Varying national opinions on the 2021 NFL Draft class for the Green Bay Packers relatively produced favorable grades, albeit the few that decided that even though GM Brian Gutekunst decided to tackle all areas of need, he still did not earn a passing grade.
But the biggest topic of this past weekend was not the picks that GB was making, but what their quarterback situation was going to look like heading into next season, amid the reports about Aaron Rodgers and his unhappiness with the franchise. With all sorts of talking heads loving this kind of controversy, it certainly convoluted a solid nine-pick draft class.
Backup Jordan Love has been dragged into this mess as well, even though he did not ask for any of it, and he could very well be the next starting QB in the long line of Hall of Fame options suiting up for Green Bay – things can change on the drop of a dime in the NFL, and GB’s luck at QB is either entering a low period or could just be continuing its impressive run of top-notch QB play.
1st round (29) – CB Eric Stokes, Georgia
2nd round (62) – OL Josh Myers, Ohio State
3rd round (85) – WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson
4th round (142) – OL Royce Newman, Ole Miss
5th round (173) – DT Tedarrell Slaton, Florida
5th round (178) – CB Shemar Jean-Charles, Appalachian State
6th round (214) – OL Cole Van Lanen, Wisconsin
6th round (220) – LB Isaiah McDuffie, Boston College
7th round (256) – RB Kylin Hill, Mississippi State
With the breakdown being 2 corners, 1 defensive lineman, 1 linebacker, 3 offensive linemen, 1 running back, and 1 wide receiver, the front office set out to address key areas of need, and decided to yet again triple up on OL. And while the question still remains who will be taking snaps at QB this upcoming season, this team has improved yet again through the draft.
Stokes is able to push Kevin King for the CB2 role alongside Jaire Alexander, and Stokes’ speed and coverage skill should make him the likely winner of that battle. Jean-Charles was a solid CB at App. State, and he projects more as a CB4/5 who can push Chandon Sullivan and others – he could very well be one of this draft’s biggest steals.
The trio of Myers, Newman, and Van Lanen all bring different types of talent to this roster, but Myers is taking the all-too-similar route that Corey Linsley took as an interior lineman coming out of Ohio State. Myers will likely become this team’s starting center and he looks the part, built like a stout OL leader all while holding up in both pass and run blocking situations.
Newman earned a rave review after his selection, as GB’s co-direction of player personnel Jon-Eric Sullivan spoke about Newman’s versatility and how he projects to be able to play all five positions. Van Lanen is from the Green Bay area and gets to stay home for his professional step, and he is a solid tackle prospect moving forward.
Amari Rodgers ended up being the crown jewel of Gutekunst’s eye, and the gadget-role that he can play in Matt LaFleur’s offense is going to be a sight to see – drafted as one of two offensive playmakers, he will see the field early and often, and can help improve our putrid return game as well.
Tedarrell Slaton is a large man that will help fill a much-needed role on the DL for Green Bay – taking pressure and blocks off of Kenny Clark so Clark can eat. Slaton is an interesting player, as he could actually become an OL prospect instead of a DT – he entered the college ranks as a highly-ranked guard but switched to the defensive side for the Gators and could switch back for GB if they like him better there.
McDuffie was a second-team All-ACC selection in 2020, racking up 107 tackles on his way to earning those honors. He will join a LB core that will be needing to count on the likes of Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin even more moving forward than the team may feel comfortable with doing.
Hill is a small back, standing only at 5’10”, but his ball security (one career college fumble) and production (67 career receptions) shows that he very easily can hold down a role as RB3 in LaFleur’s offense. While replacing departed Jamaal Williams with Hill is not something that should be expected, Hill’s role can help take some pressure off of both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23
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