The Green Bay Packers historically do not take pass catchers in the first round. While that is technically true, there is reason to believe it is situational and that the organization could go down that path in next week's NFL Draft.
Green Bay has not taken a pass catcher in the first round since adding Florida State wide receiver Javon Walker with the No. 20 overall selection in 2002.
Shortly after quarterback Brett Favre retired and was traded to the Jets, and Aaron Rodgers was named the starting quarterback in 2008, the franchise did something interesting. The Packers held the No. 30 overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft but opted to trade back to No. 36 overall, which is where they selected Kansas State wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Nelson may have been their choice in the first round had they not traded back. A top-100 selection was also used on Texas tight end Jermichael Finley.
In six seasons with the organization, Finley amassed 223 receptions for 2,785 yards and 20 touchdowns. Nelson contributed 550 receptions for 7,848 yards and 69 touchdowns in his time with Green Bay. Those two players joined a pass-catching unit that already featured wide receivers Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and James Jones.
The point is that the Packers were aggressive in surrounding a 25-year-old Rodgers with a wealth of talent in his first full season as the starter.
History could repeat itself this year as Green Bay is destined to send another veteran quarterback to the Jets, opening the door for Jordan Love to become the starter in his fourth season. Late in his career, Rodgers was a player whose preparation and talent was able to make the most of the pass-catching talent around him. Love may need some help, however, as he establishes his footing in this league.
General manager Brian Gutekunst was not in his current role during that scenario in 2008 but he was a scout and rose through the organization under the tutelage of then general manager Ted Thompson.
As the Packers come on the clock at No. 15 overall, pass catcher should not be removed from the discussion if the best prospect on their board happens to play either wide receiver or tight end. Among the prospects who could meet that criteria are Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer and Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid.
They could also wait to address the position in the second round like they have done in the past with Randall Cobb, Christian Watson and Nelson. Green Bay is positioned to pick again at No. 45 overall but could add even more draft capital through the inevitable trade of Rodgers.
The 2023 NFL Draft commences April 27 from Kansas City, Missouri. Here is a full look at the CBSSports.com prospect rankings. There are also a half dozen mock drafts and three have the Packers taking a pass catcher.