Who could the Green Bay Packers target if they trade up or down in the 2019 NFL Draft?
It’s no secret that Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has the ammunition necessary to trade up in the 2019 NFL Draft. And, there’s plenty of scenarios where moving down would also be a viable option.
It seems clear that there isn’t room on the Packers’ roster for 10 draft picks, which suggests trading up. But, the hit rate on late-round picks is so low, and the Packers have so many needs and wants, that Gutekunst might feel compelled to amass even more picks.
Michael Cohen of The Athletic recently wrote a piece detailing several of the ways that Gutekunst could package and send away assets during the draft, and where that might land the Packers.
What would make Gutekunst want to move up or down? And who might he target in those scenarios? Let’s take a look:
Trade up from 12
Gutekunst could theoretically get the Packers into the top five of the draft by giving up No. 12 and No. 30, but that’s pretty unlikely. Those types of trades are usually reserved for teams that desperately want a franchise quarterback. Unless Gutekunst thinks that Nick Bosa or Josh Allen are the second coming of Reggie White, this can probably be ruled out.
What’s more likely is that the Packers trade up just a few spots, somewhere between No. 9 and No. 11 (the Detroit Lions at No. 8 are unlikely to trade with the Packers).
This could be triggered by the improbable event of Allen, Bosa, or Quinnen Williams falling. More likely, though, it will be because Gutekunst thinks his top targets won’t be available at No. 12.
Given the depth available along the offensive line and at tight end, the most likely reason for a trade-up is likely to land a top player for the defensive front seven. This could mean Brian Burns of Florida State (edge), Montez Sweat of Mississippi State (edge), or Ed Oliver of Houston (defensive tackle).
Trade back from 12 or up from 30
Last year, Gutekunst was reportedly interested in trading up for Denzel Ward. Then, once Ward and Minkah Fitzpatrick were off the board, Gutekunst traded back, netting the No. 30 pick in this year’s draft in the process.
A similar scenario could unfold this year, where Gutekunst is simply unable to get himself into a position to draft one of his most coveted players. If the top edges, inside linebackers, and defensive linemen are gone, Gutekunst could see plenty of comparable players at No. 12 for those positions as well as tight end and offensive line.
Relatedly, a trade up from 30 is foreseeable in the situation that a top-tier player on the Packers’ board starts to slip into the 20s. This seems less likely than trading back from 12.
Which players would be the options if Gutekunst did move into the teens or 20s of the first round? There would need to be several options that Gutekunst is excited about—otherwise, trading back is extremely risky. Here are a few of the players who might be available at major positions of need:
Tight ends: T.J. Hockenson (Iowa), Noah Fant (Iowa)
Offensive line: Dalton Risner (Kansas State), Garrett Bradbury (NC State), Chris Lindstrom (Boston College), Andre Dillard (Washington State)
Defensive front seven: Devin Bush (inside linebacker, Michigan), Clelin Ferrell (edge, Clemson,) Chase Winovich (edge, Michigan), Jerry Tillery (defensive line, Notre Dame)
Trade back from 44
If Gutekunst trades up earlier in the draft, trading back from 44 would make sense as a way to recoup some picks and make sure that as many needs as possible are addressed on the first two days.
In addition to the offensive and defensive lines, I see receiver and safety as being some of the most likely positions for the Packers to attack on Day 2.
Draft experts have the safety class ranked in all sorts of variations, but most agree that there aren’t any blue chip prospects. If Gutekunst somehow finds two or more of Nasir Adderley (Delaware), Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida), Taylor Rapp (Washington), or Johnathan Abram (Mississippi State) available at 44, a trade back would be a good option.
Additionally, pass-catcher is a need for the Packers—but not a terribly urgent one. The Packers have had a bevy of success with second-round receivers. Players such as Parris Campbell (Ohio State), Marquise Brown (Oklahoma), Andy Isabella (Massachusetts), and Terry McLaurin (Ohio State) may be available for a mid-second round pick. At tight end, Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama), Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M), and Kaden Smith (Stanford) are currently projected around the same part of the draft.
These are just a few of the players and trading scenarios that Gutekunst will be considering come April 25-27. It will be fascinating to see how he plays his cards and to interpret what that says about not only the players he selects, but how he views the team right now.