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Packers Replace Love in PFF’s 2020 NFL Redraft

Instead of taking the quarterback they didn't need, the Green Bay Packers wound up with a productive receiver.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has made some strong moves in the first rounds of his NFL Drafts.

In 2018, he traded down and then back up to get cornerback Jaire Alexander and an additional first-round pick.

In 2019, he bet on potential by selecting outside linebacker Rashan Gary, then used the extra first-round pick on safety Darnell Savage.

In 2021, Gutekunst drafted cornerback Eric Stokes.

That’s four starters. Darned good ones, at that.

Yeah, but what about 2020? With the top receivers off the board, Gutekunst selected quarterback Jordan Love. Moreover, he gave away a fourth-round pick to move up to select Love, who was coming off a mistake-prone final season at Utah State.

It’s easy to criticize draft results. Hindsight is always 20/20. But this was foresight. While Gutekunst didn’t agree at the time, using a first-round pick on a quarterback after coming off a trip to the NFC Championship Game indeed was a “waste” of a draft pick. Love has played meaningful snaps in two games. With Rodgers out with COVID, Love failed to deliver in a winnable game at the Kansas City Chiefs. Then, in the finale at the Detroit Lions, he replaced Rodgers for the second half of a loss to the lowly Lions.

Love completed 58.1 percent of his passes with two touchdowns, three interceptions and a 68.7 passer rating. Of the 50 quarterbacks who threw at least Love’s 62 attempts, Love finished 46th in passer rating, 44th in completion percentage and 47th in interception percentage. Rodgers threw four interceptions in 531 attempts. Love tossed three interceptions in 62 attempts. That’s one fewer interception in 469 fewer attempts.

There are no mulligans in the NFL Draft. Good thing, or the Packers might not have landed Gary or Elgton Jenkins in 2019.

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Nonetheless, a 2020 NFL redraft by Pro Football Focus hints at what might have been. In it, the Packers wound up with receiver Darnell Mooney.

“If the Love selection was what spurred Aaron Rodgers to two consecutive MVP trophies, then maybe the Packers make the same decision again,” PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote. “However, with Rodgers fresh off a new extension, there’s no path for Love to make an impact on his rookie deal, barring injury. And there is a gaping roster hole at wide receiver, even more so than back when they still had Davante Adams in 2020.”

A fifth-round pick, Mooney might not be the No. 1 receiver the Packers need going into 2022 but he’s been productive. In two seasons dealing with the Bears’ mess at quarterback, Mooney has 142 receptions for 1,686 yards and eight touchdowns. He is third in the draft class in receptions and fifth in receiving yards.

Imagine what he might have done with Rodgers slinging the football.

Two more receivers went after Green Bay’s slot in the redraft. Jerry Jeudy, who went No. 15 to Denver, wound up going to Tennessee at No. 29 in the redraft. Gabriel Davis, a fourth-round pick by Buffalo, went No. 32 to Kansas City in the redraft.

Stuck with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback in Denver, Jeudy has 90 receptions for 1,323 yards and three touchdowns. Davis has only 70 receptions for 1,148 yards and 13 touchdowns but destroyed the Chiefs with eight receptions for 201 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s playoff shootout.

Former USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson, the 18th pick, has struggled with the Dolphins but the Packers’ superb touch with offensive linemen might have led to a different outcome.

In the real draft, after Justin Jefferson went to Minnesota at No. 22 and Brandon Aiyuk went to San Francisco at No. 25, Green Bay traded from No. 30 to No. 26 to select Love. Had they taken the next-best receiver, they could have selected Tee Higgins. The 33rd overall pick, he has 141 receptions for 1,999 yards and 12 touchdowns. He went ninth in the redraft.

Instead, the Packers have Love, whose career is going nowhere fast with Rodgers’ career rebirth and his own mediocre play.

“I think Jordan’s doing a great job of really taking ownership of this offense,” coach Matt LaFleur said last month. “And it’s a great opportunity for him. He hasn’t probably gotten the number of reps that I don’t think anybody would like. So, it’s just maximizing those opportunities, and he’s got a great opportunity to get the majority of the reps out there throughout the course of OTAs.”