To be sitting in the number 29 slot in the NFL draft is to be in no man’s land. There are almost never 29 players in an NFL draft with a true first round grade. You are drafting too low to get first round value, yet too high to reach for a second round talent.
That’s why the Green Bay Packers should either trade up in the coming draft, or trade down, but should definitely not stay at 29. Of the ten players drafted there in the past decade, only two have ever been selected for a Pro Bowl, and one of those was for special teams. By contrast, four of the ten are not even in football anymore. Here’s the rundown:
2011–Bears take tackle Gabe Carimi (out of football)
2012– Vikings take S Harrison Smith (5 Pro Bowls, All Pro 2017)
2013– Vikings take WR Cordarelle Patterson (4 Pro Bowls, 4 times All Pro, all for special teams)
2014– Patriots take DT Dominique Easley (out of football)
2015– Colts take WR Phillip Dorsett (six years with four different teams. Missed all of 2020 on injured reserve)
2016– Cardinals take DE Robert Nkemdiche (currently out of football)
2017– Browns take TE David Njoku (average player for four seasons)
2018– Jaguars take DT Taven Bryan (17 starts in 48 games)
2019– Seahawks take DE L.J. Collier (16 starts in 32 games)
2020– Titans take T Isaiah Wilson (played in one game, released for disciplinary reasons)
Certainly there are no guarantees with trading up, but the chances of success do get better. If the Packers are serious about immediately addressing weaknesses at tackle, defensive line or corner, this is their move. Using Jimmy Johnson”s Draft Position Value Chart, we can make an educated guess what it would cost. I’m not absolutely certain I have these point values figured accurately, but I’m close.
It would be unrealistic to expect the Packers to trade up into the high top ten, as that would likely require multiple future first round picks. The 49ers, for example, had to give up this year’s number one, and two more number ones plus a number three, to move up into the third slot.
Moving up to positions 11 through 15 would probably cost this year’s number one and next year’s as well. Recall in 2018 the Saints gave the Packers an extra number one to get into the number 14 slot. Drafting in that area, Green Bay might well have a shot at highly touted tackles like Rashawn Slater, Christian Darrisaw, or Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Trading into the 16 to 20 range would cost Green Bay’s 29th pick and probably a second and 3rd, or a second and fourth round selection. Here they may find first round-rated tackles such as Teven Jenkins and Samuel Cosmi still on the board, or possibly defensive lineman Kwity Paye.
Climbing to spots 21 through 25 would require swapping in the first and something like third and fifth rounders thrown in. In that zip code, odds are good the Packers might be able to tab a player like defensive back Greg Newsome II, or defensive lineman Jaelen Phillips.
Again there are no guarantees any of these players will turn out to be substantially better than what might be left at 29, but history shows the odds are in your favor.
Then again, Green Bay may be wiser to take the opposite strategy. Trade down, accumulate more picks, which then improve the odds of hitting on somebody at a much cheaper price. But it’s more hit or miss. In 2008 Ted Thompson traded out of the first round to acquire an extra second round pick and still wound up with Jordy Nelson. Unfortunately, he squandered the extra second rounder on quarterback Brian Brohm. In 2017 Thompson did it again and wound up with Kevin King and Josh Jones in round two. We can debate the merits of King, but Jones was a flop and is no longer with the team.
One other disadvantage to trading down is the loss of the fifth year option on your first round pick. Of course, the Packers could also conserve some of their picks and offer a current player as part of a deal to move up, but who would that player be? Green Bay seldom does business that way.
Trading up or trading down, either way can work. Just don’t stay at 29. It’s usually not a good place to be.
Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.