Since this is the first Packers mock draft I am doing after the Davante Adams trade, I will not being doing any trades. Not until I get a good feel for who’s available and where I feel they can make a move up or down.
This mock was done assuming a few things. First, that Rasul Douglas would be re-signed. Second, that the Packers would sign a veteran wide receiver in free agency. Someone like a Juju Smith-Schuster, Julio Jones, AJ Green, etc.
I took Jermaine Johnson to kick off this Packers mock draft because he was too good of a player to pass up. He just turned 23 in January, so he would be the oldest first round pick by Brian Gutekunst, but the guy is probably the third-best complete EDGE in the class. He provides depth as a rookie that they haven’t had in a long time.
Tyler Smith would obviously be the right tackle of the future. He may not be ready to start as a rookie, but the guy is a beast and a worker. Smith is an athletic freak and will turn 21 on April 1st. He also has some positional versatility and could play guard, if need be. He fits the Gutey mold.
Nick Cross may not be there at 53. Rumors are NFL teams are a lot higher on him than Draft Twitter. But I took him with the chance of him being able to finally bring stability to the third safety role, and also allow Savage to play in the slot. This would give the Packers one of the best secondary groups in the league.
With the Packers bringing in a vet “#1 receiver”, this would allow George Pickens to have time to develop as the #3 receiver to start with, behind the vet and Allen Lazard/Randall Cobb. He brings some similar elements as Marquez Valdes-Scantling, in that he is a deep threat and a great blocker.
Erik Ezukanma brings future #2 receiver potential. He fits the Gutey mold for the type of receivers he likes. He’s big, strong, a good athlete, a decent blocker, and gets YAC. He can spend his rookie year as the #4/gadget receiver.
Thomas Booker provides depth on the defensive line and adds some pass rush help for Kenny Clark. They should be okay at nose with Tedarrell Slaton and Clark both getting snaps there.
Cole Turner gives the Packers the seam-stretching tight end that has been missing from the offense for years — since Jermichael Finley. He also provides a great red zone threat.
Zach Tom is another fit for the type of offensive linemen that Gutey likes to draft. He just needs some development. He could even move inside to guard if tackle doesn’t work out. With Yosuah Nijman being the only returning tackle with experience behind David Bakhtiari, the Packers need more depth.
Matt Araiza is the best punter in the NFL draft with a cannon for a leg. He has launched a couple 80-yard boomers. He also has experience kicking off, so he could do that to let Mason Crosby rest his leg. The Packers did sign Pat O’Donnell, but he’s been average to below-average his career. Araiza would be better as a rookie.
Zach VanVelkenburg would be a good fit as another depth piece. He is a good run defender, and can rush the passer a little. None of the Packers’ current back-ups have shown much. He would fight it out with Jonathan Garvin for the #4 edge spot.
Kevin Austin closes out this Packers mock draft. He is big, strong, fast, and a good blocker. Very much a Gutey pick. He could return kicks if Kylin Hill is not ready. Austin would also be a very good special teams player, which he has experience with. He could be another Jeff Janis with down-the-road potential as a receiver.
Just as Raider Nation was getting over the excitement of the Chandler Jones signing, something bigger, and somehow even more surprising happened. Josh McDaniels, Dave Ziegler, and the Raiders traded for one of the best wide receivers in the league, Davante Adams.
Last week, Adams received a franchise tag from the Green Bay Packers, seemingly tying him to the organization through the 2022 season. This week, Adams informed Green Bay he would not play under the franchise tag. Since then, it was relatively quiet out of Wisconsin. There was a widespread belief that Adams and the Packers brass would reach a deal, and he would continue his Hall of Fame level career in the green and yellow, much to the dismay of Raiders fans everywhere.
On Thursday, McDaniels and Ziegler pulled off the seemingly impossible as they traded a total of two draft picks in return for Adams.
The terms of the trade
Davante Adams will head to the Raiders on a 5-year, $141 million deal. This contract makes him by far the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history. He is tied to the Silver and Black through the 2026 season.
In exchange for Adams, the Raiders sent over their 2022 first-round draft pick and their 2022 second-round draft pick. All things considered, this trade was a massive steal for owner Mark Davis and his new staff.
The full contract is still yet to be released but check back once the terms are announced for a full breakdown.
Adams’ career thus far
Davante Adams was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2014, where he has spent the first eight seasons of his career. He has achieved a 1000 yard-season three times, falling short of the 1000-yard mark by just three yards on two separate occasions, per Pro Football Reference. In 2021, Adams had a monstrous 1553 yards on 123 receptions, resulting in 11 touchdowns.
The superstar wide receiver has received a Pro-Bowl nod 5 times, with two All-Pro selections. This past season, he received a 92.7 overall grade, allowing for a 117.4 passer rating when targeted, per PFF.
Adams is widely regarded as one of the most talented receivers in the league year after year.
Derek Carr and Davante Adams go way back
Raiders QB Derek Carr has an extensive relationship with his new WR1. The two played together at Fresno State University before heading to the NFL. Since then, it has always been a far-fetched dream for the two to reunite, but now it’s a reality.
Carr was quick to welcome Adams to Raider Nation with a Facetime call where his excitement was palpable.
“Welcome Home” Carr tweeted to Adams after the trade was announced.
It has been reported that the Green Bay Packers were willing to pay Adams the same amount of money — or more — the Raiders were offering. Adams chose to pack up and start anew in Las Vegas to have the chance to play with his college QB once again.
McDaniels and Ziegler have stolen the hearts of Raiders fans this week. Look for that to continue down the stretch as they push to bring home Sin City’s first Super Bowl title.
While the Patriots may have the future figured out on offense, they aren’t going anywhere until they figure out the Josh Allen problem.
At first glance, discussing the New England Patriots and their offseason plans aren’t relevant at this point. The Bengals and Chiefs will face off this Sunday in the AFC Championship Game. Before that, the Chiefs and Bills treated us to an all-time shoot out in the divisional round. All three teams feature prolific young passers and a group of stud pass catchers. Only the Bills featured a defense ranked in the top 5 by Pro Football Reference. The days of defenses winning championships may well be over.
So where do the Patriots fit into this future of the conference?
They too feature a young passer, albeit not in the same echelon of Burrow, Mahomes, Herbert, and Allen. Lamar Jackson had a down year but still would be a tier above Mac in a quarterback rankings.
The Patriots got solid quarterback play from their rookie but Mac faded down the stretch, stringing together subpar performances as the Patriots championship aspiration dwindled.
Belichick has only a few times loaded up on the offensive side of the ball during his tenure in New England. And even in those years he coupled splashy offseason moves on the offensive side with an already stout, veteran-laden defense.
2021 Patriots were good, just not good enough
The 2021 Patriots featured the splashy offseason additions on the offensive side of the ball and a veteran-laden defense, albeit with a couple newcomers on that side too. Despite the poor taste left from the dismantling at the hands of the Bills, the Patriots defense was one of the best in the league in 2021. But therein lies the problem. What does the second ranked defense get the team if it can’t stop a runny nose when it plays the Buffalo Bills?
Belichick has specific physical profiles for every position in defense, whether it be from physical measurables or agility drill times; his defensive players fit a mold.
The linebackers are big bodied thumpers. The defensive line is often stout forward players who are difficult to push backwards. The defensive backs often have top three cone drill times while his boundary guys are preferred to big taller press corners. Only at the safety position has Belichick led the transition to the hybrid types.
Patrick Chung was the first linebacker-safety hybrid but even he failed spectacularly in his first stint with the Patriots.
Against the Bills, the defense looked slow. Forget old. Even the young guys couldn’t keep up with the Allen led attack. The Pats were gashed routinely by the speed and short area quickness of the Bills skill guys.
That doesn’t include the absolute clinic put on by Josh Allen. Allen looked like the older brother who finally relented and let the younger brother and his friends play. Then the older brother showed no mercy for a physically inferior opponent.
Allen was on a different physical level and against the Patriots defense, having been unstoppable for nine straight quarters. While the Patriots may have the future figured out on offense, they aren’t going anywhere until they figure out the Josh Allen problem.
That problem will be addressed this offseason. With their current salary cap situation, they will have to choose between adding further to the offense or completely retooling the defense.
The Chiefs just beat the Bills by outscoring them. There was no stopping either offense. The only hope was to have more points than the opposition at the final whistle. That is not typically how the Patriots build their teams. They want an edge in all three phases.
The Pats could add a Davante Adams. A Chris Godwin. They could trade for Calvin Ridley. See if Michael Thomas can be had for relatively cheap. They can add to the offense, one that already features an impressive running game, and try to outscore the upper tier of AFC teams next year.
Or they can retool the defense. Focusing on smaller, faster athletic types to keep pace with the “small ball” trend in the NFL.
The Dont’a Hightower’s of the NFL world may be a dying breed. A dinosaur in a modern game. Sideline to sideline backers is the future of the game. The Deion Jones’. The Darius Leonard’s. Problem is these types of guys don’t grow on trees. The only slightly comparable veteran available in free agency may be Leighton Vander Esch. He of the full-length novel injury history. Nakobe Dean is an uber talented speedster coming out of Georgia, but any draft pick comes as a gamble in and of itself.
What does the crystal ball say?
It is increasingly unlikely the Pats pursue the number one receiver route. They are married to their free agent crop from a year ago. Agholor has a $15 million cap hit in 2022. Bourne still has two years left on his deal and is extremely affordable ($5 million per year).
The Patriots also spent at tight end. Hunter Henry has a cap hit of $6.88 million in 2022. Jonnu Smith has a $13.75 million cap hit in 2022. Smith is signed for three more years, Henry for two. The Pats aren’t moving on from either.
Smith had a disappointing year in his first in New England. Going forward, I’d expect the Patriots to try to incorporate Smith into their attack much more heavily next year before adding more to this offensive cast. They gave him all that money for a reason and hopefully that reason becomes apparent next season.
That leads to the Patriots upgrading the defense. The crop of free agent defenders features many aging veteran pass rushers and a handful of quality safeties. The Pats don’t NEED a safety as Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips are under team control for the foreseeable future. If McCourty hangs it up, the team could kick some tires but it won’t be a splash move.
Upgrading the front seven will be the priority. Matt Judon started on a tear but completely fell off after the bye week. Barmore appears to be the future in the interior of the defensive line. The Pats are in a mess of their own creation. Promising young players such as Josh Uche, Joejuan Williams, and Chase Winovich both hardly saw the field this season. Third round rookie Ronnie Perkins was never active on game day. Maybe they all blossom into full time impact players going forward, but there’s probably a reason they haven’t seen the field much.
The Pats are in a hole of their own creation by missing on a number of their early draft picks in recent years. Now they are faced with a near impossible task of upgrading several positions with limited cap space. Teams have been able to take advantage of rookie QB’s contract situations. The Patriots will need to get creative to do so.
Radio: Dan Hoard and Dave Lapham 700 WLW, 1530 ESPN, 102.7 WEBN
This week’s Bengals preview is for a game for which Bengals fans have been waiting a long time. One that could make a major difference. The Bengals and Packers don’t play each other often. These teams rarely finish in the same spot in their division, so typically they only play once every four years.
That said, in recent years, the Bengals are 3-1 all-time against Aaron Rodgers. That history won’t make much of a difference this time around as only P Kevin Huber and LS Clark Harris were around last time the Bengals beat the Packers in 2013.
Both teams currently lead their division, but only one was supposed to be here. That team, the Green Bay Packers, enters the game as 3.5 point favorites on the road. This Bengals preview, on the other hand, covers a team looking to prove themselves with a win over a team many consider to be a Super Bowl contender.
The Story So Far:
At 3-1, the Green Bay Packers have largely overcome their disastrous Week 1 blowout by the hands of the New Orleans Saints. Since then, the Packers have trounced the Detroit Lions, survived a comeback attempt by the San Francisco 49ers, and handily beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers. Through those games, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions, and has posted an average passer rating of 118.2.
The Cincinnati Bengals are still looking for respect across the NFL, despite the same 3-1 record as the Packers. Fair or not, the national audience is still not sure what to make of them, considering their strength of victory so far. The opponents the Bengals have defeated are a combined 2-10 right now, and the one team they lost to is a very sketchy looking 2-2 Chicago Bears team. No one is going to blame the Bengals if they lose this week, but they’ll need to win to legitimize their record in the eyes of many.
Green Bay Packers
Strengths: As long as the Packers have Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, they’ll have a strong offensive attack. Both players have a strong argument as the very best players at their respective positions. The two have combined for an average of 93.3 yards per game, 19 first downs, and a touchdown. Rodgers, in particular, seems to have a sixth sense about him when pressure is coming in the backfield, so actually bringing him down before he makes an insane throw could be difficult whether the Bengals’ defensive line gets pressure or not. Their pass rush has also been above average this season, totaling 33 quarterback hurries on the season.
Weaknesses: The Packers rank near the bottom of the league in passing touchdowns allowed (10), sacks (7), and first down percentage allowed (51.1 percent passing, 30.5 percent rushing). Their rushing game is also not performing particularly well with a measly 3.6 yards per carry and a 20.0 first down percentage on the ground.
Strengths: Quarterback Joe Burrow has been called a young Aaron Rodgers by many. Particularly, by former Packers Pro Bowl defensive tackle Mike Daniels, who has been in Cincinnati during both of Burrow’s seasons. On the season, Burrow has recorded a 113.8 passer rating with 988 yards and nine touchdowns in just four games. His steely, confident demeanor has been a huge reason why the Bengals have won three of their four games this season, and almost came back to beat Chicago in Week 2. Much like the Packers, the Bengals’ pass rush has also been stellar so far this season. They’ve notched 45 QB hurries and 13 sacks so far.
Weaknesses: Although it has improved from last year, the Bengals’ pass blocking has been inconsistent and downright frustrating at times. It’s a pretty strong emphasis for this Bengals preview, especially with Pro Bowl DT Kenny Clark on the other side. Tackles Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff have generally been consistently good this year, but there is still a lot of inconsistency in the interior. Rookie RG Jackson Carman appears to be able to hold his own in place of the injured Xavier Su’a-Filo, and LG Quinton Spain is starting to come along in recent weeks, but C Trey Hopkins has largely struggled on the year after coming back from a torn ACL in January. There have also been some issues with tackling on the defensive side of the ball. Their 36 missed tackles on the season have been a blight on an otherwise stifling defense.
The biggest injury news for this Bengals preview is the players they are expecting to get back. FS Jessie Bates III, WR Tee Higgins, and CB Chidobe Awuzie all missed last week’s game. But, they have been practicing and appear to be on pace to play against the Packers. LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, CB Trae Waynes, C Trey Hopkins and DT Larry Ogunjobi all have new injuries. But, they also seem to be on pace to play, which is useful information for this Bengals preview.
Unfortunately, RB Joe Mixon is a new addition to the injury report. He’s listed as “Questionable” on Friday’s injury report, but he hasn’t practiced all week. It sounds like they’re waiting to make a final decision on his injury status based on how he does on Saturday, when he is expected to practice. Still, the Bengals are going into this game remarkably healthy, which could be a significant advantage.
Green Bay Packers
Let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room. The Packers’ already porous secondary isn’t looking good heading into this week. Although they haven’t said whether he’s out for the year, we know stud cornerback Jaire Alexander won’t play this week. CB2 Kevin King was limited with a concussion most of this week, although he is expected to play. Against the Bengals’ elite trio of wide receivers, this could turn into a massive mismatch.
There’s also concerns about injuries to the Packers’ offensive line. Pro Bowl left tackle Elgton Jenkins missed practice on Wednesday and was limited the rest of the week with an ankle injury. He’s officially “questionable”, but you wonder how effective he will be if he does play. Backup right tackle Dennis Kelly missed practice on Thursday and Friday with an undisclosed illness and is also questionable. Rookie starting center Josh Meyers is officially not playing. It could be a rough week for the Packers at certain vulnerable position groups, especially considering those position groups happen to line up with some of the Bengals’ biggest strengths.
Keys to the game
Make Rodgers sweat
For as much magic as Aaron Rodgers can make, on the whole he hasn’t performed well against consistent pressure this season. In fact, his passer rating is a pedestrian 85.1 when blitzed and a dismal 39.7 when pressured. Compare this to Joe Burrow, whose passer rating only drops to 70.0 when pressured and actually dynamically increases to 133.3 when blitzed.
Let it rip
In addition to already being one of the Packers’ biggest weaknesses, their secondary will be missing a key player. In particular – Jaire Alexander, who is currently hoping to avoid season-ending surgery. You wonder how the Packers are going to be able to cover Higgins, Boyd, Chase, Uzomah, and possibly Chris Evans. A strong emphasis on the passing game this week could pay dividends.
Don’t give Rodgers time at the end
You absolutely can not allow Aaron Rodgers an opportunity to drive down the field at the end of the game. Two weeks ago, the 49ers became the latest victims of his unbelievable clutch gene. If it’s a close game and the Bengals have the ball near the end of the game, they’ll need to make sure they close it out with proper clock management. It doesn’t matter if the Packers need a field goal or a touchdown at the end of the game. Aaron Rodgers will find a way to make it happen the way he has SO many times in his legendary career.
This week’s Bengals preview possible makes the outcome of this game seem more dire than it really is. Nobody is going to blame the Bengals for failing to come away with a win this week against the Packers. That is, assuming they don’t get blown out. But, the Bengals have an opportunity to make an absolute statement this week. Regardless of the injuries, the Packers are a Super Bowl contender. This win would signal the Bengals are for real and the rebuild is paying off. Make no mistake, they don’t have much to lose, but they have so much to gain.