The Green Bay Packers’ season ultimately came to a close in the NFC Championship Game, when the soon-to-be Super Bowl champion Buccaneers came to town. Until the end, many believed the Packers had what it takes to go the distance. Aaron Rodgers put on a clinic for a majority of the season and was named the 2020 NFL MVP. The injury to All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari proved to be a big loss down the stretch, as the Buccaneers were able to take Rodgers down 5 times in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers have excelled under head coach Matt LeFleur, going 26-6 during his first two seasons. The good news for Green Bay is that as long as Rodgers is there, they will be contenders. With a tight cap situation for 2021, the Packers will look to capitalize on the 2021 NFL Draft.
Some quick draft history on the Packers. The following is a list of the first-round picks Green Bay has made in the past five years:
- 2020: Jordan Love (QB)
- 2019: Rashan Gary (DE)
- 2018: Jaire Alexander (DB)
- 2017: None (traded down for 2nd and 3rd)
- 2016: Kenny Clark (DT)
The Packers have not selected inside the top 10 since the 2009 draft. By constantly being in the back-half of the first round, the Packers have had to rely heavily on getting value from their second- and third-round picks. They have the 29th overall pick this year.
As of now, the Packers are over the cap by about $11 million. There ‘s work to be done in order to get in under the cap at $180 million. This starts with potential cuts. Here is a list of players who could potentially be on the move this offseason due to their cap hit in 2021 (age in parentheses):
- Preston Smith (28)
- Christian Kirksey (28)
- Ricky Wagner (31)
- Dean Lowry (26)
Although the Packers finished one win shy of the Super Bowl, there is always room to grow. While Green Bay won’t select high in the first-round, there is still value to be had at pick 29. Here are some possible players the Packers could target with the 29th overall selection:
Possibility #1: Georgia CB Tyson Campbell
2020 stat line: 10 games, 29 total tackles, 20 solo, 2.5 TFLs, 1 INT, 5 PDs
Why: It seems every year the Packers spend an early pick on a cornerback to shore up their secondary. Outside of Jaire Alexander, the cornerbacks they have selected have largely been a disappointment. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Green Bay go back to the cornerback position with their first pick in 2021, especially with Kevin King set to hit free agency. Even if King returns, Green Bay should be looking to add talent to the cornerback group.
With the Packers selecting late in the first round, it is likely that top corners Patrick Surtain II and Caleb Farley will already be off the board. A cornerback with plenty of talent and potential is Georgia’s Tyson Campbell. He has great physical traits for the position. Campbell is a lengthy corner at 6-2, 185 pounds. He can be a starting outside CB at the next level in a Cover 2 scheme. He can use his physicality to jam receivers. The underneath routes are where he will make a living — he can be seen getting stacked on deep routes to receivers with top-tier speed. Campbell is an overall lengthy, aggressive corner who can play the LOS with above-average ball skills. With some coaching, Campbell could develop into a solid player for any NFL team that believes in his potential.
Possibility #2: Alabama DL Christian Barmore
2020 stat line: 11 games, 37 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 8 sacks, 3 FFs, 3 PDs
Why: Kenny Clark became the highest-paid nose tackle with his extension in 2020, and rightfully so. But this doesn’t mask the fact that he still needs players around him that can make plays. The Packers’ run defense had an up-and-down season, never quite coming into its own. Adding depth to this group becomes even more important when you factor in the chances of Dean Lowry being a possible cut candidate. Not much draft capital has been spent in recent years on the defensive line position, it may be time Green Bay spends a first-rounder to upgrade the unit.
Barmore has a strong, imposing frame at 6-5, 310 pounds. His athleticism at his size is something that is quite rare. Barmore has shown the ability to win at the LOS by imposing his will, but has also flashed mobility and active hands to have an impact in the passing game. If the Packers select Barmore, they would be adding a versatile piece to their defensive front — a player that can perform a multitude of different techniques along the line.
Possibility #3: Missouri LB Nick Bolton
2020 stat line: 10 games, 53 solo tackles, 95 total tackles, 2.0 sacks, 5 PDs, 1 FR
Why: Due to Green Bay’s cap situation and up-and-down performances, Christian Kirksey will likely not return as a Packer unless he takes a pay cut or restructures his contract. Rookies Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin showed promise. Barnes ended up tying Kirksey for second on the team in tackles with 78. Martin struggled in the run game, missing too many tackles, but his length and flashes could leave the Packers feeling there is only more room to grow. That being said, adding more depth to the linebacker position shouldn’t be out of the question for Green Bay.
Nick Bolton has that traditional linebacker build at 6-0, 241 pounds, but has shown above the line speed to go from sideline to sideline. Bolton is an athletic player who thrives in space. His instincts allow him to play well in zone coverage. Versatility is not a question for Bolton, as he has been asked to line up in multiple linebacker spots and has spent time in the slot as well. While he can at times struggle with taking on blocks, his athleticism and play strength make him an intriguing prospect.
Possibility #4: Michigan OT Jalen Mayfield
Opted out after 2 games in 2020
Why: With the current cap situation, the Packers are going to have a hard time bringing back center Corey Linsley, especially after an All-Pro season. The injury to Bakhtiari showed the importance of having depth and versatility on the line. While Green Bay did a solid job of keeping Rodgers on his feet in 2020, the Packers should be looking to upgrade the line for the long term. The offensive tackle class is very deep this year, shoring up the line now would be a smart move for Green Bay.
Mayfield possesses good length with a strong lower half. He has the ability to play as a starting left or right tackle at the next level. With time to develop, Mayfield could become a reliable starting option having impact as a run blocker. While Mayfield lacks experience, he has shown promise in just the 15 games that he has started. Because tackle isn’t a pressing need for the Packers right now, Mayfield would be able to develop and not be pushed into a full-time role too soon.
SEE ALSO: On the Clock archive