The Packers have a lot of needs. Not just at starting roles like cornerback, offensive tackle, and defensive line, but also at spots like safety where they have good starters, but nothing in the way of backups.
That alone would make this a good year to trade back for extra picks, but when you consider that this draft class is full of guys who haven’t played much in the last year and have limited development and film, it makes it an even better year to trade back. With so many unknowns, having more swings at the plate can go a long way.
Now, it’s no secret that I love trading back, but I try not to do it too much because I want to use mock drafts as an opportunity to explore what players might be available to the Packers. However, it’s also fun to see what trades might be available and this still gives us insights into what players may be available in which ranges.
Going into this draft, I said that if I got good offers to trade back, I would take them.
I didn’t expect so many good offers, though.
Here are the results:
*Trade* – Falcons
Falcons traded Round 2 Pick 3 (#35) and Round 3 Pick 4 (#68) for Round 1 Pick 29 (#29) – they took Tyson Campbell (CB)
*Trade* – Giants
Giants traded Round 2 Pick 10 (#42) and Round 3 Pick 12 (#76) for Round 2 Pick 3 (#35, from Atlanta) – they took Trevon Moehrig (S)
*Trade* – Vikings
Vikings traded Round 3 Pick 14 (#78) and Round 3 Pick 26 (#90) for Round 2 Pick 30 (#59) – they took Shaun Wade (CB)
Zaven Collins – Inside Linebacker
Profile: This guy can do it all. He’s big, physical and can cover sideline to sideline. He can thump downhill to stop the run and he can drop back into coverage, heck, he’s good enough to rush off the edge. His biggest “weakness” is only being a solid tackler. A smart player, he came up with big plays all year (including 4 interceptions with 2 ran back for touchdowns), and was PFF’s highest-rated college linebacker with a 91.1 score.
Analysis: Inside Linebacker isn’t the biggest need for the Packers, not by a long shot, but Collins was easily the best player on the board. Given that I had a lot of extra draft picks, I felt good taking someone who is a bit of a luxury pick, even though the team has so many needs. Collins would immediately add a dimension that this defense has been lacking: a big, fast inside linebacker that can stop the run, rush the passer, and play in coverage.
*Trade* – Chargers
Chargers traded Round 3 Pick 13 (#77) and Round 3 Pick 33 (#97) for Round 3 Pick 4 (#68) – they took Liam Eichenberg (OT)
Aaron Robinson – Cornerback
Profile: Aaron Robinson started his college career at Alabama but transferred to get more playing time at UCF. At 6’1 190, he has the frame to play outside and was successful there but also looked great logging snaps at the big slot position which is becoming so popular. A physical press corner good at diagnosing route, he lacks elite speed. He plays ball well despite only 1 interception in 4 years, and was glued to guys all through Senior Bowl practices. If he was faster he’d be a 1st round pick.
Analysis: Trading back is great for grabbing additional players, but the downside is that the talent level tends to drop off as more players are taken. One of the reasons I took Collins with my first pick instead of a cornerback (which I think is their top need) was because I thought Ifeatu Melifonwu (my favorite Day 2 cornerback) would be available, since he had never been taken that high by another team in any of the other drafts I’ve run. Well, there’s a first time for everything. I missed out on Melifonwu, but Aaron Robinson is a nice consolation prize. He would step right in as the default starter with the ability to play outside or in the slot. In a defense that is weak at defensive back depth, this kind of flexibility will come in really handy.
Teven Jenkins – Offensive Tackle
Profile: A beastly, powerful gym rat, the 6’6 320 Jenkins is a road grader that plays with attitude. He engages with quick hands and drives hard in run blocking, always looking for a strong finish. He isn’t the prototypical athlete for zone blocking, but he does have enough athleticism to be a fine pass blocker. He has a quick kick step to cut off edge rushers and only allowed 4 pressures in 211 pass blocking snaps. However, that came in a quick strike offense and he will need some coaching to work on sustained pass blocking techniques.
Analysis: The Packers have needs on offense, too. Even before the Buccaneers embarrassed the Packers backup offensive linemen in the NFC Championship Game, the offensive line was showing some need. With starting right tackle Rick Wagner cut, a pick like Jenkins would allow Turner and Jenkins to remain a top guard tandem without a big drop off at right tackle.
Levi Unwuzurike – Defensive Line
Profile: With a great first step, the long, athletic Unuwuzurike, plays with leverage and leg drive. He doesn’t have the jumpy twitch you’d like to see, but he has power that shows up in good gap control and a strong anchor. Unwuzurike shows a natural feel for finding the ball carrier in the run game. After being hailed as and All American candidate before the season, he opted to sit out. He only practiced one day at the Senior Bowl, but he didn’t look like the time off hurt him at all.
Analysis: Defensive Line has arguably been the Packers weakest position group for a few years running. Kenny Clark is a bona fide stud (Even is his impact doesn’t show up on the box score) but the Packers desperately need to get him more help if they want to have a top tier defense. The Packer did retain Preston Smith, which would give them the flexibility to play Rashan Gary on the line, but they still need at least one more guy and Unwuzurike would be fit with the Packers defensive philosophy, which values power for speed on the line.
Eric Stokes – Cornerback
Profile: In three years, Eric Stokes has allowed a total of 53.4% completions. He’s good in man coverage, especially when pressing, but is even better in zone. Whatever the coverage, he plays physical, but can get grabby at the top of routes. He is fast – really fast. He ran a 4.25 40 (which was just 0.03 seconds off the all time record) but doesn’t seem to be great with cuts or change of direction, so if a guy beats his press, he’s susceptible to double moves (though he has great recovery speed). Sometimes inconsistent playing the ball, he still had 4 picks and 2 touchdowns in 2020. At 6’1, he’s also a solid red zone defender.
Analysis: The Packers need at least two more corners. They have to replace Kevin King and they have to get someone to play nickel. Grabbing Aaron Robinson earlier was nice, but giving him some competition in Stokes should do wonders for a secondary that looked thin and worn in the season-ending loss.
Dyami Brown – Wide Receiver
Profile: A productive receiver, Brown had 2,000 yards, 20 TDs, and 20 yards per catch over his last two seasons. At 6’1 195 can play wide or in slot and has shown the ability to run routes from anywhere. He has good playing speed and can get deep like few others in this class. Great at tracking the ball, he does a good job reacting waiting patiently and reacting late to keep cornerbacks guessing. He explodes off the line with releases so smooth they look slower than they are.
Analysis: The Packers like taller receivers and need the versatility that Brown provides. He can line up anywhere and run routes from anywhere, which is what Matt LaFleur’s offense needs. The Packers have a wide receiver group that is more than good enough to win a title with, but they need reinforcements since all of them are coming up on their contract year. Brown can contribute immediately, but with a year to learn the offense, will be more valuable in 2022.
Quinn Meinerz – Guard/Center
Profile: A relative unknown coming into the offseason, Meinerz, from D3 UW-Whitewater, raised a lot of eyebrows with a dominating belly-out performance at the Senior Bowl. After breaking his hand in practice, he still wanted to play, showing off his toughness. During the pandemic shutdown, he lined up trash cans in his backyard and taught himself to snap so he could also play center. Later, his lumberjack-style training videos surfaced and he became a living meme. The fact of the matter is that Meinerz was a good football player before all the crazy stories broke. He was the team MVP on a national-championship level team as an offensive lineman. Very strong, he’s a good run blocker, and he’s just athletic enough to hold up against top competition. He has fast, strong hands and reacts quick to pass rush moves. He was playing and developing at an obscure school and needed all the hype to get the attention he deserves. What remains to be seen is if the hype has gone too far. Meinerz looks like a very good interior lineman, but teams will need to make sure they trust their game film instead of the social media clips.
Analysis: Even if the Packers get a starting tackle, they could use better depth on the inside in case Jenkins or Turner need to slide to the outside when Bakhtiari is rehabbing. Meinerz would provide that and also give them a viable challenger to the starting center spot. All the lumberjack clips and “local boy makes good” stories won’t matter when the pads come on, but he looks starter worthy and would probably be the top-selling jersey out of the Packers rookie class.
Amari Rodgers – Wide Receiver
Profile: Amari Rodgers will probably need to play the slot at 5’10. But at 210 pounds, his muscular frame helps him fight for separation. He runs good routes and shows great hand extension, allowing him to be effective in close quarters with underneath routes where a quarterback will need to lead him to space. Despite his height deficiency, he’s a feisty blocker. At the Senior Bowl, he really shined, consistently getting separation with hustle and timing.
Analysis: Brown was a nice pick who could become an immediate starter. Rodgers may not challenge for a starting role right away, but he could definitely find sub-package snaps and carve out a niche in this offense. Next year, he would give the Packers another receiving option when the rest of the corp is up for free agency and the cap is super tight.
Tommy Togiai – Defensive Line
Profile: Tommy Tagiai started off as a rotational run stuffer for 2 years, then became a starter in 20201 and looked like a far more complete defensive lineman. He racked up 21 pressures in 7 games, while maintaining a high level of play against the run. At 6’2 300, he isn’t a giant, but he’s good at twisting with leverage and wrestling in the trenches. Good change of direction skills help him chase down ball carriers on plays were many lineman just give up. He doesn’t get moved in 1×1 situations and can shoot gaps with a quick first step.
Analysis: The Packers need line depth. Even if they move Gary to end and draft anther end to start, the group needs more help. Kingsley Keke has flashed, but has not yet proven to be a full-time option. Togiai would build depth at defensive line.
Benjamin St-Juste – Cornerback
Profile: At 6’3, 200 with an 80″ wingspan, Benjamin St-Juste has one of the best frames in this cornerback class. He uses his leverage to disrupts routes at the line and, even though his ball skills aren’t great (0 interceptions in college), he plays with attitude and is physical at the catch point. He doesn’t have the short area quickness or change of direction to cover the slot, but he does hold up on the outside and can lend run support on the edge. He looked great against a deep wide receiver class at the Senior Bowl and came away as the highest-graded cornerback in coverage.
Analysis: The Packers need competition and depth at cornerback and taking three this year wouldn’t be out of the question, especially with so many picks. St-Juste is the kind of mid-round guy that looks like he could be a surprise starter. Best off all, he would give the team a big body option on the outside.
Jermar Jefferson – Running Back
Profile: Jefferson is a productive back who had an impressive 6.5 yards per carry last year. A 5’10 215 back with compact power, he had 27 rushing touchdowns in 27 career games. He shows good vision in finding holes and good balance through contact. Great feet and jump cuts, he’s explosive, wiggly, and plays faster than he times.
Analysis: Aaron Jones is back and AJ Dillon looked like a capable RB2 in limited snaps last year, but both these guys are injury risks. Jefferson would provide solid rotational snaps to save wear on Jones and Dillon, and he could step in as a solid RB2 if there’s an injury. The best part is that his running style is a great complement to the Packers zone blocking scheme.
Robert Hainsey – Offensive Tackle
Profile: Robert Hainsey is a polished product brimming with raw power. His mobility is average, but he plays very smart. He gets into his pass sets quick and shows quick processing in stunt pickups. The widest edge rushers give him some problems, which makes him a better fit on the right side than the left. He played both sides and guard at Senior Bowl practices and looked very consistent against the highest levels of college competition.
Analysis: If the Packers trade down and pick up extra selections, offensive line is one of the best places they will be able to add depth and competition. This is a deep tackle class and the Packers only option coming into the draft is to move a guard. Picking a few linemen in a deep class of tackles would give them the extra security they need with Bakhtiari’s status uncertain.
Damar Hamlin – Safety
Profile: A freak athlete, Hamlin had a fantastic 2018 season, then missed 2019 with an ACL injury, and was banged up in 2020. At 6’0 205, he has decent size and plays with great instincts. Always around the ball, he has good timing to make contact as ball arrives and had 6 pass break ups in limited duty last year. He plays physical in the box and looked good covering tight ends in the slot. Injuries are the biggest concern.
Analysis: The Packers have a phenomenal due of starting safeties, but very little depth. Hamlin is a versatile safety who could step in for an injury and also add value on special teams.
Rico Bussey, Jr – Wide Receiver
Profile: Bussey had 1000 yards and 12 touchdown in 2018 and looked like he was on his was to stardom. Then he tore his ACL in 2019, then came back to a shortened 2020. Even with limited playing time, he’s proven to be an explosive big play guy. He’s 6’3 210 and quick enough to create space off the line. He’ll have some drops, but he can get deep and run after the catch, making him an enticing prospect.
Analysis: Much like Hamlin with the previous pick, injuries cloud Bussey’s evaluation. At worst, he’s a talented prospect at a position that needs depth. If healthy, he also looks like a special teams contributor, and the Packers could definitely use that.
The Packers have been losing due to defense and this draft would give them a huge jolt.
Collins, Robinson, and Onwuzurike would give them three new starters – all upgrades – at each level. Stokes, St-Juste, and Togiai add depth on top of it.
The offensive line would get an influx of depth as well with Jenkins probably starting, Meinerz maybe starting, and Hainsey possibly starting if Bakhtiari isn’t ready for the start of the season. Even with all those holes filled, this draft still gave the skill positions a lot of depth with Brown, Rodgers, and Jefferson.
At the end of the draft, Hamlin and Bussey give the team some athletic guys to develop. If healthy, the could both contribute on special teams – which is a need that not many people talk about.
Overall, this is a fantastic haul and illustrates why I love trading down.
The Bears took Trey Lance in this one, which could make things interesting in the division long-term.
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