In the least surprising news in the history of the NFL, the Packers elected not to pick a receiver in the first round. Again. For the 20th-straight year.
Instead, they opted for Georgia linebacker Quay Walker at No. 22 overall and his Bulldogs teammate Devonte Wyatt at No. 28. Walker is a big, fast, old-school thumping second-level defender who rarely misses a tackle. But his change-of-direction ability is labored, he's not nearly as impactful defeating blocks as his 6-foot-3, 241-pound frame would indicate, and he's very inexperienced in coverage.
The last part is damning for a first-round linebacker. Ask the likes of Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen, and Jordyn Brooks, all big, rangy, athletic second-level defenders picked in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft. What's weird too -- the Packers have a big, fast, rangy linebacker -- who can really cover -- in reigning All-Pro De'Vondre Campbell.
He's nearly identically sized to Campbell at 6-4 and around 230 pounds.
Now defensive coordinator Joe Barry loves oversized, attacking inside linebackers, and he'll have that now. But Walker will be a target for opposing offenses that will force him to coverage. It could get ugly.
As for Wyatt, he's a quality player. Much stronger likelihood he thrives in the NFL than Walker. There's not a glaring flaw to his game. He's just not sensational in any area. And he's already 24 years old. Starting your career next to Kenny Clark as nose tackle is one hell of a luxury for a rookie defensive tackle, but Wyatt doesn't feel like a defender who's going to move the needle as much as you'd normally want or expect from a first-round pick.
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But enough about the Packers first-round selections. We're onto Friday, when the Packers are slotted to make three picks and Green Bay fans are foaming at the mouth for a receiver. I get it. Let's list the best possible options:
Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
Moore has been a draft crush of mine since the jump. He does everything well. And I mean everything. He's a hair under 5-foot-10, which is probably why he's still available. But he measured in at a compact 195 pounds at the combine and ran 4.41 in the 40. He's a magician beating press at the line, he runs surgically sharp routes, forces missed tackles like a running back and has a gigantic catch radius. He'd catch 75-plus passes at as a rookie with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football.
George Pickens, Cincinnati
Had Pickens not torn his ACL in March 2021, he would've been a cemented first-round pick. At 6-3 and around 200 pounds, Pickens plays above the rim and plays with wiggle reminiscent of receivers with much smaller frames. He's a bully as a blocker on the outside and showcased mid 4.40 speed at the combine. Plus, he just turned 21 in March.
Christian Watson, North Dakota State
No one aced the pre-draft process at receiver quite like Watson. At 6-4 and 208 pounds, the former Bison star ran 4.38 in Indianapolis with a 38.5-inch vertical and broad jump in the 98th percentile at the position. He's not a nuanced route runner and won't break many tackles immediately in the NFL. But he glides down the football field and can be a genuine asset in a gadget role as a rookie.
Khalil Shakir, Boise State
Shakir isn't a supremely gifted athlete by today's NFL wideout standards. All he did on the field at Boise State the past three seasons was average 64 catches for 902 yards and six touchdowns on average. Shakir's a crafty, contact-balance specialist with the ball in his hands and showcased a flair for the acrobatic grab during his college career, particularly down the sideline.
Tyquan Thornton, Baylor
Thornton's 4.28 pops off the screen when reading his scouting report. At nearly 6-3 and 181 pounds, he's a uniquely sized burner. On film, Thornton is a precise, explosive route runner with some of the most natural hands in the entire class. Not only can he bust the lid off a defense, he can get open at the intermediate level and make difficult grabs away from his frame.
David Bell, Purdue
Bell's an enigma. On film, he looks like a locked-in second-round pick. His athletic profile screams Day 3 prospect. After establishing himself as one of college football's most reliable ball-tracking specialists early in his career, Bell was a tackle-breaking phenom in 2021, breaking 25 of them after the catch. If Green Bay can look past the poor workout figures and measured speed, they'd get a nuanced, well-rounded pass catcher in Bell.