With their first three picks of the 2022 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers acted according to script, drafting two first-round defenders out of Georgia in Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt before snagging Christian Watson, a desperately-needed wide receiver. But Packers GM Brian Gutekunst was only just getting started.
After addressing positions of need early in the draft, the Packers turned some heads in the third round by selecting Grogu “Baby” Yoda, the controversial safety out of Keldabe Technical College. Yoda was originally slated to go in the late sixth or seventh round of the draft, but shot up the draft boards after his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, which included an interception while Yoda was on the opposite side of the field.
Yoda is a prospect with one of the highest ceilings in the NFL draft. His upsides make him a huge bust-or-boom pick for the Packers. Yoda’s playmaking and his ability to play to all sides of the field make him an intimidating presence for any opposing quarterback. He has also proven to be very difficult to tackle in his floating orb, which has many wondering if Yoda could transition into running back. He is also a two-sport athlete, playing for the Milwaukee Brewers under the pseudonym of “Ryan Braun.” During his tenure with the Brewers, Yoda demonstrated his influence on the game from the bench, as Brewers pitchers’ velocity went up a full 37 mph while Yoda was in attendance.
But a prospect with upsides such as Yoda would not have fallen this far in the draft without some controversy. Brewers fans will remember Yoda’s disastrous falling out with the team on May 4th when Yoda force-choked three fans in attendance. There are also questions about his abilities on the field, most of which revolve around his height—Yoda stands at only 1’4, which is undersized for every position except the football itself.
Yoda is the first force-user in the NFL, as well as the game’s first Green player. This is a huge step forward in the NFL’s representation, as noted by many players and coaches around the sports world. Most notably, Houston Astros mascot Orbit and the Phillie Phanatic each tweeted out, “It ain’t easy being green.”
A set of rule changes could also be in the works due to Yoda’s unique playing style. During games, Yoda has been known to stay at the center of the field, where he racked up an impressive 49 interceptions in his singular season at Keldabe Tech. Referees have had to dive deep into the rulebook to see if it still counts as an interception if Yoda never puts his feet on the ground. Questions have also been raised about possessing the football, as Yoda has famously been afraid to physically touch the pigskin.
Overall, Yoda brings a unique skillset to the Packers that they desperately need. If Yoda is able to transition to the offense, he may be just another weapon for quarterback Aaron Rodgers’s arsenal. On the defensive side, it remains to be seen just how effective Yoda can be. His consistency has been called into question, with critics pointing to Yoda’s frequent naps on the field. Proponents will point to Yoda’s dominance during the game when the crowd noise wakes him up, which earned him the nickname of “Baby” for his so-called “crankiness” on the field.
After he was drafted, Yoda voiced his enthusiasm in coming to Lambeau Field. The conditions of the frozen tundra reminded him of Hoth, according to sources. Yoda then fired back at reporters who asked about his tumultuous tenure with the Brewers. After a wave of the hand by Yoda, reporters who had previously been skeptical of his abilities became calm and repeated, “Baby Yoda will bring balance to the Packers.” When asked about his career goals in the NFL, Yoda stated that his one and only goal was to “defeat Bill Belichek and destroy the evil empire.”