The Green Bay Packers surprised many people when they used both of their 2022 first round picks on defensive players. With the 22nd overall selection, the Packers drafted linebacker Quay Walker. Six picks later, GM Brian Gutekunst grabbed defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt. Both players attended Georgia and won the national championship with them a year ago.
Here are ten things we learned from the first day of the Packers 2022 NFL Draft:
- Gutekunst Didn’t Feel the Need to Pick a Wide Receiver in the First Round
The Packers apparently had six receivers with first-round grades on their draft board. There was a run on wide receivers early and they started flying off the board after Drake London went to the Falcons with the eighth overall pick. By the time the draft reached pick 18, six receivers had already been taken.
Gutekunst indicated he inquired about making a trade but the asking price was too high and he didn’t want to overpay.
The one thing we know about this year’s draft is there is depth at the wide receiver position. Expect the Packers to add a wideout on day two of the draft and probably another on day three.
- The Packers Picked Positions They Had Recently Not Emphasized
The Packers selected an inside linebacker and an interior defensive lineman in the first round. The last time the Packers picked a defensive lineman in round 1 was Kenny Clark back in 2016. The last time they used a first round pick on an inside linebacker was Nick Barnett in 2003. The Packers did select A.J. Hawk in 2006 but Hawk was initially an outside linebacker who moved inside in his fourth NFL season after the Packers drafted Clay Matthews.
These are positions the team has not emphasized in recent years and it has hurt them, especially when trying to defend the run. These two additions should help the team in that area.
- Quay Walker Is An Elite Athlete
Walker is 6’4” and weighs 245 pounds. He has excellent quickness off the snap of the ball and the ability to cover tight ends on passing plays. His speed allows him to make tackles all over the field and he has a good feel for zone coverages on passing plays as well.
Gutekunst likes to draft athletic specimens in the first round even if they haven’t been as productive statistically in college. In that regard, Walker is similar to Rashan Gary, another recent first-round pick by the Packers.
- Walker Has Special Teams Experience
Walker was a one-year starter at Georgia but he also played extensively on special teams during his time with the Bulldogs. Even if Walker is not ready to start on defense right away or sees limited defensive snaps as a rookie, his speed and experience will allow him to contribute to Green Bay’s special teams and that’s something the team really needs to upgrade.
- Walker is Coachable
Most scouts feel that Walker is coachable and is a fast learner. He will need to improve his ability to read plays quickly which was a concern of some scouts entering the draft. The more experience he gets, the better he will get at this.
- Devonte Wyatt Is Also Quick Off the Ball
Wyatt is an explosive player off the snap of the ball who can get penetration at the line of scrimmage and disrupt running plays. He had seven tackles for loss in his final season at Georgia.
The Packers envision him combining with Clark to give the team a dangerous pair of interior linemen. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry will eventually be able to line up Wyatt and Clark at different places along the line to take advantage of matchups against opposing blockers.
- Wyatt Has a Good Work Ethic
Wyatt has a good work ethic and a non-stop motor. He rarely takes plays off and doesn’t give up on plays. He can use his strong upper body on running plays to gain an advantage on blockers and get to opposing ball carriers.
- Wyatt Is Older
Like many prospects from this year’s draft, Wyatt is a little older than your typical rookie. He is already 24 which means he would be 29 if the Packers exercise their fifth-year option on him when the time comes.
The age factor didn’t scare off Gutekunst and the Packers in this case.
- Off Field Issues
Wyatt did have some off-the-field issues two years ago and was arrested. All the charges were eventually dropped and there have been no incidents since then. The Packers did do a deep dive into Wyatt’s personality and the incident and apparently felt confident that Wyatt would be OK going forward.
- The Packers Have Emphasized Defense
Since the team traded Davante Adams, the Packers have emphasized fortifying their defense. They used the money that became available after Adams left to re-sign LB De’Vondre Campbell and CB Rasul Douglas. They also added defensive lineman Jarran Reed as a free agent and now spent their first two draft picks on defensive players.
With Aaron Rodgers getting older and the Packers possessing a great one-two punch at running back, making the defense even better does make sense.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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