The Packers will have plenty of new players to work into their new defensive scheme

Updated Apr. 27, 2024 10:44 p.m. ET

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers added plenty of new faces to a defense that has a new coordinator and a new scheme this year.

After departing from their usual strategy by taking an offensive player in the first round, the Packers focused on defense with five of their next seven picks in the NFL draft that concluded Saturday. The Packers are switching from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 scheme under new coordinator Jeff Hafley, the former Boston College coach who took over for the fired Joe Barry.

“The physicality that these guys showed on tape, their ability to run and hit, that leaves us very optimistic,” coach Matt LaFleur said.

The Packers loaded up at safety — their biggest weakness during a 2023 season in which they went 9-8 and reached the divisional round of the playoffs — by selecting Georgia’s Javon Bullard in the second round (58th overall pick), Oregon’s Evan Williams in the fourth (111th) and Oregon State’s Kitan Oladapo in the fifth (169th). They already signed former New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney to a four-year, $68 million contract last month.


The Packers also believe they got a boost at linebacker after selecting Edgerrin Cooper of Texas A&M in the second round (45th) and Ty’Ron Hopper of Missouri in the third (91st).

Green Bay wasn’t as aggressive in targeting pass rushers or cornerbacks. The Packers didn’t draft any defensive linemen, and the only cornerback they took Kalen King of Penn State in the seventh round (255th).

They might have been influenced by good news about the health of cornerback Eric Stokes and edge rusher Kingsley Enagbare.

Stokes played nine games in 2022 and three in 2023 due to injury, but LaFleur said Sunday the 2021 first-round pick is “full go.” General manager Brian Gutekunst said the ACL injury Enagbare suffered late last season might not have been the complete tear the Packers initially feared.

“We’re still working through it and we’re still hopeful that there will be no surgery,” Gutekunst said. “He’s looking good. He’s working hard right now.”

Green Bay also selected Arizona offensive tackle Jordan Morgan in the first round (25th), Southern California running back MarShawn Lloyd in the third (88th), Duke offensive lineman Jacob Monk in the fifth (163rd), Georgia State offensive lineman Travis Glover in the sixth (202nd) and Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt in the seventh (245th).

Morgan joins quarterback Jordan Love — taken 26th overall in 2020 — as the only first-round picks the Packers have used on offensive players in the last 13 drafts.


Monk and Glover will try to continue the Packers’ history of finding quality offensive linemen on the final day of the draft. The list includes David Bakhtiari (2013, fourth found), Corey Linsley (2014, fifth), Jon Runyan Jr. (2020, sixth), Zach Tom (2022, fourth) and Rasheed Walker (2022, seventh).

Glover and Monk have the versatility Green Bay wants from its linemen. Monk’s 58 career starts at Duke included 34 at right guard, 12 at right tackle and 12 at center. Glover had multiple starts at left tackle, left guard and right tackle.

The Packers also believe Morgan could play either guard or tackle spot. LaFleur said Morgan will work first at left tackle, the position he played at Arizona.


Bullard is the latest Georgia defensive player to get drafted in the first two rounds by the Packers. Green Bay selected Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes with the 29th overall pick in the 2021 draft. The Packers used their 2022 first-round selections on Georgia teammates, taking linebacker Quay Walker 22nd overall and defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt 28th.

“Those guys play the right way, they love football, they’re competitive and they’ve won,” said Patrick Moore, the Packers’ assistant director of college scouting. “They’ve won championships, and we’re trying to get those guys in here to help us win championships.”


Pratt, who threw for a school-record 9,602 career yards and 90 touchdowns at Tulane, will compete with 2023 fifth-round pick Sean Clifford for the right to back up Love. Pratt said he and Clifford know each other well.

“We’ve been kind of in touch and buddies for the past couple years,” Pratt said. “Just getting to go up there and having at least one guy that I know especially in that room, just having that opportunity to continue our friendship and be able to push each other, be able to lead each other, learn from each other, I just think is an awesome experience.”


The Packers got major contributions from cornerback Carrington Valentine and safety Anthony Johnson Jr. last year after drafting both players in the seventh round. They’d love a similar payoff from King, who was rated as a potential early-round pick before a disappointing 2023 season.

“Not going where you thought you would go, seeing all the names being picked ahead of you, just enduring all that, seeing that, I felt like it put a chip on my shoulder, a permanent chip on my shoulder that I’ve got to keep there,” King said.