GREEN BAY – Whenever a team drafts a player in the first round, the accompanying expectation is said player immediately contributes to the team in Year 1. It’s completely logical, as well. Round 1 is where teams have the best chance of finding their future stars/foundational pieces.

But, sometimes, first-round picks are taken with the idea that they will sit behind a starter and learn the game while developing their own game. Packers fans know this all too well: it happened in 2020 when Brian Gutekunst drafted Jordan Love.

This process is typically reserved for quarterbacks, but it can carry over to the other positions, as well. When it does happen, how much and how quickly that player will contribute becomes the topic of conversation heading into the season.

The Packers took two big-time defenders in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft – former Georgia teammates Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt. It’s rather obvious where both players fit in when it comes to their respective positions, but there are also proven players at said respective positions.

That doesn’t matter though, right? Both players should be able to come in and immediately contribute and maybe even start/log the majority of snaps, right?

Not so fast. For Walker, Krys Barnes currently stands in his way. Barnes isn’t a household name, by any means, but he’s racked up 161 total tackles, 2.0 sacks, 9.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries over the last two years. He’s done so while appearing in 29 games and starting 23.

When it comes to Wyatt, he has the incumbent Dean Lowry and the newly-acquired Jarran Reed to compete against for playing time. Lowry and Reed both logged at least 63% of defensive snaps last year and are looking to do the same again this year.

Nothing is guaranteed for either pick when it comes to playing time in 2022, but general manager Brian Gutekunst doesn’t think that will stop either player from contributing in 2022.

“Certainly we think they do,” Gutekunst told Packers.com’s Larry McCarren when asked if Walker and Wyatt have the potential to provide immediate help. “They come from obviously a very high-level program at Georgia that had a lot of success winning the national championship last year. And certainly, we think they will come in and have an ability to help us right away.

“In what role? That’s a lot to determine, but we thought highly enough of them to take them where we took them. And we did that because of not only for the future, but for right now.”

Most expected Walker and Wyatt to come in and make an immediate impact, and for good reason, but it’s still a relief to hear the Gutekunst himself say both players are expected to do so.

They’ll certainly have their chance, too. Barnes still has a lot to prove and while Reed has had a solid career – he’s on his third team in as many years. Both rookies should have ample opportunity to come in and not only compete for playing time, but become the foundational pieces they were drafted to be.

You can watch the full interview with Gutekunst, below:

Featured image via Bryan Lynn-USA Today