Packers Players Who Will Be Most Impacted by 2021 NFL Draft PicksApril 21, 2021
Packers Players Who Will Be Most Impacted by 2021 NFL Draft Picks
Much has been made about the Green Bay Packers' wide receiver depth behind Davante Adams.
The Packers tried to acquire Will Fuller V at the 2020 trade deadline and did not make a significant upgrade in free agency.
Unless there is internal belief that Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard will increase their production, the Packers should target the position at some juncture of the 2021 NFL draft.
While there is a need behind Adams, the Packers may wait until Friday or Saturday to bring in competition, since there is a need to improve at cornerback.
The gap between the top corners and those chosen in the second and third rounds could be steeper than the difference between the best wideouts in the draft class.
If the Packers opt to not select a cornerback on April 29, they could look for reinforcements at defensive line to bolster their sack total. If that occurs, some of the rostered interior linemen could be in danger of losing playing time.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard
Valdes-Scantling recorded a career-best receiving-yard total in 2020, and Lazard's production dropped by 26 yards.
Although Valdes-Scantling experienced a 109-yard leap, he only made seven additional receptions. Lazard had two fewer catches on six fewer targets.
The increase from MVS and Lazard's consistency in the 400-yard range is promising, but if Green Bay wants to compete with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC, it needs a step up from both players.
Some of the catches and yards were taken up by Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, but now the Packers have to replace the 31 receptions and 236 yards earned by the latter departed running back.
Devin Funchess' return to the roster may aid Green Bay's wide receiver depth, but it could take advantage of the deep wide receiver class.
If Green Bay opts to go the offensive route at No. 29, it could look to Purdue's Rondale Moore, Oklahoma State's Tylan Wallace or Amari Rodgers out of Clemson.
Bleacher Report's NFL draft scouts have those players ranked as the eighth through 10th wideouts on their latest big board.
Even if the Packers wait until the third or fourth round, they could find speed through Auburn's Anthony Schwartz or D'Wayne Eskridge from Western Michigan. USC's Amon-Ra St. Brown could be in play as well, since his brother, Equanimeous was chosen in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft.
Any wide receiver draftee could put pressure on Valdes-Scantling and Lazard, and if the potential selection succeeds, both returners may see their totals dip in 2021.
The Packers may be forced to dip back into the defensive back draft class early, like they did with Jaire Alexander in the 2018 first round and Kevin King in the 2017 second round.
King has not played a full 16 games in his NFL career and was one of the corners who got torched by Tom Brady in the NFC Championship Game.
Conversely, Alexander recorded over 10 passes defended in each of his three seasons and has a Pro Bowl appearances on his resume.
That suggests that if the Packers select a cornerback in the first or second round, King would be the player whose position is at risk.
The problem facing the Packers at No. 29 is the top corners could be off the board before they are on the clock.
Patrick Surtain II is likely out of Green Bay's range, and Jaycee Horn could be as well, which may leave them to choose from the second tier of corners.
Bleacher Report's Cory Giddings listed Washington's Elijah Molden as the best slot corner, and Florida State's Asante Samuel Jr. as his best in zone coverage, so there are solid options available at No. 29.
However, if the Packers wait until the second round to choose a corner, they may miss out on those players at No. 62.
Dean Lowry and Kingsley Keke
Green Bay had a steep drop off from Za'Darius Smith in sacks in 2020.
Smith totaled 12.5 sacks, which was a half-sack fewer than the next three players on the list combined. Kingsley Keke, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary were the only other players with four or more take downs.
The lack of production could turn Green Bay's focus to a pass-rusher at No. 29, and that may be the only other position to justify taking over a corner or wide out in the first round.
A handful of power-five pass-rushers may be around at the back end of the first round, including Georgia's Azeez Ojulari and Texas' Joseph Ossai.
Ojulari totaled 8.5 sacks in the shortened 2020 campaign, while Ossai generated five sacks in back-to-back seasons and forced three fumbles in his final collegiate season.
Oklahoma's Ronnie Perkins is also worth consideration since he produced five or more sacks in his trio of Big 12 seasons.
If the Packers go that route, the potential first-round pick could take snaps away from Dean Lowry and Keke, who combined for seven sacks off the edge last season.
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Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference and ESPN.com.