The Green Bay Packers haven't used a first-round pick on a wide receiver since Javon Walker in 2002. With two first-round picks following the Davante Adams trade and a glaring need at wideout, general manager Brian Gutekunst could break the streak this year.
"The last few have been pretty deep, and I think this one is another one," Gutekunst said Monday of the receiver class, via the team's official website. "But history still kind of shows that for all rookies, not just wide receivers, but for all rookies, it takes time. This is a hard league. There's a learning curve before these guys really start to produce at a high level."
While the Packers recently signed Sammy Watkins, who Gutekunst noted "still has juice left in him," there remains a need with both Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling departing. The top of the current Green Bay receiver corps consists of Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Juwann Winfree, Amari Rodgers and Watkins. It's not exactly a crew that defenses would fear.
While the 2022 draft might not sport a player with the superstar upside of a Ja'Marr Chase, it's still an excellent group with players who could become No. 1 receivers. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has six wideouts in the top 25 of his latest Top 150 Prospects list.
However the draft unfolds, Gutekunst knows that the passing attack will have to grow with Aaron Rodgers this offseason.
"I think we've got a pretty good quarterback and that helps significantly, so certainly I think there's probably going to be more opportunity for that young player if we happen to go that route to come in and have some opportunities," Gutekunst said. "Hopefully it'll be quicker if we go that route this year ... but I will say we got some pretty good players in the building that I think are very eager for their opportunity, which maybe they haven't had yet."
One often overlooked player in discussions about the Packers receiver corps is Amari Rodgers, last year's third-round pick. Green Bay prides itself on being a draft-and-develop program. Rodgers caught just four passes as a rookie. Regardless of whether they draft a first-round WR, how Rodgers develops this offseason will dictate whether the Packers' receiver corps is deeper than it looks in April.