Oh, what could’ve been for the Green Bay Packers.
Aaron Rodgers’ future is uncertain in Green Bay, and the speculation of whether he’d finish his career with the Packers all started when the team traded up for Jordan Love in the first round a year ago.
But what if the Packers hadn’t drafted Love, but instead landed wide receiver Justin Jefferson?
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, they tried. According to Rapoport, the Packers tried to trade up for Jefferson, while they also targeted Brandon Aiyuk, who the San Fransisco 49ers jumped ahead of them to pick.
There’s good reason why the Packers wanted Jefferson.
He was drafted by the rival-Minnesota Vikings and put together one of the best seasons by a rookie wide receiver in recent memory. Jefferson was named a second-team All-Pro, a Pro Bowler, and was part of the PFWA All-Rookie Team.
Jefferson caught 88 passes for exactly 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. It’s right up there with Odell Beckham’s rookie year when he caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns back in 2014.
Now imagine Jefferson had been catching passes from Aaron Rodgers opposite Davante Adams. Instead, Jefferson matches up with Packers All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander twice a year.
Aiyuk also would’ve been a great pick had he been available.
Aiyuk played in 12 games for the 49ers this past season, catching 60 passes for 748 yards and five touchdowns. He had 289 yards after the catch.
Both Jefferson and Aiyuk are among Pro Football Focus’ four highest-graded first-round rookie receivers since 2014. The other two names are Beckham and Mike Evans.
Unfortunately, the NFL Draft is filled with these moments. The fact is the Packers didn’t trade up for Jefferson or Aiyuk. They could’ve still added a receiver with the likes of Tee Higgins, Chase Claypool, and Michael Pittman Jr. all still on the board.