Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst insisted he doesn’t “need” to select a wide receiver during Friday’s second day of NFL Draft.
Just remember, though, this is lying season.
And no team in the NFL needs more wide receiver help right now than Gutekunst’s Packers.
The Packers hold two second round picks tonight at No. 53 and 59. They also hold pick 92 in the third round.
Despite Gutekunst’s protests, expect him to draft at least one — and maybe more — wide receivers when the second round of the draft begins Friday at 6 p.m. (CST).
“No, I don’t think we have to,” Gutekunst said of drafting a wide receiver. “I think there’s some really good receivers left in this draft and we’ll kind of see how it plays out. We have nine picks left, so we’ve got a lot of ammunition.
“Whether we stick and pick or move around, we’ll kind of see how that goes. But I don’t feel we have to do that. I like our football team. I think I’ve spoken on that before. We’d like to add players at every position and the receiver position is no different. But I don’t feel like I have to.”
Here are three wide receivers that Gutekunst could have his eye on Friday:
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1. Christian Watson, North Dakota State
40-yard dash — 4.36
Watson was a bit player as a true freshman in 2019 when the Bison won a national title. In 2020, though, he caught 34 passes for 732 yards — a whopping average 21.5 yards per catch. Watson also had six touchdown receptions and averaged 12.5 yards per punt return.
Watson caught 19 passes for 442 yards (23.3) in 10 games in 2020. He was also a standout kick returner who had two touchdowns and averaged 33.8 yards per return.
Last season, Watson was named second-team Associated Press FCS All-American after catching 43 passes for 801 yards (18.6) and scoring seven TDs. He missed the first three games of the Bison’s postseason, but returned for NDSU’s national title game victory over Montana State.
Watson then ran the sixth-fastest time among wide receivers at the NFL Combine.
Bison offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl on Watson: “We see it every day. There’s always a little bit of doubt in everyone else’s mind from an outsider standpoint of ‘There is no way it’s that fast,’ but when you can see and really feel his speed in person it’s almost like it’s effortless.”
2. Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
40-yard dash — 4.41
Had 106 receptions for 1,851 yards and 13 touchdowns during his four years with the Bearcats. His vertical jump of 40-1/2” was the highest among this year’s wide receivers.
Had 52 catches for 884 yards and seven touchdowns in 2021, when the Bearcats reached the national semifinals.
Terrific all-around athlete who also lettered in volleyball, basketball and track. Was named a first-team academic all-American.
Has drawn comparisons to former Packer Jordy Nelson.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper on Pierce: “He has the physical traits that could make a team fall in love with him. He ran a 4.41 40 and had a 40.5-inch vertical at the combine. Pierce isn’t just a workout warrior, though; he averaged 17 yards per catch, scored eight touchdowns and was one of the best vertical threats in the country last season. He’s going to run by defensive backs at the next level.”
3. George Pickens, Georgia
40-yard dash — 4.47
Pickens was a top-25 recruit nationally, then made an immediate splash with 49 catches for 727 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman non-starter in 2019. He also was named the SEC’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year that season and was named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team.
In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Pickens played in eight games and caught 36 passes for 514 yards and eight TDs. In the spring of 2021, though, Pickens tore an ACL and missed most of the season.
Pickens returned for the final four games of the Bulldogs’ national championship season and caught five passes for 107 yards (21.4). He also had a 52-yard reception in Georgia’s national title game win over Alabama.
ESPN’s Todd McShay on Pickens: “When he’s healthy, he’s explosive. I mean, he’s as explosive as any receiver in this class, I would say, outside of Jameson Williams. But is the consistency there, and does he understand the game at this point in his career the way he should? Those are the questions.”