The 2019 NFL Draft is officially in the books. Leaguewide speculation will occur with many analysts and fans alike wondering which team will have the best new class of rookies. There have been mixed reviews so far as to how the Green Bay Packers plan turned out. They made several interesting moves and filled their biggest holes. They made four picks in the first three rounds. Rashan Gary adds an ultra-athletic pass-rusher with questions about durability and productivity. A trade up from 30 to 21 netted the explosive safety product out of Maryland, Darnell Savage. In the second round, general manager Brian Gutekunst shored up depth on the interior offensive line with Elgton Jenkins from Mississippi State. Finally, the Packers addressed pass-catcher at pick 75 in the third round with tight end Jace Sternberger from Texas A&M. With these players officially joining the roster, let’s look at picks that could have made in the Packers 2019 NFL Draft.
Picks That Could Have Been During the Green Bay Packers 2019 NFL Draft
Pick 12: Rashan Gary
Other Considerations: Brian Burns, Andre Dillard, Marquise Brown
In this scenario, the Packers don’t trade up from 30 to take Savage. Although Gary was apparently one of the top defensive players on Gutekunst’s board, there were several safer players that could make a similar impact in year one. Gary is a similar player to the edge rushers Green Bay signed in free agency: Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith. All three win by converting power to speed and providing versatility to rush from the interior. Burns would have provided a complimentary skill set this defense doesn’t possess. He is a true speed rusher with excellent bend and first step quickness. Burns didn’t fall far, as the Carolina Panthers scooped him up at pick 16.
The Packers traded up to 21 with Dillard and Brown still on the board. Both appeared to be great options for the Packers. They had interest in Dillard throughout the pre-draft process and were targeting the offensive line with one of their early picks (see Jenkins, pick 44). Dillard is a great athlete that was viewed as perhaps the best pass-blocker in the draft and a natural fit in Matt LaFluer’s zone-blocking scheme. Brown was the best receiver in this draft. He drew many comparisons to DeSean Jackson throughout the process due to his blinding speed and smaller stature. The Packers offense is missing a quick-twitch player that can score at any time from a variety of alignments. Both players went off the board in the early 20s. No one would have blinked had the Packers have taken either at 12.
Pick 21 (Originally Pick 30): Darnell Savage
Other Considerations: N’Keal Harry, Jawaan Taylor, Cody Ford
The Packers targeted the right position groups. They could have chosen different players in a more sufficient order, though. The surprising move to trade up for Savage defines this draft. He fills their biggest need at safety but the team double-dipped on defense with both first round picks. If they wanted a first-round pass-catcher, Harry could have been the choice at 30. Some thought it was a surprise the New England Patriots chose him at 32, but he is a legitimate number one wideout that would have looked great lining up across from Davante Adams.
Taylor and Ford were offensive linemen that many thought would land in the top half of the first round. They both went off the board at the beginning of the second but could have been targets at 30. With the Packers selecting an interior lineman at 44, it’s obvious that they would have loved either to slide just a bit further. Taylor had top-ten value but there were some undisclosed health concerns. If the Packers had chosen an edge or pass-catcher at 12, they could have shored up the O-line with a premier road-grader at the end of the first.
Pick 44: Elgton Jenkins
Other Considerations: Nasir Adderley, Irv Smith Jr., Parris Campbell, D.K. Metcalf
Hindsight is 20/20. The Packers traded up to secure Savage in the first round without the knowledge of so many top safety products still on the board at 44. Four were taken in the second round after the Packers picked. They could have had their choice of Adderly, Taylor Rapp, or Juan Thornhill as fits for their vacant safety spot. The Packers could have drafted a tackle or receiver in the first and still gotten great value for one of their biggest needs. Plus, they would have kept their two fourth rounders.
The Packers didn’t join the run on receivers in the early second round. Most of the premier pass-catchers left the board before the Packers picked in the third. Smith Jr., Campbell, or Metcalf could all have given LaFluer’s offense some new juice, but they chose to shore up the future up front first. To make matters worse, Smith Jr. went to the rival Minnesota Vikings and Metcalf wound up with another NFC competitor, the Seattle Seahawks.
Pick 75: Jace Sternberger
Other Considerations: Chase Winovich, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Hakeem Butler
It’s tough to predict the board at this point. The Packers finally addressed an offensive skill position with Sternberger, but he probably won’t make much of an impact in year one. Whether any of the other options listed above would have a strong influence with Green Bay is up for debate but they could have provided strong value at this point in the draft. If the Packers focused on other needs in round one, they could have still found a great pass-rusher in Winovich and a safety with a similar skillset to Savage in Gardner-Johnson.
All three of these players fell down draft boards. Butler was seen as a top-five receiver throughout the pre-draft process. Gardner-Johnson was predicted to be the first safety off the board in round one. Sternberger seems like a need pick because the Packers ignored the tight end position with their first three picks. This was such a deep defensive class that maybe they should have waited and gotten good value on that side of the ball in the third. These are all hypothetical situations of course but it’s interesting to see how the Packers 2019 draft could have played out.