Draft Talk: Three Best Schematic Fits For Green Bay
It’s no secret the Packers front office covets players with versatility, athleticism and potential knowledge of the scheme. This article will highlight three potential players who fit what Green Bay is currently trying to do.
I’m not necessarily one to clamor that Player X won’t be there at 30, as we never really know what’s going to happen come draft night, but for one or two of these players, snagging them at 30 almost feels unrealistic. If that’s the case, I’ll explore the option of moving up for the player and what it may cost.
These prospects are guys that 1. I would love to see in green and gold in 2020 and 2. Would undoubtedly be a fit for the team.
Tristan Wirfs – Tackle – Iowa
First off, how could Packer fans not love a potential long-term Bryan Bulaga replacement with Tristan Wirfs, Iowa? It almost seems too perfect and that’s before we even dive into why he is an elite fit for Titletown.
Wirfs can move in space. This is a critical trait for Matt LeFleur’s zone running scheme he brought to town one year ago. In fact, the 21 year old All-American is an incredible athlete, posting a Relative Athletic Score, or RAS, of 9.73. That’s good enough for the 97th percentile at his position. A couple numbers that really jump out? A 40-yard dash of 4.85, a broad jump of over ten feet and verticle jump of 36.5 inches. Think about that for a second, a 6’5 320 pound man jumping over three feet into the air.
The Iowa Hawkeye product isn’t just a workout warrior. Turn on the tape and you see a dominant tackle with tremendous versatility. His Junior season, which also was his last season in Iowa City, he started eight games at right tackle while sliding over to left for three when injuries piled up on the line. Putting together a solid junior campaign, Wirfs played well enough to claim 1st Team All-B1G Ten along with AP All-American honors.
Projecting mainly at right tackle, many don’t expect Wirfs to fall out of the top 10. But what if he does? If Wirfs is still on the board at 16, 17 or even 18, do the Packers have to think about making a play? The 18th overall pick belongs to the Miami Dolphins. Already loaded with draft capital, they may be wanting even more with a total rebuild currently in the works. If Brian Gutekunst dialed up a Miami area number and offered a 2021 1st, 2020 3rd and 2020 7th, would the Dolphins agree and Packer fans approve? It’s an interesting scenario and one I could potentially get behind if it means suring up the right side of the line for the future.
Antoine Winfield Jr – Safety – Minnesota
The idea of drafting a player from that school to the west doesn’t sit well with a lot of local Badger fans, but hey, let’s not hate the college helmet choice once a prospect is in the NFL.
Winfield would be a welcomed addition by Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine. Pettine craves positional flexibility and the son of former pro-bowler Antoine Winfield would provide that as he is able to play nickel, box safety and free safety. This would allow the defense to get more creative by lining guys up in different areas on the field as well as let Darnell Savage roam, essentially serving as the chess piece for the defense.
What Winfield lacks in size (5’9 203), he makes up in athleticism and play making ability. Coming into the combine, many wondered how the former Gopher would perform. It’s safe to say he answered all the questions as he posted a 7.83 RAS. While that isn’t elite, it still fairs well enough for ‘good’. Some workout numbers that stood out were the 4.45 40 yard dash and the 10’4 broad jump. On the field numbers? That’s where it gets fun. He can impact the game in so many ways, finishing the year with 83 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 7 interceptions.
Now, health is a major concern for Winfield moving forward. In 2017, he suffered a season-ending hamstring injury while a left foot injury cost him the majority of his 2018 campaign. His final year in 2019, he missed one game with a minor injury.
Unlike Wirfs, I think there is a good possibility Winfield is there at 30 for the taking. Not only would he bring another playmaking presence to the back of the defense, it would pain Viking fans who enjoyed watching him at the University of Minnesota.
Justin Jefferson – Wide Receiver – LSU
The third and final pick here is probably the one I get most excited for and that’s Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson. Like the prior two prospects mentioned, Jefferson brings position flexibility, elite athleticism, production and maybe most importantly brains to this Packers offense.
There have been many accounts in the past year of writers saying the hardest position to master in Matt LaFleur’s offense is wide receiver and Jefferson is a master at baiting a defender and finding soft spots in zones which is crucial for an outside receiver, but even more so for a slot receiver which is where I believe the Packers would like him up the majority of the time.
Jefferson played three seasons at LSU, bursting onto the scene as a sophomore and securing that number one receiver spot on the roster. He built on that and as a junior and put out some great numbers, accounting for 111 receptions for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns. I get it, numbers come easier when your quarterback is Joe Burrow setting all kinds of passing records, but nonetheless, Jefferson still produced at an elite level.
Before the combine took place, most believed Jefferson to be a good, but not elite athlete. We may want to take that back. The LSU product posted a 9.69 RAS, highlighted by 4.43 40 time where his 10-yard split was in the 96th percentile. This is a good indicator on how explosive and how well a wide receiver can get off the line.
Bottom line, the Packers haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the 1st round of the NFL draft since Javon Walker in 2002. It’s time to step up and provide Aaron Rodgers with some legitimate players on the outside that can step up and play right away. Jefferson is projecting anywhere from the middle of the 1st to the early 2nd round, so we’ll have to wait and see if the Packers are fortunate enough for him to drop into their lap.