Green Bay Packers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa – Round 1
The Packers were in the market to add more pass rush becayse their ability to harass the quarterback all but died off when Rashan Gary was injured during the 2022 season. General manager Brian Gutekunst has invested heavy resources into the defensive front seven, and he continued to do that with a versatile defender in Van Ness.

In the ground game, Van Ness is generally reliable at holding his gap. He does not get knocked off the ball and is able to set the edge. Van Ness shows sufficient instincts to stay home on misdirection plays and flow to the ball with good angles on stretch runs. As a pass rusher, Van Ness is a high-effort player who does well at collecting coverage sacks. With good size, Van Ness can be a base end who also slides inside in the sub package.

A number of sources from other NFL teams told that they had Van Ness as a late first-rounder. They said they liked him, but did not love him, as a prospect. They felt that Van Ness does not win cleanly against offensive linemen and really struggles to shed blocks. Thanks to not using his hands well, Van Ness gets caught up a lot by offensive linemen. He also lacks pass-rushing moves and is a stiff athlete who lacks wiggle as a rusher. Hence, I could see Van Ness being a solid starter, but not a world beater for the Packers.

2022: Quay Walker, LB
2021: Josh Myers, C
2020: None
2019: Rashan Gary, DE
2018: Josh Jackson, CB
2017: Montravius Adams, DT
2016: Kenny Clark, DT
2015: Damarious Randall, DB
2014: HaHa Clinton-Dix, S
2013: Datone Jones, DE

Most Likely To Bust

Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State – Round 2
The Packers have had a lot of turnover at wide receiver over the past couple of offseasons, and they were in the market for more youth at the position. Green Bay could have had the top receivers in the draft, but the organization passed on them in favor of taking Lukas Van Ness. With the 50th overall-pick, the Packers selected Reed to strengthen their position group. However, this pick kind of reminds me of their selection of Amari Rodgers from a few years ago. Reed (5-11, 187) is an undersized and quick receiver, but he could be limited to the slot in the NFL. While Reed is shifty, he does not have elite speed to burn defenses deep. Hence, I could see him having the potential to be disappointing as a second-round pick.

2022: Devonte Wyatt, DT
2021: Amari Rodgers, CB
2020: A.J. Dillon, RB
2019: Jace Sternberger, TE
2018: J’Mon Moore, WR
2017: Jamaal Williams, RB
2016: Kyler Fackrell, LB
2015: Ty Montgomery, WR
2014: Khyri Thornton, DL
2013: David Bakhtiari, OT

Potential Boom Pick

Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State – Round 2
The Packers entered the 2023 NFL Draft needing help at tight end, and they took advantage of an excellent draft class of tight ends by taking two of them on the second day. South Dakota State’s Tucker Kraft has upside as a third-round pick, but I think it was the selection of Musgrave at pick No. 42 that could have a big payoff for Green Bay.

Musgrave (6-6, 250) is a good athlete who presents serious mismatch problems for a defense and is really fast. He has big size and leaping ability to make catches even when he is covered by a defensive back. Musgrave also has serious speed to separate, and that can be seen with linebackers being incapable of running with him. Safeties also can struggle to run with the fast Musgrave and keep him from getting open. With his frame and speed, Musgrave is dynamic receiving threat for a tight end.

Musgrave has reliable hands and is dangerous after the catch. He runs through tackles and pick up yards after contact downfield. However, he does not have great feel in route-running, which is something he must improve as a pro.

As a blocker, Musgrave has the size and strength to contribute, but entering the NFL, he is terrible at it. NFL team sources labeled his blocking as awful, but if he finds more desire, his blocking could improve with pro coaching. In order to become a solid three-down starter, Musgrave is going to have to improve as a blocker. If he does not get significantly better, he will be relegated to being a receiving backup tight end. So in some ways, this is a risky projection as a possible boom pick.

The Packers need receiving options for Jordan Love, and I think Musgrave’s speed, size, and leaping ability could turn him into a productive receiving tight end. He might become a boom pick for Green Bay.

2022: Christian Watson, WR
2021: Eric Stokes, CB
2020: None
2019: Darnell Savage, S
2018: Jaire Alexander, CB
2017: Kevin King, CB
2016: Blake Martinez, LB
2015: Quinten Rollins, CB
2014: Carl Bradford, LB
2013: Eddie Lacy, RB

Future Depth Player

Tucker Kraft, OL, South Dakota State – Round 3
Kraft has upside, and he was too good for the Packers to pass on at pick No. 78 even though they had just selected Luke Musgrave in the previous round. Kraft (6-5, 254) has some athleticism and natural receiving ability. While he is not overwhelming as a receiver, he could become a well-rounded No. 2 tight end to pair with Musgrave and give the Packers a nice tandem for double-tight end sets.

2022: Zach Tom, OL
2021: Tedarrell Slaton, DT
2020: Josiah Deguara, TE
2019: Kingsley Keke, DE
2018: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR
2017: Vince Biegel, LB
2016: Dean Lowry, DE
2015: Brett Hundley, QB
2014: Jared Abbrederis, WR
2013: Johnathan Franklin, RB

Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

13. Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa – B+ Grade
Lukas Van Ness was all over the place. Some considered him a possibility at No. 10, while the Bengals thought he would fall to them at No. 28. This is probably the right range. Van Ness is very athletic, so he fits what Green Bay looks for in its prospects. The Packers had to blitz very frequently last year in order to get to the quarterback, so taking Van Ness makes sense.

42. Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State – A- Grade
The run on tight ends continue! Luke Musgrave is a prospect who drew lots of acclaim from scouts even though he wasn’t as productive as expected at Oregon State. He makes sense as a high-upside player for the Packers, and No Cookie Jordan Love should make good use of him. The Packers really needed a play-maker, and Musgrave as one of the best of those still on the board.

50. Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State – D Grade
Well, at least the Packers are drafting a receiver. Jayden Reed is an explosive receiver, but he’s small. I had him slotted in the fourth or fifth round. I think this is a reach, but it’s not an overly egregious one. Still, you have to wonder about drafting Reed with Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman available.

78. Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State – B Grade
Another tight end is odd, especially with all the issues at receiver, but the Packers can run multi-tight end formations. Tucker Kraft is pretty raw, but he has major upside, so I’m fine with this pick. It could have been better though.

116. Colby Wooden, DE/DT, Auburn – B+ Grade
The Packers needed to continue to address their pass rush, which was very weak last year when they didn’t blitz. Colby Wooden will help generate pressure on the quarterback as a 3-4 defensive lineman. I had him in this range in my mock, so I like the pick.

149. Sean Clifford, QB, Penn State – D Grade
It’s the quarterback who beat out Will Levis in college. That said, Sean Clifford seemed like a seventh-round prospect at best, so I don’t know why the Packers drafted him this early.

159. Dontayvion Wicks, WR, Virignia – B Grade
The Packers obviously needed a receiver, and they’re getting a decent prospect in Dontayvion Wicks. The Virginia product has some speed concerns, but he’s a tall, lengthy receiver who could be a good weapon in the red zone.

179. Karl Brooks, DT, Bowling Green – C+ Grade
Karl Brooks was very productive at Bowling Green as an interior pass rusher, but he’s not a very good athlete so the upside is limited. He can also get run over in the ground game. There’s some potential, but I thought Brooks would be a UDFA.

207. Anders Carlson, K, Auburn – B Grade
Again, I have no problem with a kicker or a punter in the sixth round. The Packers needed to replace Mason Crosby, so they have my full support.

232. Carrington Valentine, CB, Kentucky – B Grade
Carrington Valentine is a cornerback with some upside, but he was very inconsistent during his time at Kentucky. I’m fine with this pick, given the potential.

235. Lew Nichols, RB, Central Michigan – C+ Grade
Lew Nichols runs with good power and vision, but he lacks upside as someone with very limited speed. He also doesn’t have much receiving ability. I would have liked to have seen a player with more upside with this pick.

242. Anthony Johnson, CB, Virginia – B+ Grade
Anthony Johnson is a big cornerback who may not be agile enough to run with speed receivers. I thought he could go earlier than this, however, so I like this value for Green Bay.

256. Grant DuBose, WR, Charlotte – B- Grade
Grant DuBose has nice size at 6-2, 200, but he lacks speed and separation ability. This pick doesn’t have much upside.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: C. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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