Jace Sternberger. Due to a combination of injuries, suspensions, and other factors, Sternberger lasted just two seasons in Green Bay. He caught 12 passes for 114 yards and one touchdown. He started a total of one game and is now out of football.

The 2020 third-round pick was Josiah Deguara. The former University of Cincinnati star because an H-back/fullback combination but in four seasons, has caught a total of 47 passes. He has started only nine games thus far midway through his fourth season. Deguara is presently in the final year of his rookie contract.

The 2021 third rounder was wide receiver Amari Rodgers. Rodgers struggled to earn any role on offense. The former Clemson star had issues with fumbles and poor judgement on punt returns and kick returns. He caught eight passes for 95 yards with the Packers before they released him midway through the 2022 campaign.

Can Sean Rhyan Help Break the Packers Third Round Jinx?

In 2022, Gutekunst selected offensive lineman Sean Rhyan out of UCLA in the third round. Rhyan played tackle in college but was moved to guard in the NFL.

It’s an understatement to say Rhyan struggled during his rookie campaign. The position change and adjustment to the pro game slowed him in training camp and during the 2022 preseason.

He appeared in just one game as a rookie and played one snap on special teams. The NFL suspended Rhyan for the final six games of the season for violating the league’s PED policy.

But in his second year, Rhyan has made progress. He showed promise in the preseason although he was still behind Royce Newman on the depth chart at the start of the regular season. Eventually, however, Rhyan got his chance on offense.

Rhyan has played in six games thus far this season and has taken 34 snaps on offense. He has proven to be an aggressive run blocker on a team that has struggled with run blocking most of the season. His pass blocking still needs some improvement. That is what is likely keeping him behind Jon Runyan Jr., on the Packers depth chart.

Still, Rhyan has given the Packers hope that he could take over one of the starting guard spots either later this season or by the start of the 2024 campaign.

Tucker Kraft Is Getting a Chance to Shine

This year’s third-round pick was tight end Tucker Kraft. The South Dakota State alum spent most of the season behind Luke Musgrave on the depth chart. Early on, he was used mostly as a blocker and on special teams.

In recent weeks, Kraft started to assume a larger role in the offense. With Musgrave now injured, Kraft has taken over as the starter and has showed flashes of the run after catch ability that made him an intriguing day two selection.

Kraft nearly scored his first career NFL touchdown against the Chargers, but the replay showed he had stepped out of bounds. The play still went for a 27-yard gain, the longest catch of his career thus far.

Then against the Lions, Kraft caught another touchdown pass and this one counted. He has four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown in his last two games.

This larger role gives Kraft a chance to develop more chemistry with quarterback Jordan Love and to show the coaching staff what he can do.

The Packers have not had a third-round pick pan out in many years. Rhyan and Kraft are showing signs that they could break that slump very soon.





Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

Click here for more great Packers coverage