Latest mock draft has Packers screwing up a dream scenario

Packers fans won't enjoy this one.
Green Bay Packers, Matt LaFleur
Green Bay Packers, Matt LaFleur / John Fisher/GettyImages

Imagine a world where Trou Fautanu and Cooper DeJean are available when the Green Bay Packers hit the clock in the first round. It's a dream scenario. Green Bay needs offensive line and cornerback help and would have the choice of two future stars.

Fautanu can become an All-Pro at all five offensive line positions, including left tackle. He earned elite Relative Athletic Scores of 9.62 at tackle and 9.94 at guard. There's a high probability he will be a top-20 pick. DeJean offers similar versatility with the ability to play across the secondary at corner, in the slot, or safety. He would be an impact starter with Pro Bowl potential, no matter where he lines up.

If Fautanu and DeJean are available at No. 25, the Packers have to take one of them, right?

Maybe not. Chad Reuter of released his latest mock draft, which sees Green Bay pass on both prospects to select NC State linebacker Payton Wilson at No. 25.

While Wilson would be a fantastic Day 2 option and help address the Packers' biggest positional need, it's hard to get behind this choice on the opening night, especially considering the other options.

Packers must avoid linebacker in first round of 2024 NFL Draft

Linebacker may sit atop the Packers' list of needs, but they shouldn't burn the No. 25 pick at the position. It's rarely the correct choice to draft an off-ball linebacker in the first round, and there are no game-changing prospects in this year's class.

History backs it up. Between 2013 and 2020, 21 off-ball linebackers were selected in the first round. Only four landed second contracts with the team that drafted them. We only go to 2020 because linebackers picked in the following drafts are still playing on their rookie deals.

It's not a premium position. Despite the Packers' urgent need, they shouldn't prioritize linebacker on Day 1.

Green Bay will have a chance to land a top offensive lineman or cornerback. In the case of the mock, Fautanu and DeJean were available.

It's not a criticism of Wilson to say drafting him at No. 25 would be a bad decision. He can become an excellent starter in the NFL and will be on the Packers' radar after earning a Relative Athletic Score of 9.88. However, his injury history is a concern and may keep him out of the first round.

With 11 picks, the Packers have the draft capital necessary to fix their lack of linebacker depth, but they shouldn't do it in Round 1.

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