Packers Draft Needs? Look no further than the Practice Squad.

This crop of 16 might slightly reveal Brian Gutekunst's hand in 2023.

It's Week 1 (at last!), but a General Manager's job in the National Football League is never finished. Whether it's keeping up to date on the recent transactions around the league, expiring contracts, potential trade partners, making coaching hires, or keeping an ear to the ground on the scouting trail, it is truly an art form to sculp a competitive roster. For the teams that perennially contend for a championship, this crucial balancing act of roles must be accomplished year in and year out. When it comes to the NFL Draft, teams must consistently hit on their picks or find themselves lagging behind the field due to shortfalls in talent and the Packers are no exception.

We may be living in the here and now, but NFL front offices league-wide are clamoring to college stadiums as they hope to secure the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the very near future. After all, the NFL stands for "Not For Long" if you can't prove you can put together a championship winning roster. For the Packers, this year some fans may be perplexed as to what the team "needs", but a simple examination of the roster could reveal all the information one might require. You want a look at the future? Look at the Packers current batch of future up-and-comers on the Practice Squad. 

 

Player: QB Danny Etling

Need: Backup QB

Analysis: I highly doubt Etling is Green Bay's #2 QB in waiitng, but until such a selection is made the coaching staff has got to continue to look and develop signal callers should Aaron Rodgers either call it a career, or decide he no longer wants to be in Green Bay. Jordan Love has improved ,but we won't know by how much unless Rodgers misses time or the Packers are up/down by an insurmountable margin. 2023 is about the right time to start pulling the trigger on a guy with some skills who may just need a little bit more polish before he's ready for the league. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see a Day 3 selection next year in Kansas City.

 

Players: RBs Patrick Taylor and Tyler Goodson

Need: #3 RB

Analysis: The Packers like Taylor, but Goodson was brought in for a reason; and it wasn't for Taylor, it was for Kylin Hill who's currently on PUP. A torn ACL has cut many a budding RB's career short, and it would be just awful should the same befall Hill. Either way, the show must go on; and Matt LaFleur's system really needs 3 RBs to keep things going. I don't see the Packers making another selection here unless Hill is still trying to bounce back and neither Goodson nor Taylor impresses when the games matter. But I do predict that 1 out of these 3 will not be back at camp next summer.

 

Players: WRs Travis Fulgham and Juwann Winfree

Need: Starting WR

Analysis: I put starting WR as in a player who is a legitimate #1, #2, or #3. Fulgham has already shown he's at least a role player, Winfree must now do the same. I know he's a fan favorite, but I expect Fulgham to beat out Winfree and compete with another future Day 2 or 3 selection based on the performance of the roster this year. 

 

Player: TE Shaun Beyer

Need: Vertical Threat TE

Analysis: I'm actually surprised that Green Bay didn't invest more into the TE position on the Practice Squad, but then again you don't typically find these players on the street either. Tonyan is coming back from injury, and Deguara has had his struggles with injury as well. Beyer is a converted WR project who sat behind Kittle, Hockensen, and Fant, but he didn't exactly follow in their footsteps. I've yet to really dip my toes in on this upcoming class but I could definitely see a 1st or 2nd Round Pick invested if the right player is available. They say it typically takes a TE 3 years to adjust to the pro game, which is right around the time Marcedes Lewis expects to retire. 

 

Player: OL Caleb Jones

Need: Swing Tackle

Analysis: I think the Packers have found their true OL rotation once Jenkins and Bakhtiari return to the lineup fully, but there's still some fine-tuning to be done on the interior. Jones is another edition of the Packers knowing where to pick em when it comes to quality OL deep in the Draft or off the waiver wire. I expect Jones to get called up permanently by 2024, which will probably coincide with somebody on the OL becoming too expensive to keep; and the beat goes on. This isn't really much of a prediction at this point, but expect a Day 3 selection for the OL every year in the Brian Gutekunst era.

 

Players: DLs Jack Heflin and Chris Slayton

Need4T/5T DE

Analysis: The Packers finally got Kenny Clark some help in the form of Jarran Reed and Devonte Wyatt, although Wyatt may need more time to come along. I'm still waiting for Gutey to commit to a "true" 3-4 DE instead of these hybrid types, but maybe DC Joe Barry's system doesn't require it. Slayton mostly fits the mold but with him and Heflin at 6'4 and 6'3 respectively, they still come in as undersized. (Wyatt is as well) The book is still out on this DE group until I see some games, but I'm hoping more than I'm predicting a size/traits prospect on Day 3 in 2023.

 

Players: OLBs La'Darius Hamilton and Kobe Jones

Need: Backup OLB

Analysis: Most of you probably all know the game here, and probably feel Hamilton and Jones rightfully deserve to be on the 53. Since we're all in agreement, hopefully we're also in agreement on you can never have too many edge rushers, and with wishful thinking can see one on Day 2 in 2023, since Gute loves to defend his picks to the bitter end.

 

Player: ILB Ray Wilborn

Need: Rotational ILB

Analysis: This was probably the most surprising PS signing, especially given the 4 ILBs already on the 53. I can't see Ray on the field unless McDuffie goes down and they need a guy on teams. Could we possibly see a change in Gutekunst's draft strategy where he selects a special teamer once a year? It'll be interesting to watch play out.

 

Players: CBs Benjie Franklin and Kiondre Thomas

Need: Dime CB

Analysis: The starters are set, but the Packers have made it no secret they're looking for a 4th CB. Shemar Jean-Charles is there yes but he hasn't really show us much. This is a tough spot from a Draft perspective because you don't spend a 3rd or even a 4th Round pick on a guy who won't see the field but so much, but at the same time you've got to be comfortable that he won't cost you the game because any worthwhile QB is going to notice when there's a new CB on the field and go right at him. I'm not really confident in Franklin or Thomas, so I could imagine Gutey throwing a dart at the wall in the 5th or 6th Round and hoping it sticks.

 

Player: S Micah Abernathy

Need: Third S

Analysis: If I'm Micah, I'm on special teams every practice and I'm at every ST meeting (as a former FS myself I HATED teams, but coach always made me the gunner....because he was old school and thought safeties were human cannonballs). He knows exactly why he's on the PS and all he has to do is prove he can do the job plus cover on the back-end. I don't expect the Packers to let Adrian Amos walk, I'm more fickle on Savage but to be fair he's never really "lost" a game for the Packers and he does flash from time to time. This pick really depends on Abernathy and his progression; I'm leaning 4th Round currently....I'm definitely very intrigued on how this plays out.

 

Player: K Ramiz Ahmed

Need: Starting K

Analysis: This story needs no introduction, have the Packers ever just outright asked Mason Crosby when he plans to retire? With his annual salary he probably at least owes them that. I cound a hardy $2M that could have probably gone to signing a quality FA elsewhere on the team. Regardless, like the QB position they'll keep running through the gauntlet to see if they can "outkick" their way into spending less money on the special teams unit in 2023. With Crosby being a 6th Round Pick himself, I'm sure they'll perennially be drafting Ks in the 6th and 7th Round until they hit on one.

 

 

There you have it folks, our first possible look into the make-up of next year's class. A lot more will play out for sure though, so stay tuned to this year's storylines as the Packers look to build on yet another championship caliber roster. #GPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph has been an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers since 1997, citing an affinity for dairy products during his childhood and his favorite color, green. Born in Jacksonville, FL, Joseph currently is an Active Duty servicemember in the U.S. Armed Forces. Joseph considers himself a lifelong fan of the game of football, competing since his youth well into adulthood. When it comes to the Pack, Joseph is particularly impassioned about the NFL Draft and collegiate scouting process, and will contribute regularly on CHTV.com leading to that year's upcoming Draft. You can follow him on Twitter at @joeyreyallday.

3 points

Comments (11)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
PackyCheese500's picture

September 07, 2022 at 07:46 am

Here are, in my opinion, what will be the Packers’ largest needs in the 2023 draft:
1. SS - Amos is aging, and I don’t see him being re-signed.
2. TE - We’ll see how Tonyan does, but the draft class of TEs next year is excellent. The FA market for TEs is good too (I’m hoping they can get Dalton Schulz).
3. OT - I think one of Bakh or Jenkins will be traded next year. There are some interesting OL prospects out there.
4. OLB - Gary is great, but P. Smith is aging. We need, at the very least, depth at this position.

Of course, so much of the Packers’ approach to next off-season will depend on whether A-Rod I will play or if he retires.

0 points
1
1
MooPack's picture

September 07, 2022 at 09:13 am

Thanks for the article Joseph. Little early for draft talk. But I love the draft.

Depending on injuries and contracts, this is how I see needs next year.

1. Number one need is Safety. I like Amos, but he will be 30 and will need restructure if kept. I think they let him walk. Savage is probably one of the top two weakest links on the D. This position, right now, would be priority one. And since the Packers will be drafting at the end of the 1st round, the sweet spot each year for Safeties, that's my prediction.

2. OLB/Edge. Gary will have a new deal. Preston probably has a couple years left. Depth and another eventual starter is needed.

3. TE is somewhat of a mystery unless Tonyan is fully recovered. Love Lewis, but he is almost 40. Not sold on anyone else. They need another, hopefully in the first three rounds.

4. OL may be a bigger mystery. Will Bakh and Jenkins come back 100%? Will the rookies develop into starters or at least very solid depth? Can Nijman and Caleb Jones become the Tackles their athleticism shows. Of all the position groups, this one has my biggest concern right now for this year. Somehow the Packers make it work every year until the spots start showing in the playoffs.

5. QB. Regardless of winning the SB or not, I think this is Rodgers last year. Even if he stays for one more, they need insurance in case Love falters. Depending on Rodgers, I could see them taking a QB anywhere from round 1-7.

The rest should be fine. Again, barring injury. I also think the young WR's are going to surprise a lot of people.

1 points
1
0
Rarescope's picture

September 08, 2022 at 10:14 am

Agree that it is a little early for draft talk, but I see this article as a breath of fresh air considering all of the "who's going to do what in week 1/who is going to win the super bowl" crystal ball based articles floating around out there right now.

2 points
2
0
JohnnyLogan's picture

September 07, 2022 at 09:31 am

Well done, Joseph. Thought-provoking take linking the PS to the draft. Safety and edge rusher looks to me to be the priorities, I even think Gutey will double up on both. TE?... my surprise breakout player of this year?... Josiah Deguara. Watch and see.

1 points
1
0
WMA's picture

September 07, 2022 at 10:15 am

Joseph. Really enjoy your writing. Look forward to more of your stuff.

2 points
2
0
jont's picture

September 07, 2022 at 10:30 am

Although no one expected Rodgers to be there at the 24th pick, the progression from Favre to Rodgers wasn't just luck. There was a day when the QB room in GB had Brunell, Detmer, Hasselbeck, and Warner as well. By design, there was a near constant flow of QB talent into the Packers' camp. Drafting Rodgers was part of the core strategy. Next spring they've got to bring in a QB.

2 points
2
0
dobber's picture

September 07, 2022 at 11:08 am

I think the TE point is a good one, given that everyone in that room (except Deguara) is year to year (aren't we all, really?), and Lewis could retire at any time.

If 2021 taught us one thing with Douglas and Campbell, it's that you never know when a perceived roster weakness will turn into a strength or unexpected depth. Even though Douglas came on board a little later than week 1, there are opportunities for unheralded guys on the 53 to ball out and make some of that PS depth superfluous.

2 points
2
0
LLCHESTY's picture

September 07, 2022 at 03:37 pm

I think the G position is a bigger need than T, even if Bakhtiari leaves after this year. Jenkins will get paid like a T so will most likely play there. Tom is an oddity in that he's more of a C/T prospect than G to me. Runyan is steady if unspectacular. RG is the big question. Maybe Newman improves on picking up stunts and Rhyan makes a 2nd year jump but if that spot is still a weakness at the end of the year it needs to be addressed. Preferably in the 4th round.

Totally agree on drafting a 5T is way overdue. I've been hoping for lengthy guy there for years. With Lowry probably gone after this season it's a spot they might need to address day 2. They aren't the easiest guys to find but TT and Gutey seem to have an aversion to looking.

1 points
1
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 08, 2022 at 05:58 am

I like this way of looking at it. An additional way is to look at expiring contracts and which players might not be with GB in 2023.

OT: Bakh. Is a $29M cap # workable.
TE: Tonyan is a UFA in 2023. Lewis might retire.
WR: Watkins, Lazard and Cobb will be UFAs.
QB: AR might retire.

DL: Reed, Lowry, are UFAs. Wyatt is TBD.
ILB: Looks good.
OLB: Needs a #3 now and perhaps still will in 2023.
CB: Looks good. Need a #4.
SS: Amos will be a UFA. Also need depth.
FS: Savage is under contract for 2023. Need depth.

Performance in 2022 probably will affect some of this analysis. Jean Charles might look good as a #4 CB, for example.

1 points
1
0
PackEyedOptimist's picture

September 08, 2022 at 08:18 am

I agree, TGR; the contracts/ages are a more meaningful angle. The PS this year includes at least one player at every position, so Gute is clearly wanting a backup-to-the-backup for every position.

Safety and Edge look like the most likely positions to target early in 2023.

Tight end, and possibly QB, seem like the next level of "need," but that's very dependent on who improves or stays.

I think we're still pretty good at OL, RB, WR, DL, ILB, and CB next year.

1 points
1
0
splitpea1's picture

September 08, 2022 at 11:22 am

It would be nice if that 4th CB could also return punts, but we'll have to wait and see how that whole thing plays out this season.

1 points
1
0