Packers 2021 Mock Draft 6 – Grabbing Receivers Early

Packers fans want receivers and this is a deep class, so why not pick up a couple?

Prevailing wisdom says there’s more holes to focus on, but, when some good receivers fell, we wanted to see how things would shake out if the Packers took advantage of it.

Could they still patch all their holes?

Here are the results:

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Round 1

Rashod Bateman – Wide Receiver
Profile: As a sophomore, Rashod Bateman had 20 yards per catch and 11 scored touchdowns. Last year, he only played 5 games, but still averaged 95 yards per contest. That production came primarily with inside routes, but he showed the ability to get open anywhere and is particularly skilled with double moves. He catches well in traffic, snags one-handers with ease, and at 6’2 210, he can get up for high balls. Once he has the ball, he runs with an attitude and is tough to bring down. Bateman also has good footwork to win off the line and blocks with vengeance.

Analysis: Bateman has everything the Packers look for in a receiver. He has a big frame, runs all the routes, has sure hands, gets yards after the catch, and blocks. His stock took a hit with him limited production last season, but his skills and abilities were apparent long before than. He could immediately step in to a WR2 role and potentially develop into a true #1 receiver before Davante Adams leaves or his play declines.

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Round 2

D’Wayne Eskridge – Wide Receiver
Profile: At 5’9 190, Eskridge is suited to the slot. A former defensive back, he understands how to get up and uses change up speed to disguise routes and make space. Last season, he averaged 23 yards per catch with 8 TDs in 6 games. As a 5th year senior, there are questions about his ceiling, but he beat everyone at Senior Bowl practices and laid those concerns to rest.

Analysis: He may not be a prototypical LaFleur receiver at 5’9, but Eskridge would arm the offense with yet another weapon. After taking Bateman in the 1st round, Eskridge would bring another dimension to the offense. Lazard and MVS are good receivers with completely different games – Eskridge has a completely different game as well and would allow LaFleur to play matchups week to week by using whichever receiving group would give the opposing defense more problems.

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Round 3

Dillon Radunz – Offensive Tackle
Profile: Dillon Radunz started every game at left tackle for North Dakota State in 2018 and 2019. He returned to school for his senior year, but their season was delayed, leaving his evaluation a bit incomplete. At 6’6 300, he has a great frame, but could stand to add some weight. He’s an athletic prospect with fluid motion and easy movements, but also plays aggressive despite his lack of bulk. There were questions about if he could handle next level competition, but she showed up at the Senior Bowl, shook off the rust, and consistently won 1×1 drills, earning the “Practice Player Of The Week” award. Long and athletic, Radunz plays with great leverage and shows high IQ in handling stunts and blitz pickups. His lack of mass may relegate him to a guard role in the NFL in the long-term, but he definitely showed the ability to play tackle against the highest levels of college competition at the Senior Bowl.

Analysis: Radunz feels like a zone tackle that could fall a deep class of offensive tackles. He would give the Packers an athletic prospect to plug into the edge and begin adding stability to their line where Rick Wagner’s release left a hole. Radunz could allow the Packers to move Billy Turner to guard. Even if Radunz can’t handle it, he could move to guard and put Turner back at right tackle, leaving them in a better spot than they were last year regardless of how things shake out.

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Round 4

Ben Cleveland – Guard
Profile: If you want to know what kind of player Ben Cleveland is, all you have to do is look at him, At 6’5 350 with a beard like Paul Bunyan, the dude looks like a straight up ogre. He plays like one, too. Immense power, an immovable base, and hands that swipe away defenders with ease. Cleveland isn’t highly mobile for a zone scheme, but he can get tot he second level (just not too quickly). He’s also smarter than he looks and picks up change offs without pause.

Analysis: Cleveland isn’t s pure zone blocker, but he is the kind of player that can be successful in a zone scheme. With the Packers penciling in AJ Dillon as RB1, a drive blocker like Cleveland may be a good pick for the interior line. Short yardage packages would certainly look more imposing. Some draftniks think he could play center at the next level and that would give the Packers more flexibility with an absolute mountain in the middle.

 

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’s fiesty and 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 more I watch St-Juste, the more I feel like he is what we wanted Kevin King to be. A complementary player to Jaire Alexander who can handle the matchups with bigger receivers and fill in with run support. Given where the Packers are, even if they choose to wait until Day 3 to select a cornerback in a relatively weak cornerback class, whoever they take could still walk on as a starter opposite Jaire. A guy like Benjamin St-Juste wouldn’t be such a bad option.

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Analysis

Taking a couple receivers in the first two rounds would be a little silly because the Packers have so many other holes. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the talent they were able to add in later rounds at other positions of need. Shoring up the offensive line and grabbing a starting-caliber corner late would make this a nice haul.

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Of Note

Only 4 wide receivers went before the Packers first pick, which is relatively small number considering how deep this class is. It’s possible that, since so many teams took receivers early last year, that there may be less of an appetite to bite into this deep class in the first couple of rounds.

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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

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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.

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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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