Another draft has come and gone! While the 2020 draft may have held a lot of mystery and controversy for Packer fans, the 2021 draft was all about addressing areas of need with relatively little quibbling.
Let’s meet your new Green Bay Packers!
29th overall: Eric Stokes, Cornerback, Georgia
Jaire Alexander was arguably the finest cover corner in the NFL in 2020, but the other side of the field was quite often a mess, and one could argue it cost the Packers their season. While the mercurial Kevin King will return, there was a clear need for an upgrade for the future of the position, and so the Packers invested yet another top pick in a defensive back: this time the speedster Eric Stokes from Georgia.
Stokes ran a lightning-fast 4.25 40 at his pro day and is an outstanding athlete. His numbers against SEC competition are highly impressive and showed he has the ability to play at a high level against pro caliber players. There’s always an adjustment period for new corners, but it’s safe to say Stokes will be seeing hte field a lot right from the get go, regardless of whether it’s as an official starter.
65th overall: Josh Myers, Center, Ohio state
The Packers lost their all pro former Ohio State center Corey Linsley in free agency, and with other voids on the offensive line (lost Lane Taylor, and David Bakhtiari out with injury) it was clear the Packers would need to invest heavily in the position. Myers will be able to play any of the three interior line spots, and gives the Packers some flexibility with what they will do with Elgton Jenkins. Like Stokes, expect Myers to see the field early on, and have a chance at competing for a starting job. Myers helped pave the way for one of college football’s best interior rushing games and allowed just three sacks as a senior. This is a tough football player with a lot of potential.
85th overall: Amari Rodgers, Wide Receiver, Clemson
The Packers traded up to snatch Rodgers, who they clearly loved. The Packers haven’t had a true slot receiver since Randall Cobb left, and the similarities between Cobb and Rodgers are remarkable. Rodgers will be able to be used all over the field, making him a perfect fit for the Matt LaFleur offense. This is not at all the prototypical receiver pick the Packers have made under Brian Gutekunst and late-era Ted Thompson, but he perfectly fills a void for what the Packers needed in this offense. Here’s hoping it’s Aaron Rodgers throwing to him!
142nd overall: Royce Newman, Offensive Line, Mississippi
The Packers love picking versatile offensive linemen in the later rounds of the draft, and Newman fits that bill. He’s started at both left guard and right tackle during his colegiate career, meaning he’s seen both sides of the line at two positions, against SEC competition. With Lucas Patrick likely departing in 2022, Newman at the very least will serve as a great utility player who’s able to step in where needed, but could also be looked at as a potential future starter should he come out and impress.
173rd overall: Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida
The Packers desperately needed to add some new bodies to their defensive line room, especially with the disappointing Montravius Adams leaving in free agency. and Tedarrell Slaton is definitely an intriguing prospect. Slaton is large: 6’4, 330 pounds. He’s primarily a run stopper, which is exactly what the Packers need. With Kenny Clark and Kingsley Keke being versatile as pass rushers and run players, Slaton can hopefully help address a void the Packers have had for some time now on the interior line. These late round picks are always a tossup, but you always love seeing more big bodies added up front.
178th overall: Shemar Jean-Charles, Cornerback, Appalachian state
The cornerback position needed a lot of extra help this offseason, and with Jean-Charles the Packers completed yet another Brian Gutekunst triple-dip, in re-signing King, drafting Stokes and then drafting this interesting upstart from Appalachian State. Jean-Charles does not have nearly the speed of a Stokes, King or Alexander, but he was a scrappy player who stuck out on a small school without a lot of national spotlight. Jean-Charles will get a legitimate chance to make the team as a special teamer and possible contributor on defense.
214th overall: Cole Van Lanen, Offensive Lineman, Wisconsin
Great story here in Van Lanen, who grew up in Green Bay, went to Wisconsin and now gets to play for the Packers. Talk about a dream come true for a Wisconsin-born kid! Van Lanen is yet another offensive lin product out of Wisconsin, a school that sends a ton of linemen to the NFL, many of whom go on to have long, successful careers. Expectations have to be low for a sixth round pick, but Van Lanen has a lot of versatility and will be in the mix in an offensive line room that is going to have a lot of (much needed) competition.
220th overall: Isaiah McDuffie, Linebacker, Boston College
It’s the second year in a row the Packers take an interior linebacker on day three, with McDuffie joining 2020 fifth round pick Kamal Martin, who had some flashes last season. McDuffie is a smaller player than Martin and Krys Barnes, who figure to be the top two at the position in 2021. But he enters the league with a solid pedigree. He finished fifth in the nation in tackling in 2020 and was a three-year starter in college. He finished second-team all conference, and was widely considered a BC team leader. He’s a smart, driven player; we’ll see if he has the physical skills to stick in the NFL.
256th overall: Kylin Hill, Running Back, Mississippi State
I personally love this pick for the Packers. Kylin Hill is coming off a shortened 2020 but had a strong 2019 season in which he earned first-team all-SEC honors with 1350 yards and 10 touchdowns on 242 carries. He’s a capable receiver as well. Hill has a legitimate shot to make the team, though he’ll be competing with Patricdk Taylor. Hill could well have gone a couple rounds earlier than he did, so it’s great value with what essentially amounts to a flyer pick for the Packers at a position where they could use a bit more competition for that third spot.
Welcome all to Titletown!
Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.