Draft rankings perfectly align with Packers' biggest needs after NFL Combine

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Heading into the 2024 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers hold five picks inside the top 100. It's a lucrative position for any team to find themselves in, but especially for a team rapidly ascending back into Super Bowl contention after coming up three points short of an NFC Championship appearance last season.

By holding the second-most draft picks inside the top 100 (five), the Packers have the flexibility to play their hand in various ways.

But this year, more than most, the strengths of the 2024 class and the Packers' priority roster needs align in a way that is particularly advantageous for general manager Brian Gutekunst.

In an offseason where the Packers need to invest in safety, a cornerback who can ideally play the nickel, an interior offensive lineman, an off-ball linebacker, and a running back, the 2024 class is stacked with potential options inside the top 100. And similar to their last two drafts, this year is again an opportunity for the Packers to land a handful of starters or instant-impact players with their first few picks.

Nearing the closing days of the NFL Combine, Pro Football Network released a top-100 watchlist for this year's class that, before wild test scores started to overtake on-field production, indicates 40% of the top 100 are players at a position of need for the Packers. This includes almost half of the players ranked 50-100.

Of course, by no means will the Packers face smooth sailing to land the guy they want most, and more than likely, some players ranked lower will be drafted higher than any pre-draft rankings have them. However, this does mean that, even by withholding the temptation to trade up, the Packers can make out like bandits by staying put with their current set of picks in the first three rounds.

First and foremost, and barring any free-agent acquisition, the Packers are likely to prioritize filling gaps at safety and cornerback with two of their first three draft picks. According to Pro Football Network's rankings, that gives them a litter of nine cornerbacks and three safeties ranked inside the top 58.

Kamren Kinchens was a fan favorite heading into the combine, but after a 2.11 Relative Athletic Score (RAS), his draft stock all but plummeted outside of first-round range. Despite what the tape shows between the lines, the Packers prioritize high athletic scores from the combine, and Kinchens posted one of the worst for safeties since 1987. Don't count him out, but the front office may feel less inclined to look in his direction.

However, still advantageous for Green Bay is that roughly half of the top defensive backs have a better chance than not of being drafted early in the second round, where Green Bay holds pick 41.

Packers can address positions of need in opening rounds of 2024 NFL Draft

Cornerbacks and safeties Packers could target in opening two rounds

  • Cooper DeJean (CB/S)
  • Terrion Arnold (CB)
  • Tyler Nubin (S)
  • Quinyon Mitchell (CB)
  • Kamren Kinchens (S)
  • Mike Sainristil (CB)
  • Ennis Rakestraw Jr. (CB)

All this is to say that no matter who the hot name is among Packers fans, there's a more-than-likely chance that one of those players will be ripe for the picking at both picks 25 and 41.

Whether it's safety then corner or corner then safety, the Packers are primed to fill voids in the defense with cream-of-the-crop talent whose value matches the selection.

Interior offensive line targets at pick No. 58

  • Zach Frazier (C)
  • Jordan Morgan (T/G)
  • Christian Haynes (G)
  • Sedrick Van Pran (C/G)
  • Cooper Beebe (G)

Moving into the Packers' last three selections currently held inside the top 100 (58, 88, 91), they will have no shortage of options to fulfill needs at linebacker, interior offensive line, and running back.

Nine interior offensive linemen, including players projected to slide down to guard from tackle, rank inside PFN's top 100. Of that bunch, only two or three are projected inside the first round. Rounds two and three are primed as the sweet spot to maximize starter-tier value for the position, leaving the Packers with solid odds of landing a starting caliber lineman at pick 58 who can challenge Sean Rhyan at right guard.

Another player who could also immediately compete at center would be a win for the offensive line unit, as Josh Myers has yet to put it all together and is no sure bet to receive an extension in the near future.

Running backs and linebackers to watch Nos. 88 and 91

  • Jonathan Brooks (RB)
  • Audric Estime (RB)
  • Jaylen Wright (RB)
  • Isaac Guerendo (RB)
  • Bucky Irving (RB)
  • Jeremiah Trotter Jr. (LB)
  • Ty'Ron Hopper (LB)
  • Junior Colson (LB)
  • Jaylan Ford (LB)
  • Trevin Wallace (LB)

It's worth noting that following Florida State running back Trey Benson posting a 4.39 40-yard dash and a very Packers-esque 9.77 RAS at 6-foot-1, 216 pounds, he all but secured his spot as the top RB in the class.

With the recent report that AJ Dillon is not expected to be re-signed and the workings of an Aaron Jones restructure are on the table, don't be surprised to see the Packers get their running back of the future at pick 41.

For players ranked 50 to 100, PFN goes on to rank five running backs and eight off-ball or middle linebackers. While this class certainly has starting-caliber talent at both positions, Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper and Benson may be the only two selected by early round two. The positional value is more likely to be maximized beginning in the middle of the second round, making it less likely the Packers would prioritize addressing either position until at least pick 58.

With that being said, round three is lining up to be running back and linebacker heavy; the Packers holding two third-round picks puts them in an advantageous spot to make out with more upgrades and likely future starters at great value.

Worst-case scenario, if options start to dry up or there is a guy that team brass doesn't want to miss out on, the Packers hold six additional picks from rounds four and on; they'll have plenty of ammunition to move up a few spots to nab their guy.

It should be exciting to see what the Packers decide to do with their 11 draft picks. No matter where their strategy takes them, the Packers will have a path to move up in various rounds while still holding premium picks. Or they can stay put and maximize the value of the 2024 class that lines up perfectly with their roster needs.

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