NFL Draft: Thoughts on Packers First Round Picks

My thoughts on the Packers first round picks. So to start off, I was wrong. I never thought they would draft an off-ball linebacker in the first round. As we all know they haven’t done that since AJ Hawk. I thought there was a good chance they would draft one. I just didn’t think it would be in the first. Both players were on my Packers board. I will also have full scouting reports up for Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt tomorrow.

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Quay Walker:

Obviously most people were surprised by the pick. There had been rumblings the last week or so that he would end up as the first linebacker drafted. But no one thought it would be to the Packers in the first round. Then yesterday we started seeing mock drafts with the Packers drafting him, and it was a number of “connected” people within the draft community.

It was thought that it might mean something. The Packers under Ted Thompson really had no value on linebackers. Brian Gutekunst seemed to follow this with only drafting Oren Burks in the 3rd round, and no other linebackers on day one or two. So, there is another threshold of Ted that he broke. He did stick to their athleticism thresholds though.

Now to Quay Walker as a player. He has some similarities to Eric Stokes in that he is super athletic, came out as a junior, and was seen as a player who is still a little raw and needs some work before he reaches his potential. He should team with De’Vondre Campbell to form a very highly athletic duo while he develops. I wouldn’t be surprised if he shared those duties with Krys Barnes early on. This will also allow them to use a lot more base defense, especially if he can show solid coverage skills.

He shows a lot of hustle on film, and is always around the ball. Those are good qualities to start with. He might even play special teams early on, where he could be a demon. This pick also puts a limit on how long Campbell will be in Green Bay. If Walker develops as hoped, then I don’t see Campbell being a Packer for more than two more years. Walker then takes over as a lead guy.

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Devonte Wyatt:

The Packers traded away one Devonte — or in this case, Davante — and draft another. Wyatt was always one of my favorite defensive linemen in this draft. He fit the Packers almost to a T, except of course the age issue. The former Bulldog can team with Kenny Clark to form an elite due that can both stop the run and rush the passer.

He also adds a complement to Clark as a pass rusher, with Wyatt winning with his explosion, speed, and agility versus Clark’s leverage, strength, and drive. Clark is seen as a “slow burn” pass rusher, whereas Devonte wins fast/quick. He immediately becomes the second-best defensive lineman on the roster. Early on he will probably rotate with Jarran Reed. That is something the Packers like to do. They like to bring their rookies a long slowly as the season goes.

Wyatt does have the off-field issues that popped up recently, even though they were from 2020 and were in the news. Some people just read the headlines and automatically assumed he beat his girlfriend or something like that. But if you read the report it wasn’t that type of thing.

Was he in the wrong? 100% and it should have never happened, but he didn’t hurt any one or point a gun at anyone. People do make mistakes, and the Packers tend to lean conservative when it comes to off-field issues with draft picks. So if they gave him the go ahead, I have full confidence in Gutekunst that it was just a dumb mistake made by a young kid. I also expect the Packers to have him on a “short leash” and told him as much.

Final Thoughts:

While I personally would have drafted a Tyler Smith or a Jermaine Johnson over Walker, I understand why the Packers took him in the first round. Of course, I love the Wyatt pick and think he will have the bigger impact in year one and could even have a bigger impact in year two, as well. Walker will be the Packers future at inside linebacker with Campbell turning 30 soon and the Packers not usually keeping guys past 30. I won’t give this draft a grade. Its three years too soon, but I will say so far I like it!

Will they now be called the Green Bay Bulldogs? If they draft George Pickens tomorrow, they might!

Senior Bowl Watchlist: American

senior bowl watchlist
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This is the first Senior Bowl watchlist by the Around the Block scouting department. By this time next week, over 100 prospects will be in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl is the most prestigious collegiate all-star game for draft prospects.

They will practice with NFL coaching staffs during the week then play in a game on Saturday, February 5th. The Senior Bowl provides a fantastic opportunity for prospects from diverse backgrounds to prove themselves on a level playing field.

This year, the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets will be coaching up the players. The scouting department for Around the Block put together a watchlist of players from each Senior Bowl team, the American and the National. This Senior Bowl watchlist will preview the players on the American team, coached by the Detroit Lions.

Quarterback – Malik Willis, Liberty

The American team roster probably has the more diverse group of quarterbacks. Among the ATB staff, however, there was near consensus that Malik Willis is the most intriguing of the trio. Willis began his career at Auburn but elected to transfer when true freshman Bo Nix won the starting job.

He had two great seasons at Liberty but still has a lot of room to grow as a passer. The Senior Bowl provides a great opportunity for quarterbacks at lower-level schools to prove they can run an NFL offense. 

Offense – D’Vonte Price, Florida International

D’Vonte Price is a pretty deep sleeper in a running back class chock full of talent. Price is a bigger back that does everything pretty well. On an FIU squad devoid of NFL talent, he consistently performed above his expectations. Price started this season off strong but faded down the stretch due to injury. He’ll be playing alongside three SEC running backs on the American squad so if he can keep up with them, he could significantly improve his draft stock. 

SMU Trio (Reggie Roberson, Danny Gray, Grant Calcaterra)

This is a bit of a cop-out but all three names were mentioned among the staff. Roberson was a hot name a few years ago. However, season-ending injuries in consecutive seasons forced him back to school. But in his absence, Danny Gray stepped up to become the Mustangs’ leading receiver the last two seasons. Additionally, Grant Calcaterra came out of retirement after a stellar but short career with Oklahoma to earn several All-AAC honors. 

Offensive Line – Max Mitchell, Louisiana

Over the past few seasons, the Ragin’ Cajuns have been one of the best running teams in college football. One of the biggest reasons for their success is their offensive line. Two former Louisiana linemen are starting in the NFL right now (Robert Hunt, Dolphins; Kevin Dotson, Steelers).

The next player in their lineage is Max Mitchell. Mitchell earned the highest Offense and Run Blocking grades among all tackles in college football, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s started at both tackle spots and even played guard at times. If he can hold up in 1-on-1s and continue his dominance in the game, he could solidify himself as a top-100 pick.  

Defensive Line – Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina

At the end of this process, Kingsley Enagbare could be the highest drafted player on the American squad (quarterbacks excluded). Despite having a relatively down year in terms of sacks in 2021, Enagbare consistently put pressure on the quarterback. He will have ample opportunity to display his skills in the individual drills, typically where the defensive linemen can shine the most. If he puts together a good week of practice in Mobile, he could cement himself as a first-round pick. 

Linebackers – Quay Walker, Georgia

At 6’4” and 240 pounds, Quay Walker is among the most imposing and physically terrifying prospects. He’s an extremely versatile defensive chess piece that can fill a variety of roles. In the modern NFL that requires linebackers to do so much, Walker is the prototypical linebacker for a new age of football. Thanks to his incredible physical gifts, he should be able to excel during practices and demonstrate that he is worthy of being selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. 

Defensive Backs – Tariq Woolen, UTSA

Even with the Legion of Boom long disbanded, the age of the tall, long cornerback is far from over. Tariq Woolen, listed at 6’4” and 205 pounds, is among the biggest cornerbacks in recent memory. He’s actually a converted wide receiver and has only been playing defense for about two years.

Woolen is still far from a finished product as a cornerback but getting coaching from an NFL staff should help him fix some of those issues. He needs to show he can stick with receivers off the line of scrimmage and stay in phase down the field.