Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to NFL Mock Draft Database. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned and will not be included in this exercise.
2022 was a disappointment for the Packers since they missed out on the playoffs. The Packers were going through a translational period on the offensive side of the ball. Rodgers, at his age, continues to be top-notch, but he wasn’t ready to deal with inexperienced rookie wide receivers. Two of their 2022 draft picks, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, impressed and flashed during the season. They will have big shoes to fill heading into 2023, as we are unsure if Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb will be back with the team as they are free agents.
The Packers have a double threat at the running game that should continue next season. The tight end was left undesirable, with Robert Tonyan being a disappointment. The biggest question is whether or not Rodgers will be back, or is it finally Jordan Love time? The Packers may have at least one offensive line in Zach Tom, who was the team’s most consistent rookie.
On the defensive side of the ball, first-round pick Quay Walker led the team in tackles with 121. The pass rush was less than impressive, as their sack leader only had 8.5 sacks on the season, but the injuries did stack up. Devonte Wyatt and Kingsley Enagbare flashed as potential starters or role players for 2023. In the secondary, they were beaten more times than they should have. They knew how to create turnovers, with Jaire Alexander leading the way with five interceptions.
1.15 Brian Branch, S Alabama
In the first round, the Packers selected Branch, one of the top defensive backs in the draft. Branch has been a swift army knife for the Alabama defense, playing all over the defense from the front seven to the secondary. Branch, on every play, is always around the football with his quickness and aggressiveness. He works best in the run game, and his ability to sneak up on the line and make hits on the quarterback or running backs. He had 14 tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2022. Branch plays better in zone coverage schemes where he can watch the quarterback and be a disruptive defender. The Packers’ safety core played average at best in 2022 and could be in use of an upgrade. Branch gives the Packers that and adds tackling since the secondary was poor tacklers.
2.45 Darnell Washington, TE Georgia
In the second round, the Packers select Washington, and Tight End has been a position of need for the Packers. They have been hoping that Robert Tonyan would regain his 2019 form, but it doesn’t appebe that way. Enter Washington, who made significant strides as a Junior, producing 454 yards and two touchdowns. The easy concern is the lack of college production, but Washington has untapped potential that can be huge if coached right. He has an outstanding blocker which will benefit the run game and whoever plays at quarterback. He has the combination of height and weight that makes him look like an NFL player. Washington’s pass-catching has upside, and he made some big plays in action situations. Once he has the ball in this ball, he is tough to bring down and throws some powerful stiff arms at defenders. His ability to run seams and quick hooks give him versatility at all three offense levels. He is going to make some noise if the coaching is there.
3.78 Matthew Bergeron, OL Syracuse
In round three, the Packers select Bergeron, an offensive lineman with a ton of versatility. Bergeron has experience as both right tackle and left tackle and could be used on both sides as a rookie. His movement skills have made him excellent in pass protection. He’s a smooth operator in the run game, and Bergeron has fantastic timing on run plays. Bergeron blocked in a zone rush offense, and the Packers run a more mid-zone rush offense, so his ability to adapt should be no issue. He is better suited for right tackle or right guard, but he will make an impact at the NFL level.
4.116 Will McDonald IV EDGE Iowa State
In the fourth round, the Packers turned back to the defense and selected McDonald to add pass rush help. McDonald had a poor 2022 season with just five sacks. You’ll have to look back at 2021 and 2020 to see he put up 23 sacks and 26 tackles for loss. Overall, he had 34 sacks in his career in Iowa. McDonald has the high motor to be an elite sack leader at the NFL level. He has a quick first step to pass defenders with hand counters and cross-chop to beat out linemen. His main issue is that he isn’t the best against the run, which could limit his field snaps, but the sack potential can compensate for that. I’d expect the Packers to see some changes at their edge rushers this offseason so that Mcdonald will fit in nicely.
5.151 Trey Palmer, WR Nebraska
With the first pick of the fifth round, the Packers grab another wide receiver in Palmer. We already know the Packers drafted three receivers last year, and two have been decent so far. They are likely losing Lazard and Cobb this offseason, especially if Rodgers doesn’t come back. Palmer could fit nicely in the slot role for the offense. He is coming off a season where he put up 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns. Palmer has game-changing speed and has made big plays in the open field. He has the vertical speed and quickness to gain yards after the catch or upright beat out defenders. He has excellent ball-tracking skills and can make adjustments to the ball. Palmer does need to get a little more physical, as he can be pushed around. Whoever plays quarterback now has three fantastic starting receivers to throw to heading into 2023 and forward.
5.171 Anthony Bradford, IOL LSU
The second pick in the fifth round for the Packers is Bradford, an interior offensive lineman. As I mentioned about Bergeroe, Bradford also played multiple positions in college (LT, LG, RG). It would be interesting to see where he ends up, as he has the strength to anchor in pass protection. He also has tremendous power in the run game to make pulls and get into the second level. While Bradford has played multiple positions, he hasn’t played many college games and has been inconsistent sometimes. I think Bradford, for his concern, can make up for the mass and natural strength he offers to the Packers.
7.234 Max Milton, CB Rugters
The Packers are set for a cornerback, but depth is necessary, and bringing Milton gives them depth. His biggest concern is in the run game as he isn’t the best tackler and neither much of the Packers cornerbacks, but Milton can play. He has two interceptions in back-to-back years and ten passes deflected in 2022. He plays physically at the line of scrimmage to throw receivers off their routes. His instincts in zone coverage pop on the film, and tracking the ball is something else to watch. As a late dart throw, Milton could pay off in the future.
7.237 Stetson Bennett, QB Georgia
At the 237th pick, the Packers selected the National Champion quarterback out of Georgia. We are not sure what will happen with Rodgers yet, but it’s an excellent chance to get a winning quarterback added to the team’s depth. Bennett doesn’t have a big arm and is a lighter-frame quarterback. He has been known to pull the trigger on the ball too late, causing sacks. Of course, he is being selected as a 25-year-old draftee. He has improved his accuracy every season, with 68% in 2022. Bennett has pocket poise and mobility to make moves out of the pocket. He would join the Packers as a tough and gritty player who wouldn’t make more liability happen to the offense. The Packers need to have a player with experience, and Bennett has that.
7.244 Jaxson Kirkland, OL Washington
For the next pick in the seventh round, the Packers grab Kirkland, an offensive lineman from Washington. This pick gives the Packers an intelligent and experienced blocker that will likely be a late-round gem. Kirkland has a good time within the run game and has excellent awareness of pass protection. He does well with angles and positions his body to be the most effective in pass protection. His body control is slightly concerned as he can be thrown off his base while blocking. One downfall with Kirkland is that he will be 25 years old coming into the draft, which isn’t always great, but the Packers continue to rebuild that offensive line.
7.257 Brenton Strange, TE Penn State
The Packers’ final pick in this draft is Strange to address a significant need. The Packers need to revamp the position. Tonyan is likely gone, and Josiah Deguara is coming into the final year of his contract. The team selected Washington in round two, but they still need more. Strange saw an excellent progression in his college career, as he had 362 yards and five touchdowns. He has yards after the catch ability and the size and athleticism to be a solid tight end. Strange knows how to win in space and is built to play outside and in line. He has a few things he could work on, like his route running ability could be sharper, and his overall blocking needs coaching. He is likely a suitable Dequara replacement without spending the money.
Fantasy Impact and Analysis
Many fantasy owners won’t like the Packers draft since it doesn’t have many impactful players on the offensive side of the ball. Washington could be valued in TE premium leagues in the late second round of rookie drafts. I could see him having a high-end TE2 finish if Rodgers returns to the team. Palmer and Strange would likely be late-round rookie picks but won’t likely contribute much as rookies. Palmer could have potential if he wins the slot role and Rodgers returns, but that’s a long shot. I could see Palmer seeing work on special teams. Bennett would likely receive the Brock Purdy treatment, where he won’t be on fantasy rosters unless he somehow gets playing time.
I’d be grabbing Branch on the defensive side, as he could be a tackling machine in IDP leagues. McDonald would be a late-round rookie pick with the upside to blossom into a solid pass rusher, but his rookie impact won’t be too much. Milton would likely be a fantasy free agent unless he gets meaningful playing time.
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