The Green Bay Packers have lost receiver Allen Lazard and tight end Robert Tonyan in free agency, and receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Marcedes Lewis might not be far behind on the departure trail. Altogether, the four veterans combined for 153 catches, 1,741 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022.
As the Packers transition to the Jordan Love era, it’s time to load up on pass-catchers at both receiver and tight end.
This turned into the focus of a new mock draft completed at PFF.
A few things to start:
– The Packers traded Aaron Rodgers and the No. 15 pick to the New York Jets for the 13th overall pick and both of New York’s second-round picks. We’ll see if the Packers can get this level of compensation for Rodgers. The Jets wouldn’t love this.
– This was a two-round mock draft simulation.
Smith-Njigba is a no-brainer pick at No. 13. He does everything at a high level and should be a high-volume pass-catcher early in his career. Given his ability in the slot, the Ohio State star is the perfect fit between Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs and an ideal player to help a first-year quarterback.
Having three second-round picks in a four-pick stretch would be huge. In this sim, McDonald fell to No. 42, making him an easy selection. He’s on the lighter side, but the Wisconsin native is an athletic edge rusher with a long history of disruptive production at Iowa State. He visited the Packers last week. Consistent pressure has to be a hallmark of the defense in 2023, and McDonald can be a situational rusher as a rookie and a long-term replacement for Preston Smith opposite Rashan Gary.
Now, let’s get weird. How about back-to-back picks at tight end? Washington, despite limited pass-catching production at Georgia, is the ideal Marcedes Lewis replacement as an inline tight end. LaPorta, despite playing in a broken Iowa offense, is the ideal Robert Tonyan replacement as the pass-catching move tight end. This is a lot to invest at tight end, but the position is too important in Green Bay, and having two young players at tight end to grow with Love could be huge long-term.
In four picks, the Packers would complete their new wide receiver trio, rebuild the tight end position and provide the defense with a new weapon at a premium position.
Will the Packers prioritize pass-catchers the same way come April? Who knows, but the draft class should provide options in the first round, and intriguing tight ends will be available at each pick on Day 1 and Day 2. The Packers coming out of this draft with at least one receiver and two tight ends sure seems likely.