- The biggest need, the hidden need and what else the Packers should be looking for in the 2019 draft.
Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling are breaking down draft needs for all 32 teams. You can also see every team in a single post here.
Biggest Need: Offensive Tackle
The Packers are in the unusual position of drafting 12th but having no major holes. GM Brian Gutekunst can afford to look to next year, when the contracts of right tackle Bryan Bulaga and swing tackle Jason Spriggs will expire. Given Bulaga’s extensive history of injuries and Spriggs’s underwhelming development, neither is likely to be retained. First-time head coach Matt LaFleur is here to presumably provide a system that will make Aaron Rodgers a more disciplined on-schedule passer. For that to work, Rodgers must trust the edges of his pass protection.
Hidden Need: Safety
Josh Jones is ready for a bigger role after playing 47 percent of the snaps as an NFL sophomore last year. That bigger role will likely include dime linebacker duties, keeping newly signed ex-Bear Adrian Amos at strong safety. What’s needed is a free safety—a job currently filled by 36-year-old corner Tramon Williams. The Packers can get by for one more year with Williams, but it wouldn’t hurt to develop a replacement now given defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s predilection for DB-heavy packages makes depth at this spot a priority.
Also Looking For: Tight End
Jimmy Graham’s $12.6M cap number was unavoidable this year, and his receiving prowess in LaFleur’s scheme could prove valuable, so keeping the 32-year-old made sense. Next year, however, the final year of Graham’s deal can be axed for a cap savings of $8 million. That’s also when No. 2 tight end, Marcedes Lewis, who is almost 35, will see his contract expire.
Who They Can Get
The Packers have the 12th pick as well as No. 30 from the Saints (who came up to get Marcus Davenport last spring). It’s a draft with plenty of right tackle candidates in the mid- to late-first, from Florida’s Jawaan Taylor to Alabama’s Jonah Williams to Oklahoma’s Cody Ford to Kansas State’s Dalton Risner. Each of them are candidates to play right guard in 2019. Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Alabama’s Deionte Thompson, Delaware’s Nasir Adderley (cousin of Hall of Fame ex-Packer Herb Adderley) and Maryland’s Darnell Savage could fill that centerfield spot, while the two Iowa prospects—T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant—Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. and Ole Miss’s Dawson Knox are all viable first-round options at tight end.
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