Rob DemovskiESPN Writer5 minute read
GREEN BAY, Wis. –If Green Bay is going to get a remake of the 2010 classic “Packers Win the Super Bowl” starring Jordan Love as Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will have to fill several important roles.
The final set around Love is still not broadcast.
When the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, Rodgers was in his third season as a starting quarterback and had a wide receiver group that included receivers Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jordy Nelson, as well as running ends. tight Jermichael Finley, Donald Lee. and Andrew Quarless.
General manager Brian Gutekunst hopes to have made it easier for manager coach Matt LaFleur with the multitude of receivers and tight ends he has picked up in the past two drafts.
And it will be a basic build for Love, which essentially begins with a new cast of Packers pass-catchers.
“That’s kind of the idea, isn’t it?” Gutekunst said after drafting three receivers (for the second straight year) and a pair of tight ends. “I mean, I think it’s important for these guys to grow together.”
Rodgers started with a much more accomplished group when he replaced Brett Favre in 2008. Driver was entering his 10th season, Jennings his third and Jones his second. Driver has already had five 1,000-yard seasons, Jennings was coming off a 12-touchdown campaign in 2007, and Jones had 676 receiving yards as a rookie in 2007. Lee was entering his fourth season with the Packers.
However, Nelson and Finley were members of the 2008 draft class that joined the team when Rodgers took over.
Of the setters returning for this season, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure have the most experience – all one season each. They were drafted in the second, fourth and seventh rounds respectively in 2022. Of those receivers, Watson had the most productive season with 41 catches for 611 yards and seven touchdowns.
Last weekend, Gutekunst added three more receivers: Michigan State’s Jayden Reed in the second round, Virginia’s Dontayvion Wicks in the fifth and Charlotte’s Grant DuBose in the seventh.
Those six receivers could be Love’s core for at least the next two seasons when his contract extension expires. If things go well, it could be even longer, because none of these receivers have reached free agency until the end of the 2025 season. By then, maybe Love will have the kind of relationship with a couple of those receivers Rodgers had with Nelson and Jones, who played a combined 16 seasons with Rodgers.
“We took some guys last year who I think did a really good job in their first year; we are excited about their growth,” Gutekunst said. “So now I think we have a good core of guys, passers to be able to grow with the quarterback. I think it’s important, and we’ll see how it goes.
The same goes for tight ends. For the first time in the common draft era (since 1967), the Packers have won multiple tight ends in the first three rounds this year: Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave in second and Oregon’s Tucker Kraft South Dakota State at third.
“I don’t know if I was in a draft where we drafted two tight ends, so that’s exciting,” LaFleur said. “These two guys are tall, physical, fast. I think we did pretty well there.
After losing Robert Tonyan to the Bears in free agency and not re-signing Marcedes Lewis, the only experienced tight ends on the roster were Josiah Deguara (2020 third-round pick) and Tyler Davis (signed in 2021).
The draft class of five receivers/tight ends for the Packers was tied for most in the common draft era.
“Any time you’re going to have a quarterback that’s under center for the first time, you want to surround them with point guards,” Packers vice president of player personnel Jon-Eric Sullivan said. “So that was definitely part of the conversation. [during the draft].”
A veteran addition at receiver or tight end before the season isn’t out of the question, but at this point it looks like the Packers would rather let Love grow with a group that could be around for multiple seasons.
“There’s a ton of young people, you just look at the skill post rooms specifically,” LaFleur said. “Obviously, up front, we have experience. With our ball carriers, we have experience. But it’s going to be interesting to see how much we can really put on these guys’ plates because generally I’d say the more veteran you are, the more volume you can carry in your offense.
“So that’s going to be one of those things that we’ll probably have to figure out throughout OTAs and training camp to kind of see how this offense unfolds.”