The Green Bay Packers continued to add new talent on day three of the 2023 NFL Draft. The team was busy on day three, adding nine more players to compete for positions in training camp.
Throughout the third day of the draft, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst added players that would provide depth and have the potential to contribute on special teams while they develop into potential starters once they gain NFL experience.
Last year, players like Romeo Doubs and Zach Tom contributed extensively as rookies even though they were day three picks.
Here are 10 things we learned from day three of the Packers 2023 NFL Draft:
- The Packers Reinforced the Defensive Line
The Packers added a pair of defensive linemen on day three which is a position the team was thin at and needed reinforcements. In the fourth round, they added Colby Wooden and then tabbed Karl Brooks of Bowling Green with their first selection in Round 6.
Wooden is a quick and versatile player who can line up anywhere across the line. He had six sacks and three forced fumbles last season. He should be a part of the defensive line rotation and will probably help the team’s run defense initially. Wooden has potential as a pass rusher but will need to add some moves.
Brooks may have the potential to add some pass rush from the interior line. He’s quick and led Bowling Green in sacks for five straight seasons. He could develop into a disruptive force in the middle of the line but is making a large jump from the MAC conference to the NFL.
- The Packers Likely Drafted Mason Crosby’s Replacement
If fans had any doubts about Mason Crosby’s possible return, the selection of Anders Carlson of Auburn in the 6th round should dispel any doubts about that. One of Carlson’s strengths is the depth he gets on kickoffs. He had a 58 percent touchback percentage during his career at Auburn.
He stands 6’5” and weighs 219 pounds. His brother Daniel was drafted by the Vikings and earned All Pro honors with the Raiders last season.
Carlson will battle Parker White for the kicking job in training camp.
- The Packers Didn’t Address the Safety Position Until Round 7
Safety was considered one of the team’s biggest areas of need entering the draft, but the Pack didn’t select a safety until the seventh and final round when they added Anthony Johnson, Jr. of Iowa State. Johnson started at cornerback before transitioning to safety and slot in 2022. He reads the run well and can help on special teams.
Still, safety remains an area that needs an upgrade before the start of the season either by signing an undrafted free agent or adding a veteran at the position.
- The Packers Drafted a Quarterback to Backup Jordan Love
In the fifth round, Gutekunst drafted Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford. Clifford has excellent leadership qualities and mobility. He can run the RPO and pass on the move. His average arm strength is why he fell to the fifth round and while he can throw short and medium and to the middle of the field, he struggles more on deep throws and sideline patterns.
He can be a heady backup who will need time to develop better footwork and the ability to read defenses to maximize his chances in the NFL. Expect him to fight for the backup position behind Jordan Love.
- The Packers Did Not Draft an Offensive Lineman
For the first time since 2015, the Packers did not select an offensive lineman in the entire draft. Offensive tackle was thought to be a need with the contract status of both David Bakhtiari and Yosh Nijman uncertain beyond this season. But other positions took priority, and the Packers did not select any offensive linemen after adding three in each of the last three drafts.
- The Packers Added a Running Back Late on Day Three
Running back was considered a secondary need as the A.J. Dillon’s contract is up after 2023 and Aaron Jones is slowly approaching the age where he’ll be considered old for a running back. Jones’ contract may also be prohibitive after this season although he has renegotiated in the past and agreed to a pay cut before.
In the seventh round, the Packers added Lew Nichols III out of Central Michigan. Nichols had a monster season in 2021, gaining 1,848 yards rushing and scoring 16 touchdowns and was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year. A nagging toe injury slowed him down in 2022 and caused him to miss three games and parts of some others.
Nichols can catch the football out of the backfield and is a willing blocker on pass plays although his technique needs some work. He is only 5’10” but he’s thick and weighs 220 pounds and may compete for the third running back spot.
- The Packers Added Two More Receivers
Gutekunst often drafts players in bunches at the same position when he feels it’s a need and for the second straight year, he selected three receivers in this draft. After using a second-round pick on Jayden Reed on Friday, they added Dontayvion Wicks of Virginia in the fifth round and Grant DuBose of Charlotte in the seventh.
Wicks also played basketball. He thrived in his junior year, catching 57 passes for 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns but the team installed a new offense in 2022 and he struggled in it, falling off to 30 catches for just 430 yards.
At 6’1” and 205 pounds, he’s athletic and has the size the Packers look for in a receiver.
DuBose is even bigger at 6’2” and runs fluid patterns. He also has experience as a punt returner but will be making a big jump from Charlotte to the NFL.
- The Packers Drafted One Cornerback on Day Three
The Packers added cornerback Carrington Valentine with their first pick in the seventh round. At 5’11” and 193 pounds, he lacks the ideal size the Packers prefer at the position, but he has long arms and a nose for the football. He broke up 11 passes in 2022.
Valentine was also a regular contributor on kick and punt coverage last season which could increase his chances of making the team if he can impress special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
- The Packers Continue to Draft Athletes with Potential Upside
As a general pattern, Gutekunst continues to take athletic players with potential upside over players with gaudy college statistics who may not be elite athletes. The general philosophy is that with proper coaching, these athletes have a higher ceiling.
- The Packers Added Six Players Who Could Be Offensive Weapons for Jordan Love
While the Packers still went for defense in Round 1, six of the 13 players they added in this year’s draft were weapons for their new starting quarterback. The Packers added three wide receivers, two tight ends and a running back and then added another two tight ends and two wide receivers as undrafted free agents.
Clearly, this was a priority for Gutekunst in this year’s draft.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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