Warning, when reading this article you won’t be seeing RAS rankings or any talk of “RB 2” or “CB 3”. Instead, we are going to take a look at possible under the radar NFL draft prospects who make sense for the Packers. They all produced during their collegiate careers. We, similarly in what scouts do, will be projecting how these NFL draft prospects will produce at the NFL level. Stay tuned!
Under the Radar NFL Draft Prospects for the Packers
When we selected these NFL draft prospects, we took a look at the Packers roster and what areas they need help at. While the Packers recently signed free agent linebacker Christian Kirksey as well as inked offensive tackle Rick Wagner, we believe the Packers will add more help at those positions through the NFL draft. These aren’t first-round NFL draft prospects, but prospects that could be had in the third round or later. Here are some names to keep an eye on.
Tyler Johnson, Wide Receiver, Minnesota
Tyler Johnson was a high school quarterback before coming to the University of Minnesota. It took a couple of seasons for him to adjust to a new position, but when he did, he became a major weapon for the Golden Gophers.
Johnson busted out in his junior campaign. That season, he hauled in 78 passes, had 1,169 receiving yards, along with 12 touchdown receptions. He did this while playing with some shaky quarterback play.
Last season, Johnson increased his production. He was helped out with better quarterback play along with playing opposite of Rashod Bateman. Johnson caught 86 passes for 1,318 receiving yards with 13 touchdown receptions. Bateman might have been the big playmaker in the Gophers offense, but when they needed a crucial pass caught, they went to Johnson.
He has the physical skills to be a productive NFL wide receiver. He also has solid size for an NFL draft prospect, 6’2″ 205 lbs.. The biggest question will be his speed. But the Packers have done well with wide receivers who aren’t blazers. Jordy Nelson and James Jones weren’t burners but played faster than their 40 yard dash time. Something Johnson appears to have.
Walterfootball.com has projected Johnson to go from the third-fourth round in this year’s draft.
Ben Bartch, Offensive Tackle, St. John’s University (MN)
The Packers signed Wagner to replace starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga. It is expected that Wagner will fill the right tackle spot for the next couple of seasons. With Wagner being a solid stopgap player, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst can now select an NFL draft prospect they can groom to eventually take over for Wagner when the time arrives.
One raw prospect that might fill that need is St. John’s University (MN) offensive tackle Ben Bartch. Bartch came to St. John’s, who plays at the Division 3 level, as a tight end. He eventually moved to offensive tackle and thrived when he made the move. He not only was the best tackle in their conference but was arguably the best Division 3 offensive tackle this past season.
He has the size to play in the NFL, 6’6″ 308 lbs., but will need time to adjust to playing elite talent. With no pressure to immediately start, Packers offensive line coach Adam Stenavich can mold Bartch into an NFL caliber offensive tackle.
The Packers could possibly grab Bartch in the fifth round of this year’s NFL draft.
Logan Wilson, Inside Linebacker, Wyoming
The signing of Kirksey is a start for re-doing the Packers inside linebacker position. But Gutekunst can’t stand pat with just that signing. Kirksey has battled injuries during his NFL career. While adding him is a plus, his injury history shows they might need to add more help.
Logan Wilson was an uber-productive linebacker while playing at Wyoming. While at Wyoming, he posted 249 solo tackles. He also registered seven sacks. But with playing in a pass-happy conference, he also showed that he is capable of dropping back into pass coverage. He had an impressive 10 interceptions, with returning two of them for touchdowns. His skills also projects well for playing on special teams, something that could be a major benefit for the Packers.
Walterfootball.com projects Wilson going day 3 from the fourth-sixth rounds in this year’s draft.
Jared Pinkney, Tight End, Vanderbilt
For some, it is hard to believe that Jared Pinkney is on this list. Before last season, some publications had him ranked as the top NFL draft prospect at the tight end position. But Pinkney had a very down season for Vanderbilt. After hauling in 50 passes the season before, his catches dropped to just 20 this past season. His receiving yards also dropped from 774 to 233. His touchdown receptions also fell from seven to just two.
Some of his struggles had to do with the lack of offensive talent he played with at Vanderbilt this past season. Vanderbilt’s offense was one of the worst in college football. If Pinkney could get into the right system in the NFL, he might be able to be a solid contributor. The Packers need help at tight end and adding Pinkney could help bolster the position.
Walterfootball.com projects Pinkney to go from the third-fifth round in this year’s NFL draft.