Could the Green Bay Packers, for the first time since 2011, use their top draft pick on an offensive player?
In Ted Thompson’s reign as general manager, the top of the draft was dedicated almost exclusively to defensive players. That’s because nearly every year, the season ended due to a disappointing defensive performance in the playoffs.
But now, Brian Gutekunst is running the show. And Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone injury last season exposed several offensive deficiencies.
Conventional wisdom remains that the Packers will use their top pick on a defensive player, such as an edge rusher or a cornerback. Yet it’s very possible that Gutekunst instead picks someone on offense.
Offensive tackle is the obvious position to target, given Bryan Bulaga’s ongoing recovery from a torn ACL. Here are the three candidates for the #14 pick who could immediately start at right tackle.
Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Williams is 6 feet 6 inches tall, 320 pounds, and only 20 years old. Most scouts agree that his sophomore season was stellar, but his junior year was marred by injury, as he played only five games. He has great feet and moves extremely well in pass protection.
The biggest concern for Packers fans, though, will be that he missed time last season due to knee injuries. That will not make him a reassuring successor to Bulaga.
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The most notable thing about Orlando Brown is his tremendous size, as he measures 6 feet 8 inches tall and 380 pounds. He understandably doesn’t seem to move as well as Williams, but his strength is a huge asset in the running game.
The Packers have traditionally favored athletic pass blockers rather than maulers along the offensive line, which means Brown isn’t a logical fit. With Gutekunst at the helm, though, anything is possible.
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
McGlinchey was a two-time captain at Notre Dame, starting at right tackle in 2015 before moving to the blindside for his final two seasons. He has good size at 6 feet 7 inches and 310 pounds, and he was instrumental in Notre Dame’s outstanding rushing attack last season.
But McGlinchey struggled occasionally in pass protection, including in games against top-tier competition in Georgia and Miami. Though he will likely be a longtime starter at right tackle, #14 seems a bit high to take him.
Wide receiver is the other offensive position that I’d expect Gutekunst to attack in the beginning of this draft, though I’d be surprised if it was in the first round. Calvin Ridley, James Washington, and Courtland Sutton are outside possibilities at #14 or later in the round, should Gutekunst decide to trade down.
Due to the players on the Packers’ roster (center, quarterback, and running back) and the players available in the first round (tight end, guard), it is a long shot that other positions on offense will be targeted in the first round.
Again, a defensive player is far more likely to be the top pick. But if there’s a chance to lock down the right tackle position with an excellent player for the next eight to 10 years, Gutekunst will be hard-pressed to let that go. It will be fascinating to see what the first-year general manger does.