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Packers see potential rookie impact from Day 2 picks

Receiver still a draft target on offense in final rounds

RB AJ Dillon, TE Josiah Deguara
RB AJ Dillon, TE Josiah Deguara

GREEN BAY – Even though running back and tight end were not as high on the priority list of roster needs heading into this draft, the Packers' selections at those positions are not just about the future.

General Manager Brian Gutekunst sees Boston College running back AJ Dillon and Cincinnati tight end Josiah Deguara potentially finding roles in Head Coach Matt LaFleur's in order to play right away as rookies.

That wasn't the thought in making the long-term investment in a first-round quarterback on Thursday night. But Friday night's second- and third-round picks won't necessarily be on the same developmental curve.

"I think there's potential for that," Gutekunst said of some immediate impact from his Day 2 picks. "It'll take a little bit of time and they have to put in the work. We like both these guys, their character and how they'll fit.

"That's always the hope. Different players take different times to get into that comfort zone, but we expect them to help us this year."

Dillon, a 247-pound running back in the Eddie Lacy mold, will bring a new element to the backfield in joining the productive combo of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. There are only so many snaps to go around, but the variations of sizes and styles can give the ground game depth and options.

Meanwhile Deguara, a 242-pound tight end, could be lining up anywhere in the formation, from in line to the slot to the backfield. LaFleur started using Jace Sternberger that way last year in the second half of his rookie season, and Deguara might be tasked with a similarly versatile set of duties.

Gutekunst noted these players speak to LaFleur's desire to build a running game and have the rest of the offense tied into that phase. He also said Dillon can do more in as a pass-catcher out of the backfield than his college stats show, and Deguara is a potential downfield matchup target.

"It's a naturally strong offensive draft this year," Gutekunst said. "We've done a lot on defense the past couple years, and it was time to address (the other side). We have a little bit here, and we'd like to do some more as we move forward.

"We really thought they're fits not only schematically but also what we want to add to our locker room. We're excited to see what they can do when they get here."

What Gutekunst hasn't done on offense is add a receiver, which was expected, or an offensive tackle. Or a defensive lineman or linebacker for that matter. But Gutekunst is proving he's not a needs drafter. He trusts his process to draft the best available players.

Still, grabbing a receiver sometime in the first two days seemed as sure a bet as anything. But as 13 receivers were chosen to set a record through the first two rounds, the Packers didn't take one.

That's likely to change Saturday with six more picks – one in the fifth round, three in the sixth and two in the seventh, as of now.

After the way the first round fell, Gutekunst wasn't surprised no receiver to his liking lasted until the latter portions of the second and third rounds, where the Packers were picking. And trading away his fourth-round pick Thursday night limited the opportunities to move up on Friday.

Day 3 will test just how deep this highly touted class of receivers really is. If the Packers can find a receiver in the fifth round or later legitimately capable of competing for the No. 2 spot behind Davante Adams, the position will have lived up to the hype.

It sounds like Gutekunst believes it can.

"We have to trust our work and the board," he said. "We feel like there's still some good players, and we'll see if we can get a little bit of that done (at receiver) tomorrow."

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