2022 NFL Draft Will Decide Fate of Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers' Future

Alex KayContributor IApril 15, 2022

FILE - Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) spins a football in his fingers before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers, on Jan 22. 2022, in Green Bay, Wis. An underwhelming free agent class for quarterbacks is overshadowed by the possibility of multiple big names changing teams, most notably Aaron Rodgers. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps, File)
Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers have reached a crossroads.

While they accomplished a major offseason goal when they retained Aaron Rodgers on a record-setting extension, they took a step backward by trading his top weapon, Davante Adams.

None of the incumbent wide receivers—a trio that includes Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers—nor the newly signed Sammy Watkins project to become the type of elite No. 1 option that this roster now sorely lacks.

The Packers will get one more chance to patch that glaring hole in the 2022 NFL draft, an event that will shape the direction of the franchise for the next half-decade or more.

The team has done well retaining picks this year, amassing 11 total selections that must be used to bolster an aging roster that has won 13 games in each of the past three seasons. The Packers are sitting on a pair of first-rounders as the key part of their five picks inside the top 100.

One of those Day 1 picks should be used on a wideout who can help pick up the slack in wake of Adams' departure. Fortunately for the Packers, this is one of the most loaded wide receiver classes in recent memory.

Bleacher Report's Scouting Department has 11 receivers ranked inside the top 50 on its latest big board. B/R also has seven wideouts coming off the board in the first round in its latest mock draft. That would tie the 2004 record for most receivers taken on Day 1.

The Packers cannot afford to miss out on one of these elite options. Not only is the team in need of immediate help, but it could also be down a pair of proven wideouts this time next year.

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 24: Davante Adams #17, Randall Cobb #18 and Allen Lazard #13 of the Green Bay Packers line up before the snap against the Washington Football Team at Lambeau Field on October 24, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Green Bay defea
John Fisher/Getty Images

With Cobb's contract automatically voiding following the 2022 campaign and Lazard playing out the season on a restricted free-agent tender, there is a real chance that neither is back in 2023. Green Bay will want to account for this when making its selections, perhaps going for a pro-ready contributor early and rolling the dice on a developmental prospect later in the draft.

While wide receiver may be the most obvious need, it isn't the only one.

The offensive line could use help with two starters from last year's unit gone. With Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick out of the picture, Green Bay must unearth a new starting center and right tackle for the 2022 season.

Factor in guard Elgton Jenkins' ongoing recovery from a torn ACL and the unreliability of tackle David Bakhtiari and you have the makeup of a concerning offensive line that needs to be bolstered with promising rookie prospects.

Green Bay's defense may be in better shape than its offense going into the 2022 draft, but that side of the ball still needs some work.

The team employs a solid tandem of outside linebackers in Preston Smith and Rashan Gary, but there is little depth behind them. Drafting a least one quality pass-rusher should be a top priority.

The safety position is also thin, as the club employs little in the way of proven talent outside of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage.

Both starters could hit free agency next offseason, making this a spot the Packers may want to use a relatively early pick on.

Morry Gash/Associated Press

The pressure is on general manager Brian Gutekunst to make the most out of these 11 selections and keep Green Bay in the Super Bowl conversation with immediate contributors.

According to DraftKings, the Packers are the odds-on favorite to win a fourth consecutive NFC North title. They are only slightly behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the best odds to represent the conference in the Super Bowl, and they are in a three-way tie with the Kansas City Chiefs and the defending champion Los Angeles Rams for third-best odds to capture the next Lombardi Trophy.

The results of the draft could heavily change those odds, however. Last year, many teams saw their Super Bowl odds skyrocket or plummet based on how bookmakers perceived the impact of their selections.

Few if any teams have as much riding on the 2022 draft as Green Bay does.

The squad could bounce back and make a deep run following last year's disappointing loss in its playoff opener, but it needs to bring in some young talent to augment the current core.

A strong draft should have Rodgers ready to lead the Packers back to a Super Bowl for the first time in 12 years—in 2022 and beyond. On the other hand, a poor draft could set the Packers back years and squander the final seasons of Rodgers' career.


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