NFL draft: Our predictions for the Packers' first pick
Our Packers reporters predict what Green Bay will do with its No. 30 pick in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday:
Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma
Former GM Ron Wolf once let Baltimore take linebacker Ray Lewis a pick before his and he never forgot it. Packers GM Brian Gutekunst wasn’t there but he has heard the story countless times. Neither LSU's Patrick Queen nor Murray is Lewis, but the need is so great at that position, he can’t allow a similar scenario (Packers are at No. 30, Baltimore at No. 28) in which both are gone when he picks. There are three options for Gutekunst to move up: New Orleans at No. 24, Miami at No. 26 and Seattle at No. 27. It would take a third-rounder to move up to 24th and a fourth for the other two spots. Director-football operations Milt Hendrickson worked with Ravens GM Eric DeCosta and will be providing insight as to whether Baltimore would move up for Murray or Queen and how far. If he stays put at 30, Gutekunst takes a wide receiver: Brandon Aiyuk or Jalen Reagor. He should strongly consider Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.
Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The Packers badly need a three-down linebacker who can make plays in the run game and cover ground over the middle of the field as a pass defender. Murray probably will go before he’s in Gutekunst’s range, but Queen might make it to 30, or at least close enough where Gutekunst can trade up to get him.
Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
Gutekunst likes to move around and has made first-round trades in each of his two drafts. And the strength of his third draft is its depth. With their 30th overall pick, the Packers should have a bounty of intriguing options. One of them could be Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, and don’t be shocked if it happens. But if Love falls to the bottom of the first round, quarterback-needy teams will be at a fever pitch trying to trade back into the round to draft him. So here’s a best guess: The Packers trade their pick to Indianapolis, swapping for the Colts' 34th overall pick and adding an extra fourth-rounder (No. 122 overall) and sixth-rounder (193). The Packers then draft Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks with their first pick in the second round, intrigued by his 4.54 speed and take-on skills as a run defender. They could then wait until No. 62 overall to address their receiver need, or use a fourth-round pick to slide up in the second round to get their receiver of choice.
Austin Jackson, OT, USC
Gutekunst will call Seahawks counterpart John Schneider, his always-trusty draft trade partner, to leap over the Titans (No. 29) to make sure he gets his right tackle of the future in Jackson with the No. 27 pick. A bit raw and young (he’ll turn 21 after the draft), the 6-foot, 5-inch, 322-pound Jackson will have time to develop behind veteran free-agent signee Rick Wagner once football activities resume and should be ready to take over fully in 2021. Jackson fits the culture of the locker room (he saved his sister’s life with a bone marrow donation) and fits the physical profile of a franchise-type tackle. Some of the top right tackles will be off the board at this point, but with the Titans also in need of a player at the same position, Gutekunst will make sure he gets his man.
Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
It’s possible Gutekunst moves back from No. 30 to acquire more picks if the players he wants go off the board early. However, if there’s a lineman available at No. 30 who he believes can compete for the starting right tackle position, then he could stay put. Starting tackles are difficult to come by in later rounds, with left tackle David Bakhtiari being an exception. Free-agent tackle acquisition Rick Wagner turns 31 in October and is on a two-year deal, which doesn’t indicate that he’s the long-term starting right tackle. Cleveland is an enormous, athletic tackle with experience playing in a zone scheme. As much as quarterback Aaron Rodgers needs playmaking receivers, he also needs protection on the right side.