As the 2022 NFL draft approaches, the Green Bay Packers find themselves in retool mode after handing Aaron Rodgers a colossal contract extension and trading away All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams. The good part of that equation is locking up Rodgers for the next few years and acquiring extra first and second-round draft picks. The bad part is losing an All-World receiver and Rodgers’ favorite target over the past few years.
Luckily for the Packers, they now possess 11 picks in this year’s draft following the Adams trade to Las Vegas. They’ve got two picks in the first, second and fourth rounds. Green Bay owns seven picks in the first four rounds alone. So, filling some of their holes shouldn’t be too big a task for a team known for building through the draft. The Packers don’t necessarily attract a ton of big-name free agents like the LA Rams.
But the specific duty of replacing Adams won’t be easily accomplished. There isn’t a receiver in this draft class that’s ready to come in and take on Adams’ role immediately for Green Bay. Nor do they have anyone already on the roster that feels ready to step into that role. We’ve heard of many teams going to a running-back-by-committee type of ground game in recent years. The Packers will need to operate a wide-receiver-by-committee offense to fill in the gap left by Adams, since Rodgers didn’t seem to trust most other targets when Adams was there.
Anyone expecting Green Bay to select a receiver early in this draft is probably in for a rude awakening. The last time the Packers took a receiver in either the first or second round was in 2014, when they selected Adams 53rd overall. Holding the 22nd and 28th overall picks this year, you’d assume Green Bay would be able to find a suitable player to come in and catch balls from Rodgers. Hell, they could even package those picks to trade up if they hoped to acquire one of the top wide receivers of this class.
This year’s group of receivers isn’t as good as some in recent drafts but still solid overall. Many mock drafts don’t have a receiver taken until the lower end of the top 10. One Packers mock draft has the team taking WR Chris Olave from Ohio State with the 22nd overall pick. I think that’s wishful thinking. Green Bay goes defense in the first-round damn near every time.
Since 2012, the Packers have selected an offensive player one time in the first round. That was Jordan Love in 2020. In 2019, they had two first-round picks (like this year) and took a safety and a linebacker. So, while Olave would likely be a great addition, the odds of Green Bay going that route so early in the draft are low.
Should the Packers decide to break away from their organizational norm, Drake London of USC could be another receiver left on the board at No. 22. At 6’4″, London is big, has a wide catch radius, and could develop into an excellent target for Rodgers on those 50/50 balls downfield. Jahan Dotson from Penn State is another guy that could step in right away and make an impact for Green Bay. Dotson doesn’t possess the size of London or Olave, but he does have the speed. He ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash. If you can’t be big, be quick and shifty. Trylon Burks from Arkansas is another big body, strong receiver the Packers might be interested in if they decide to go WR in round one.
If Green Bay decides to play it safe and stick with defense as usual in round one, they’ve got some pretty good options there. A pass rusher off the edge is one area of need for the Packers heading into this draft. Green Bay ranked in the middle of the pack with 39 sacks in 2021. Not horrible, but not great either. The Packers ranked 24th in the NFL last year, allowing opponents to convert over 41 percent of third-down attempts. Luckily, they had a good secondary last season which helped cover up some deficiencies up front.
Some of the more highly touted edge rushers like Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Jermaine Johnson II will be gone by pick No. 22. Unless Green Bay plans on jumping up into the top 10, landing any of these players is a pipe dream. But a player like George Karlaftis of Purdue could be available for the Packers at 22 or even 28. Karlaftis led the Boilermakers in tackles for loss last season with 11.5. He was also named first-team all-conference in 2021.
Another potential first-round option at edge rusher for the Packers could be Boye Mafe from Minnesota. Mafe ran 4.53 in the 40, which is fast for a defensive lineman. Mafe was third-team all-conference last year and led the Gophers with 10 tackles for loss while also producing seven sacks.
The offensive line is another area of need for Green Bay, and there’s a good chance that if they go offense in the first round, it could be on that o-line. The Packers will be in the market for a tackle somewhere in this draft, and one of the top at the position this year is Mississippi State’s Charles Cross. Some mocks have him going in the top 20, so there is some chance he’ll be around at 22 for Green Bay. Cross took home first-team all-conference honors last season and could develop into an outstanding pass blocker for Mr. Rodgers.
Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa is another talented offensive lineman that could still be waiting to hear his name called toward the end of the first round. Penning should be able to come in and contribute immediately upon entering the league.
Whichever way the cheeseheads decide to go, they’ve got plenty of draft capital in their arsenal this year. They can obviously use all their picks as they are or package a couple and do some moving around. Green Bay should be able to come away with at least a couple of long-term starters at more than one position with 11 picks this year.
R Madrid 3 – 1 A Madrid
Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior scored in extra-time as Real Madrid fought back to beat local rivals Atletico 3-1 on Thursday and reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
On a freezing night at a sold-out Santiago Bernabeu hosting its first game for 77 days due to the World Cup break, Real started slowly and Atletico had many dangerous counter-attacks.
Atletico captain Koke delivered a brilliant through ball to Nahuel Molina who ghosting in behind Reals defence and the full back set up Alvaro Morata, a former Real academy player, to tap the ball into an empty net in the 19th minute.
Eder Militao wasted a golden chance to equalise in the 32nd minute after Toni Kroos had delivered a perfect cross.
It was not only until Dani Ceballos came off the bench to replace the injured Ferland Mendy late in the first half that Real started to play better.
The 26-year-old midfielder injected a new dynamic into the team who were far more aggressive after the break.
Benzema wasted two good opportunities and Federico Valverde also sent a shot wide from just outside the box.
Substitute Rodrygo equalised in the 79th with a delightful goal, dribbling past three defenders before finishing well.
With Real Madrid in full control, Atletico played most of extra time with 10 men after defender Stefan Savic was shown his second yellow card for chopping down Eduardo Camavinga in the 99th minute.
Five minutes later, Real substitute Marco Asensio sent a low cross into the box and Vinicius’s deflected shot reached Benzema who unleashed an unstoppable strike into the net.
Vinicius secured Real’s win in the dying seconds with a brilliant individual goal, running half the length of the pitch before scoring with a low shot.
“We got behind very early and after Mendy’s injury the whole team had to be rebuilt. But we woke up and played really well after the break,” Ceballos told TVE.
“They played better in the first half, but the coach corrected things in the second; we took control of the ball and found the goal. Then, after the red card, everything was easier.”
Real Madrid joined Barcelona, Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao in the semi-finals.
Everything we know about Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes’ ankle
It’s conference championship week. With only four teams on the NFL schedule this week — the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Cincinnati Bengals — one interesting storyline can dominate the entire conversation leading up to the games. This time, it’s QB Patrick Mahomes’ ankle.
The fact that this storyline is the dominant one heading into the weekend makes sense. He’s the best player in the league, and his team is hosting the AFC Championship Game against the Bengals who are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Also, the game is taking place one week after he suffered a high-ankle sprain and was still able to hobble the Chiefs to victory — aided of course by a timely 98-yard touchdown drive that was led by backup quarterback Chad Henne.
How mobile does Mahomes look right now?
Since his right ankle got rolled against the Jacksonville Jaguars, no leg in America has had as much attention on it as his. Not even Brent Maher’s as he overcame his kicking yips during the Dallas Cowboys’ loss on Sunday to the Eagles. Mahomes’ ankle has so much attention on it that Fox 4 KC’s Harold R. Kuntz has been filming him walking down from the press conference podium the last two days. And by filming Mahomes, I mean only his legs.
Thursday update: Mahomes didn’t even need to use the stairs.
Knox’s assessment: Don’t be a hero… until Sunday.
Kuntz isn’t the only reporter on the scene sharing video footage of Mahomes’ mobility. During the portion of practice that was open to the media, many videos were sent out of Mahomes moving around. As the Chiefs were warming up, Mahomes actually jogged and spun as he headed toward his next station. He is certainly running better than he was on Sunday.
In their comments to the media, Andy Reid said that Mahomes “did a nice job and was “comfortable with what we did.” Mahomes said that he believed his Wednesday practice went, “better than I expected.”
For Chiefs fans — and those of us who want to see a well-played AFC Championship Game — this news out of Kansas City is the best we could’ve received. On the Chiefs’ most active days of practice, Mahomes was seen moving very well. Also, he and the head coach both gave positive updates about the health of the most important leg in sports this weekend.
Will the ankle affect Mahomes’ play on Sunday?
There is no possible way that Mahomes will be 100 percent against the Bengals. They are going to test that ankle by trying to apply the same type of pressure that disrupted the Buffalo Bills during the Bengals’ Divisional Round win on Sunday. However, if he can move around all game as well as he has been in practice, he will be able to play well enough for the Chiefs to have a chance at victory.
We’ve received the closeup and overhead views of Mahomes’ health. All that is left is the view at Arrowhead Stadium from the CBS cameras at 6:30 p.m. EST on Jan. 29, 2023.
Transfer news LIVE! Arsenal FC told Zubimendi fee; Onana rejects Chelsea; Man Utd want Chiesa; Porro to Tottenham
Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are all expected to make further signings before January transfer window closes next week. With the deadline looming fast, Arsenal have confirmed they want a new midfielder and have made Brighton’s Moises Caicedo a key target, though face competition from the Blues. The Gunners are also interested Ivan Fresneda, though Borussia Dortmund have something to say about that.
Chelsea could also rival Arsenal for Amadou Onana, but are now happy for Newcastle to sign former target Anthony Gordon, who continues to skip Everton training. Matheus Nunes is a new name on Graham Potter’s wishlist, with Liverpool also tracking the Wolves star. Lyon right-back Malo Gusto should join, but Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez looks out of reach despite a renewed bid.
Spurs have finally made their first signing of the window after hijacking Everton’s loan move for Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma, and are confident of wrapping up a £39million deal for Sporting right-back Pedro Porro. They have even been tipped to add a surprise before the deadline. Manchester United want Harry Kane and Liverpool are not giving up on Jude Bellingham. Follow all the latest January transfer news, rumours and gossip live below!
Brighton unwilling to let Lamptey leave
Brighton have no desire to loan Tariq Lamptey out, a decision that could prove to be a problem for Tottenham.
It’s been suggested that Sporting are interested in signing Lamptey on loan as a replacement for Pedro Porro, who is closing in on a move to Spurs.
However, The Telegraph report that Brighton do not plan on letting Lamptey leave, with it unclear if that will impact the Porro deal.
Chelsea to keep Slonina at club
Chelsea do not plan on letting Gabriel Slonina go out on loan this month.
The 18-year-old become the youngest goalkeeper ever to start a game for the United States last night, as his stock continues to rise.
Fabrizio Romano reports that Slonina will stay with the Blues for the rest of the season, before a decision is made on what’s best for his development in the summer.
Man United in for Chiesa
Manchester United are reportedly keen on a move for Juventus winger Federico Chiesa.
Calciomercatoweb claim that it would cost United a fee in the region of €100m, but that’s a figure the club are willing to bid as they look to seal a deal for the Italian.
One to keep an eye on in the next few days…
Arsenal told Zubimendi fee
Martin Zubimendi is believed to be a target for Arsenal as they eye a midfield signing, but he won’t be cheap.
The Times report that Real Sociedad have told the Gunners that Zubimedni’s release clause of €60million must be paid in full for any move to take place.
Barcelona are also interested in the 23-year-old, but a move to the Premier League is believed to be his preferred option. However, having just signed a new contract, Zubimendi is happy at Sociedad, at least until the summer.
Gordon looks to force Everton exit
Anthony Gordon has once again missed Everton training as he looks to force through a move.
Reports suggest that the winger has not turned up for the third day running, with Gordon telling the club he does not intend on returning.
Chelsea were strongly linked with him in the summer, while Newcastle are also believed to be interested in a move.
Good news for Liverpool!
Not a new signing, but the next best thing for Liverpool.
Stefan Bajcetic has signed a new long-term contract at the club, one that reportedly ties him down until 2027.
He told Liverpoolfc.com: “Obviously I’m so, so happy, so excited to keep playing for this club and hopefully I can play more years together. Me and my family are very proud to sign a new contract with this club.”
Antonio staying put
West Ham expect Michail Antonio to remain at the club beyond the end of this month’s transfer window, despite the forward claiming he has held talks over a possible move away.
In an interview with Standard Sport last month, Antonio spoke of his frustration at a reduced role following the £30.5million signing of Gianluca Scamacca from Sassuolo last summer.
Antonio led the line against Everton and has started three of the Hammers’ five Premier League games since the World Cup, but on his The Footballer’s Football Podcast discussed rumours of his departure.
Man Utd look at Kane alternatives
Manchester United are weighing up alternatives to Harry Kane.
The Tottenham striker is a target for the summer, but will not come cheap. As such, according to Estadio Deportivo, United are taking an interest in Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias.
Wout Weghorst is the stop-gap for now, but the Spain international could also be an option should the get priced out of Kane.
Spurs are expected to ask for a fee in the region of £80million for their talisman, and perhaps more for a team supposedly a direct rival.
Antonio staying put
West Ham expect Michail Antonio to remain at the club beyond the end of this month’s transfer window, despite the forward claiming he has held talks over a possible move away, writes Malik Ouzia.
Scamacca is currently sidelined with a knee problem and Danny Ings, brought in in a £12m deal from Aston Villa earlier this month, also suffered a knee issue while making his debut as a substitute last weekend’s victory over Everton and is set for a short spell out.
More to follow.
Valladolid waiting on first Arsenal bid for Fresneda
Real Valladolid are yet to receive a bid for Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund target Ivan Fresneda, the club have confirmed.
Reports in Spain claim BVB are closing in on the deal, but it situation now appears wide open.
“(Fresneda) has aroused the interest of many teams, but we have not received an official offer,” Real Valladolid sporting director Fran Sanchez told Diario AS.
“It is true that several clubs have contacted us and that interest of many clubs is real, but there is no official offer.
“We are not desperately trying to sell the player.”
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