Packers: Drafting DeVonta Smith sets up a match made in heaven

DeVonta Smith (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
DeVonta Smith (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

With two months until the 2021 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers are looking to address several needs at core positions following the 2020 season.

After the highly questionable 2020 NFL Draft for Green Bay, it’s key that they keep Aaron Rodgers motivated for another deep playoff run, but could that involve drafting Alabama wide receiver, DeVonta Smith?

Well, let’s have a little fun, shall we?

Would DeVonta Smith be available in the first round?

Looking at the draft order straight up, it takes an interesting path from the first 10 spots onwards. First, let’s address the history of wide receivers going in the first round.

Since the year 2000, only 83 wide receivers have been drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. In 2021, six receivers were drafted in the first round coming off one of the deepest draft classes at the position — which saw seven more go in the second round.

It wasn’t roughly until the middle of the draft where the first receiver was taken when the Las Vegas Raiders selected Henry Ruggs at No. 12. From there we saw wide receivers Jerry Jeudy (15), CeeDee Lamb (17), Jalen Reagor (21), Justin Jefferson (22), and Brandon Aiyuk (25) come off the board with teams needing their next receiver of the future.

Would Smith still be sitting there around the middle of the pack in 2021? History shows us that it’s possible that he would.

However, the concern for Smith is that the reigning Heisman winner was so dominant at Alabama with 3,965 receiving yards and 46 touchdowns in four seasons that he becomes a selling item for teams drafting early.

What’s even more interesting is that since the 2010 NFL Draft, there have only been four instances where more than four wide receivers were taken in the first round.

What a path to Smith could look like

Let’s assume that the draft order plays like how we think it would with teams addressing positions desperately needed.

The first two picks of the draft come from the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets. While a potential star wide receiver sounds sexy, the need at quarterback throws that need out the window almost immediately. Even if projected No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence goes, New York will still have plenty of options to pick a quarterback or simply trade out of the No. 2 pick.

The next three selections starting with the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, and Cincinnati Bengals all have offensive lines that need an immediate upgrade in protecting their quarterbacks. Tua Tagovailoa, Matt Ryan, and Joe Burrow were all victims of heavy pass rushes that featured little protection in 2020.

With Tagovailoa and Burrow suffering injuries that cost them games or the entire season, you need to protect your future. They’re not taking a receiver, especially in Atlanta where Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley reside.

The first scary pick comes at No. 6 from the Philadelphia Eagles who appear to be moving on from Carson Wentz. With Jalen Hurts the expected starter in Philadelphia, getting him a weapon such as Smith could work wonders. However, they drafted Reagor a season prior and the odds of Smith going in the top 10 doesn’t seem likely.

Draft selections from the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, and Dallas Cowboys are also teams that wouldn’t mind a playmaker like Smith but just have other positions that take priority.

The next wave of draft selections from the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers, and Minnesota Vikings all scream offensive players, as well. But not for Smith. All four of these teams have featured running backs that depend on healthy O-lines opening holes and protecting their quarterbacks. A surprise Smith pick wouldn’t come from here.

Entering the back half of the draft

This puts it around the middle of the 2021 draft. With the Packers selecting 29 this season, general manager Brian Gutekunst could work his magic here as he did in 2018 moving up to take Jaire Alexander.

With the history of not drafting a wide receiver in the first round in the Rodgers-era a huge focal point of late, Gutekunst and Co. could finally deliver in the 2021 NFL Draft as Rodgers enters the back-nine of his career.

However, there are still a few teams to look out for in-between picks 15-29. The New England Patriots have a serious need for offensive firepower. But with Cam Newton also hitting free agency, Bill Belichick needs a quarterback beyond Jarrett Stidham.

Both Arizona and Las Vegas will likely address their defensive woes after an above-average offense in 2020. Miami’s second draft pick at 18 could be a potential pick for Smith with the Dolphins needing another starter across from DeVante Parker.

The Washington Football Team poses a real threat to draft Smith if he’s still available at 19. While Washington has shored up its defense led by Chase Young, there are a ton of subpar offensive players to catch the ball from whoever’s under center in 2021.

If Green Bay is serious in this hypothetical draft, then this would be the time to trade up for Smith in the draft. From 20 to Green Bay’s pick at 29, teams such as Chicago, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, and New Orleans all have needs to be strengthened on the defensive side of the ball.

The wild-cards that remain would be Indianapolis (21), New York Jets (23), and Jacksonville (25) that could potentially draft Smith at these spots. Especially with New York and Jacksonville both having two first-round draft picks in 2021, they have the ammo to address two needs.

Pull the trigger on Smith in 2021

There is a ton of wiggle room in this year’s draft for the Packers to move up and take Smith. There are draft trades, draft packages, and pending player packages that Green Bay could offer in April.

If Smith is as good as advertised — and he’s been that — could you imagine an offense where Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan, and DeVonta Smith are catching passes from Rodgers?

Strong vibes from the 2011 season are seeping into the minds of Packers fans all over. If you’re looking to rebound from last year’s draft selections, finding a way to draft Smith does that.

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