The Green Bay Packers surged at the end of the 2023 season and did enough to make the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the NFC playoffs. While wins over the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears were good enough to allow the Packers to finish with a 9-8 regular-season record, the performance throughout the year was fairly hum-drum.

The seeds of change were planted in those trio of games, they bore fruit in the playoffs. The Packers had one of the most impressive performances of the year as they exploded for a 48-32 road triumph over the second-seeded Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card game. Jordan Love put on a remarkable show as he completed 16 of 21 passes for 272 yards with 3 TDs and no interceptions.

Love looked like a future MVP candidate in that game and he was also excellent in the divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers the following week.  The Packers nearly pulled off another win that would have sent them to the NFC title game, but they dropped a 24-21 decision.

Nevertheless, the Packers served notice that they have their quarterback for the present and future and they have the tools to compete with the Detroit Lions for first place in the NFC North — and perhaps much more — in the years to come.

Packers add two key players in free agency

The Packers have brought in running back Josh Jacobs from the Las Vegas Raiders and defensive back Xavier McKinney from the Giants, and both have the skills to help the Packers climb the NFL ladder in 2024.

Jacobs led the league in rushing in 2022 when he had 340 carries for 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns, establishing himself as a back who could break big plays and also get the job done running between the tackles.

A salary dispute and quad injury followed last season and Jacobs played just 13 games and was held to 805 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Jacobs signed a four-year, $48 million deal with the Packers that includes a $12.5 million signing bonus. The Packers are clearly hoping that he will return to his 2022 form in the upcoming season.

McKinney has been a talented free safety in his four years with the Giants, and he had 116 tackles, 11 passes defensed, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries last season. The Packers took notice and rewarded McKinney with a four-year, $67 million contract that includes a $23 million bonus.

The presence of Love under center was a key factor for both free agents in signing with the Packers. “To have a guy so young and playing as well as he has, and a guy that's going to be around for a long time, it's fun to have something stable and know what you're going to get out of a guy week in and week out. So that's very exciting for me,” said Jacobs.

McKinney had similar remarks, and it's clear that the Packers have one of the top up-and-coming quarterbacks in the NFL

Cooper DeJean could become a star for Packers

The Packers are in an excellent position to add talent in the upcoming draft with the No. 25 pick in the first round and two picks in the second round (Nos. 9 and 26).

The Packers should have a chance to draft one of the most versatile players in the draft in Cooper DeJean of Iowa with their first-round pick. DeJean, 6-1 and 203 pounds, regularly showed off his athleticism as a defensive back with the Hawkeyes. He suffered a broken leg in November, but he is not expected to be impacted by the injury in 2024.

DeJean had back-to-back brilliant seasons at Iowa, as he followed up a sharp performance in 2022 in which he had 75 tackles, 5 interceptions and 8 passes defensed with a memorable year in 2023. He had 41 tackles, 2 interceptions and 5 passes defensed last season.

DeJean is also something of an artist as punt returner. He had 10 returns for 165 yards in 2022 and he followed up with 21 punt returns for 241 yards and 1 touchdown last year. DeJean has brilliant instincts and the moves to make tacklers miss on a regular basis.

Junior Colson and Troy Franklin should fit nicely for Packers

Michigan linebacker Junior Colson is very athletic, and he checks in at 6-3 and 225 pounds. Colson won the Ronnie Lott Trophy for his performance last season, as he had 95 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 2 passes defensed. Those numbers came on the heels of a 101-tackle, 6 tackle for loss showing in 2022.
Colson is tough and instinctive, and has a chance to move into the starting lineup for any team that drafts him.

Troy Franklin of Oregon could become a star wide receiver if the Packers draft him and he is paired with Love. The 6-2, 170-pound Franklin has the length and athleticism to become a regular part of the offensive gameplan.

He caught 81 passes for 1,383 yards with an eye-catching 14 touchdowns for the Oregon Ducks last season and was quarterback Bo Nix's go-to receiver — along with Tez Johnson.

Franklin could turn into one of Love's favorite receivers as well.