Could Green Bay aim for the fences with its second first-round pick during upcoming NFL draft?

2022 NFL draft

Thanks to the Davante Adams trade, Green Bay is playing with house money in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft, as the Packers now own the Nos. 22 and 28 overall picks.

It’s no secret what position Green Bay will focus on with one of those picks: receiver.

But, without a lot of holes on its roster, the team can go in any number of directions with its next pick.

Need another pass rusher to pair with Preston Smith and Rashan Gary? This is a great year to draft one, with six ranked among the top 32 prospects in the Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board. How about an interior lineman? Both guard prospects are expected to be selected in the 20-to-35 range, so at least one of those guards could still be there. What about taking a second receiver in the first-round? Six are ranked among the top 32, so it’s conceivable that one of them is still available at pick No. 28.

But those are all singles and doubles.

Why not aim for the fences?

Here are three wildcard prospects for the Packers’ late first-round pick:

Edge David Ojabo, Michigan

As Matt Hendershott of Zone Coverage says, “there are few prospects in this draft class as ‘Packers’ as Michigan (outside) linebacker David Ojabo.”

He’s not wrong.

Ojabo wowed at the Combine, checking in at 6-foot-4, 255-pounds and running an impressive 4.55-second 40-yard dash, which ranks him in the 95th percentile for his position, according to MockDraftable.

Then disaster struck: Ojabo tore his Achilles during his Pro Day workout. Now? Ojabo went from a certain-first rounder to a likely Day 2 selection, as his availability next season is in doubt. Prior to the injury, Ojabo was ranked as the No. 14 prospect in the Rigdon big board after picking up 11 sacks in his lone season as a starter. He’s now ranked as the No. 44 overall prospect.

From Hendershott: “Ojabo checks all of the Packers’ boxes: He’s an athletic freak with an impressive 9.37 Relative Athletic Score. He comes from a respected program that regularly produces NFL-level prospects, and he plays a premium position (edge). Ojabo is the type of player Green Bay covets, and he should be within their grasp.”

If Ojabo can return to form next season? Then the team who drafts him is essentially redshirting a relatively high first-round draft pick at a premium position.

And don’t rule out a return to the field this year, either. Here’s what Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said during the league’s annual meetings, via the Detroit Free Press:

“He’ll be back. He’ll be playing this season and he’s a great player, he’s even a better human being. I kind of know him through Jim really well and felt bad for him, but it’s not going to affect him too much in the long run.”

CB Tariq Woolen, UTSA

Green Bay has one of the best cornerback trios in the league. Eric Stokes, taken with the No. 29 overall pick last year out of Georgia, finished with 935 snaps, tops among all Green Bay cornerbacks. Rasul Douglas recently signed a three-year, $21 million contract to remain with the team. And Jaire Alexander garnered Second-team All-Pro in 2020.

The best part?

All are 26 or younger, with Douglas as the “veteran” of the group. Douglas will turn 27 in August.

In other words, cornerback as the least of Green Bay’s concerns right now, barring injury.

But what about next year, when Alexander is slated to become an unrestricted free agent?

Like Ojabo, Woolen is one of the top athletes at his position and is also relatively new to the position.

He was measured at 6-foot-4, 205-pounds at the Combine, which would make him one of the biggest cornerbacks in the league. And he ran a 4.26-second 40-yard dash, which would make him one of the fastest DBs.

The problem? Aside from playing against Conference USA opponents, it’s his experience. Woolen was an average receiver his first two years at the school before transitioning to cornerback.

From NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein: “Woolen has shown growth over his two years at cornerback but he’s still raw and needs time to get where he needs to go. He has an exceptionally rare blend of size, length and speed to contest catches on all three levels of the field if a team can develop his technique.”

S Daxton Hill, Michigan

It’s fun to look back on early-season draft predictions. For example: Oregon Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux and LSU cornerback Derek Stingley were considered top-5 picks, if not top-3. And the likely No. 1 overall pick? That was Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler.

Now, ESPN’s Jordan Reid says Thibodeaux could fall all the way to pick No. 15, and Stingley isn’t listed as the top CB in many draft boards. As for Rattler, he’s now the starting QB for South Carolina.

But one player’s rankings have remained steady throughout the process, despite battling injuries his final season: Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, the No. 1 player in the Rigdon big board.

And, throughout most of the draft process, Hamilton was also considered the only safety worthy of going in Round 1.

That thinking may be changing, as there’s a growing feeling that a second safety could sneak into the back-half of the first round: Michigan’s Hill.

Listed at 6-foot, 191-pounds, Hill ran a blazing 4.38-second 40 at the Combine and is seen as scheme-versatile: he can play deep, in the box or even as a third cornerback.

And he’s starting to gain more attention from draft analysts. The Athletic’s Bob Sturm, co-host of the Hardline on KTCK 1310 The Ticket, recently listed Hill as the top safety prospect.

That’s right, the top safety prospect.

From Sturm: “(Hill) causes plenty of trouble and should be identified before every snap. He has amazing hips and fluidity as an elite athlete who can cover ground and arrive with ferocity. Plays with an edge and will ask him to cover anyone at any position. He makes a real impact.”

Incidentally, current Packers starter Adrian Amos will also be an unrestricted free agent in 2023.

 

Who will Green Bay take with their second first-round pick? Find out in Fanspeak’s latest Packers mock draft.

 

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