The Green Bay Packers infamously didn't take a wide receiver in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft despite it being a huge need. In fact, the Packers haven't taken a first-round wideout since 2002, but they are favored to do so via William Hill Sportsbook oddsmakers on Thursday night in the 2021 draft from Cleveland. Many believe the Packers are targeting Minnesota's Rashod Bateman, who has an Over/Under draft position of 28.5 with both options -115 on the moneyline. SportsLine's RJ White has the Pack taking a receiver, but Elijah Moore of Ole Miss.
Green Bay's last first-round receiver selection was Florida State's Javon Walker at No. 20 overall in 2002 and he was mostly a bust other than one terrific season in 2004. Last year, despite it being a clear need for Aaron Rodgers, the team didn't take a single wideout and instead moved up a few spots to shockingly select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love at No. 26 overall.
The Packers are the only team in the league to not draft a receiver in the first three rounds of any of the last five drafts. Overall, they have used only two Round 1-3 picks on receivers over the past nine drafts. Those were Ty Montgomery in Round 3 in 2015 and Davante Adams a second-round steal in 2014.
The Pack currently hold the No. 29 overall pick in Thursday's first round, which is part of the reason William Hill oddsmakers are giving Bateman that Over/Under of 28.5 – New Orleans holds the No. 28 pick. Green Bay officials have done a lot of homework on Bateman and spent time with him, according to ESPN. General manager Brian Gutekunst was in Minneapolis for the Gophers' Pro Day and met with Bateman, who ran a 4.40 40.
Bateman had a monster 2019 season for the Gophers when he was named Big Ten Receiver of the Year and third-team All-American. His 20.3 yards-per-catch average was No. 3 in the FBS among players with at least 40 catches.
The 6-foot, 190-pounder originally opted-out of last season but decided to play and had 36 catches for 472 yards and five scores in five games. Bateman is ranked as the No. 25 overall player on the CBS Sports Big Board, while NFL.com gives him a prospect grade of 6.27, which equates to "will be starter within first two seasons." He is given an NFL comp of the Cowboys' Michael Gallup. Incidentally, if Bateman is the choice, it would be the second year in a row the Packers took a player from Minnesota. Linebacker Kamal Martin was a fifth-round pick in 2020 and saw action in 10 games.
William Hill offers a prop on the exact position of the player selected by Green Bay with its first pick, whether it's at No. 29 or the team trades up or back. Receiver is a +190 favorite followed by offensive lineman at +230 and cornerback at +450.
With at top three at wideout of Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard, and Devin Funchess returning in 2021 after opting out last season because of COVID, the Packers could decide to address another position in Round 1 and pick a receiver later.
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