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A year after building for the future, the Green Bay Packers used the 2021 draft to fill in obvious cracks in an otherwise talented roster. While the Packers got little out of their 2020 draft class, this year’s nine-player group could have a real impact on how the 2021 season plays out in Green Bay.
Here’s a quick ranking of the Packers’ draft picks by instant impact potential:
1. OL Josh Myers: He’ll be given every opportunity to win a starting job at center or guard. It’s hard to imagine any rookie in the team’s class providing more impact than a Day 1 starting offensive lineman, especially if that rookie is replacing an All-Pro. Myers could play 60 or more snaps a game – potentially at a pivotal spot along the offensive line – if he’s a starter.
2. WR Amari Rodgers: He could provide immediate impact on offense and special teams. Expect playcaller Matt LaFleur to give Rodgers plenty of manufactured touches, especially early on as he’s learning the new scheme. Keep in mind, Tyler Ervin was consistently playing over 20 snaps a game in the gadget role to start 2020. Also, Rodgers will likely go into camp as the favorite to be the punt and kick returner.
3. CB Eric Stokes: Kevin King is back, significantly lessening the chance that Stokes is an immediate starter. Then again, King has a well-documented injury history, and nothing about his play last season – or contract in 2021 – suggests he’s a lock to start all year. Stokes is talented and the Packers will want him on the field sooner rather than later.
4. CB Shemar Jean-Charles: The darkhorse of the Day 3 picks. Could he challenge Chandon Sullivan for snaps in the slot? He’s so instinctive and competitive in coverage. This will be a battle to watch during the summer, even if Sullivan is the favorite.
5. OL Royce Newman: He might need some time to develop at right tackle, but his experience starting at guard and tackle provides attractive versatility. With some depth along the offensive line stripped away this offseason, Newman could end up being an important backup in 2021.
6. DL Tedarrell Slaton: He has the right body type for playing a space-eating role along the defensive line. However, the Packers are bringing back their top four defensive linemen from last year and snaps might be limited for a first-year player.
7. RB Kylin Hill: If he makes the team, he’ll be stuck behind Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon and relegated to third running back duties, but injuries happen all the time at running back, and Hill could be an option to return kicks.
8. LB Isaiah McDuffie: The Packers aren’t necessarily dripping in quality inside linebackers, but McDuffie is still probably a long shot for playing time on defense as a rookie. He’ll have to make his mark as a core special teams player.
9. OL Cole Van Lanen: He was the third of three offensive linemen drafted. And keep in mind, three offensive linemen were drafted last year, too. Van Lanen looks like a typical Packers offensive lineman, but he’ll probably need time to transition to guard.