Complete list of Packers Wire’s ‘Unpacking Future Packers’ draft preview series

Entire countdown of Packers Wire’s draft preview series, Unpacking Future Packers, from Brennen Rupp.

Packers Wire draft analyst Brennen Rupp is previewing the 2022 NFL draft with his special countdown series called “Unpacking Future Packers.” The series will highlight the skillsets of 100 different prospects and provide their individual fit with the Packers.

Last season’s No. 1 prospect on the countdown? Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes, the Packers’ pick at No. 29 overall.

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The entire countdown will be linked in order here.

100: Clemson LB Baylon Spector
99: Alabama S Jordan Battle
98: Washington OL Luke Wattenberg
97: South Alabama WR Jalen Tolbert
96: Texas A&M S Leon O’Neal Jr.
95: Nebraska LB JoJo Domann
94: Oregon S Verone McKinley III
93: South Dakota State RB Pierre Strong Jr.
92: Oregon State TE Teagan Quitoriano
91: Nebraska WR Samori Toure
90: Idaho State WR Tanner Conner
89: Pitt CB Damarii Mathis
88: LSU LB Damone Clark
87: Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt
86: Clemson CB Mario Goodrich

Unpacking Future Packers: No. 86 Mario Goodrich

Clemson CB Mario Goodrich is up next in Unpacking Future Packers, a countdown previewing the 2022 NFL draft for Packers Wire.

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Kevin King is as good as gone. Will Rasul Douglas get a new deal to bring him back to Green Bay? Or did he price himself out of Green Bay’s price range with his play this past season? Will Chandon Sullivan get a new deal?

The Green Bay Packers have two lockdown cornerbacks in place for next season with Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes. 

What the depth chart will look like behind that duo when next season kicks off is a question mark.

If Douglas is not re-signed, it would not be shocking to see Brian Gutekunst use multiple picks on the cornerback position.

A player that the Packers general manager could target is Mario Goodrich. The Clemson cornerback checks in at No. 86 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.

Goodrich sat behind the likes of Trayvon Mullen and A.J. Terrell early in his career. While biding his time, Goodrich was a special teams mainstay.

In 2019, Goodrich recorded one interception He started our games in 2020 and recorded two interceptions.

This past season Goodrich earned first-team All-ACC honors after recording two interceptions and nine pass deflections. He earned the Cheez-It Bowl MVP honors against Iowa State after recording two pass deflections and a pick-six.

“With Andrew Booth covering the other side of the field (and a first-round draft pick) teams elected to throw at Goodrich a little more,” David Hood, a senior writer for TigerNet.com, said. “They really got nowhere. He has been a little hot and cold at times during his career, but this season was when he put it all together. It was a fantastic year by any measurable.”

The first thing that stands out about Goodrich is the tenacity he plays within all phases of the game. 

He’s a physical press corner that has quick feet to mirror. He’s able to stay attached to wide receivers vertically. He smothers slants with his length and physicality. 

As a run defender, Goodrich is wired right. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in and he’s a reliable open-field tackler. 

“He is an excellent tackler who takes great angles to the ball and simply doesn’t miss a tackle,” Hood said. “Back in the day we watched elite corners like Deion Sanders who didn’t like to hit or be hit and could be run on, but Goodrich looks like he loves contact. Late in the season, he was even more valuable in the run game because the Tigers had to play a defensive end who didn’t always set the edge. Goodrich cleaned up a lot of mistakes on his side of the field.”

Goodrich didn’t become a full-time starter until this season. Yet, he still ended his career with five interceptions. He has natural hands and does a great job of challenging wide receivers at the catch point. 

“He’s scrappy,” Hood said. “Sometimes he isn’t always strong at the point of contact from bigger receivers but he will fight for the ball. He is extremely fluid and shows the ability to pivot when he has to. His length is very evident and he can jump up and knock down passes or for the pick.”

Fit with the Packers

Goodrich is a scheme versatile cornerback. He has experience playing press and zone coverage. 

On top of that scheme versatility, Goodrich has experience playing on special teams. That’s where Goodrich could make his living early in his career while providing quality depth in the secondary for the Packers.

Here is what Dabo Swinney, the Clemson head coach had to say about Goodrich after earning the Cheez-It Bowl MVP honors:

“Really proud of Mario Goodrich. I was talking to the team about Mario a week or so ago, because he didn’t get off to a good start…And now, here he is. First-team All-Conference. 3.46 GPA in the fall. Voted team captain. This is a winner. He’s equipped. He’s a grown man because of what he’s been through and because he hung in there.”

By all accounts, Goodrich is a high-character prospect with a strong work ethic. On top of that, he checks all the boxes that you want an NFL cornerback. He’s athletic, with god length, he’s scheme versatile and he has special teams experience. If the Packers wait until the third round or early on day three to take a cornerback, Goodrich could be one of the prospects they target. 

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Are Packers in win-win situation regarding Aaron Rodgers’ future?

The team is at a crossroads while Aaron Rodgers decides his future, but the Packers probably don’t hate their current position.

The Green Bay Packers are at a crossroads as a franchise. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the soon-to-be four-time NFL MVP, is starting the process of determining his football future – more specifically, whether he wants to stay in Green Bay, ask for a trade or retire – after a stunning loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the division round of the NFC playoffs.

His decision will re-write the future of the team both in the short and long term.

The Packers want Rodgers back. Or at least they are saying they do publicly. The 38-year-old quarterback has led the Packers to three-straight 13-win seasons and is about to win his second-straight MVP award after tossing 37 touchdown passes and four interceptions in 2021. Obviously, the Packers aren’t going to boot a player of his caliber out the door.

But the decision is also out of the team’s hands in many ways. Rodgers has to decide if he wants to keep playing, and even if he does, there’s no guarantee he wants to continue on in Green Bay, where – while relationships with key figures have been mended over the last six months – the team has ultimately fallen short of the Super Bowl despite everything lining up almost exactly right.

It’s possible he wants to come back for another year and give it one more try with as many cast members from the last three years as possible. It’s possible Rodgers wants to be done with football and move on to the next phase in his life. It’s also possible he wants a fresh start in a new NFL city.

Whatever he chooses, the Packers could be in a good spot as a franchise.

In the first scenario, the Packers would get Rodgers back for another year on a restructured deal, and then do everything in their power to keep the key pieces of the team together and take another swing at a Super Bowl run in 2022. As heartbreaking as the playoff losses have been the last three years, no option gives the Packers a better chance at competing for a title next season.

Of course, losing Rodgers would be a massive blow. But losing him would create opportunities for the Packers to quickly re-stabilize as a franchise, assuming the right decisions are made after he departs.

In the retirement scenario, the Packers would lose Rodgers but gain considerable cap space. As Joel Corry of CBS Sports outlined here, Rodgers picking retirement would almost certainly come with an agreement to help the Packers in their short-term cap situation via a contract restructure. He’d stay on the roster until July, pushing some of the dead cap charge to 2023, and the Packers would get a significant amount of financial freedom.

In the trade scenario, the Packers would lose Rodgers but gain cap space and significant draft capital. Trading him would create almost $20 million in new cap space – even with a massive dead cap charge – and the acquiring team would almost certainly send several high draft choices to Green Bay. Given to the right talent evaluator, a mix of cap space and draft capital can reshape a franchise overnight.

Rodgers holds the cards here but the team probably doesn’t hate its position currently. Either Rodgers, the soon-to-be back-to-back MVP, comes back in 2022, or the Packers move forward with either a significant amount of financial freedom or a mix of financial freedom and draft capital.

The wildcard here is obviously Jordan Love, the team’s 2020 first-round pick.  He’s played in two preseason games and parts of three regular-season games. He hasn’t lit the world on fire in any appearance as a professional but he’s still young and raw and developing, so any scenario is still on the table.

For Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, he’s either getting a Hall of Fame quarterback back for another year or he’s getting a favorable situation to build around the guy he moved up to draft in the first round in 2020.

There are advantages and risks to each scenario. Rodgers might be great in 2022, but bringing him back for another year could endanger the future, and there’s no guarantee the Packers will be a Super Bowl-caliber team next season. Losing Rodgers might create immediate help on the books and in the draft war room, but none of that really matters if the quarterback position isn’t any good.

This crossroads could be a win-win for the Packers. It could also be a lose-lose. Rodgers’ decision on his future will kickstart the process; every decision made after will determine where the Packers go as a franchise. If done correctly, the team can benefit no matter which direction Rodgers goes.

Packers sign two more players to futures deals

The Packers signed WR Rico Gafford and CB Kiondre Thomas to reserve/futures deals on Wednesday.

The Green Bay Packers signed two more players to futures deals after signing 10 from their own practice squad on Tuesday.

The team announced the signing of receiver Rico Gafford and cornerback Kiondre Thomas.

Gafford (5-10,184) is an undrafted free agent from Wyoming (2018) who has spent time with the Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos. In eight career NFL games, he has two catches for 66 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown. He also returned one kickoff for 12 yards.

Thomas (6-0, 185) is an undrafted free agent out of Kansas State (2021) who has spent time with the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers. He was elevated for four games with the Chargers in 2021 and played 28 snaps on special teams, tallying one tackle.

Both were practice squad players for their respective teams in 2021. The Packers reported tryouts for both players on Tuesday.

Reserve-future deals become active at the start of the new league year. Both Gafford and Thomas will be on the team’s 90-man roster to start the 2022 league year.

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Unpacking Future Packers: No. 87 Devonte Wyatt

Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt is up next in Unpacking Future Packers, a countdown previewing the 2022 NFL draft for Packers Wire.

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft.

There are three certainties in this world. Death, taxes and the Green Bay Packers needing to get Kenny Clark help along the defensive line.

Since drafting Clark in 2016, the Packers have failed to get him adequate help up front.

Montravius Adams was a disaster. Kinglsey Keke flashed, but never put it all together.

Will this be the year the Packers find Clark a tag-team partner up front?

A player that the Packers could target with the 28th pick is Devonte Wyatt. The Georgia defensive lineman checks in at No. 87 in the Unpacking Future Packers Countdown.

Wyatt came to Georgia as a three-star recruit. During his first two seasons on campus, Wyatt recorded three sacks. In 2020, Wyatt recorded two tackles for loss.

This past season, Wyatt was a key piece to Georgia’s historical National Championship defense. Wyatt finished the season with seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

“Based on pure statistics alone, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that would describe Devonte Wyatt’s season as outstanding,” Oliver Hodgkinson, an NFL Draft analyst for Pro Football Network said. “To understand his performances beyond those numbers you have to understand the sheer depth of talent in the Georgia front seven this season.”

While his numbers may not have been eye-popping. One has to keep in mind that he was part of a stacked defensive front that rotated players in and out. It’s the same defensive line rotation that Jermaine Johnson, the 2021 ACC Player of the Year struggled to crack.

“The Bulldogs defense had 16 players that recorded at least one sack this season,” Hodgkinson said. “They had even more players that registered at least one tackle for loss. You also have to understand that Georgia rotated their defensive players, and Wyatt shared the limelight with fellow defensive tackles Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter. While Davis has received a lot of accolades this season, it’s worth noting that Wyatt outproduced his more illustrious teammate, including two forced fumbles that evidenced his ability to be extremely disruptive. He’s proven that he can be an explosive, versatile, powerful, and therefore dangerous interior defensive line prospect.”

Wyatt is a twitched-up big man. Men of his size (6-3, 315) shouldn’t be able to move the way that he does. There is a reason why the Georgia defensive tackle was No. 5 on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks list for 2021.

“His most impressive testing number is the 4.87 40 he clocked this offseason. He also vertical jumped 31 inches and broad jumped 9-3. The former high school shot putter is also very strong, benching 385 pounds and squatting 585.”

Wyatt gets up field quickly with an explosive first step. He’s a backfield disrupter that finished his career with 12 career tackles for loss.

With his size and strength, Wyatt is able to clog up running lanes. He has a flexible lower body and stays balanced through gaps.

For a man his size he has good lateral quickness to make plays up and down the line of scrimmage. Wyatt was a key cog in the Bulldog defensive giving up less than three yards per carry.

“Although he isn’t as impressive at handling double teams blocks as teammate Davis, Wyatt showcases excellence against the run,” Hodgkinson said. “He’s extremely powerful, and when power is combined with explosion it allows him to get into the opposition backfield in a hurry. Wyatt’s athleticism is apparent against the run, using his lateral agility to almost teleport from gap to gap. Furthermore, the Georgia defensive lineman showcases excellent hand technique and strength to easily disengage from blockers. Finally, Wyatt has a keen eye for the ball and uses his high football intelligence to diagnose the play and locate the ball carrier in traffic.”

As a pass-rusher Wyatt wins with his quick get off and violent hands. He has a motor that never stops. While he may not always get home, he is a pocket-collapser that will push offensive lineman into the quarterback’s lap with his devasting bullrush.

“The power and explosion that Wyatt demonstrates as a run defender helps him to be a dangerous threat as a pass rusher too,” Hodgkinson said. “In the trenches where the low man wins, he plays with consistently low pad level to help him win the leverage battle.

The Georgia defensive lineman can also bull rush with the best of them, and has several other pass rush moves in his armory including club and swim moves. While he has some exciting pass-rush upside, he needs to ensure that he is more consistent as a pass rusher. Furthermore, to succeed at the NFL level he will need to prove that he can put together a more disruptive pass rush plan.”

The Georgia defensive tackle checks all the boxes. However, Wyatt will likely have to answer some questions about an off-the-field incident that occurred two years ago. Wyatt was arrested for criminal trespass, damage to property, and family violence.

Fit with the Packers

Clark has been fighting the villains of Gotham by himself for far too long. It’s time for Brian Gutekunst to find Clark a Dick Grayson.

Wyatt has all the tools to be a perfect sidekick for Clark. He’s a disruptive force that lives in the opponent’s backfield.

Wyatt’s presence would take some of the pressure of Clark, while also shoring up Green Bay’s run defense. The former three-star recruit would also give Green Bay’s interior pass rush a shot in the arm.

“With his combination of size, power, freaky athleticism, and versatility, Wyatt is going to make an NFL team very happy on day two of the 2022 NFL Draft,” Hodgkinson said. “He’s showcased that he can be disruptive against the run, and possesses dangerous characteristics as a pass rusher. Although he best projects as a 3-tech at the NFL level, he has the ability to line up and succeed from any alignment on the defensive line. That versatility will prove alluring and only add value to his draft stock.”

Daniel Jeremiah, the NFL Network draft analyst mocked Wyatt to the Packers in his first mock draft of the season. Here is what Jeremiah had to say about the pick:

“Wyatt will gain more steam as we go through the process. He can win as a pass rusher with quickness or power. He easily holds the point of attack.”

Gutekusnt hit a home run in the 2021 NFL Draft when he selected Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes in the first round. There is a strong chance that Gutekunst tips his toes back into the Georgia pipeline again in 2022.

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Packers LT David Bakhtiari tells story of ‘nightmare’ recovery from knee surgery

In an interview with @AaronNagler, Packers LT David Bakhtiari shared the story of his “nightmare” recovery from a significant knee injury.

In an interview with Aaron Nagler of CheeseheadTV, Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari opened up about his knee injury and the frustrating recovery process he called a “nightmare.”

Bakhtiari said his year-long recovery from a torn ACL was plagued by setbacks, including swelling, fluid build-up and additional damage inside the reconstructed knee.

After making his season debut in the season finale in Detroit, Bakhtiari tried to get through a week of practice in the leadup to the divisional round but didn’t feel right, and he ended up missing the Packers’ playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.

His season ended after playing only 27 total snaps.

“This is a (expletive) nightmare. This thing won’t end,” Bakhtiari told Nagler.

Bakhtiari said he had the knee drained of fluid at least 15 times during the season. Every time he tried to come all the way back, fluid build-up and inflammation set him back.

Even when Bakhtiari came off the PUP list and was activated to the 53-man roster in November, he said the knee didn’t feel right, especially while trying to practice, so he shut it down, got the knee drained and eventually needed a scope.

Several different doctors, including Dr. Pat McKenzie, saw inflammation in the knee and recommended not playing.

On Monday, coach Matt LaFleur said the team believes Bakhtiari’s knee is structurally sound, and there isn’t great concern over the long-term health of the knee. Bakhtiari said the same when asked if he had any concerns.

“No,” Bakhtiari said. “The hurdle you want to get over is having a full recovery from an ACL. I know my ACL is good. My meniscus is good, they cut out like 10-15 percent of it. It’s just my knee needing rest. Structurally it’s good. Just need to take this time off.”

On the next steps: “I just need to turn off the car and let it sit.”

The Packers are off until the start of the offseason workout program in April.

Bakhtiari, a five-time All-Pro, signed a new, four-year deal with the Packers in November of 2020. He’s under contract in Green Bay through 2024.

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Aaron Rodgers: Decision on future ‘wont be long, drawn-out process’

A decision on Aaron Rodgers’ future in football and with the Packers could come relatively soon.

A decision on Aaron Rodgers’ football future could come relatively soon. The Green Bay Packers quarterback said Tuesday on “The Pat McAfee Show” that the decision “won’t be a long, drawn-out process” and he wants to respect both the team and teammates with uncertain futures by making a decision before free agency.

“There is a timeframe for this because I understand my decision does impact a number of other people’s decisions and I want to be very sensitive to that. And so I’ll definitely make a decision sooner rather than later,” Rodgers said.

The Packers are going into the offseason with a difficult salary cap situation and over 20 different free agents, including All-Pro receiver Davante Adams.

In the same interview, Rodgers outlined the factors that would go into the decision. The first step is taking time away and deciding if he wants to keep playing. He said all options are on the table, including retirement or returning to play in Green Bay or elsewhere, but making a decision won’t take all offseason. In fact, it could come in late February or early March.

Rodgers knows the sooner he decides, the sooner the team and other players can adjust.

“I’d like to be respectful of the organization,” Rodgers said.

The start of the new league year and free agency is in mid-March. The franchise tag deadline is another date to watch, according to Rodgers, especially with Adams a potential candidate to receive the tag. The deadline for teams to use the tag is March 8, and teams can start using the tag late in February.

“I don’t want to put myself on a specific date, but I do want to be sensitive to Davante and many other guys who have decisions to make on their own futures,” Rodgers said. “And to drag it out past free agency would be disrespectful to the organization and to those guys, and that 100 percent will not happen.”

Rodgers said his relationship with general manager Brian Gutekunst is in a great place, and he ensured there would be no “standoff” or “war of silence” during the process.

“When it comes time to make a decision, we’ll have a conversation and that’ll be that,” Rodgers said.

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Packers sign 10 players, including QB Kurt Benkert, to futures deals

The Packers signed 10 players that were on the team’s practice squad during the 2021 season to a futures contract.

The Green Bay Packers signed 10 players to futures deals, ensuring they’ll be on the team’s 90-man roster when the new league year begins in March.

All 10 players were either on the team’s practice squad to end the season or with the practice squad at some point during the season.

Here’s the list:

QB Kurt Benkert
WR Chris Blair
CB Kabion Ento
QB Danny Etling
S Innis Gaines
LB La’Darius Hamilton
C Michal Menet
K JJ Molson
OL Cole Van Lanen
LB Ray Wilborn

Notes: Bringing back Benkert and signing Etling ensures the Packers will have three quarterbacks under contract regardless of Aaron Rodgers’ decision. Molson, who was impressive last summer, could have a chance to be the team’s kicker in 2022. Hamilton and Van Lanen, a 2021 draft pick, both played in regular-season games. Ento returns for a fourth season in Green Bay. The Packers like Gaines and Wilborn as defensive prospects and potential special teamers.

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Aaron Rodgers details what will go into decision-making process on his football future

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers discussed the process that will go into him making a decision on his future future.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is expecting to take time away and weigh several different factors before making a decision on his football future, and he outlined some of what will go into the decision-making process on “The Pat McAfee Show” on Tuesday.

Rodgers said he will look at the direction of the team and the organization, how he feels he fits into the team’s future, if he still has the passion to keep playing and the potential of a “fairy-tale ending,” and he believes it’ll be more of a “feeling” than anything.

All options remain on the table, including retirement, staying in Green Bay or playing elsewhere.

The first step is determining if he still wants to play, or if retirement is the best option.

“It comes down to more, just how you’re feeling. Can you still play, still have the same commitment and enjoyment with the game, and do you want to sign up for the grind again?” Rodgers said.

The 38-year-old quarterback said the decision “warrants ample time” to think about the options and talk to others, including loved ones, friends and former and current teammates.

“Get away from it for a little bit, let your mind clear, and think of the enormity of the task, and what would bring you the most enjoyment. What’s the best for your quality of life at that moment?” Rodgers said.

Rodgers said losing in the divisional round complicated the decision because he felt he would have known the right thing to do had the Packers made the Super Bowl this year.

Rodgers said, if he does want to play, he’d have conversations with his agent and Brian Gutekunst and a decision would come quickly, and it “won’t be a long, drawn-out process.”

Rodgers did confirm he wouldn’t retire and then come back later.

The Packers’ season ended on Saturday with a loss against the San Francisco 49ers. Rodgers, who won NFL MVP last season, is expected to be the winner again in 2021.

A lot of people watched the Packers lose to the 49ers

FOX’s broadcast of the Packers-49ers playoff game brought in almost 37 million viewers.

Almost 37 million people tuned in to watch the Green Bay Packers lose to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round on Saturday night.

According to FOX Sports, the broadcast of the playoff game brought in 36,923,000 viewers, making it the most-watched Saturday playoff game of the year and the most-watched Saturday program on TV since 1984.

It was also the most-streamed divisional round playoff game in FOX history.

Viewership was up over 40 percent over last year’s primetime Saturday playoff game, and up 36 percent over last year’s NFC divisional round playoff game between the Packers and Los Angeles Rams.

The Packers took leads of 7-0 and 10-3 but eventually crumbled late, losing 13-10 when a blocked punt returned for a touchdown tied the game and then Robbie Gould kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.

The game was between two storied NFL franchises, and it was played at Lambeau Field, a legendary venue. The primetime slot and the conditions – it snowed throughout the second half – only added to the intrigue.

The 49ers and Rams will play in the NFC title game on FOX on Sunday. The winner will play the winner of Chiefs-Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.

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