The 2021 season is officially over for all 32 NFL teams. For the Green Bay Packers and the 31 other teams, it’s the offseason – and the offseason is prime mock draft time.
Who will general manager Brian Gutekunst get to fortify his roster? Last season, he hit a home run with cornerback Eric Stokes, who was terrific as a rookie. Guessing who he will target this time around is difficult, especially without knowing how he will construct his roster around the salary cap.
Here’s who the Packers – who hold the 28th overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft – are taking in post-Super Bowl mock drafts, with reaction from Packers Wire draft expert Brennen Rupp.
WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
Mock draft: Mike Renner, PFF
Reasoning: “Burks can be a better version of Allen Lazard as the Packers’ No. 2 wide receiver. He’s big enough to get involved as a blocker, which Matt LaFleur loves, and he has a speed element to his game that the Packers may miss if Marquez Valdes-Scantling walks in free agency.” — Renner
Our take: The Packers haven’t taken a receiver in the first round since 2002, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been this close to getting one recently. The receiver room could be in for big changes this offseason, so now might be the time to invest premium draft capital at the position.
Rupp’s reaction: “Burks is built like a running back (6-3, 232) and moves like one with the ball in his hands. He averaged over nine yards after the catch this season and is a load to take down for defensive backs.”
Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II
(AP Photo/Phil Sears)
Mock draft: Chad Reuter, NFL.com
Reasoning: “With Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith looming as potential cap casualties, the Packers might need a powerful edge player to complement Rashan Gary. Johnson fits that bill. Trading up for him will cost Green Bay two fourth-round picks (the team could pick up a compensatory fourth-rounder for the loss of Corey Linsley).” — Reuter
Our take: Trading up to take an electric defensive player certainly fits the Packers’ modus operandi. Johnson and Rashan Gary could form one of the best young pass-rushing duos in football.
Rupp’s reaction: “Johnson can do it all. He’s excellent against the run and can get after the quarterback. The 2021 ACC Defensive Player of the Year recorded 70 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. The Florida State edge rusher built off that strong season with a good showing during Senior Bowl week.”
Purdue edge rusher George Karlaftis
Indiana offensive lineman Luke Haggard (70) blocks Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis (5).
Mock draft: Jordan Reid, ESPN
Reasoning: “In a deep edge class, Karlaftis, who had 7.5 sacks in 2021, is in the mix after Kayvon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson. He has a chance to land in the top 20, but in this scenario he’d fall right in the Packers’ lap. Green Bay must get some depth along the defensive line, and Karlaftis’ combination of power and heavy hands could help him thrive in the NFC North.” — Reid
Our take: Edge rusher is going to be a top target for the Packers in mock drafts, especially if the team loses Za’Darius Smith or Preston Smith (or both). Karlaftis fits the bill here for the Packers in the first round; young, premium position, super athletic.
Rupp’s reaction: “George Karlaftis is a powerful edge rusher with a nonstop motor. He was No. 7 on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks list. The Purdue edge rusher will turn 21 in April and could be a player that Brian Gutekunst targets in a possible trade up in the first round.”
Georgia LB Nakobe Dean
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Mock draft: Bleacher Report Scouting Department
Reasoning: “The Packers do not typically invest in linebackers through the draft, but they might not have much of a choice this offseason. Campbell and backup Oren Burks are both on their way to free agency, leaving Krys Barnes as the only halfway competent option left on the team. Georgia’s Nakobe Dean would bring the same speed and physical demeanor that made Campbell a surprise star in Green Bay, as well as a rare knack for navigating trash near the line of scrimmage.” — Derrik Klassen
Our take: The Packers finally got a standout season from an inside linebacker. All-Pro De’Vondre Campbell is a free agent, so it’s possible the Packers could dip their toes into the inside linebacker market at the end of the first round if Campbell departs.
Rupp’s reaction: “Nakobe Dean has a great combination of speed and instincts. Dean is quick to diagnose plays and shoot gaps to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He may only be 6-foot, but he is an imposing figure in the hole. Dean may not be built like a throwback linebacker, but he can thump with the best of them.”
Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Mock draft: Luke Easterling, Draft Wire
Reasoning: “If Davante Adams heads elsewhere in free agency, the Packers will need a new No. 1 target, regardless of who is throwing the passes. Wilson is a polished, well-rounded playmaker who can stretch the field and make big plays after the catch.” — Easterling
Our take: Will the Packers be able to bring back Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard AND Randall Cobb? Probably not. Expect the Packers to use the draft to replace at least one of the four players listed here. If it requires a first-round pick, so be it. Using premium draft capital on this position is overdue.
Rupp’s reaction: “Wilson has outstanding body control and once a week made highlight reel catches. His route running is pro-ready and he has juice after the catch, averaging nearly six yards after the catch.”