Brian Gutekunst might look to make a splash with his first pick in charge of the Green Bay Packers personnel, but the New England Patriots could be an ideal trade partner should a few things fall into place on draft night.
The Packers are in a tough spot in the draft. Given how the teams ahead of them figure to make their selections, the Packers are unlikely to secure one of the class’s top defensive backs. Derwin James, Denzel Ward and Minkah Fitzpatrick are all likely to get scooped up in the top 13, leaving them without a first-round defensive back worth taking at 14.
Gutekunst could choose to stick at 14 and nab pass rusher Marcus Davenport or Harold Landry, or maybe reach for defensive back Jaire Alexander or linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. The Packers have the most interest in acquiring one of the three top defensive backs previously mentioned, and therefore might be interested in trading down while still securing a player that can fill a need.
Cornerbacks Josh Jackson and Mike Hughes should be available by the 23rd pick, when the Patriots are on the clock. The Patriots have the 31st pick in the draft as well, and may be looking to make a move up in the draft to secure their heir apparent to Tom Brady.
The Packers might be interested in making a deal with the Patriots, who have long been enamored with Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, but might be able to pick him at the 23rd pick.
If they want UCLA’s Josh Rosen however, the Patriots will undoubtedly have to move up. The consensus among those anticipating potential picks is that Rosen will not make it past the Arizona Cardinals at the 15th spot, one behind Green Bay. If the Patriots want to grab Josh Rosen, the Packers should pick up the phone and help them make that happen.
Green Bay is unlikely to get one of the three aforementioned defensive backs, and would be better off moving back nine spots while adding a first round pick at the end of the round. Pass rusher Harold Landry should still be there, but if he is gone the Packers can address their need for a cornerback instead. Josh Jackson and his nation-leading eight interceptions or Mike Hughes of UCF figure to be the top options for Gutekunst.
At No. 31, the Packers could target Boise State standout Leighton Vander Esch. They were “very high” on Vander Esch, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, who suggested his stock was rising rapidly.
It seems unlikely that Vander Esch will make it past the Steelers because of their hole at linebacker after Ryan Shazier‘s catastrophic injury. The Packers have the draft capital to make a move back up to scoop up Vander Esch though. They already have the highest amount of picks in the draft at 12, and would be sitting at 13 should they make this deal with New England.
The Packers cannot keep 13 rookies on their final depth chart. A trade back into the lower third of the first round or high into the top of the second round figures to be the most ideal scenario for the Packers, who need multiple high picks on the defensive side of the ball in order to help solidify the unit.
One other possible scenario for the Packers is a trade involving Patriots’ defensive end Trey Flowers. The Patriots seem to be willing to move both picks in order to find their successor to Brady, but might want to part with only the 23rd pick and use the 31st to address some needs of their own. That’s where Flowers enters the picture. Flowers is an underrated pass rusher who could give the Packers a strong combination of rushers alongside Muhammad Wilkerson.
A possible trade could look like this:
GB gets: 23rd pick, Trey Flowers
NE gets: 14th pick, fifth-round pick
New England gets its quarterback, and Green Bay gets its edge rusher before making a pick at No. 23.
The options are there between these two teams, who will face each other in New England this coming season.