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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Zach Kruse

Day 2 should be ‘Help Jordan Love Day’ for Packers

The Green Bay Packers did not acquire a shiny new toy for Jordan Love during the first round of the 2023 draft. Big surprise. Instead of grabbing a pass-catcher, the Packers stuck to their tendencies and drafted Lukas Van Ness, a hulking, hyper-athletic edge rusher with huge upside.

Love needs help around him. No doubt about it. But football games are often won by the big guys, and premium picks are required to get the biggest, baddest and most athletic players. By measurables alone, Van Ness is one of the biggest and most athletic edge rushers in the entire class and a truly incredible blend of height, bulk, speed, power and agility. He’s nicknamed Hercules for a reason; Van Ness bull-rushed right through first-round offensive tackles Paris Johnson and Peter Skoronski on individual reps at Iowa. There just aren’t many human beings who are almost 275 pounds and run 4.5 in the 40-yard dash. For reference: Van Ness weighs over 100 pounds more than Minnesota Vikings first-round pick Jordan Addison, but he produced the same 10-yard split and a better three-cone. He’s a rare size and athleticism combo.

The edge rusher box has been checked. In Van Ness, the Packers have a long-term complement to Rashan Gary at a premium position on defense. He can develop over the next year or two and then become a full-time player, and the Packers will hope he follows the same developmental path as Gary, who started as a rotational player before emerging as a game-wrecking full-time player.

With a big guy at a premium position selected, the Packers can turn Day 2 of the draft into “Help Jordan Love Day.”

There are still good tight ends and wide receivers to be had, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Packers picked one of each position on Friday night. Brian Gutekunst has picks No. 42, No. 45 and No. 78.

The Packers’ history of taking excellent receivers on Day 2 is well-documented. Before Aaron Rodgers’ first season as a starter in 2008, Ted Thompson grabbed a receiver named Jordy Nelson in the second round. In 2014, Davante Adams was available at No. 53. Last year, an aggressive trade up landed Christian Watson. Maybe Gutekunst can strike gold again on Friday. He’ll have opportunities. Jonathan Mingo, Jalin Hyatt, Rashee Rice, A.T. Perry, Trey Palmer and Cedric Tillman all make sense for the Packers.

Only one tight end was selected in the first round. Michael Mayer, Luke Musgrave, Darnell Washington, Sam LaPorta and Tucker Kraft remain available entering Day 2. The tight ends might come flying off the board to start the second round, but the Packers are in a good position to either move up and target a specific player or sit tight and know at least one will fall to 42.

There’s a decent chance all three picks on Day 2 will come on the offensive side. The Packers have real needs at receiver, tight end, offensive tackle and even (long-term) at running back, and the depth of the class (and who is still available) aligns nicely with the team’s needs.

Gutekunst and the Packers did what they always do in the first round: Get the big, athletic dude at a premium position. Now, it’s time to follow another tendency: Get the pass-catcher (or two or three?) on Day 2. Welcome to the second and third rounds of the 2023 NFL draft, otherwise known as Help Jordan Love Day.

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