Packers Rookies Who Will Make Instant Impact in 2022 Season
After trading away Davante Adams for a first- and a second-round draft pick, the pressure is on for this class to produce right now. After all, the Aaron Rodgers contract extension kept the Super Bowl window open for at least the next season.
If the Packers are going to get the most out of this season, they'll need to get instant returns from their newest additions in the draft.
The good news is they have a group of players who appear to be up to the task.
Here's a look at the top three rookies and what they will bring to the table in Year 1.
LB Quay Walker
The Packers have not traditionally placed a lot of value on off-ball linebackers. They hadn't taken one in the first round since 2006 when they took A.J. Hawk with the fifth pick.
So it says a lot that the Packers were willing to spend a first-round selection on Quay Walker, even with other needs on the roster.
Walker is an ultra-athletic linebacker who brings incredible range to the table. His relative athletic score of 9.63 makes him one of the top 100 most athletic linebacker prospects since 1987, per Kent Lee Platte of Pro Football Network.
Between the first-round selection of Walker and the five-year, $50 million deal they gave to De'Vondre Campbell this offseason, it's clear they are willing to make a much bigger investment at the position.
Walker is going to be expected to step in right away, and he should be a difference-maker.
"Walker has the high-floor run defense traits and zone coverage chops to stick around for a long time, either at MIKE or WILL," B/R NFL Scout Derrik Klassen wrote in his scouting report on Walker. "He clearly gets how to play the position and has the aggressive mindset teams should love."
DL Devonte Wyatt
The biggest knock on Devonte Wyatt is his age. It's not ideal to draft a 24-year-old in most cases. By the time his rookie contract is over, he'll be 29 if they exercise his fifth-year option.
But in the case of Wyatt, it just means the Packers are getting a ready-to-go prospect in Year 1.
If other teams passed on Wyatt because he's on the older side, it simply gave the Packers a great value pick. While Jordan Davis drew a ton of attention because of his mammoth size and freaky athleticism, Wyatt is a unique athlete in his own right.
Athletically, he compares to Quinnen Williams third overall in the 2019 draft.
Wyatt figures to be an immediate starter, and his ability to play all over the line is going to help him. His lightning-quick first step and speed are going to give the Packers a boost in the interior pass-rush department.
Expect Wyatt to lineup all over the place and become a significant part of the defensive line rotation.
WR Christian Watson
The Packers missed out on the run at receiver in the first round, but they got aggressive to trade up for Christian Watson. It was another move that shows the Packers already have a high level of faith in the prospects they targeted early in the draft.
That faith in Watson lies in his great blend of size and athleticism.
Watson brings everything to the table you'd want from a big (6'4", 208 pounds) and fast (4.36-second 40-yard-dash time) downfield threat, but he hasn't quite put everything together yet.
"He is inconsistent when tracking deeper throws and can play small instead of using his size to high point the ball above his head," B/R NFL Scout Nate Tice noted in his report on Watson.
Even so, Watson is going to be counted on to make an immediate contribution. With Davante Adams in Las Vegas, the Packers don't have a clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver. They signed Sammy Watkins and still have Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard on the roster, but the targets are going to be a lot more evenly distributed than in year's past.
Watson might get off to a slow start based on his areas for improvement. However, with the lack of weapons at Rodgers' disposal and his transition to NFL coaching, he should be able to come on strong by the end of the season.