The Green Bay Packers might be the biggest losers of this draft. Not a single one of their draft picks are expected to start next season, following an NFC Championship run and very few notable free-agent signings. They needed to add starting-caliber players to their team in order to become elite and they failed miserably. The Packers did not address their immediate needs in this draft, but rather, drafted replacements for players they plan to let go of within the next few years.
The choices in this draft very clearly indicate the front office’s view of the team going forward: They don’t think they can win with Aaron Rodgers anymore. If they did, they would have drafted at least ONE receiver or ONE starting-caliber defensive player. They did nothing of the sort and Packers fans everywhere are in an uproar against the front office, and I don’t blame them.
I’m going to break up this analysis by round, giving overall grades for each pick, and then explaining my thought process.
Round 1, Pick 26: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
First off, let’s just have a moment of silence to mourn the death of Aaron Rodgers’ Super Bowl aspirations…
Okay, now let’s dive in. The Packers had the 30th pick in the 1st round and traded up to 26 to draft Jordan Love, an extremely raw quarterback prospect with a huge arm and above-average athleticism. However, he makes horrible decisions with the football, has sloppy footwork, and can be painfully inaccurate with his throws both in and out of the pocket. Personally, I don’t think Love has an Aaron Rodgers or baby Patrick Mahomes ceiling, and so this pick was a waste.
So, after a deep playoff run with Aaron Rodgers, who has maybe 2-3 years left of quality play, one intriguing option at the Packers’ disposal was to draft a weapon at wide receiver to help take their offense to elite status. This draft class happened to be stacked with talent at wide receiver and the 30th pick would have been a prime spot to take either Denzel Mims or Tee Higgins, both of whom would complement Devante Adams very well.
Other options include another corner to compete with the horribly inconsistent Kevin King, or maybe a starting linebacker like Patrick Queen, who was still on the board at 26, to fill the void left by Blake Martinez. However, the Packers passed on those players and went with a quarterback.
This pick just tells me that the Packers have already moved on from Aaron Rodgers. They’ve started the rebuild and are leaving Rodgers high and dry with Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Allen Lazard, and Devin Funchess competing for the second and third receiver spots. Now, Aaron Rodgers and the cheeseheads will have to settle for one ring in Rodgers’ 15+-year career.
Round 2, Pick 62: A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College
A.J. Dillon is a great talent, but not at all who the Packers needed at 62. The team has two outstanding backs in Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, who combined to be one of the best running back duos in the league last season. So, why draft a back in the second round?
The only logical explanation for this pick is that both Jones and Williams will be unrestricted free agents at the end of next season. If the Packers don’t plan on paying one of them, then at least this pick makes a bit of sense. However, that still doesn’t address the team’s current needs in the second and third levels of the defense or at wide receiver, further proving that the Packers have given up on winning with Aaron Rodgers.
Dillon is a two-down back who can handle the bulk of the carries, but he lacks breakaway speed and lateral quickness. He is a workhorse power back and can’t be the only starting running back on an NFL roster.
The best option for the Packers at this point is to keep Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon to build that speed and power 1-2 punch. Again, this pick just illustrates how little the Packers care about building a team with championship-caliber talent around Rodgers.
Round 3, Pick 94: Josiah Deguara, TE, Cincinnati
I’m starting to think that Packers GM Brian Gutekunst just let his kids make these picks based on what names they liked the best. Deguara marks the sixth tight end on the Packers’ roster, a position that has contributed little production over the past several years.
Deguara was the eighth-ranked tight end and was projected to go in the sixth round according to NFL.com. Do I need to say anything else? He was drafted much too early and won’t have lasting value for the Packers.
He is a decent blocker but struggles with hand placement and penalties. He does nothing special in the passing game either. He runs lazy routes, has a poor catch radius, and isn’t great after the catch. He doesn’t excel at anything he does in the run or pass game and is simply an average player who was drafted absurdly early.
Round 5, Pick 175: Kamal Martin, LB, Minnesota
This guy wasn’t even supposed to get drafted. On NFL.com, his draft projection was “priority free agent.” I don’t even have an explanation for this pick. The Packers finally address a position they really need and this is the pick they make. What games are they playing? What do they see that everyone else doesn’t?
If they wanted him so badly, they could probably have gotten him with one of their three 6th-round picks or two 7th-rounders. I am truly baffled by the decision to take Martin at this point, or even at all.
He has trouble shaking blocks, his movement in coverage is minimal, he has poor play recognition, and he doesn’t read the gaps well in the run game. The Packers have managed to screw up yet another pick in Kamal Martin.
Round 6, Pick 192: Jon Runyan, G, Michigan; Pick 208: Jake Hanson, C, Oregon; Pick 209: Simon Stepaniak, G, Indiana
Clearly, the Packers wanted to add some interior offensive line depth with these picks, which isn’t an awful idea, but these players are not ideal and the Packers are still neglecting the need for a wide receiver.
According to NFL.com, Runyan was ranked the 35th ranked offensive lineman, Stepaniak was 45th, and Hanson was 55th. None of these are great value picks in the sixth round. In fact, Runyan is the sole selection in this round who was projected to be drafted at all. Hanson and Stepaniak seem like stretches at this point and I’m just stuck wondering what is going through the minds of the Packers’ front office when they were making these picks.
Also, KJ Hill is still on the board for all three of these picks! A wideout with mid-round talent was still on the board and they picked three interior linemen who may not even make the roster. If you are going to take three interior offensive linemen in one round, two of whom were supposed to go undrafted, why can’t you draft a wide receiver? It’s almost as though the Packers went out of their way to not draft a weapon for Aaron Rodgers and I just feel bad for the man at this point.
Round 7, Pick 236: Vernon Scott, S, TCU; Pick 242: Jonathan Garvin, DE, Miami
Hey, they got up into the B-range; that’s a major improvement… in Round 7. In the last round, most of these guys are just going to compete for a roster spot. Scott will most likely make the team as a special teams player and Garvin has a lot of talent and great size but lacks creativity in his pass rush.
Garvin is a good value pick at this spot and could compete for a backup role and Scott could see the field on special teams at some point. Sadly, this round had the best value picks for the Packers in the entire draft.
Total Draft Grade: D+
The Packers failed to address their immediate needs on both ends of the ball and resorted to drafting replacements for their soon-to-be free agent or retiring players. The ignorance that the front office showed in this draft is astonishing and I just can’t comprehend how a team could neglect such huge needs and start a rebuild after a trip to the NFC Championship just three months ago. This draft was an epic catastrophe for the Packers and they will regret not putting more emphasis on winning now with one of the greatest quarterbacks on the planet still producing at a high level.