What does an ‘Aaron Rodgers-friendly’ draft look like for Green Bay?

2022 NFL draft

Green Bay will reportedly do everything it can to make sure Aaron Rodgers wants to stay with the Packers.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the team plans to spend as close to the salary cap this upcoming season as possible, spreading out the money into future years. The 38-year-old Rodgers recently won his second consecutive MVP award, the fourth time he has won that award.

The problem is, Green Bay is projected to be close to $51 million over the salary cap, according to Over The Cap. That’s the second-worst cap situation in the league.

In fact, only New Orleans is in worse shape, as the Saints are projected to be almost $76 million over the cap.

That’s the same team mentioned in the ESPN report. The Saints took a similar approach to free agency with then-aging QB Drew Brees before he retired.

Now the Saints are in salary cap purgatory and are coming off a 9-8 record, which wasn’t quite good enough to earn a playoff spot, but too good to guarantee they have a shot at drafting a premium player in the first round.

Draft-wise, Green Bay will have an even worse pick – No. 28 overall in the first round – but they have nine picks overall.

The Packers will likely have to extend some contracts to move money around and give themselves a bit of salary cap flexibility. Then, expect the team to re-sign receiver Davante Adams or use the tag on him.

After that? Expect a “Rodgers-friendly” draft.

Here are four players who fit that bill:

Round 1: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Pro Football Focus ranks Burks as the fifth-best wide receiver in the draft and the No. 31 overall prospect. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior can play the slot or outside, and he can return punts and kickoffs. From PFF: “Burks’ combination of size … and speed is unrivaled in the class. He racked up 1,100 yards and 11 scores this season. The true junior should be a weapon on the vertical tree in the NFL.” He’s the No. 25 prospect in the latest Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board.

Round 2: TE Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M

Green Bay drafted former Texas A&M tight end Jace Sternberger in the third round of the 2019 draft and former Cincinnati TE Josiah Deguara in the third round of the 2020 draft. But Sternberger is now on Pittsburgh’s practice squad, while Deguara enjoyed moderate success this past season after an injury-filled rookie year. And last year’s starter, Robert Tonyan, is an UFA. So the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Wydermyer – ranked as the top TE for much of the season – would likely be the starter from Day 1. He might have been a much-higher pick had he come off a better season, but he had a few drops and his blocking seemed to take a step back while the team dealt with a shaky QB situation. Still, Wydermyer finished his three-year career with 118 receptions, 1,468 yards and 16 TDs.

Round 3: OL Cole Strange, Chattanooga

When you think of Green Bay offensive linemen over the years, you think old-school maulers. And you think of linemen who offer positional flexibility. All of that perfectly describes the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Strange, who’s coming off a solid week at the Senior Bowl. Green Bay lost three starters due to injuries this past season, forcing the team to move players around. Still, the Packers finished with the 14th-best OL, according to Pro Football Focus. Strange would provide the team with more depth should injuries crop up again. Primarily used as a left guard, the former defensive player told Fanspeak last month that he’s taken practice reps at every position along the line. He’s the No. 104 overall prospect in the Rigdon big board.

Round 5: WR Slade Bolden, Alabama

Green Bay’s wide receiver room could look very different next season, as starters Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are set to become UFAs, along with Equanimeous St. Brown. The third starter, Allen Lazard, will be a restricted free agent. So don’t be surprised if the Packers double-dip at receiver, even if the team re-signs one or more of those players. Bolden would be the perfect pick for Green Bay. The 5-foot-11, 191-pound junior won’t wow you with his size or speed, and his junior-season statistics were fairly modest with 42 receptions for 408 yards and 3 TDs, all career-highs. But Bolden was on an Alabama team that was stacked with talent at every level, so the fact he started last season is impressive enough. Plus, Bolden would likely play the slot, where he’s not expected to be a speed-burner. Bolden is the No. 171 overall prospect in the Rigdon big board.

 

Click here to see the rest of Green Bay’s latest mock draft from Fanspeak


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