The Green Bay Packers mostly stood pat in 2021 NFL free agency, re-signing star running back Aaron Jones but refraining from dipping into the veteran market because of a tight salary cap. While they're still a playoff-caliber team, they still have plenty to address in April's draft, when they'll have 10 picks to add to their roster, including the No. 29 overall selection. Which rookies could be on their radar? Which positions will they prioritize?
Here's one stab at how the Packers' entire 2021 draft will play out:
|Round (Overall Pick)||Prospect||College|
LB Zaven Collins
WR Tutu Atwell
OT Dan Moore Jr.
CB Trill Williams
S Darrick Forrest
C Jordan Reid
TE Matt Bushman
|6 (214)||DL Marquiss Spencer||Mississippi State|
|6 (220)||OLB Jamal Hines||Toledo|
|7 (256)||OT Denzel Okafor||Texas|
The Packers have a glaring need in the middle of their defense, where the oft-injured Christian Kirksey departed in free agency. Nowadays, you can get by without a full trio of Grade-A linebackers, but Green Bay could really use an anchor in between its top pass rushers, especially for run support. Collins would be a prototypical fit there. His size, strength and speed make him uniquely qualified to enter as an immediate force in the trenches, and he's athletic enough to be impactful in coverage, too. The real question is whether he'll actually make it to No. 29. A cornerback or wide receiver or offensive tackle could easily also be in play in the first round.
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Speaking of receiver, Atwell isn't the biggest body to plug in as a target for Aaron Rodgers, but No. 12 already has Davante Adams and Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan for his contested throws. Instead, the shifty Louisville wideout would give Green Bay a play-making upgrade in the slot. Remember when the Packers took a flyer on Tavon Austin? This would be like that, except times 10, because Atwell is one of the most explosive options in the class. His addition might not be as much of a sure thing as signing Will Fuller would've been, but it would at least entice Rodgers and give the offense some more juice.
Rounds three through five here are all about maximizing value and plugging holes, even at less-than-sexy spots like tackle and center, where longtime starter Corey Linsley's absence will be felt. Forrest could be considered somewhat of a luxury pick at safety considering the Packers have Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos on the back end, but who's to say Green Bay couldn't also try the Cincinnati product at cornerback, where Kevin King will need to make serious improvements from 2020? Someone like Bushman, meanwhile, would offer valuable depth behind Tonyan, especially with veteran Marcedes Lewis entering his age-37 season.