The 2022 NFL Draft is nearly upon us, and the Green Bay Packers will have a difficult decision to make with the 28th overall pick. At least we don’t think the four-time Super Bowl champions will use it on a quarterback … right?
So, who should the Packers draft in the first round? As with our mock drafts, we picked players based on need and team fit. So, no, Green Bay probably isn’t using its second of two first-round picks on Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder.
For transparency, I would personally select Boston College offensive lineman Zion Johnson or Ohio State receiver Chris Olave at No. 22. However, because I believe Olave will go within the top-20, let’s approach this story with the impression that Green Bay took Johnson with the 22nd overall pick. Just work with us here.
Based on consideration of the aforementioned prerequisites, we believe the Packers should target the following players with the 28th overall pick.
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
To be clear, I do believe the Packers should be slightly concerned about Watson’s history of drops. According to Pro Football Focus, the 6-foot-4, 208-pound wideout dropped 12.7% of passes thrown his way at North Dakota State.
And, yet, I do not believe the Packers will bat an eye if Aaron Rodgers tells them to select the second-team FCS All-American receiver.
Although Watson never had more than 45 catches in a single season, he averaged 18.6 yards per reception last season and had 915 yards (801 receiving, 114 rushing) from scrimmage. The Tampa, Florida, native ran an impressive 4.36 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and, as FCS opponents will confirm, used his speed to carve through defenses during his college career.
Would I select Watson this early? Probably not. Do I think the Packers will? Yes, absolutely.
Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
I’ve written about Wyatt going in the first round so often that I personally expect him to fall into the second round at this rate. Which, considering his impressive skill set as a 6-foot-3, 304-pound defensive tackle, would be too bad.
If the Packers go defense at No. 29, I could easily see Wyatt or Minnesota pass-rusher Boye Mafe rocking the Green and Yellow on draft night. However, I personally believe the 18-time NFC North champions should prioritize an offensive player this early.
George Pickens, WR, Georgia
I’m higher than Pickens on most, and I’m not a “draft analyst” or someone who has consumed endless hours of tape. I’m nothing more than a football fan who enjoys what certain players can do with the ball in their hands, and the Georgia star checks that box. Pickens recorded 85 catches, 1,240 yards, and 16 touchdowns in his first two seasons before tearing his ACL in a spring 2021 practice.
Although there are questions about his durability, I genuinely believe the 6-foot-3, 195-pound wideout will hear his name called in the first round. If he doesn’t wind up in Green Bay, don’t be surprised to see him catching touchdowns from Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes next season.
Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
Let’s assume, as dangerous as that is, that the Packers don’t select an offensive lineman with the 22nd overall pick. In that case, the three-time defending NFC North champions could afford to target Smith, a two-year starting offensive tackle for Tulsa.
NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein suggested a team consider moving the 6-foot-5, 324-pound Smith inside to guard.
“Smith is able to displace defenders as a run blocker despite lacking proper hand usage for leverage. He’s explosive and athletic but struggles to sustain and finish what he starts. He’s too quick to discard any semblance of technique in favor of bear-hugging the opponent and drawing a penalty.”Lance Zierlein
The Packers have a history of making unconventional and unexpected first-round decisions. Perhaps Smith, who will play his entire rookie season at 21 years old, will be next in line.