The Green Bay Packers currently have three selections in the Top 50 of the 2023 NFL Draft as a result of the Aaron Rodgers transaction. They’ll also have two first-round selections in the 2024 NFL draft if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t get hurt. Here we’ll look at how the Rodgers trade to the New York Jets changes the plans of the Packers for the 2023 NFL Draft.
As the Packers prepare to enter the Jordan Love era at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, GM Brian Gutekunst has put himself up to acquire top-tier talent over the following two seasons. The issue now is whether Rodgers’ departure will result in a massive Packers rebuild. Gutekunst rejects that notion, though. For him, moving four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t necessarily signal the beginning of a rebuilding endeavor.
“The goals don’t change around here,” Gutekunst said Monday while confirming a trade sending Rodgers to the New York Jets should be finalized this week. “It’s going to be the same goals we’ve always had, right? There’s one goal here every single year, no matter what.”
For the past thirty years, the Packers have had a realistic chance at their goal of winning a Super Bowl. That’s due to having two Hall of Fame-caliber quarterbacks, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Together, they won seven MVP awards and each led the team to a Super Bowl victory. Interestingly enough, both players’ tenures with the Packers ended with a trade to the Jets.
Now, Jordan Love, the 2020 first-round pick from Utah State, will be taking over as the Packers’ starting quarterback. Recall that Love has only made one career start and has been backing up Rodgers for the past three seasons. That’s similar to how Rodgers backed up Favre for three years before becoming the starter. The Packers made the decision to trade Rodgers earlier in the offseason. He cited his age and the need to plan for the future.
Although Love showed promise in his relief appearance last season, the Packers will need to surround him with more playmakers. Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan, who were the team’s leaders in catches and yards receiving in 2022, both left in free agency. While some young wideouts on the team performed well last season, they will need to step up to fill the gaps in the receiving corps. Despite the challenges, the Packers believe that this transition to a new starting quarterback will be similar to the one they made in 2008. That’s when Rodgers took over for Favre and ultimately led the team to a Super Bowl title.
Let’s look at how the Aaron Rodgers trade changes the plans of the Packers for the 2023 NFL Draft.
1. Packers need a ton of new pass-catchers
In 2008, Aaron Rodgers had a strong receiving corps. This included Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Donald Lee, and Jermichael Finley. In contrast, the current Packers team has a solid foundation at wide receiver with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. However, it lacks depth and talent at tight end. Of course, they need to evaluate Jordan Love’s potential as their quarterback for the next decade or more. To do that, the Packers need to add more playmakers to their passing game.
Take note that after the Rodgers trade, Green Bay has 11 draft picks in 2023. At least four of them need to be devoted to the tight end and wide receiver positions. The Packers have not selected a tight end in the first round in 23 years. Now, it is crucial for Gutekunst to find a difference-maker in the position. Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid are potential targets at pick 15. Alternatively, the Packers could trade down to pick either of them. If they miss out on these two, Darnell Washington, Tucker Kraft, Sam LaPorta, and Luke Musgrave are other options in the early second round.
Sure, there are talented tight ends later in the draft. However, none of them offer the same potential as these “Top Six” players. It would be a major disappointment if the Packers do not select at least one of these top tight ends during the draft. By finding a strong tight end and improving their receiving corps, the Packers can help Love succeed as their new starting quarterback.
IT IS OFFICIALLY JORDAN LOVE SEASON pic.twitter.com/w1e4sgf27i
— Nike (@KKKLIPZ) April 24, 2023
2. Strengthen that offensive line
It’s also important for the Packers to not only focus on adding weapons to support Jordan Love but also to address the uncertainties surrounding their offensive line. Besides Elgton Jenkins, the team is unsure who will start for the next few years. In 2023, David Bakhtiari’s cap hit will skyrocket to $40 million. As such, it’s unclear if he will remain in Green Bay beyond that season. Additionally, the Packers are unsure if Josh Meyers and Jon Runyan Jr. will be long-term starters at center and guard respectively. Yosh Nijman’s contract is also set to expire. That adds more uncertainty. Considering these factors, Brian Gutekunst has drafted three offensive linemen in three of the last five drafts. Still, he may need to add multiple linemen in this year’s draft as well. Some middle-round options are Wayna Morris of Oklahoma, Michigan’s Olusegun Oluwatimi, or Pittsburgh’s Carter Warren.
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