The 2021 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 29. As a lead-up to the draft, we’ll be giving a team-by-team breakdown for positional needs. For each team, we’ll give an overview of the current depth chart and how big of a need each position in the upcoming draft. You can find the rest of the team needs (as they’re updated) and the rest of our draft content in the 2021 NFL Draft hub.
Green Bay Packers 2021 Draft Picks
Round 1 (29)
Round 2 (62)
Round 3 (92)
Round 4 (135)
Round 4 (142)
Round 5 (173)
Round 5 (178)
Round 6 (214)
Round 6 (220)
Round 7 (256)
Green Bay Packers Offense
By Rich Hribar
After questioning a potential decline over the previous three seasons and the Packers drafting his potential replacement in the first round this past season, Aaron Rodgers roared back as the league’s MVP, setting career-highs in completion rate (70.7%), touchdown passes (48) and touchdown rate (9.1%). Rodgers turns 38 years old this December, but the future Hall of Famer is still under contract through the 2023 season.
Last year’s first-round pick Jordan Love was the first quarterback selected in the first round to not start a single game as a rookie since Jake Locker in 2011. In fact, Love did not even dress as the backup in any game a year ago. With Tim Boyle leaving this offseason, Love will get that chance. The Packers will potentially add a late-round dart throw to the room as a QB3, but quarterback is not a position of actual need.
After not placing the franchise tag on Aaron Jones, many assumed that he would hit free agency and move on. But prior to the open of the free agency period, the Packers and Jones agreed to a new four-year contract that is at minimum at least a two-year extension.
2020 second-round pick A.J. Dillon managed just 48 touches as a rookie (and just two receptions), but averaged 5.3 yards per carry on his limited work. With Jamaal Williams leaving via free agency, his role will be elevated in year two.
With the rest of the depth on low-leverage contracts and Dillon as not much of a pass catcher, we could see the Packers add a late-round back with a receiving background to pick up some of the work Williams left behind in the two-minute offense, but the Packers have significant capital tied into their top two backs.
Equanimeous St. Brown
The Packers receiving corps is still anchored by Davante Adams, who has developed into arguably the league’s top receiver. Doing nearly all of the lifting in 2020, Adams accounted for 51.2% of all the targets allocated to the Green Bay wide receivers, which was the highest rate in the league for a wideout compared to his fellow wide receiver room. Adams enters 2021 in the final season of his contract and will be due a big payday very soon.
In fact, the Packers do not currently have any wide receiver under contract beyond the 2021 season. Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown are in the final season of their rookie contracts while Lazard will be a restricted free agent next offseason. The team gets Devin Funchess back after he signed a one-year contract last offseason and then opted out due to COVID.
While the Packers took a lot of heat last season for not addressing their wide receiver depth in the draft, given their abundance of expiring contracts and baseline-level depth behind Adams, do not expect them to double down on that approach this April. Green Bay should be the market for multiple wideouts with at least one on the opening two days of the draft.
After 14 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns through two NFL seasons, Robert Tonyan broke out with 52 catches for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns, which matched Travis Kelce for the league lead. Hyper-efficient, just seven of the 59 targets Tonyan received were incomplete as that 88.1% catch rate was the highest ever for a tight end with more than 50 targets in a season. Not to be outdone on just pulling in targets, Tonyan’s 18.6% rate of receptions resulting in touchdowns trails only Julius Thomas in 2014 (19.4%) among tight ends who have caught 20 or more passes in a season. Signing his one-year tender as a restricted free agent this offseason, Tonyan will be hard-pressed to repeat that type of efficiency, but will enter 2021 as the starter.
As for the depth, the Packers re-signed veteran Marcedes Lewis to a two-year deal while they still have 2019 third-round pick Jace Sternberger and 2020 third-round pick Josiah Deguara (who is more of an H-Back) still with multiple seasons remaining on their rookie contracts. Any tight end selection would be a bit of a luxury pick for the Packers.
LT: David Bakhtiari/Yosuah Nijman
LG: Jon Runyan/Lucas Patrick
C: Elgton Jenkins/Jake Hanson
RG: Lucas Patrick/Simon Stepaniak/Ben Braden
RT: Billy Turner/Zack Johnson
The Packers were one of the strongest offensive line units in the league based on performance in 2020, ranking first in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate (74%), and tops in their Run Block Win Rate (74%). Aaron Rodgers was pressured on just 23.7% of his dropbacks, which was the third-lowest rate in the league.
Having Rodgers helps any line, but the Packers did lose a significant piece this offseason in Corey Linsley, who ranked fifth in pass block win rate and first in run block rate among all centers a year ago per ESPN. At Pro Football Focus, Linsley exited the 2020 season with their highest grade at the center position.
To compound the loss of Linsley, All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari tore his ACL on December 30 last season and it is currently unknown when he will be ready to return to the field while looking doubtful to be back for the season opener.
Green Bay does at least have one chess piece in 2019 second-rounder Elgton Jenkins, who logged snaps at LT, LG, C, and RT in 2020 despite primarily playing left guard over his first two seasons in the league. Jenkins is the best bet to take over at center after starting five games there a year ago (with two seasons at center in college), but he at least gives the Packers some flexibility, especially at the start of the season with the timetable on Bakhtiari’s return unknown.
Green Bay has three second-year players that they selected on day three a year ago in Jon Runyan, Jake Hanson, and Simon Stepaniak, but only Runyan logged time on the field a year ago with 160 snaps (136 at LG).
Starting right guard Lucas Patrick is also entering the final season of his contract for added incentive for the Packers to pursue interior offensive lineman this April.
Green Bay Packers Defense
By Dan Pizzuta
Interior Defensive Line
In the past, the Packers have asked a lot of the interior defensive line. With all else focused on stopping the pass, the interior needed to hold the gaps to defend the run. Green Bay finished 24th in ESPN’s Run Stop Win Rate.
Kenny Clark signed an extension through 2025 before last season and remained one of the league’s best defensive tackles. Dean Lowry is signed for the next two seasons and was on the field for 58% of the team’s defensive snaps. Behind them, Lancaster and Keke rotated in between 30-40% of the snaps. Keke has two more years on his rookie contract and Lancaster re-signed for a one-year deal.
With Clark set in the middle, the Packers can build around other rotational pieces. Keke is the only other player with some pass rush upside, so that could be added to the mix.
The Packers had an interesting split between how often they got pressure on the quarterback and how often they took the opposing quarterback down. Green Bay ranked 27th in pressure rate but ranked sixth in sack rate. After a 2019 season when the Packers ranked eighth in pressure rate, the dominance off the edge wasn’t the same. Green Bay also relied on a four-man rush as one of the highest rates in the league, 70%, which tied for the eighth-highest mark.
Some development from Rashan Gary was a plus and he led this group in pressure rate, but that ranked just 46th among edge rushers, according to Sports Info Solutions. Za’Darius Smith ranked 52nd a year after he was third in pressure rate. Preston Smith bounced between dropping into coverage significantly more than he did in 2019 and not rushing the passer as well as he did in his first season with the Packers.
Preston Smith has two years left on his contract, but the Packers could move on after 2021. For a franchise that has been willing to bring in draft prospects to prepare for the future, it would not be surprising to see Green Bay add to the edge depth chart to work a rookie into the rotation with the hope on an expanded role in 2022.
The Packers’ need for an off-ball linebacker depends on how much the staff will value the position. Mike Pettine didn’t really care and a free agent shot at Christian Kirksey didn’t work out for more than a season. New defensive coordinator Joe Barry has a long history in the NFL coaching linebackers, but just came from a successful defense with the Rams, who also put more emphasis on defensive backs over linebackers.
Krys Barnes played about as well as you could expect an undrafted rookie to play and Oren Burks remains a player with athletic upside. This is clearly the weakest position on the defense, but to this point, that has been by design.
Jaire Alexander has developed into one of the league’s best cornerbacks. He ranked 24th in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap in 2020 with the lowest completion percentage allowed (40%) among 148 cornerbacks with at least 100 coverage snaps on the season. Chandon Sullivan has also become one of the league’s more underrated slot corners, ranked 34th in AYA/CS.
Production dips after those two. Josh Jackson ranked 77th and Kevin King ranked 81st. Those were slightly below average ranks, but as was the case with King, the lows were quite low. King was brought back on a one-year deal, but that still leaves a lot of room for the Packers to upgrade at outside corner. Cornerback has been the second-most mocked position to the Packers in the first round (behind wide receiver), according to Grinding The Mocks.
No team used six or more defensive backs on the field more than the Packers’ 50% of defensive snaps last season. Joe Barry just came from a Rams team that used Dime+ personnel on 25% of defensive snaps, which still ranked eighth in the league.
Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage have combined to be one of the league’s best safety duo. Both Amos and Savage have moved around the defense by playing deep, in the box, and in the slot. Amos played 98% of the defensive snaps in 2020 and Savage was close behind at 85%.
With how often the Packers used Dime+ personnel, they had some three-safety packages, which rotated with Redmond and Greene on the field for around 33% and 32% of the defensive snaps, respectively.
With Amos and Savage set, safety could be an addition but likely not until Day 2 or 3.