The Green Bay Packers are about to wrap up their second week of voluntary OTAs as the team continues to prepare for the 2023 NFL season. GM Brian Gutekunst added 13 players in the 2023 NFL Draft and Matt LaFleur and the coaching staff have been working with them throughout the past two weeks.
Here is a look at some draft picks who have been getting praise from the coaching staff and the media when they have been able to observe practices:
- Edge Lukas Van Ness
The Packers first round pick has looked strong thus far. Preston Smith was not at the first week of OTAs and Rashan Gary is still rehabbing his knee injury, so Van Ness has gotten plenty of reps in practice since the team gathered for OTAs. He’s even seen some time with the first-string defense.
Van Ness has spent a lot of time in the backfield and has used his strength to beat opposing offensive linemen on both the pass rush and running plays.
Van Ness still needs to develop secondary moves as a pass rusher to truly excel in the NFL, but so far, he’s looked the part and showed athleticism, promise and has done a good job of reading plays for a rookie.
- TE Luke Musgrave
Musgrave’s athleticism really turned heads this week at OTAs. He has shown his speed and ability to get downfield on numerous plays. In addition, his size worked to his advantage against several defenders trying to cover him.
Musgrave’s strong performance led to praise from LaFleur who said, “He is different. I think anytime with these young guys you’re going to try to throw as much at them this time of the year. But he’s a really, really intelligent player. If he makes a mistake, he definitely hasn’t made many of the same mistakes twice because he is super into it, very intentional, deliberate about his work, and invested.”
While it is still early in the offseason program, LaFleur is pleased with what he’s seen from the former Oregon State star. “He continues to show progress every day,” LaFleur continued. “Certainly, he does have an elite trait that he can flat fly, and he’s a big, long target. We are really excited about him and the progress he has made up to this point, and we have to continue to push him.”
Obviously, there’s a long way to go before a regular-season game, but Musgrave has already demonstrated he has the tools to succeed in the NFL and to create mismatches downfield.
- DLs Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks
Devonte Wyatt was not participating in practice at OTAs so that gave the two draft picks at the position, fourth-round pick Colby Wooden and sixth round pick Karl Brooks more chances to show what they can do when lining up with the first team defense.
There is little doubt they have impressed Kenny Clark, the team’s best defensive lineman. Clark told reporters that the two rookies have been learning the playbook quickly and looked explosive.
Wooden is an Auburn alum who gives defensive coordinator Joe Barry some options because of his ability to line up in different positions along the defensive line.
Brooks is making a bigger jump from Bowling Green to the NFL, but he also has showed some of the raw tools to be successful at the next level.
Both young defensive linemen need to improve their play recognition and to work on their pass rush moves to carve out a bigger role in the defense.
Obviously, there is only so much we can find out about these players at OTAs when the players are not hitting each other or even wearing pads. But OTAs is a big opportunity for rookies and draft picks to show coaches what they’re capable of and to take the learning process from what’s written in the playbook to the practice field.
So far, these four draft picks have made a positive impression on coaches, teammates and the media. There is still a long way to go before the season starts in September.
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