Following a lackluster 2022 campaign, the Green Bay Packers have headed into the offseason looking to make major changes. This includes a potential trade that will see the team move on from longtime quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
If the Packers do move on from Rodgers, former first-round pick Jordan Love will finally step in as the team’s starting quarterback.
The decision to move on from Rodgers’ would see this Packers team become drastically younger. In turn, this upcoming draft class could play a major role in their success in 2023.
The Packers head into the draft with needs on both sides of the ball. Depending on how they address the early rounds, they could be on the search for skill players in the later rounds. If that is the case, many of these players will need to be able to make an impact from day one.
Here are three sleeper players the Packers could target in the 2023 NFL Draft.
JL Skinner, Safety, Boise State
When looking at the current state of the Packers secondary, the team finds itself in an interesting place. They have a superstar at cornerback in Jaire Alexander, along with a young defender with a high upside in Eric Stokes. At the safety position, they could be on the search to improve the position. At the moment, the duo of Darnell Savage and Tarvarius Moore appear set to headline the group. If Green Bay is looking to add another playmaker to the unit, Boise State’s JL Skinner could be on their radar in the later rounds.
Over his four seasons at Boise State, Skinner saw his role in the defense grow drastically. In total, while appearing in 38 total games, he stuffed the stat sheet, recording 133 solo tackles, 208 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 12 defended passes, seven interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
In addition to his overall production, Skinner moved around the Boise State defense. In 2022, he spent over 100 snaps in three different areas of the defense, including 115 in the slot, 346 in the box, and 128 deep. This was his second straight season spending significant time in all three areas.
Over these past two seasons, Skinner appeared in 24 total games. He recorded 157 total tackles, 102 solo tackles, seven tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, eight defended passes, and six interceptions.
With his versatility and overall experience, Skinner could fit into the Packers secondary, helping fill several needs. While many believe that he needs to fill out his frame, coming in at 6’4″, he still has the length to make an impact. If the team is looking for a new addition of the secondary with starting potential, he could be just that.
Sam LaPorta, Tight End, Iowa
Following the Packers decision to let Robert Tonyan move on in free agency, they now have a need at tight end. They could very well look to address the position with the 15th overall pick in the draft. But if they choose to wait until day two, Iowa’s Sam LaPorta could be their guy.
Over the past few years, Iowa has been responsible for producing several of the NFL’s best tight ends. LaPorta himself has the skill set to be the next great prospect of the group.
In total, LaPorta appeared in 36 games during his time at Iowa. While the offense struggled at times, he still managed to produce, totaling 153 receptions for 1,768 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Much of LaPorta’s production for the Hawkeyes came over his final two seasons. Over that stretch, he recorded 111 receptions for 1,327 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
With the addition of LaPorta, the Packers would add a tight end that could attack the middle of the field. He has shown that he can be a vertical threat, and can produce with the ball in his hands.
Given that LaPorta can improve his blocking skills, he could develop into a truly well-rounded tight end. But at the least, with his addition, the Packers would add a player who has the skillsets to help improve the offense from day one.
Xavier Hutchinson, Wide Receiver, Iowa State
With Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson healthy and heading into year two, the Packers have two young wide receivers with elite upside. But following the departure of Allen Lazard, the team must still add talent to the wide receiver room. Iowa State’s Xavier Hutchinson could do just that.
While at Iowa State, Hutchinson put together an underrated collegiate career. In each of his three seasons, he played a key role in the Cyclones’ passing attack. In total, he recorded 254 receptions for 2,929 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns.
In 2022, Hutchinson delivered his most complete season, totaling 107 receptions for 1,171 receiving yards and six touchdowns while being targeted 161 times.
Hutchinson has all the traits to become a well-rounded option at the next level. With his playstyle, he could fit in alongside Doubs and Watson. If the Packers are looking to give Love the best chance to succeed, this type of move could do just that.
If Hutchinson can continue to improve his game, he could be set to make a major impact at the next level.
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