Packers 2021 Mock Draft 13 – Trading Up For What

The Packers are in win-now mode after making a bold move to re-sign Aaron Jones (read: The Logic Behind Re-Signing Aaron Jones) and Brian Gutekunst has traded up in the 1st round in each of his three years as GM.

Will he do it again this year?

Who knows.

But if they do, the trade value chart says the highest the Packers could reasonably get by packing their 1st and 2nd round picks together would be #19 overall.

We ran our 13th mock of the year to see what would happen if the Packers got aggressive in moving up as high as possible in the 1st round. Could the Packers find a difference-maker early? Could they still fill all their needs?

Here are the results:

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Round 1

*Trade* – Washington Football Team
Packers traded Round 1 Pick 29 (#29) and Round 2 Pick 30 (#62) for Round 1 Pick 19 (#19)

Jaycee Horn – Cornerback
Profile: A blazing fast junior who ran a 4.39, Horn, at 6’1 205 has all the physical tools to be the top cornerback in this draft. He plays a very disruptive press technique and, even though he needs some work on his mirror technique, he only allowed 8 catches in 7 games last year. A hustle player, he came up with 16 tackles despite only allowing 8 receptions and really doesn’t have many shortcomings in his game.

Analysis: The Packers biggest need, by far, is cornerback, where they don’t currently have a viable starter opposite Jaire Alexander. Horn is a premium talent worth trading up for and would give the Packers a huge upgrade at CB2, which is the position most-often blamed for the failure to win the Super Bowl last year. In a year where the Packers are going all in by restructuring contracts and backloading deals, a move up in the 1st round to get a premium player at a position of need is not out of the question.

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Round 2

No picks due to trade

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Round 3

Talanoa Hufanga – Safety
Profile: Versatile and athletic, Hufanga did it all in college. Safety, slot corner, linebacker, pass rusher, he lined up all over and never looked our of place. Good range on the back end with improved ball skills, he netted 4 interceptions in 6 games last year. At 6’1 215, he’s an aggressive tackler with strong run support.

Analysis: The offensive and defensive lines were picked over at this point, as was the deep wide receiver class, which underscores the risk in using high picks to trade up (especially when you have as many needs as the Packers do). Still, there are good players and Hufanga is one of them. Safety may not seem like a clear need, but a versatile player like this can pay big dividends. The Packers (along with most of the league) love lining up in nickel and a player that can play linebacker or slot as easily as safety can make sure a team never gets stuck in sub packages.

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Round 4

Trey Hill – Center/Guard
Profile: A massive interior lineman, the 6’3 330 Hill plays with power and is not easily moved. He doesn’t have exceptional movement ability, but he can get to second level and punishes linebackers. Has played guard, but struggles with lateral rushers make him a better fit at center where he can hit nose tackles and work combo blocks.

Analysis: The Packers have some in-house potential options at center, but a power player like Hill could be a talent upgrade over any of them. If nothing else, the Packers could use interior help in case Jenkins or Turner need to step out to tackle on a line that lacks certainty. It would have been preferable to grab a tackle earlier, but trading up makes it hard to plug every hole, making this the best option at this point.

 

Bobby Brown III – Defensive Line
Profile: Another powerful lineman, the 6’4 315 Brown is quick out of his blocks with a powerful punch and the ability to drive blockers backwards. He wins with power and has the ability to stand up double teams. While he moves ok, he’s not a twitchy guy who could turn the edge, just a force on the inside.

Analysis: Even if the Packers spend all game in nickel, they need another defensive lineman to put next to Kenny Clark. While Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary have the ability to rotate between edge and line, a guy like Brown could play line full time and save their edge rushers the pounding of playing the interior.

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Round 5

Josh Imatorbhebhe – Wide Receiver
Profile: An athletic, raw, receiver, Imatorbhebhe can work underneath and get deep, but needs work on developing his route tree. At 6’2 215, he has a big catch radius and looks like one of the best receivers at handling back shoulder throws in this class. Physical at the point of catch and running with the ball, he’s an intriguing prospect that needs some polish, but could become a gem.

Analysis: The Packers have good enough receivers to win with, but they’re all free agents after this season. A raw player like Imatorbhebhe could be a nice find on Day 3 if they could develop him from the bench in 2021 to be a future starter.

 

Joshaua Kaindoh – Edge
Profile: A beastly physical specimen at 6’7 265, Kaindoh was a highly touted freshman, but missed parts of 2017 and 2018, along with most of 2019, due to injuries, then turned in an under-productive 2020 campaign. When he plays, he violently attacks the edge with his frame. He has strong cross chops and inside outside moves, but not a lot of counters. He’s a monster who has suffered too many injuries to provide consistent production.

Analysis: The Packers have some good edge rushers in Rashan Gary and the Smith Brothers, but they all play different roles and looming cap troubles could mean losing one in the near future. Kaindoh isn’t a ready-made starter, but he has a frame that would give the defense a dimension it doesn’t currently have at the edge position. He could develop into a future rotational player or hit his ceiling and stay healthy to provide a strong edge presence that would allow Gary or Za’Darius to take more snaps on the line. With the Brown pick a round earlier, the Packers would have a lot of options in the front 7. He’s a highly gifted injury case, making him a typical Day 3 flier.

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Round 6

Tre McKitty – Tight End
Profile: An athletic pass catcher without elite speed, the 6’4 250 Tre McKitty has natural hands and catches through contact. He’s still improving as a route runner and blocker, where he showing willingness and steady growth. More of a receiver at this point, McKitty is tough to bring down after the catch because he moves well and has some power to go with his size.

Analysis: Tight End could become a need for the Packers, as Bob Tonyan’s status is still up in the air, Marcedes Lewis is unsigned, Jace Sternberger hasn’t flourished, and Josaiah Deguara is coming off an injury. McKitty has the kind of versatility that fits a LaFleur offense and could provide solid depth and a special teams presence.

 

Garrett Wallow – Inside Linebacker
Profile: A former safety, Wallow is a hybrid tweener with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. He can cover zone like a defensive back and hit like a linebacker, but he struggles to disengage from blockers like a defensive back and has a hard time covering slot man-to-man like a linebacker. Still, he flies to the ball and moves like a safety even at 6’2 230 and is a strong finisher.

Analysis: The Packers don’t have a lot of depth at inside linebacker and the top of the depth chart is full of guys like Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin, who are more thumpers than range guys like Wallow. In addition to giving them some flexibility at linebacker, Wallow looks like he has the skills to be a big contributor on core special teams.

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Round 7

Feleipe Franks – Quarterback
Profile: A big, mobile project, the 6’6 235 Franks ran a lot of zone reads and options in college. He doesn’t have the strong arm his size may suggest, but his accuracy has increased over time and he is good with short to medium passing. His athleticism gives him the ability to buy time and let crossing routes develop while his size gives him great field vision and makes him tougher to bring down.

Analysis: With Tim Boyle not tendered and Jordan Love elevated to QB2, the Packers need a developmental camp arm.Based on their selection of Jordan Love, the team is looking for athletic quarterbacks and that is Franks’s forte. He may not have an arm as powerful as Rodgers or Love, but with time, he could develop into a solid backup in the system.

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Analysis

First and foremost, this draft reinforced the challenge with trading up early. Missing a 2nd round pick (seemingly the sweet spot for the deep wide receiver and offensive tackle classes) made it hard to feel great about filling all the holes.

Horn is a fantastic selection and will immediately upgrade the defense, but after that, there just weren’t a lot of big impact players available. Hufanga could be a nice contributor, but he likely wouldn’t contribute as much as one of the offensive or defensive lineman that could have been had in the 2nd round.

Trey Hill could be the starting center, but the line could use more help than just that. Brown may be a nice rotational starter on the defensive line, but other than that, this draft class is littered with projects. Sure, any one of them could pan out, but that doesn’t mean trading away a 2nd round pick to get as high as possible in the 1st round is in the best interests of a team, even if they are in win now mode.

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Of Note

Trey Lance was still on the board when I traded up to 19… I was very tempted…

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Want to learn more!?

Want more insight into how winning teams build through the draft (and how losing teams fail)? We’ve got you covered!

Start shallow, then get deep into understanding draft strategy with our draft book (rated a #1 New Release): A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft: Strategies, Tactics, And Case Studies For Building A Professional Football Team

Then jump into free agency with another #1 New Release: A Fan’s Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits and Misses to better understand this critical part of the NFL offseason and see where teams have found (or missed) success in this critical component of team-building.

Finally, get to the game behind the game with our new must-have book for 2021: A Fan’s Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap – which lays out detailed, easy-to-follow scenarios to explain exactly how contract structures and salary cap rules impact teams.

All these great books  are available in ebook and paperback – and free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!

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Don’t just watch the draft – understand it and learn why GMs make the moves they do.

 

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Check out our PFTW 2021 Mock Draft Archive to see how other scenarios played out!

Check out Packers Draft Central 2021 for all our 2020 NFL Draft coverage!

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