The Packers are looking to the offseason after missing the playoffs. But let’s look at a 2023 NFL mock draft if Aaron Rodgers were to leave Green Bay.
That the Green Bay Packers were even in the mix to make the playoffs was impressive, but it was still disappointing to see the season-ending loss to the Lions in Week 18. And now the questions really start, particularly with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Put simply, is this it? Is he done in Green Bay and ready to play elsewhere, or could this even be his walk into retirement? We don’t know.
But the bigger question is what the Packers do if that does happen. For me, the answer is pretty simple: they roll with former first-round pick Jordan Love. The calculus behind this is pretty easy to get to. If Love is the guy, they need to know now. So giving him the opportunity to prove he’s developed and improving the roster around him in the 2023 NFL Draft and otherwise is the move. If he’s not the guy, the roster will be in better shape and the team will be bad enough to look at Caleb Williams or Drake Maye in 2024. Pretty easy to figure that one out.
Carrying this a bit further, though, if the Packers do lose Rodgers and end up rolling with Love, what does that mean for the draft? This early 2023 NFL mock draft for Green Bay through all projected seven rounds (h/t NFL Mock Draft Database) provides one route the franchise could (and maybe should) take.
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Packers 2023 NFL mock draft: 7-round projection if Aaron Rodgers leaves Green Bay
WR Ohio State
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is worth a slight risk to the Packers with the 15th pick
Few prospects are going to be as divisive as Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The Ohio State wide receiver entered this past season with a ton of hype after a monstrus finish to the 2021 campaign. But an injury in the season-opener against Notre Dame limited him and it seemed as if he took it cautiously to protect his draft stock from that point on.
So therein lies the rub. Smith-Njigba was wildly productive for one season but then sat out. He’s also not a crazy athlete with top-tier speed to separate but what he has shown he can do well is impressive. He’s crisp in his route-running and cooks defenders routinely because of that and also has great contested-catch ability along with sure hands that seem to vacuum anything in that he wants.
While this does come with some risk for Green Bay, I think he’s the perfect type of player to add to a lacking wide receiver room. Christian Watson came on late as a rookie and showed he has real ability as a deep threat. Pairing him with a route-runner like Smith-Njigba could create a dangerous 1-2 punch for this offense, one that will only be more lethal if another deep threat in Romeo Doubs can develop and Watson can continue to polish his overall game.
There are some great options at wide receiver for the Packers with the No. 15 pick — or at least that should be in that range. But if Smith-Njigba is there given what he’s done well in limited work overall at Ohio State, this is the roll of the dice the team needs to take.