The Green Bay Packers added 11 new players to the roster during the 2022 NFL draft. General manager Brian Gutekunst used this year’s draft to select an athletic linebacker and defensive lineman in the first round, plus three offensive linemen, three wide receivers, an edge rusher, a hybrid linebacker / safety and a massive nose tackle.
There is no better dose of optimism for an NFL team than the draft. Draft picks are the lifeblood of a competitive roster. The upside of these new players – and the things they’ll bring to the table – provide a jolt of excitement, especially for a team that lost several key players during the offseason.
Here is one big thing to like about each of the Packers’ 11 picks:
The size and speed. Walker is built like a throwback linebacker, but he moves like a defensive back. Even at 6-4 and over 240 pounds, Walker ran the 40 in 4.5 seconds and finished the three-cone drill in under 7.0 seconds. Both were elite marks for a linebacker his size. His speed and quickness get him to the football in a hurry and provide excellent range sideline to sideline, while his length and power get ball-carriers on the ground consistently. The Packers think Walker’s skill set will be an excellent complement to De’Vondre Campbell, a similar player in terms of size and speed.
His motor. Sure, Wyatt is an incredible athlete for a 300-pounder, especially in terms of quickness. His 10-yard split and three-cone times are stunning for a 304-pounder, and the measurables translate onto the field. But when a top player can combine pure athleticism with non-stop hustle, the bust rate drops significantly and the upside for impact skyrockets. Think of Rashan Gary. An elite athlete, his motor runs hot always. The same goes for Wyatt. He uses his speed to chase down plays all over the field despite playing on the inside of the line of scrimmage. Wyatt enters the NFL with a high floor.
The versatility. His elite athleticism gives him as much upside as any receiver in the draft class, but Watson’s awesome versatility provides an excellent fit with Matt LaFleur in Green Bay. He lined up everywhere at North Dakota State and consistently created big plays. LaFleur is going to love all the things he can do. Perimeter receiver? Yes. Deep threat? Yes. Gadget weapon? Yes. Vision and tackle-breaking toughness after the catch? Yes. Kick return ability? Yes. Willing and able to block? Yes. Watson checks a lot of boxes in the Packers offense. He averaged over 20 yards per catch, lined up in the backfield at times, was an All-American kickoff returner and blocked frequently (and well) in NDSU’s run-first offense. A skillful play-designer like LaFleur should be a perfect match for Watson’s unique skillset.
Run-blocking potential, especially at guard. Rhyan was a solid pass-protecting left tackle for UCLA, but he just looks like a road-paving guard. He’s a wide body (321 pounds) with a thick lower half, and his consistent success as a run-blocker in college bodes well for a move inside. He also has massive hands (11 1/8 ″) that were tailormade for moving big people inside. With his blend of imposing size and short-area movement ability, Rhyan could be a terrific guard in Matt LaFleur’s wide zone run game, possibly even as a rookie starter at right guard in 2022. But don’t be surprised if he gets a legitimate shot to win the job at right tackle first.
Vertical separation ability. Doubs has terrific playspeed at 6-1 and 201 pounds. Watch any Carson Strong highlight reel, and it’s really just a lot of Doubs getting open deep for big plays. He’s good at the line of scrimmage, likely the result of four years of starting experience, and he has the speed to stack cornerbacks and the ball skills to finish off big plays when the ball is in the air and up for grabs deep. The Packers think he is a polished receiver prospect. A couple of big plays in the passing game could be possible from Doubs as a rookie.
The pass-blocking ability. Tom is insanely athletic, and he played two very different positions (left tackle, center) at a high level in college. That’s a great foundation for any prospect. But what’s arguably more impressive is the pass-blocking ability he’s bringing to the next level. Tom has quick feet, active hands, excellent body control and balance, and an innate ability to mirror pass-rushers. He doesn’t have ideal size or length, but he could be a future starter at tackle if his pass-blocking ability translates to the NFL. He was the highest-graded pass-blocker in college football last season, per PFF. There are some subtle shades of David Bakhtiari in his ability to get people blocked in the passing game.
His power. While he lacks the top-end speed and bendy agility of most elite pass-rushers, Enagbare has a trump card, and it’s his length and power. He uses his long arms to control blockers and overall strength to go through them. Early in his career, Enagbare should be a capable edge setter who can rush the passer from multiple alignments. He’s not fast or agile, but he does have heavy, violent hands and short-area explosiveness. Pass-rushers have won with this skillset in the past. In fact, Za’Darius Smith immediately comes to mind.
Special teams potential. Carpenter should be a hybrid defender at the next level, and the Packers will actually start him in the inside linebacker room. But his roster status will largely depend on what he can provide for Rich Bisaccia and the special teams. The Packers are hopeful he can be an impact player for the third phase. At 6-3 and 230 pounds and possessing excellent speed and overall athleticism, Carpenter has the ideal profile of a versatile special teamer who can play on every unit. Coaching is important for special teams, but the players matter more. In Carpenter, the Packers showed their commitment to providing Bisaccia with the right type of players.
His size. At 6-5 and over 330 pounds, Ford is now one of the biggest players on the roster. He also started 30 games at Miami, so the Packers are hopeful he can bring something useful to the run defense. Ford and TJ Slaton are both gigantic human beings that could be hard to move off the board at nose tackle. In many ways, Ford compares favorably to former Packers defensive lineman Mike Pennel, now an experienced NFL run-stopper.
The value. This isn’t necessarily a trait of Walker’s, but the Packers were fortunate to get him so late in the seventh round. He started 32 games at left tackle for Penn State and possesses ideal size for playing offensive tackle at the NFL level. Developmental is required, but there’s a lot of value in taking a swing on a player with future starting ability at a premium position in the seventh round. It’s now on Adam Stenavich and Luke Butkus to make the most of the investment. In time and with the right technique corrections, Walker could be a legitimate candidate to start at right tackle.
Special teams potential. This isn’t to discount Toure’s potential as a receiver. But to make the Packers’ 53-man roster, he’ll have to prove capable of playing a big role on special teams, possibly as a returner and also as a gunner on coverage units. He has the speed and experience to do both in Green Bay. Toure needs to buy himself some time in terms of development as a receiver, even though he was productive at both Montana and Nebraska. The best way for a young player to stick around and develop in a program is to earn a roster spot on special teams. Toure has a chance.