By Chris Havel
Green Bay also could target WFT’s 19th pick to move up and take a cornerback
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Brian Gutekunst’s decision to trade up for quarterback Jordan Love in the 2020 NFL draft may prove to be one of the shrewdest investments in Green Bay’s draft history.
That can happen one of two ways.
The most obvious way is for Love to become a Pro Bowl quarterback and continue the Brett Favre-to-Aaron Rodgers chain of excellence.
The other way is for Gutekunst to trade Love during tonight’s first round of the 2021 NFL draft. Then, the Packers could parlay the additional draft capital into a defensive stud and a dynamic receiver.
It would further thrust Green Bay into serious Super Bowl contention and is not out of the realm of reasonability.
In fact, it has merit and makes sense. In a draft with unprecedented uncertainty and risk due to COVID-19 – especially in the mid- to late-rounds – the lack of thorough medical information and eyes-on evaluation puts known entities at a premium.
The Packers made an investment in both their present and future when they selected Love with the 26th pick in 2020.
A year later, if the circumstances demand it, they can make it pay off.
It is true the Packers haven’t seen the former Utah State star take a single snap in the preseason, let alone in a regular-season game, but they have had him in their system for a year.
Today, they have a much greater handle on his physical skills (arm strength, accuracy and mobility) and his mental acumen (grasping the scheme, assimilating information and taking it from the classroom to the practice field) than they did a year ago.
By now, I’m sure the Packers have a fair idea as to what they have in Love. Perhaps he has reinforced the notion that he can be their future at quarterback. If that’s the case Gutekunst won’t trade him.
Then again, Love may have shown himself not to be the player they thought they were getting last spring.
While he has flashed tremendous arm strength, one source indicated the Packers aren’t thrilled with his footwork and accuracy. He needs a lot of work to become a bona fide starter, which is more a fact than a surprise.
Even Gutekunst described Love as “a talented developmental player.”
Regardless of the Packers’ true feelings, they wouldn’t be quick to act on Rodgers’ contract. To redo his deal before the draft would effectively undercut Love’s trade value and their leverage in the process.
Why has Rodgers been so quiet regarding his contract status?
Perhaps he has an inkling of what’s in the air. Remember, the future Hall of Fame quarterback also has been around Love for a year. Surely he has an opinion regarding the quarterback’s potential to be special.
What matters most is what the Packers think.
If they believe Love has limitations that may be difficult to overcome it makes sense for Green Bay to move on without tipping their hand.
One logical trade partner would be New England, which has the 15th pick but no assurances that a top-tier quarterback will be available. Love could be that quarterback and the Patriots wouldn’t have to sell the farm to acquire him.
The Patriots had an opportunity to draft Love in 2020 but elected to trade the 23rd pick to the Chargers in return for the 37th and 71st picks. By doing so New England filled a 64-pick gap (23 to 87) without a single selection.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick used the ammo from the Chargers, at least in part, to select safety Kyle Dugger and edge rushers Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings.
Perhaps Belichick wasn’t that thrilled with Love to begin with.
Then again, he may have really liked Love but felt there was a greater need to add more picks and fill out a seriously depleted defense.
Either way, if Belichick calls the Packers most assuredly will answer.
Green Bay could trade Love, the 62nd pick and the 92nd pick to the Patriots in return for the 15th pick, the 96th pick and the 120th pick.
The draft value chart adds up in that scenario.
It would give the Packers the 15th, 29th, 96th and 120th picks. That would be enough ammo to select a top-tier defender at 15 and a play-making receiver at 29.
It could reap first-round rewards in the form of Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II and Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman. If the Packers stand pat there’s a chance they may not get either.
The Washington Football Team is another possible trade partner.
The WFT has the 19th overall pick.
They also have Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, so the need there is real.
Green Bay could send Love, the 62nd pick and the 92nd pick to the WFT for the 19th pick, the 74th pick and the 124th pick.
Again, the draft trade value chart checks out.
With pick numbers 19, 29 and 74 the Packers would be in position to land two impact defenders and a top receiver.
That would be considered a wildly successful weekend in Green Bay.
If the Packers can’t swing a deal and stay put at 29, I see them taking the best defensive player on the board. They also could trade down and roll the 29th pick into an additional player they have similarly rated.
All of this educated speculation is what makes the NFL draft so maddening … and so incredibly interesting.