The Packers Are Failing Aaron Rodgers After Failing to Add WR in 1st RoundApril 29, 2022
Editor's Note: This article was published
before Green Bay completed a trade with the Minnesota Vikings to move up to the 34th pick to select WR Christian Watson, NDSU.
Oftentimes on draft night, it feels as though the Green Bay Packers are trolling not just quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but all of us.
That was again the case in the first round of the 2022 draft Thursday night, when the Green Bay regime led by general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur once again neglected to address Rodgers' supporting cast.
It marked the 20th consecutive draft in which the Packers decided not to select a receiver, tight end or running back in Round 1. And in the last 11 first rounds, the only offensive player they've selected was, inexplicably, another quarterback.
Most of us figured, or at least hoped, that was peak Rodgers troll-job. April 23, 2020: Gutekunst trades up into Round 1 with Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr. and Chase Claypool on the board...and selects former Utah State signal-caller Jordan Love 26th overall.
But this was so much more heinous, because it came about six weeks after the team traded first-team All-Pro Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, it came about six weeks after the team made Rodgers the highest-paid player in NFL history in average annual value, and it came when the Packers had two first-round picks with first-round-caliber former Georgia pass-catcher George Pickens on the board.
"He has the size, ball skills and enough athleticism to be an X receiver who primarily runs a vertical route tree, which will also allow him to use his body strength and catching range," B/R NFL Scout Nate Tice wrote of Pickens. "His size will translate into the red zone, and his blocking will be an asset right away."
Pickens could of course drop to Green Bay in the bottom half of the second round, in which case the organization might luck out. But that's far from a given, and the risk wasn't worth taking with two first-round selections in their back pocket.
Instead, Green Bay used both selections on Georgia front-seven defenders in Quay Walker (22nd overall) and Devonte Wyatt (28th overall). They were not starved for an off-ball linebacker (who may have been overdrafted) or a 24-year-old defensive lineman.
Nothing beyond those jabs against those guys, but this is a team that already has Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, De'Vondre Campbell and Kenny Clark up front on D but is set to rely on Sammy Watkins and Allen Lazard as arguably its top two wide receivers.
Six receivers went off the board before the Packers were first on the clock Thursday night, but they had the draft capital to make a move. Instead, six competitors got better at a key position, while the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles made trades for proven veteran wideouts in Marquise Brown and A.J. Brown, respectively.
All this while the Packers sat on the sideline. It's just silly.
And yes, this is a deep draft for receivers. That was also the case in 2021 when they finally selected Clemson wideout Amari Rodgers in Round 3, but the reality is the 10th or 11th or umpteenth receiver taken in any draft is highly unlikely to become a top target, and that's clearly what Rodgers needs to put this team over the top for the first time in a dozen seasons.
After all, even with Adams, Rodgers and the Packers have won just two playoff games since 2017. If the thought process is that they didn't excel with a star receiver and thus should focus their attention elsewhere, that would be contrary to a leaguewide shift in favor of elite players at that position. And in terms of being against-the-grain geniuses, the Packers have not earned the benefit of any doubt.
Maybe the front office discussed this with Rodgers in advance. With a new contract in tow, maybe he'll avoid making a scene on social media or in the locker room or on The Pat McAfee Show. In fact, that's true already. For now, anyway. But that doesn't change the fact that the Packers are currently worse off on offense than they've been since before Adams became a star four years ago.
The offense was rated higher than the defense last year, and by a significant margin. But that doesn't mean going all-in on defense will right the ship. Building a winner has never been that simple, and we all know that a great offense with a well-supported standout quarterback usually trumps being a well-balanced contender or even a defensive juggernaut.
Do the Packers know that? Will they ever realize it? Or are they just trolling?