Packers Offseason: What Would I Do If I Was Brian Gutekunst?

The offseason is here; we are all disappointed in the Packers performance. Changes will have to be made, like any other offseason. This article will explore what I would do with this offseason if I was Packers GM Brian Gutekunst?

There is a lot to do for him and the front office. There will be a lot of moving parts that affect one another. Beyond the usual free agency and NFL draft that has to be dealt with, there is of course the cap. At this point they are over by 5.36 million per OverTheCap. There is also the Aaron Rodgers ‘will he or wont he retire’ issue. That one will be the most important one that needs dealt with, and should be dealt with first. So, let’s get to it.

Will Packers QB Aaron Rodgers retire in the offseason?
Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

What to do with Aaron Rodgers?

This is obviously a complicated situation. The Packers kind of married themselves to him last offseason with the contract extension they gave him. It does not make it easy for them to get out of. With his massive cap hit, there isn’t a lot of maneuvering to be done other than restructures — and the Packers have borrowed from the future three off-season’s in a row. Eventually you have to pay the man, so to speak.

As we all know, there is the old saying of about the definition of insanity… Well they would be doing this offseason what they did the previous three; and it has not worked out. What makes them think it magically will this time? I would rip off the band-aid. If he wants to come back, I would trade him after June 1. The Packers get a net gain of about one million in cap space in that scenario.

Packers Offseason Free Agents

Gutekunst has a number of free agents he will have to figure out what the Packers want to do with in the offseason — and not much cap space to work with. The unrestricted free agents are Allen Lazard, Eric Wilson, Justin Hollins, Rudy Ford, Keisean Nixon, Corey Ballentine and Dallin Leavitt.

I would attempt to re-sign Hollins to a 1-year 1.80 million deal with a 500k signing bonus. With Nixon, I would offer him a two-year, 2 million dollar deal with a 1 million dollar bonus. I would also offer Rudy Ford a vet minimum deal with a small signing bonus, but he probably gets more on the open market.

Adrian Amos, Randall Cobb, Dean Lowry, Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Jarran Reed, and Mason Crosby all have voids in their contracts. In this scenario, I let them walk and thank them for their service.

The Packers have just four restricted free agents in Yosh Nijman, Krys Barnes, Tyler Davis, and Jake Hanson. I would give Nijman the 2nd-round tender and Barnes that right of first refusal. I would let Hanson and Davis walk.

Cuts

Since we are ripping off band-aids here, we will be also cutting any vets who don’t fit in the long term with the roster. I will cut David Bahktiari, Preston Smith, Aaron Jones, Vernon Scott, Luke Tenuta, and Jonathan Garvin.

Where does that leave us?

All these moves leave the Packers with 8.4 million in cap space. That is not enough for the draft class, UDFAs, and in-season space. Per Ken Ingalls, the Packers will need about 11 million for their draft class, 3.45 for the practice squad, and about 5 million in season. Which means they need to create almost another 20 million in space.

Restructures

This obviously means restructures need to be made. It was going to have to be done regardless of what happens with Rodgers this offseason. With a simple restructure of Kenny Clark’s contract they can create $10.37 million in space, which gets us half way there.

Restructuring Jaire Alexander’s contract gets the Packers another $8.86 million which gets them to 19.23 million. Then we get a simple restructure of De’Vondre Campbell to get the Packers another 2.46 million. We are done. This would leave the Packers with almost $22 million in space so they could also sign a couple vet minimum guys. They could also redo Douglas’ deal and clear up another $1.5 million. The Packers could do that this offseason, but we don’t need to here.

Extentions?

Rashan Gary is an obvious first thought for a contract extension, but coming off the ACL I would want to see him play in-season just to make sure he gets back to his previous self. It might cost more in the long run, but its safer. AJ Dillon is another player you could think about extending, but I don’t think he has done enough to warrant one. Yet.

Where does this leave the Packers in 2023?

It actually leaves them with a competitive roster. They won’t get in the playoffs, but they won’t be competing for at top five pick in April either. They’d have to bite the cap bullet in 2023, but would get some relief in 2024 with $62 million in cap space and are pretty much in the clear beyond that.

Packers Offseason Roster

QB: Jordan Love/rookie or cheap vet

RB: Dillon/rookie

WR: Watson/Doubs/Toure or rookie or Melton

TE: Deguara/Austin Allen/rookie/rookie and or cheap vet

OT: Tom/Nijman

OG: Jenkins/Runyan

C: Myers

or my favorite

OT: rookie/Nijman

OG: Jenkins/Runyan or Myers

C: Tom

ED: Enagbare/rookie or Hollins (until Gary is back)

DL: Clark/Slaton/Wyatt

LB: Campbell/Walker

CB: Stokes/jaire

Nickel/Safety: Rasul

S: Savage/rookie

Final thoughts on the Packers Offseason Plans

The Packers could start to build through the draft and augment any holes with free agents starting in 2024. If Jordan Love isn’t the guy, there is going to be a pretty good quarterback class that year. With picks from a Rodgers trade, they could move up to take one. Also note the numbers in this article are all ball park figures. I’m not the best “numbers” guy.

If you have enjoyed reading the article you can check out my other stuff. I will also be doing a second part on what I think Gutekenst will do, so be on the look out for that.

2023 NFL Draft: Early Look At Potential Packers — Defense

On Wednesday, we took an early look at some potential 2023 NFL Draft prospects for the Packers offense. Today, it’s time for the defense! Of course, there’s still a lot of information to be gathered, especially since the Packers rely on athletic testing, but these will be players on defense to familiarize yourselves with who could be on Packers NFL draft board.

Since it is highly unlikely that the Packers will pick in the top five, I will not be including players who are expected to go that high — Jalen Carter or Will Anderson, for example. I will also be going off players that fit what the Packers look for with the information we have. So, for example, no Siaki Ika.

Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s take a look at some 2023 NFL Draft prospects on defense who should be on the Packers radar come this April

DL:
Photo Credit: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is probably the best defensive line class in three or four years. Like a lot of the rest of the roster, the Packers prefer very athletic defensive linemen. Agility testing is important to them. Usually between 6’2-6’5 and 300-330 pounds. They also like guys that can have some impact on the passing game.

  • Bryan Bresee, Clemson
  • Gervon Dexter, Florida
  • Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin
  • Brandon Dorlus, Oregon
  • Jaquelin Roy, LSU
  • Zacch Pickens, South Carolina
  • Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson
  • Keion White, Georgia Tech
  • Kobie Turner, Wake Forest
  • Zi’Yon Hill-Green, Louisiana-Layfayette
  • Cory Durden, NC State
  • Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
  • Mazi Smith, Michigan
  • Jowon Briggs, Cincinnati
  • Karl Brooks, Bowling Green
Edge:
Photo Credit:  Michael McCammon, 247Sports

This is another really good class. Strong at the top, with a lot of depth. This is another position the Packers tend to be very specific in. They like highly athletic as in 8+ RAS scores. Guys with long arms and guys who can play the run. Usually 6’3-6’5 and 260-275 pounds.

  • Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
  • Myles Murphy, Clemson
  • Andre Carter, Army
  • Zach Harrison, OSU
  • Habakkuk Baldonado, Pittsburgh
  • Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State
  • Derick Hall II, Auburn
  • Ali Gaye, LSU
  • YaYa Diaby, Louisville
  • Dylan Horton, TCU
  • Thomas Incoom, Central Michigan
  • Bralen Trice, Washington
  • Andre Jones, Louisiana-Lafayette
LB:
Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Overall this class is pretty weak at the top, with just okay depth. This position is one that Packers are not too specific on. They like guys who are 6’1+ and 235+. Cover skills are not a priority. They tend to draft guys that are okay athletically.

  • Trenton Simpson, Clemson
  • Noah Sewell, Oregon
  • Jack Campbell, Iowa
  • Ben VanSumeren, Michigan State
  • Darius Muasau, UCLA
  • SirVocea Dennis, Pittsburgh
  • Shaka Heyward, Duke
  • Jimmy Phillips Jr., SMU
  • Payton Wilson, NC State
  • Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati
CB:
Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This corner class is pretty solid. There is no Sauce Gardner in it, but there is potential with a number of the guys. The depth is ok. Like edge rusher, the Packers like their corners to be elite athletes. Green Bay has a height threshold of 5’10 1/4″ that they stick to. They also like them to be 190+ — preferably closer to 200. They also like long arms and an ability to play press.

  • Kelee Ringo, Georgia
  • Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
  • Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
  • Jaylon Jones, Texas A&M
  • Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford
  • Julius Brents, Kansas State
  • Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama
  • Cory Trice, Purdue
  • Anthony Johnson, Virginia
  • Lance Boykin, Coastal Carolina
Safety:
Photo Credit: Tyler Ingham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This safety group is interesting. There are a lot of talented guys, but with some big question marks. It is also not a great class depth wise. There is a sharp drop after the 3rd round. The Packers thresholds here are similar to corner. The main difference is they like their safeties a little bigger: 5’11+ and 200+.

  • Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
  • JL Skinner, Boise State
  • Brian Branch, Alabama
  • Jordan Battle, Alabama
  • Josh Proctor, OSU
  • Patrick McMorris, SDSU
  • Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State
  • Gervarrius Owens, Houston
  • Demani Richardson, Texas A&M
  • Macon Clark, Tulane
  • Kaevon Merriweather, Iowa

For more on the Packers, check out my piece detailing the struggles on defense and what the team should do about them. You can also find the NFL draft database I update almost daily over at our good friends RiseNDraft.

2023 NFL Draft: Early Look At Potential Packers — Offense

Photo Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images

In this article we are taking an early look at potential Packers 2023 NFL draft prospects. In this first part, we look at offensive players. It’s important to remember there is a lot more information to be gathered in the process, especially since the Packers rely on athletic testing heavily. These will be players to familiarize yourselves with who could be on Green Bay’s draft board come late April.

Since it is highly unlikely that the Packers will pick in the top five of the 2023 NFL draft, I will not be including players who are expected to go that high, like Jalen Carter or Will Anderson. I will also be judging based off players that fit what the Packers look for with the information we have. So, for example, no Dawand Jones, as he’s not a great fit for a zone offense.

Now, let’s get to it!

QB:

With a bunch of quarterbacks heading back or entering the transfer portal, the class has lost a lot of its depth. The Packers tend to like quarterbacks who are decent athletes, at least 6’2″, and have a solid build. I don’t see the Packers drafting a QB in the first, but I will still list them just in case. Crazier things have happened!

RB:
Texas running back Bijan Robinson could be a target for the Packers in the 2023 NFL draft
Credit: John E. Moore III/Getty Images

This is a pretty solid, and deep, class. The Packers like their running backs to be 5’9+ and at least 200 pounds. They also tend to prefer solid, all-around athletes. Being able to contribute in the passing game is a huge plus.

  • Bijan Robinson, Texas
  • Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
  • Zach Evans, Mississippi
  • Kenny McIntosh, Georgia
  • Tank Bigsby, Auburn
  • Roschon Johnson, Texas
  • Sean Tucker, Syracuse
  • Eric Gray, Oklahoma
  • Chase Brown, Illinois
  • Kendre Miller, TCU
  • Tyjae Spears, Tulane
  • Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
  • Blake Corum, Michigan
  • Travis Dye, USC
  • Kendall Milton, Georgia
  • Lew Nichols III, Central Michigan
TE:
Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty images

The tight end class is not a great group outside of the top five, but it’s an ok group. The Packers don’t have hardcore requirements for their tight ends. Usually 6’3+, 245+, and at least an average athlete.

  • Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
  • Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State
  • Darnell Washington, Georgia
  • Dalton Kincaid, Utah
  • Zach Kuntz, Old Dominion
  • Josh Whyle, Cincinnati
  • Luke Schoonmaker, Michigan
  • Blake Whiteheart, Wake Forest
  • Will Mallory, Miami
  • Cameron Latu, Alabama
  • Sam LaPorta, Iowa
  • Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
  • Brevyn Spann-Ford, Minnesota
WR:
Creidt Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The wide receiver class is a super deep group, but it’s not great at the top. There are a number of guys who fit the Packers size preference. This has been talked about a lot. They like them 6’1+, 190+ and good athletes. Usually 4.55 or faster and with good agility scores. Also willing blockers.

  • Quentin Johnston, TCU
  • AT Perry, Wake Forest
  • Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia
  • Rashee Rice, SMU
  • Andrei Iosivas, Princeton
  • Jonathan Mingo, Ole Miss
  • Michael Wilson, Stanford
  • Cedric Tillman, Tennessee
  • Rome Odunze, Washington
  • Jacob Copeland, Maryland
  • Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State
  • Puka Nacua, BYU
  • Jalen Wayne, South Alabama
  • Justin Shorter, Florida
  • Michael Jefferson, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Jared Wayne, Pitts
  • Trey Palmer, Nebraska
  • Zakhari Franklin, UTSA
OT:
Credit William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Despite Olu Fashanu returning to Penn State, it is still a pretty deep group. This is another position that the Packers prefer highly athletic players. Usually 6’4+ 305+ with at least 33″ arms.

  • Paris Johnson, Ohio State
  • Blake Freeland, BYU
  • Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
  • Broderick Jones, Georgia
  • Patrick Paul, Houston
  • Matthew Bergeron, Syracuse
  • Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
  • Javon Foster, Missouri
  • Tylan Grable, UCF
  • Delmar Glaze, Maryland
  • John Ojukwu, Boise State
  • Alfred Edwards, Utah State
  • Marcus Bryant, SMU
Interior OL:
Credit: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The center group is solid, and there is potential with the guard group if certain tackles move inside. This position is somewhat similar to tackles as far as the Packers’ preferences. Arm length is not as much of a requirement, and they will take guys who are under 6’4. Versatility is also a big plus.

  • Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
  • Nick Broeker, Ole Miss
  • Cody Mauch, NDSU
  • Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas
  • John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
  • Jarrett Patterson, ND
  • Joe Tippman, Wisconsin
  • Nick Saldiveri, Old Dominion
  • Jaylon Thomas, SMU
  • McClendon Curtis, Chattanooga
  • Alex Palczewski, Illinois
  • Samuel jackson, UCF
  • Cooper Beebe, Kansas State
  • Jordan McFadden, Clemson
  • Alex Forsyth, Oregon
  • Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan
  • Alan Ali, TCU
  • Sincere Haynesworth, Tulane
  • Matthew Lee, UCF
  • Ryan Hayes, Michigan
  • Michael Jurgens, Wake Forest
  • Matthew Bedford, Indiana
  • Matthew Jones, OSU
  • Donovan Jennings, USF
  • Cedrice Paillant, Marshall
  • Jacob Likes, Memphis
  • Rusty Staats, Western Kentucky
  • Ilm Manning, Hawaii

For more on the Packers, check out my latest piece detailing the struggles on defense and what the team should do about them. You can also find the database that I update almost daily over at our good friends RiseNDraft.

What To Do With The Packers Defense?

Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry has struggled with the defense this season
Credit: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

What should be done with the Packers defense? This has been a much-discussed topic among Packers fans this season. The defense was showing some signs of improvement last season, even though the rankings didn’t show it. Preston Smith, Rashawn Gary, Kenny Clark, DeVondre Campbell, Rasul Douglas, Dean Lowry, and Eric Stokes all had big seasons in 2021. The defense also came to play against the 49ers in the playoffs. There were a lot of reason for optimism entering the offseason.

Once in the offseason the Packers re-signed Campbell and Douglas. They also signed Jarran Reed and Keisean Nixon as free agents and drafted Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt in the first round. Jaire Alexander was expected to be healthy for 2022. The Packers defense looked stacked from the outside.

During offseason work and training camp the defense looked ahead of the offense, outside of a few practices here and there. The excitement was building.

An Up-and-Down Start for the Packers Defense

Justin Jefferson tore through the Packers secondary. Most felt it was first game jitters — a lot of the regulars hadn’t played much in the pre-season and they stunk the first game of the 2021 season also, and we know how that season went. So, no one was too worried. Game two came and they trounced the Bears 27-10 and all was right with the world. Then there was the close win over the Bucs. Expected with Tom Brady at the helm, and this probably going to be a more defensive team.

Week four was the start of questions. It was an overtime win over a very mediocre Patriots team that had no passing game, and was starting Brian Hoyer at quarterback. He was lost early in the game and they had to go to a rookie. They still rushed for 167 yards and 5.1 yards a carry.

Then came the Giants game

A team that was a bit of a surprise early in the season, but Daniel Jones was playing injured and they were another team that lacked much of a passing game. The defense gave up 27 points and the Packers couldn’t keep up. The Giants had 125 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

This set off an unprecedented event in the Matt LaFleur area; five losses in a row. He had never even lost two in a row, let alone five. The offense was part of the issue, but so was the defense. They ended the streak by beating the Cowboys, but of course followed that up with two losses in a row, effectively ending their season.

So what do the Green Bay Packers do on defense?

The rest of the season still has to be played out. Many things could happen, but certain things need to happen, some should happen, and some should still be played out.

What needs to happen?
  1. Joe Barry and the entire defensive coaching staff needs to be fired. Barry is what he was in Washington and Detroit. Montgomery has not developed any of the defensive linemen. Rebrovich hasn’t seemed to have much of an impact. Gray/Downard need to go because the communication in the secondary has been terrible. Olivadotti helped turn Campbell into a good player and has gotten some stuff out of Quay, but hasn’t done much else. They need a clean sweep.
  2. They need to stop bringing in these retread defensive coordinators. Bring in someone young. Someone willing to be aggressive. Which is easier said than done, of course.
  3. The Packers need to marry the scheme to the players. Barry’s system seemed to be a square peg in a round hole situation with a number of the players.
  4. They need to move on from older veterans who are past their prime. Preston Smith, Dean Lowry, and Adrian Amos are all past their primes or have had slippage in play and are not worth bringing back.
  5. The Packers need to find some way to offload Savage, even if it means trading him for a 6th round pick and having to take a bit of a hit on the cap and paying a chunk of his salary (thanks for the idea Ken Ingalls). He has been bad the last two seasons and probably needs a change of scenery. Even if they just get a 6th.
  6. They also need to figure out what they are going to do at corner? They have two guys in Douglas and Stokes who are pure outside corners. They also have the highest paid corner in the league with Alexander, who of the three is best fit in the slot, but he doesn’t seem interested in playing there full-time. Someone needs to go or change position.
  7. Cut Jonathan Garvin. He is not very good. It’s time to move on.
  8. Light a fire under Alexander. He is not playing like pre-injury Jaire. He is “making business decisions”
Cornerback Jaire Alexander, the star of the Packers defense
Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
What should happen?

These are things that should happen, but if they don’t it’s not a big deal.

  1. The Packers should let Jarran Reed walk. He has helped the team most definitely, but has he done enough to be re-signed? No. Is he young with some upside to him? No. Should the younger guys get more snaps? Yes.
  2. Krys Barnes is the only restricted free agent the Packers should bring back on defense. While McDuffie started some games in Barnes and Campbell’s absence, Barnes is the superior player and allows McDuffie to focus on special teams.
  3. Of the unrestricted free agents on defense, two should definitely be re-signed with deserved pay bumps: Keisean Nixon and Rudy Ford. Both are indispensable on special teams and both are solid depth pieces on defense who can contribute from scrimmage. Nixon should be the kick returner.
  4. The Packers should bring in, either through free agency or the NFL draft, an edge rusher who can actually drop in coverage a little. This has been a problem with the defense for awhile. Teams know going in they aren’t dropping, so they can’t zone blitz.
  5. Draft an edge rusher fairly high. Preston Smith is gone, and Gary might start the season on the PUP.
What still needs to be played out?
  1. Justin Hollins play. He has played one game so far and gotten a sack, but it’s still too early to say. My bet is they re-sign him and bring him to camp, though.
  2. Should they re-sign Dallin Leavitt? He is a pure special teamer. The Packers already have Carpenter, SJC, McDuffie, Nixon, Ford, and Barnes who are all core special teamers. Do they need another one?
  3. Can Jonathan Ford help Kenny Clark? He is a big nose tackle. Get him out there and give him a chance.

Final conclusion on the Packers Defense:

I have my doubts that Gutekunst and LaFleur will do everything here, but if the important things are done, like dumping the staff and getting rid of dead weight, this could go a long way towards remaking the defense. The talent is there; it just needs to be harnessed correctly.

Follow Brian’s Packers and NFL Draft content, and be sure to catch the ATB Preview Show each week on Twitter

2023 NFL Draft Mid-Season Position Rankings: Defensive Backs

The final group ranking is here. Here is the fourth set of defensive position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft: the defensive backs. Before the season started the corner class looked pretty solid and has gotten better, whereas the safety class had questions entering the season and those have not been answered yet.

As always, I will be listing players at their expected NFL positions. Be sure to check out my previous part detailing the linebackers, and if you want to check out the draft database that I help update almost daily, you can find it at risendraft.

2023 NFL Draft Defensive Backs: The Top 5

Photo Credit: Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

1. Kelee Ringo, Georgia: Ringo is the freak athlete of the group at 6’2″ 210 and runs a sub 4.4. He also has great ability to mirror receivers. He was solid in 2021, but he hasn’t played as well in 2022. His potential is through the roof. He has shown flashes this season. Ringo hasn’t allowed any touchdowns this season, but has had some struggles otherwise. He is big, strong, physical, and fast. He probably gets drafted first on his upside.

2. Clark Phillips III, Utah: Phillips isn’t the biggest at 5’10” 185, but he has good speed (4.45) and great feet. He does such a good job of mirroring his opponent. His tackling can be hit-or-miss, so he needs to improve that. Also, his play against the run has just been ok. He has picked off five passes. He did struggle in a couple of games this season, but outside of those he was very solid. Phillips also has 177 snaps and counting in the slot this season, so he can be used all over. The most pro ready corner of the group.

3. Joey Porter Jr., Penn State: Porter Jr. is the son of former Steelers and Dolphins pass rusher Joey Porter. He has almost ideal size at 6’2″ and almost 200 pounds. His cover skills are phenomenal. He has a passer rating against of 59.1. He does lack elite speed, clocking in at the 4.5 range. Porter also lacks great ball skills. Yes, he does have nine passes defended in 2022, but has just one career interception. His run defense could also be better. He is a player with a good football IQ. The current Penn State cornerback has a high floor with still some room for growth.

4. Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M: The first safety on the list. This speaks to the weakness of the class at the top. Johnson has the size and athleticism to be great. He just has yet to do it — but he has shown flashes. He has ideal size at 6’2″, 195 with sub 4.5 speed, and quickness and smooth hips to match. Johnson has a lot of slot experience, so you know he has good cover skills. He just has yet to put it all together. His film is a little inconsistent. He also has just one career interception and one career pass break up. Which is very odd.

5. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon: Gonzalez is similar to Johnson in size and speed, the difference is he is a corner. He has some slot experience. He is a freak athletically with a 40+” vertical as well as his speed. He has picked up his ball production this season with three interceptions. Gonzalez was a little inconsistent in 2021, but seems to have improved that in 2022. His play against the run could be better.

2023 NFL Draft Defensive Backs: Best of the Rest

6. Brian Branch, Alabama: Branch has been a CB/S for Alabama since he stepped on camps. Mostly playing out of the slot, but projecting him to the NFL he looks to be more of a free safety. His size is ok at 6’, 193 and runs a sub 4.5 40-yard dash. From his slot position he has been an amazing run defender, and a crazy good tackler. He has missed only one tackle in his career. Branch has even shown he can be used as a blitzer with four career sacks. One negative though is he has just two career interceptions, and they were both as a freshman. It leaves you wondering a bit about his ball skills. Branch can be a weapon at the next level — if he is used right.

7. JL Skinner, Boise State: Skinner is a huge safety at 6’3″, 220, but has the athleticism of a man three inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter. He has legit 4.45 40-yard dash speed with 33” arms. He plays mostly box safety, but has played some free. An explosive, powerful hitter. He reminds a bit of Kam Chancellor, although not as big. But, he is a bit better of a cover guy. Skinner hasn’t been used as a blitzer much, which is surprising. He has a very good football IQ.

8. Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State: Forbes, a 6’, 180-pound corner, came in a started as a freshman. He jumped on the scene with five interceptions and five pass breakups. Forbes followed that up with an even better sophomore season, although his numbers were down a little. He had three interceptions and five break ups. So far this season, he has five interceptions. Forbes definitely has a nose for the ball, and he is definitely one of those gambler types who can be hot and cold. He is just a good cover guy. He also has good run fits. His tackling though can be hit-or-miss. Adding some bulk may help with that.

9. Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford: The son of former NFL corner Brian Kelly. He is definitely bigger than his father at 6’1″, 190. A four-year starter, Kelly has a lot of experience on his side. So far, it looks like 2021 was his best season. Still, he’s playing well in 2022. His play against the run the last couple seasons has not been good enough. He has shown to be an effective blitzer. Couple that with his experience in the slot, and he could be a guy that can play inside and out that teams have to account for.

10. Garrett Williams, Syracuse: The 6′, 190-pound Williams has dealt with some injury issues that hurt his play on the field — especially in 2021. He has played pretty well in 2022. Outside his game against Purdue, he has held up in coverage very well. A solid, but not great, athlete. He plays a clean game, having not been penalized since 2020. If his medicals check out, he is a sure day 2 pick and has the potential to be a solid starter.

Honorable Mentions:

Cam Smith-South Carolina, Eli Ricks-Alabama, Jordan Battle-Alabama, Gervarrius Owens-Houston, Kendarin Ray-Tulsa, Devon Witherspoon-Illinois, Darrell Luter Jr.-South Alabama, Divaad Wilson-UCF, Micah Abraham-Marshall, Steven Gilmore-Marshall