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Aaron Nagler speaks with Ryan Wood about the Packers wide receiver position heading into the 2018 NFL Draft USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

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Third in a 10-part NFL draft position-preview series looking at prospects who might be of interest to the Packers. Today: Wide receivers.

Packers’ outlook

The Packers addressed their need for a tight end when they signed Jimmy Graham, but the move that made that transaction possible — releasing receiver Jordy Nelson — also created a hole at another. The switch pushed receiver ahead of tight end on the team’s positional needs. Though they have in-house candidates to replace Nelson, the Packers figure to target a receiver early in the draft. Former general manager Ted Thompson had an extensive track record of drafting quality receivers in the second round, something successor Brian Gutekunst would do well to continue this year. Because of the position’s breakdown, the Packers probably don’t need to draft a first-round receiver, but they'd better be wary. Once receivers start coming off the board, there’s likely to be a run on them. Priority level: High.

PACKERS: Second round a prime spot for Packers to target WR

Packers' possibilities

CALVIN RIDLEY, ALABAMA

6-0½, 189 pounds

The good: Led Alabama in receiving each of his three seasons, and better quarterback play would have led to more production. Excellent route runner and dynamic after the catch (4.43 40), able to run away from defensive backs. Soft hands help him catch off-target passes. At Alabama, lined up all over the field.

The bad: Once a potential top-10 pick, an underwhelming combine dropped his draft stock. Ran fast, but tested historically poor in explosive drills. Since 2008, 200 receivers have vertical jumped at the combine; only 14 have jumped worse than Ridley’s 31 inches. Of 178 receivers to broad jump at the combine since 2008, Ridley’s 9 feet, 2 inches was tied for 176th. Slight build, needs to gain strength.

Projected round: 1-2.

COURTLAND SUTTON, SMU

6-3⅜, 218 pounds

The good: Monster size with good strength, posting 18 reps on bench press at the combine. Tied Denver Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders’ freshman record with nine touchdown receptions, then improved on it each year, finishing with 31 in his three full seasons. Exceeded 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons.

The bad: Not a quick-twitch athlete. Adequate speed for his size, but a 4.54 40 at the combine doesn’t project as a consistent deep threat. Room to improve route running.

Projected round: 1-2.

D.J. MOORE, MARYLAND

6-0, 210 pounds

The good: School record 80 receptions for career-high 1,033 yards last season despite playing with four different quarterbacks. First FBS player in 10 seasons to exceed 1,000 receiving yards without a quarterback on his team reaching 1,500 passing yards. Followed college production with good combine, running 4.42 with a 132-inch broad jump that ranked first among receivers and a 39½-inch vertical jump that ranked second.

The bad: Might not have size to play perimeter. Struggled with consistency. Must improve route running at next level.

Projected round: 1-2.

D.J. CHARK, LSU

6-2⅞, 199 pounds

The good: Another in the recent lineage of highly athletic receivers with modest production at LSU, preceded by the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Does not project to match their stature in the NFL, but a 4.34 40 along with a 40-inch vertical jump (both led all receivers at the combine) raised significant intrigue about his potential. His testing numbers certainly resonated more than the combined 66 passes and six touchdowns he caught the past two seasons.

The bad: Not a natural hands catcher. Despite speed, sometimes struggles to track the deep ball. Overall consistency hasn’t matched his athleticism.

Projected round: 2.

JAMES WASHINGTON, OKLAHOMA STATE

5-11, 213 pounds

The good: Won Biletnikoff Award given to nation’s top receiver in 2017 after catching 74 passes for 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. Big-play threat excelling on vertical routes, led nation in catches of at least 30 (16), 40 (10), 50 (seven) and 60 (four) yards. Also can make plays with ball in his hands after the catch.

The bad: Worked on the perimeter and in the slot at Oklahoma State but doesn’t have great size to play on the outside in NFL. Ran an underwhelming 4.54 40 at the combine. Needs more exposure to press coverage, something he didn’t see much in Big 12.

Projected round: 2.

Best and bust

Donald Driver retired as the Packers' all-time receiving leader, not bad for a seventh-round pick who watched 212 players drafted before him in 1999. Dave Dunaway, drafted with the 41st overall pick out of Duke in 1967, was the only receiver the Packers drafted in the top three rounds in the Super Bowl era to not catch a pass for them. Dunaway played only two games for the Packers.

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A brief overview of where the Packers stand at the wide receiver position prior to the 2018 NFL Draft. USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

 

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