GREEN BAY, Wis. — It’s not a first-round receiver, but for the Green Bay Packers, it’s the next-best thing.
Actually, the second-next-best thing.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst, who ran the team’s streak of not drafting a receiver in the first round to 20 years on Thursday, didn’t wait long to make a move on Friday. He sent both of his second-round picks (Nos. 53 and 59) to the rival Minnesota Vikings for the 34th overall pick to take North Dakota State receiver Christian Watson.
Watson was the seventh receiver taken in the draft, and the first on Day 2.
Watson became the latest second-round receiver drafted by the Packers, joining the likes of Davante Adams (No. 53 overall in 2014), Randall Cobb (No. 64 in 2011) and Jordy Nelson (No. 36 in 2008) — all of whom were favorite targets of star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“We’ve had a lot of success with second- and third-round receivers in Green Bay,” Rodgers said Thursday night on Pat McAfee’s SiriuxXM and YouTube show after the Packers didn’t take a receiver in the first round. “You look at Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones in the third round (in 2007), obviously Davante Adams in the second round. Those guys turned out pretty good.”
The 6-foot-4, 208-pound Watson’s father, Tim, was a sixth-round pick of the Packers in 1993 as a safety.
This offseason, the Packers traded Adams, who wanted out, to the Las Vegas Raiders. The 53rd pick, which was sent to Minnesota, was part of that trade with Las Vegas, along with No. 22 overall. Green Bay also lost receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown in free agency.
The Packers’ top returning receiver is Allen Lazard, who had 40 catches for 513 yards and eight touchdowns last season. No other wideout currently on Green Bay’s roster, including newcomer Sammy Watkins, had as many as 400 yards receiving last season.
Green Bay didn’t address the receiver issue Thursday and instead focused on defense in the first round by taking a pair of Georgia teammates, using the 22nd overall selection on linebacker Quay Walker and taking tackle Devonte Wyatt at No. 28.
The Packers haven’t selected a wide receiver in the first round since taking Florida State’s Javon Walker 20th overall in 2002.
Information from Associated Press was used in this report.