The Green Bay Packers are in an unfamiliar space for the first time since 2008. Going into the season they will no longer be led at QB by Aaron Rodgers but instead by Jordan Love. It’s arguably the biggest change any team will be facing heading into the 2023 season. But one thing that’s very much apparent that hasn’t changed is the Packers’ draft strategy. Well, for the most part that is true. The general theme is the same, but the areas focused in are different. This review won’t be your typical grading the draft or each pick write up. Here, we’ll be going over the thought process and plan the Packers executed throughout the three days of the draft.
With the 13th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft the Packers selected Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness. This is an incredibly typical Green Bay pick as he checks off two boxes that you typically see under the Brian Gutekunst regime. He has an elite RAS score, and the pick provides great value for someone who plays a premium position. As a matter of fact, let’s just get this out of the way for the near entirety of the Packers draft class.
Besides two players here, all players drafted by Green Bay with complete RAS profiles graded out a great-to-elite level. Van Ness has terrific strength (he’s nicknamed Hercules for a reason) paired with great speed. He especially impressed in his speed and agility drills. The film also speaks for itself as he often overpowered anyone unfortunate enough to find their way in front of his bull rush. He’ll be used on the edge as well as an inside rusher on the line.
What he’ll have to work on is his hand fighting as the development of more speed rush/technical moves. He can probably bull rush a decent amount of NFL linemen but it’s not going to work at the level it did at Iowa. He also needs to develop a bit better awareness on so he doesn’t get lost or blocked out of plays as easily. He’ll need a year of development and a lot of analysts thought he should’ve stayed another year in college.
However, on the Packers, he’ll have that year to develop. The Packers know they won’t be competing for anything serious this year with such a young team so they can afford to take guys who need to develop.
This is the day Green Bay typically picks out their offensive weapons if they see it as a big enough priority. With an experienced signal caller and little depth, it was obvious they were set to do it again. What many people probably didn’t expect was for them to double up on tight end so early. But with the only player with tenured experience at the position they had was Josiah Deguara, and he usually plays H-Back.
Their first second round pick was vertical threat and field stretcher Luke Musgrave out of Oregon State. He was used as the classic tight end mismatch of being too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties. He does have work to do as a blocker and has injury concerns. In the third round they picked their second tight end in Tucker Kraft out of South Dakota State. Kraft isn’t the athlete or route runner Musgrave is but is still a threat downfield and is a proven blocker. Like Musgrave, he can play on the line, in the slot or split out. They will have time to round out their game as the team matures together, something very beneficial for a position that usually takes a year of adjustment at the pro level anyway.
Another pick in the second round was receiver Jayden Reed of Michigan State to the surprise of some. He didn’t test well at the combine and his RAS wasn’t at the upper tier the Packers usually look for. But despite his size, he’s displayed the ability to line up not only in the slot but as an X receiver and win catching 50-50 balls. Think of him as a Randall Cobb type player.
The Packers had a plethora of picks to use in the last four rounds and like many teams they went for boom or bust athletes. They went back to defense first with DT Colby Wooden and then later with Karl Brooks. Wooden was used both inside and out while specializing in the power rush much like Van Ness. Unlike Van Ness, he lacks speed on the outside, so he’ll mainly be used inside. Brooks, the other lower RAS score guy taken by the Packers, tore apart the MAC conference with 10 sacks last year. Lack of athletic ability and playing in a weaker conference led to him being a late round pick.
Staying on that side of the ball, CB Carrington Valentine and FS Anthony Johnson Jr were the final defensive picks. Like many picks before him, Johnson is comfortable playing multiple positions as he is formerly a cornerback.
On the offensive side, they added two more receivers in Dontayvion Wicks and Grant Dubose. Both of them are fairly fast and agile but where they really excel is when they get physical. They’re no strangers to grabbing contested catches with receivers draping off of them. Lew Nichols III is a physical downhill RB with a knack for pass protection. While not on many draft boards, QB Sean Clifford out of Penn State will be looked to back up Love. This was a headscratcher, but his high RAS probably had something to do with it.
Finally, we have kicker Anders Carlson, the younger brother of kicker Daniel Carlson. He doesn’t have the most consistent kicking numbers, but many attribute it to him coming off of an injury. It appears longtime vet Mason Crosby may be on his way out as well.
The theme of the Packers’ draft was once again elite athletes at premier positional value mixed with team needs. While they hit offensive weapons on day two per usual, the volume of the picks as well as picking guys with brighter futures than immediate impacts were a bit of a change of pace that early. The same can be said for the pass rush they added to. Overall, the flexibility and adaptability were a key focus for the front office as well. The ability to move players around was definitely on their mind. With a massive influx of youth will come a variety of ways to use it.
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