Packers: 5 Players to Target in the 2023 NFL Draft

  • Post Author
    by Sports director
  • Post Date
    Wed Apr 26 2023

Written by: Alex Yu

Packers CB Jaire Alexander poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected with the 18th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. (Photo from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

With draft day right around the corner, Green Bay Packers fans around the globe are starting to sweat profusely. Although the Packers have drafted decently well in past years, there have still been plenty of questionable picks and many star players passed on . . . I still have dreams of a TJ Watt and Creed Humphrey alternate reality. Here are my five favorite possible players the Packers could draft that would make a major impact.

1) Nolan Smith (EDGE, Georgia) – Off the bat, Nolan Smith seems like a classic Packers pick. GM Brian Gutekunst loves drafting quick and athletic defenders such as Rashan Gary and Eric Stokes. Who better than a Georgia edge rusher who ran a 4.39 second 40-yard dash? Obviously, speed isn't everything, but Smith fits the bill in other categories such as stopping the run and getting separation. Smith would be a great piece to help stop the run which has been a nagging concern for over a decade. This would leave stars Gary and Preston Smith in charge of getting after the quarterback. Smith broke out in the 2021 season, recording 56 tackles with 9 nine for a loss, 3.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. He played well in the first eight games in 2022 before going down with a torn pectoral muscle, which ended his season. There are concerns with him playing a full 17 games in the NFL, but I believe his upside will outweigh those doubts. I've seen Smith going from the eighth pick all the way to pick 20 in recent mock drafts.

2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR, Ohio State) – Jaxon Smith-Njigba has basically cemented himself as the fan-favorite pick for Green Bay. Smith-Njigba is an athletic slot receiver with excellent catching abilities. Although he was hurt for most of the 2022 season (only playing three games), he had a monster 2021 campaign. Smith-Njigba put up 1,606 receiving yards with 95 receptions and averaged a whopping 192 receiving yards per game over his last 5 games of the 2021 season. Smith-Njigba would provide the Packers' offense with yet another young receiver filled with potential. Although hurt for most of 2022, Jaxon Smith-Njigba proved to be healthy at the combine. If Houston doesn't take him with pick number 12, I think there's a great chance for him to become a Packer. His upside is huge, and if Green Bay pulls the trigger, Smith-Njigba will be the first receiver drafted by the Packers in the first round since Javon Walker in 2002.

3. Dalton Kincaid (TE, Utah) – Almost every mock draft previously had the Packers taking Kincaid at pick 15. After the Aaron Rodgers trade, taking Kincaid at 13 may make a bit less sense if Smith-Njigba is still on the board. As much as I want to object, it's hard to find a weak spot in his skill set. Kincaid has a massive catch radius to pair with an extensive route tree, making him a one-on-one nightmare. He also has enough speed to stretch the field vertically with a strong initial release. Drafting a tight end would make sense considering the only tight ends on the roster currently are Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis. Kincaid seems fit to perform at the highest level, but still has a couple concerns. He'll need to learn a more physical style of play in the NFL and hasn't yet fully developed into a reliable blocker. We've seen how valuable physical blocking can be with Marcedes Lewis, but I think Kincaid playing a slightly different role will work out fine. It is worth noting how deep this tight end class is, meaning Green Bay could wait until later and get someone like Darnell Washington in the second round.

4. Myles Murphy (EDGE, Clemson) – Myles Murphy's production in college was about as consistent as it gets. In all three seasons, Murphy had more than ten tackles for a loss, and he earned second and first team All-ACC accolades respectively over his final two seasons. The Clemson star ran a 4.51 second 40-yard dash at 271 pounds. There's no denying his quickness and size, as well as his consistency at the collegiate level. Murphy has a great first step and can pursue ball carriers extremely quickly. A couple concerns, however, are if he can work the inside better as a pass rusher, and if he can get off blocks easier with better momentum. I've seen many mock drafts having the Eagles take Murphy at pick number 10, but others have him falling as far as the Seahawks at pick number 20. I would prefer the Packers draft an offensive weapon in the first round, but I wouldn't be upset if they decided to take Murphy.

5. Paris Johnson Jr. (OT, Ohio State) – After his stellar 2022 season with Ohio State, many are saying Paris Johnson Jr. is the most pro-ready tackle in his class. He has also recently been moving up on draft boards, from going in the 20s to now the mid-to-early teens. Johnson is long and quick in his protection. He is still getting stronger, as his core strength is not quite up to par with the average NFL linemen. He still does have all the necessary athletic tools and is also extremely versatile. This is huge for the Packers, as we've seen just how valuable versatility can be in two-time Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins. Johnson can play either guard or tackle as of now and would make an immediate impact on the Packers' offensive line. He's as battle-tested and big game ready as anyone, having played in many Big Ten Tournament and College Football Playoff games. Again, a skill position would be ideal, but Paris Johnson would still be an acceptable alternative.