8 possibilities for Packers fans to watch

College football season is approaching. Week Zero begins the 2022 college football roster with a game played in Ireland between Northwestern and Nebraska. This is the headline for Week Zero.

Week Zero will also feature five Mountain West Conference teams starting their season.

Over the past three NFL Drafts, Brian Gutekunst has selected players from Mountain West. The Green Bay General Manager traded in the first round of the 2020 draft to pick Utah State’s Jordan Love. In the 2022 draft, Gutekunst took over the Nevada wide receiver Romeo Dobbs.

Who are the players outside of Mountain West that Gutekunst could target in the NFL Draft 2023? Let’s take a look at eight possibilities in Mountain West Green Bay fans should keep tabs throughout the upcoming college football season.

J.L. Skinner, S., Boise State

Skinner wants to knock you down next week. The Boys State safety packs a punch and will be a tone-setting tool for any team they build.

Last season, Skinner scored 92 team-led tackles. Skinner added seven tackles for a loss, two interceptions, and seven pass deflections.

The Packers could look to add to the safety room early in the 2023 NFL Draft. At 6-4, 220 pounds, Skinner has the range and physique to be a game-changer at the back end of the Joe Barry high school.

“It’s his hits that make him transfer to Sportscenter on a particular Saturday, but the overall skill set that could make him valuable on Sundays in the near future,” said Matthew Kinnerley, editor for Mountain West Wire. “According to the PFF, he played in the penalty area as often as he did down the field, and he weighed in at 6, 4, 220 pounds, which is exactly the kind of physical possibility that tempts NFL teams these days.”

Patrick McMorris, S., San Diego State

McMorris earned Mountain West’s first-team honors last season after scoring 90 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, four interceptions, and nine passing deflections.

Aztec Security is a versatile game maker looking for connectivity. He has a high football IQ and is always in the right place to play plays.

“San Diego State has had a talent for putting together a defensive back in the NFL, and McMorris could be the next man in that regard,” Kinnerley said. “His talent for being in the right place at the right time helped him lead the team in last year’s interceptions from AZTEC, which is no easy feat. He also speaks volumes about his subtle instincts and reaction time.”

Alfred Edwards, OT, Utah

Edwards is one of the most experienced offensive maneuvers in college football. Edwards is entering his final season at Utah with 42 starting left-hand tackle.

Edwards looks the part at 6-7 and 325 pounds. According to Pro Football Focus, Edwards only allowed two gamers last season.

Since taking over as general manager in 2018, Gutkunst has chosen at least one offensive lineman every year. With his experience and framework, Edwards could be the target of Green Bay’s third day general manager.

“Edwards has remained remarkably consistent despite the program’s biggest ups and downs during his college career,” Kinnerley said. “I think he’s been at his best when the Aggies’ passing game is at its best. He’s protected the blind side of both Jordan Love and Logan Bonner, so I think the strength in passing protection is something to watch.”

Galen Cropper, WR, Fresno State

Cropper is listed at 6’0″ and 172 pounds. With his weight, he might not be on Green Bay’s radar. That would be a mistake. Cropper is an electrician.

Fresno State’s wide receiver has easy, dangerous pace with the ball in his hands. Since 2019, Cropper has accumulated 969 yards after the catch (PFF).

Kalen DeBoer, now with Washington, did a great job ordering the Cropper’s manufactured touches. They used it in a variety of ways and it responded with 85 receptions for 899 yards and 11 touchdowns. Added two quick landings and one passing landing. The name of the game is to get the ball in Cropper’s hands and let him get creative.

“I was an early member of the Jalen Cropper fan club after learning how quickly he brought him to the roster as a local high school student, and he did not disappoint in that regard,” Kennerley said. “He’s the most consistent and well-rounded passer in Mountain West at this point.”

Ilm Manning, OT, Hawaii

Manning, like Alfred Edwards of Utah, was around the building. Manning is entering his final season in Hawaii with 47 career starts under his belt.

Manning has been a mainstay for Hawaii since his freshman year in 2018 when he started 14 games on a left tackle. He is a technician in pass protection. With his experience and football IQ, Manning is another day three men’s offensive line that Gutkunst could target. Teams may view him as a guard, but the packers are no strangers to crafting successful college attack tackles and kicking them inside to guard.

“Manning was one of the pillars of stability as Hawaii moved through a few different offenses in his career, starting with spreading and sprinting to shooting and then a more balanced attack under Todd Graham,” Kennerley said. “I’d argue he was at his best as a passer. In the modern NFL he might have to slip inside, but I’d be shocked if he couldn’t compete with his knowledge base.”

Cole Goodbot, Dell, Wyoming

Wyoming has had some outstanding players in the NFL over the past few years. Cole Godbout may be the next name to join the lists that include Logan Wilson, Chad Muma, Andrew Wingard and Carl Granderson.

Godbout finished last season with 70 tackles, seven tackles to lose, five sacks, and five pass deflections. Over the previous two seasons, Godbout has scored 10 tackles for a loss and three sacks.

Godbout will control his gap and will not give up the land. It plays with a hot running motor and is an active anti-running deactivator. Ask Chad Momma why he has enjoyed so much success and I’m sure he will remember Godbout.

Talk about an underappreciated man outside of Laramie,” Kernelly said. “At 6-4 and 285 pounds, he doesn’t have the traditional physical appearance of a defensive tackle but that hasn’t stopped him from being one of the most underrated inside defenders anywhere in the conference. He’s climbed up big time as a fast-paced striker last year in particular, driving Wyoming in sacks, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he did it again, especially considering the Cowboys are rearranging their group of runners on the edge.”

Gary Williams, TE, Colorado State

Trey McBride is gone, which will open the door for Williams to enjoy the Rams’ monster season. While playing second fiddle to award winner John Mackie, Williams captured 21 receptions for 287 yards and five touchdowns.

While Williams may not be a good all-rounder as McBride, the 235-pound narrow end may be more athletically gifted, with speed for the same menace and making plays after the catch. When watching it, it reminded me of Brandy McMichael.

“Williams did a good job of being a capable TE2 versus McBride, and it’s tempting to say Jay Norvell could use it the same way he used Cole Turner in Nevada, but the truth is he doesn’t have the same McBride/Turner that might actually be,” Kennerley said. Better suited in the long run to play more in the slot, and you might say there are shades of Jordan Reed in his game overall.”

Dom Peterson, DL, Nevada

Peterson was a disruptive force in the middle of the Nevada defense. He is entering his final season with 151 losing tackles, 34 losing tackles, and 16.5 sacks.

He is the only player to come back at the top this season and will undoubtedly face an ongoing double squad. Peterson runs fast and earns a living in the opponent’s backcourt.

“There’s a very good chance he’s seeing a lot of doubles this year as the only player in the Nevada defensive line with a proven production track record, but that hasn’t really stopped him before,” Kennerley said. “A few inland defenders at Mountain West have been effective in accelerating the passing in recent memory, but he hasn’t been flabby in the running defense. I think he’s within walking distance of the program record to tackle a loss. Long story short, he’s going to get a lot of attention from the offensive coaches, and in My opinion, he should get the same amount of NFL scouts.”

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