PACKERS 2018 Draft Review

May 7, 2018

The Pack went into the Draft with the most picks of any team in the League at 12. Certainly a nice situation to be in for new GB BRIAN GUTEKUNST. The team did in the end live up to its stated course of action when cameras in the Packers draft room showed former GM Ted Thompson perched on a seat at the head table of the team’s proceedings. Whitey had been a missing personality out in public during the scouting process, but clearly he was home in Texas grinding away at the video of players in this draft class. GUTEKUNST wasted no time putting his mark on this Draft effort as he traded out of their Pick at 14, then traded back around a few times before the proceedings were completed on Saturday. In the end the team had taken 11 Picks and held the Saints first rounder for next year, as well as their own. They are currently the only team in the League with 2 First Round Picks in the 2019 Draft.

Most folks, yours truly included, felt CB was an area that required immediate help in this year’s proceedings. BK wasted little time in grabbing two CB with the team’s first 2 picks. The Browns got Denzel Ward, pretty much the consensus top CB in this year’s Draft at Pick 4.
The Pack got JAIRE ALEXANDER by trading back up to Pick 19. Then they took JOSHUA JACKSON/CB from Iowa at Pick 45 in Round 2. For many Draft pundits ALEXANDER and JACKSON were ranked as the second and third best Corners in the Draft. I had both of their picks in my Top 40 players, at #19 and #40. ALEXANDER is an aggressive, feisty press-cover Corner while JACKSON is a ball hawking former WR who recorded 18 PBU and 8 INT last season for the Hawkeyes. Not wanting to jump the gun too much, I will still say that the team added two Rookie starters to their secondary, which now may look like one of the deepest units in the NFL.

At Pick 88 the team took OREN BURKS/LB/Vanderbilt, a two time team captain, who got a late invite to the Senior Bowl and showed very well. Most of you who follow my writing know full well I have great respect for the work of Dan Shonka at Ourlads. Ourlads ranked BURKS as the second most athletic of 22 ILB at the Combine. His size at 6’3/233 is also impressive considering he was fast enough to post a 4.61/40 at the Combine. Expect DC Mike Pettine to match him up at IB with tackling machine BLAKE MARTINEZ before too long this summer/fall.

Beginning in Round 4 the team started amassing a bunch of big WR prospects in an attempt to replace Jordy Nelson and Jeff Janis, and perhaps shake up the pecking order of the returning WR group. In order they took J’MON MOORE (PICK 124), MARQUEZ VALDES-SCANTLING (PICK 174), EQUANIMEOUS ST. BROWN (PICK 207). ST. BROWN, of Notre Dame, is likely the most recognizable name for the average football fan, but all 3 are likely to fight to the bitter end for a roster spot. VALDEZ-SCANTLING might be the least well known, but I think it worth mentioning that the long striding, big guy (6’5/205) matched DJ CHARK as the fastest WR at this year’s Combine after running a 4.39/40.

The team used it’s plethora of Picks to surprise more than a few folks and turn over much of their kicking game members with third day selections. Even their drafted Punter, JK SCOTT of Alabama fit into their bigger is better theme for this Draft standing 6’6. Their standout Rookie Punter from 2017, Justin Vogel, read the handwriting on the wall after SCOTT’s selection. He asked for and was granted his release by the team late last week. SCOTT, who I watched at the Senior Bowl may bring a bonus or two with him that could delight MASON CROSBY. SCOTT can handle kick-offs and might even be a decent back-up PK should Crosby get injured in-game. Now if he holds well for Crosby all will be good in Cheesehead Country. The team also used their surplus of Picks to grab a Long Snapper. They have been quite openly trying to replace expensive vet LS BRETT GOODE for the past two seasons. So instead of URFA tryouts the team drafted the top ranked LS in Round 7, in HUNTER BRADLEY from Miss State. If he makes the team in place of GOODE, it will contribute over 1/2-million $ to the ‘extend AARON’ money fund.

The team also grabbed one OL and one DL to bolster depth and competition on the lines. COLE MADISON is a big body with some athleticism. He played RT for Washington State but will slide inside to compete for JAHRI EVANS OG slot. He certainly has a lot of practice in his pass-pro technique playing for the Mike Leach arial circus. He also might fit nicely playing alongside DAVID BAKHTIARI, since they both have very similar flowing locks. A solid, versatile find in Round 7, Pick 232 is JAMES LOONEY/DL/Cal. He’s a very good athlete who ran a 4.91/40 at his Pro Day. He could make a very solid rotational player and add some quality depth to a seriously thin DL group.

It’s worth mentioning, given the Packers propensity to build their roster through the Draft, that their final Pick at 248 was a raw but athletic OLB/ER from little SE Missouri State named KENDALL DONNERSON. He is a superior athlete, who is likely not ready to compete for a job in the NFL yet. He will need heavy coaching up and will have to find a spot on Special Teams to make their roster this fall. A top task for the coaches may be getting him on the field on Special Teams so they don’t have to try to hide him from other teams during roster cutting.

It looks to me like one of the top Draft groups of 2018 on paper. Only time will tell how good this group really is but the Packers brass certainly has their fingers crossed. The team needs to be all-in on their roster talent while AARON RODGERS is still an elite level NFL QB. It looks like the Packers are on a Super Bowl or bust quest.