GREEN BAY – From late Thursday night into Friday morning, all indications were the Green Bay Packers prefer to trade out of their 33rd overall pick that opens the NFL draft’s second round.
The Packers might even be willing to draft Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer with their first pick Friday night to enhance their leverage. Kizer is “in play” for the Packers with the 33rd overall pick, a league source told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
It’s hard to see the Packers drafting Kizer without planning to flip him in a trade. Thompson foreshadowed another possible trade late Thursday night after sending the Packers' 29th overall pick in the first round to the Cleveland Browns for picks Nos. 33 and 108 (fourth round).
“Oh yeah, we’re taking calls,” Thompson said at the conclusion of his draft night news conference. It was a strong indication for a general manager who almost never reveals even the slightest clue of his draft plans.
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The Packers have no need for a quarterback, even as a backup. Behind Aaron Rodgers, 2015 fifth-round pick Brett Hundley will enter his third season. In limited snaps, almost all coming in the preseason, Hundley has shown flashes of potential and impressed the Packers.
“I really like him,” McCarthy said of Hundley at the NFL scouting combine in February. “I think he needs to play. He needs quarterback school, but he may not have that. He needs the fine-tuning. But he’s ready, you know? He’s done a good job with his body. Mentally, he’s got it. He’s got to play a little faster, which they all do when they’re young. I think he’s at that threshold of let’s find out how good this kid can be.
“I like him. I like him a lot. I always have.”
Quarterback will never cease to be the driving force of draft trades. Another reminder came in Thursday’s first round. Three teams traded up to draft a quarterback in the first 12 picks: Chicago for Mitchell Trubisky, Kansas City for Patrick Mahomes, and Houston for Deshaun Watson.
“We’re very happy we have a quarterback,” Thompson said after the round concluded.
Kizer is considered by many to be the best quarterback still available, though some teams might prefer California quarterback Davis Webb.
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A developmental project who likely needs at least one year to learn behind a veteran, Kizer has size (6-foot-4, 233 pounds), mobility (4.86 40) and arm strength that were considered first-round material. Instead, he slipped out of the first round and remains an attractive option for teams with an aging starter in place.
It’s highly unlikely Green Bay would be Kizer’s home for long, but the Packers are in the driver’s seat with the first pick Friday night. In the absence of a trade proposal that matches the Packers' asking price, drafting Kizer could be a way to bring a higher offer.
The Packers also could stand pat with their 33rd overall pick. With a deep class of defensive talent still available, it’s clear their preference would be to trade back and acquire more assets.
“We wanted to add a little meat to shoring up the roster and that sort of thing,” Thompson said. “We felt like it was important to get a little more oomph out of it. And thanks to the people up there working their tail off, they were able to do exactly that.
“We’ll see where it goes tomorrow because the board is still strong. So who knows what might happen tomorrow.”