The 2022 NFL draft is probably the last thing on the minds of Green Bay Packers fans. The Packers are currently the No. 1 seed in the NFC and are playing like one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Naturally, the focus is on the right here and now.
But as is the case with every season and every great run, it comes to an end. And for the Packers, it’s going to come to a very, very harsh end if quarterback Aaron Rodgers actually does decide to finish his career in a different uniform. At that point, the NFL draft will be critically important for a team suddenly forced into a mini-rebuild around 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love.
So, why not run through a 2022 mock draft and see what kind of draft class the Packers can pull next April? Let’s go.
Round 1, Pick 32: Drake London, WR, USC
This pick will be interpreted in one of two ways: a slap in the face to the recently departed Rodgers, who’s been lobbying for an early-round wide receiver for several years, or a tip of the cap to No. 12, who perhaps decides to commit another year or two to the Cheeseheads. Regardless, it’d be a fantastic selection for a team that will be in flux at wide receiver in 2022. We don’t know what Davante Adams’ future holds, and there just isn’t another pass-catcher on the roster who appears ready to be a go-to guy. London is that kind of prospect. The 6-foot-5 stud has a my-ball mentality and was the nation’s most productive receiver before an injury cut his season short. If Adams sticks around, the Packers would have quite the duo at wide receiver.
Round 2, Pick 64: Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
Wait, what? TWO picks for the Packers’ quarterback? Yep. And in Round 2, they snag a quality athlete at tight end who’d present as an upgrade over Robert Tonyan, whose immediate future is unknown because of the torn ACL he suffered this season. McBride has more than 1,000 yards receiving this year and at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, offers the kind of mismatch today’s offenses are looking for from a tight end.
Round 3, Pick 95: Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
In what’s seemingly become a yearly need, the Packers dip into the 2022 class of linebackers with the selection of Smith, who TDN’s Kyle Crabbs said at the start of the season is a “potential Isaiah Simmons-type linebacker who has freakish athletic gifts and tremendous athleticism at his size and stature.” Green Bay needs an upgrade of athletic ability on the defense’s second level, making Smith a smart selection at the backend of the top 100.
Round 4, Pick 134: Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss
After starting the draft with two straight picks on offense, it’s back-to-back (and soon-to-be back again) picks on defense. This time, it’s a pick focused more on power than twitch and athleticism. Williams is a north-south pass rusher who, as TDN’s Drae Harris noted, “has the ability to collapse tackles with his strength’ in obvious passing situations.
Round 4, Pick 136: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the offensive side of the ball in the next few picks, but with their second pick in Round 4, the Packers add to the secondary with Taylor-Britt, who’s totaled five interceptions over the last three seasons and has been a steady contributor for the Cornhuskers’ defense. He offers good size (6-foot, 205 pounds), fluid hips, and good ball skills and will offer starter’s upside early in his career.
Round 5, Pick 173: Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
Whoa! Two wide receivers in one draft? And two nameworthy guys to boot? Yep, the Packers land one of the most talented receivers in the entire class who’s only still on the board because of a long (long) list of injury concerns. When healthy, Ross has proven to have the upside to make a high-level impact. He’s appeared in 10 games this season after missing all of last year because of back surgery. It’s fair to say his sluggish season is partially due to the year off and because of the magnitude of his injury. If he returns to the type of player he was during his freshman and sophomore seasons, the Packers will get an absolute steal here.
Round 7, Pick 222: Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma
Sure, the Packers have arguably the best two-headed monster at running back in the entire NFL, but that doesn’t mean they can’t use one of their three seventh-round picks on some depth at the position. And just because Aaron Jones signed a sizable contract four-year extension at the beginning of the 2021 season doesn’t mean he’ll be around for all four of those seasons. That brings us to Gray, who’s a thickly-built prospect who brings legitimate pass-catching skills to the NFL. He’d be a quality third running back on Green Bay’s depth chart.
Round 7, Pick 249: Mike Miranda, iOL, Penn State
We can’t go an entire draft without some beef in the middle of the offensive line. The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder has a scheme-diverse skill set and experience at both guard positions and center. He’s the kind of valuable roster piece teams covet this late in the draft; he’d fill multiple roles as a deep reserve or even practice squad player.
Round 7, Pick 255: Sterling Weatherford, S, Miami (OH)
The Packers close out this draft with another player on defense, making it a balanced draft class of five players for the offense and four for the defense. Not bad, right? And whenever we’re making a pick this late in the draft, it’s more of a dart throw on measurables than anything else. Weatherford is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound safety-linebacker hybrid who has enough power to take on blocks and make plays in the run game, as well as enough functional athleticism to cover athletic tight ends and even running backs. At worst, he’d be a nice asset on special teams.