The 2022 NFL Draft has passed, and we now know the 11(!) rookies who will join the team as this year’s draft class. A few will struggle a bit to make the roster, but this whole class has a chance to come in and play a part in this team in some capacity.
My immediate thoughts: This is the strongest top-to-bottom draft class the Packers have had in many, many years. Of course, everything is on paper at the moment. It’s up to the players and coaching staff to turn that potential into real talent, and as always, at least a few of those picks won’t come to fruition.
So here, for the first time, is a brief overview of the ENTIRE Packers 2022 draft class in one article.
#22 overall: Quay Walker, ILB, Georgia
It was certainly a surprise. Most of us have gotten so used to the Packers devaluing the ILB’s position that we canceled any shots from them early with an off-ball linebacker. But it was clear that in 2021 the Packers’ ability to execute the sorts of packages that Joe Barry wanted was hampered by the limitations of Krys Barnes, and drafting the hugely athletic Walker to associate with all pros De’Vondre Campbell will have a significant impact on the midfield of the Packers defense.
Walker is an all-around talent, able to defend against the run and the pass and has great range in his game. It may be a surprising choice, but he fits the mold of the kind of player Biran Gutekunst likes, and it fills a great defense need that has been ignored for too long. With Walker and Campbell, what has been a long-standing weakness could suddenly become one of the strongest positions on the team.
#28 Overall: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
With the second first round of the night team, Gutekunst cemented another position that has been ignored for too long: the defensive line. Kenny Clark is in desperate need of help, and Wyatt is a very athletic big man who could become a real force to be reckoned with. If I was a little lukewarm at the time with the Walker choice, it was a choice that excited me.
There are a few things in the selection that were unusual. First, character concerns. Hopefully they won’t be a problem in Green Bay. Second, Wyatt is already 24, which means he’s only two years younger than Clark. But he’s a guy who produced in college, going from a community college team to becoming an All-SEC defenseman and a key part of Georgia’s national title team. The Packers desperately needed a player like Wyatt on the defensive line. He figures to be an immediate contributor.
#34 overall: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Fans screamed for Gutekunst to write a WR, and although he once again opted out of it in the first round (wise, considering how the board fell), he decided anyway to trade (with the Vikings, no less) to bring Watson near the start of the second.
It’s easy to see why Gutekunst fell in love with the guy. He’s one of the most athletic receivers to make it to the draft based on his measurements and height, and he has a huge advantage. Not only will he have an immediate impact in the passing game, but he was also an all-American kick returner, another area the Packers desperately need to cover.
There are those who will say that Watson was a “reach” here or that the Packers gave up a lot, but if he reaches his potential, that will all go away very quickly. I love this choice.
#92 overall: Sean Rhyan, offensive lineman, UCLA
It was only a matter of time before Gutekunst turned his attention to the offensive line, and when he did, he picked up a prototype Packers offensive lineman. Rhyan is very versatile and played left tackle for the Bruins, but scouts noted he could play tackle or guard (again, that sounds like a Packer). He could be an immediate challenger for a starting point guard on the offensive line, especially with Elgton Jenkins unlikely to be ready to start the season. There is also the possibility that he is a replacement for Billy Turner at RT.
More importantly, he has elite hair, which puts him perfectly in this group of positions.
#132 Overall: Romeo Doubs, WR, Nevada
By taking Doubs in the second round, Gutekunst only made it the second time in the modern era that the Packers have taken two wide receivers in the first round (the other being in 2006). Doubs is another speed demon with deep ball, gimmick and return abilities who could be a fun contributor to this offense. Unlike Watson, however, Doubs was a multi-year starter who played plenty of football games with consistent success. He’s not quite the athlete that Watson is, but he’s no slouch either. Great value to pick, and a guy who definitely improves on what was a thin receiver room going into the draft.
#140 overall: Zach Tom, OL, Wake Forest
Another classic Packers offensive lineman in the fourth round, a round that has traditionally given the Packers real gems in the positional group. He is another potential challenger for the open right tackle position at Green Bay. He has plenty of athleticism and could be versatile enough to play guard if needed. A LOT of teasing made him go to the Packers, which shows you what a prototypical Packers lineman he is.
#179 Overall: Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina
Probably the best bang for the buck today for the Packers. They needed help at the pass rusher position, and Enagbare is a guy that many thought could have made it to the second round. Instead, he fell all the way to 5th, and the Packers were more than happy to knock him down. Recon reports say he doesn’t have much movement, but he has strength and influence. He will be put in a position where he can be a rotational player and learn from some really good pros in Rashan Gary and Preston Smith. Low risk, high reward prospect.
#228 overall: Tariq Carpenter, S/LB, Georgia Tech
Like Raven Greene and Josh Jones before him, Carpenter’s size puts him in something of a hybrid safety/linebacker role. But above all, it is a choice that seems oriented towards the special teams. He is physical and fearless with good straight-line speed. He also started four years in college, so he got a lot of game action and was considered a team leader. The few shots he can take in defence, I’d expect to be mostly in the box, but it’s screaming ‘we need special teams guys’ to me, especially with the arrival of the coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
#234 Overall: Jonathan Ford, DL, Miami
Packers pick up a flyer about the big-bodied Ford, who scores poorly in athletics but is a hulking, hulking human who was hard to get off the line. He could also play a role in protecting field goals and punts, which is something the Packers definitely need help with and something Ford did in college.
#249, Overall: Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
The Packers decided to take a chance on the Penn State tackle, who was injured late in his senior year. He started three years for the Nittany Lions and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten twice. He needs a lot of coaching; he’s an athletic player, but not consistent with his technique. He will have a tough road to make the team but certainly has the talent to make it.
#258 Overall: Samori Toure, WR, Nebraska
Toure is a long shot to make the roster, but he’s a quick player who can work both inside and out and could potentially have a path to make the team through special teams, a la Malik Taylor. A triple dip to the WR position to close the draft.