Packers Morning Buzz: Tackling next year's needs in this year's draft
Welcome to your Morning Buzz, rounding up news and views regarding the Green Bay Packers from around the web and here at PackersNews.com.
With the 2019 NFL draft now just two weeks away, we'll start with The MMQB's Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling looking at the Packers' biggest areas of need in the draft. They envision the Packers looking toward the future with their pick at No. 12 rather than trying to fill an immediate need:
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.
You can read their analysis of draft needs for all the NFC and AFC North teams here:
In his annual seven-round mock draft, R.J. White of CBSSports.com has the Packers trading down four spots in the first round to pick up an extra third-round pick and then selecting Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford at No. 16. He has them drafting Sooners wide receiver Marquise Brown at No. 30.
The Packers pass on the chance to take T.J. Hockenson at No. 12, trading back four spots and snagging an extra third-round pick before adding Ford, a tackle who should immediately thrive inside at guard, where his plus blocking skills will shine. The Packers can also develop his pass protection and eventually move him to tackle should an opening arise down the road. The team then doubles up on Sooners by snagging the ultra talented Brown at receiver, who is as undersized as he is explosive. It's frightening to think what Aaron Rodgers could do with a weapon like that.
White also has the Packers trading up for an additional second-round pick. You can see all his projected Packers picks here:
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has a little fun with the ongoing Aaron Rodgers-Mike McCarthy controversy in his mock-draft projection of the Packers' first pick:
12. Green Bay Packers
WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss – If he runs whatever routes Aaron Rodgers wants and not what his coaches call, Metcalf could be a star in Green Bay.
Birkett's entire first-round mock can be found here:
Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy finally addressed the explosive Bleacher Report story:
The Packers realize there will be no grace period under the new regime and that they still will be expected to win immediately:
With Randall Cobb gone, the Packers need a slot receiver and Davante Adams is ready and willing to help:
ESPN asked its NFL beat writers to go back over the last five years and identify which draft selection their team should get to have a "do-over" and which player they should've taken instead. For Rob Demovsky, it's the Packers' decision to draft cornerback Kevin King in 2017:
First round of the 2017 draft (No. 29 overall)
Actual pick: Kevin King, CB, Washington (after trading down to No. 33)
Do-over pick: T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
After the Packers traded down in Ted Thompson's final draft as general manager, the Steelers picked Watt at No. 30 and the Packers took King with the first pick in the second round (the Packers also got the No. 104 pick in trade). It seemed like a risk at the time given the Packers' need for a pass-rusher and King's history of shoulder problems. Sure enough, Watt had seven sacks as a rookie and 13 last season, while King has finished each of his first two seasons on injured reserve. The Packers then had to use their top pick in 2018 on another corner, Jaire Alexander, and spent big money on their pass rush in free agency this year with Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith.
You can read the other NFL teams' "do-overs" here:
Bleacher Report's Tyler Dunne joined Peter King's podcast to talk more about his explosive story on the Rodgers-McCarthy relationship and what the future could bring for the Packers:
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that the Packers' silence on the matter (before Murphy addressed it) was deafening:
Aaron Jones' cutback ability should fit nicely in new coach Matt LaFleur's outside zone running game:
And finally: Sounds like former Packers guard T.J. Lang is learning that retirement isn't all it's cracked up to be:
Contact Stu Courtney at (920) 431-8377 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stucourt