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Packers bypass receivers, go for defense in first round of NFL Draft

Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) is tackled by Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine...
Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) is tackled by Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine (16), linebacker Quay Walker (7) and defensive back Christopher Smith, right, after scrambling for yardage during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)(Phelan M. Ebenhack | AP)
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 6:20 AM EDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A run on receivers between 10 and 18 when the top 6 went off the board pretty much sealed the fate that the Green Bay Packers would not be selecting a wideout in the first round for the 20th consecutive NFL Draft.

Instead, General Manager Brian Gutekunst going with Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt, two Georgia Bulldog defenders of that national title team. The 5th year GM continues to build a defense that looks like it can carry a team instead of always having to rely on Aaron Rodgers right arm.

Walker is 6′4″ 241 pound inside linebacker, and ran a 4.5 40 yard dash at the combine. Last season Walker racked up 67 tackles, 5.5 for loss with 1.5 sacks, and three pass breakups for the Bulldogs last season. He was a first time starter as a senior, and now gets to learn from De’Vondre Campbell. The Packers brought back the All-Pro linebacker in free agency this offseason.

Wyatt is a 6′3″ 304 pound All-SEC selection helped lead Georgia to a National Championship in 2021 with 39 tackles, seven for loss with 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles in 14 starts.

“The two things with these two particular players, and obviously they are different, but their speed and explosiveness is off the charts. I think their ability to create havoc in the run game and in the passing game, I think the all-around nature of those players is something that really drew us to them. We’ve got a long ways to go; this team - we haven’t even really had a first practice yet, but I do like us on paper right now,” says Gutekunst.

On paper, the Packers are still very thin at wide receiver. So with 9 picks remaining over the next two days, does Gutey have to draft a couple of them, preferably tonight in rounds 2 and 3, where the Packers have found plenty of good ones in the past?

“I don’t think we have to, I think there are some really good receivers left in this draft. So we will kind of see how it plays out; we have 9 picks left and we have a lot of ammunition. I think certainly by the time we get to that first game we are going to add some way or another to that room; hopefully it will fall right for us the next two days. But if it doesn’t, I don’t think we can reach and make bad decisions just because they’ve got a WR by their name,” says Gutekunst.

Rodgers appeared on the Pat McAfee Show to discuss the picks.

“I’m sure Packers nation will be wondering why we didn’t take a receiver or trade up. At this point you just have to have faith in the organization. Whoever we bring in tomorrow and the rest of this draft, I’m going to put in the time to work with those guys,” Rodgers said.

In Rounds 2 and 3 Friday the Packers have picks 53, 59, and 92. It all starts at 6 p.m. right here on WBAY.

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