NFL Draft: Grading the Packers' 2008-2010 Picks

Kevin C. Cox

Pro Football Focus grades each Packer draft pick over a three-year span. See which grades we agree with and which we think are off-base.

The 2013 NFL Draft is approaching, and even sites like Pro Football Focus need to fill some time. Therefore, they have been breaking down each team's draft picks from the 2008 through 2010 drafts in an attempt to look back and assess each team's selections. The Green Bay Packers' grades are listed here.

As you can see by the link, PFF uses a +2 to -2 grading scale to judge draft picks, with only the very best selections (think Tom Brady) earning the +2.0 grade and only Tony Mandarich-caliber picks getting -2.0s. Not surprisingly, no Packers pick from these three years fell in either of those two categories.

The top Packers' draftees from these years are linebacker Clay Matthews (drafted 26th overall in 2009) and guard Josh Sitton (a 4th-round pick in 2008). Both of them are among the best players at their positions in the NFL, and earned the +1.5 rating. I cannot find any argument with those grades, as they're reflective of perennial Pro Bowl contenders and players who have exceeded even the scouting departments' best expectations.

Coming in with a +1.0 rating is wide receiver Jordy Nelson, drafted 36th overall in 2008. PFF has this to say about the wideout:

In his first two years in the league he didn’t catch more than 33 passes in a season, and then in 2010 he dropped 11 of 77 catchable balls (including four in the Super Bowl). Then in 2011 he turned it on in a big way and followed it up with a solid (if at times injury disrupted) 2012. A real weapon and an excellent find in the second round.

Yup, I am pretty much in agreement here. I'd definitely like to see him stay healthy through this year and continue to be the weapon he was in 2011 and looked capable of being in 2012 though.

Then we have a giant group of guys at the +0.5 rating. You can read the whole list there, but there are several starters including B.J. Raji, Morgan Burnett, Jermichael Finley, T.J. Lang, Bryan Bulaga, and Marshall Newhouse. Obviously there are different expectations for each player, but I don't have a whole lot of complaints here. One person I might be inclined to move up would be Burnett to a +1.0, since he has stabilized the free safety position since Nick Collins' injury. As a third-round pick, he's not an overly flashy player but he tackles well and it seems to me that he does a good job in deep coverage. A really solid 2013 would definitely move him up there - and people tend to forget that he has more turnover plays (interceptions, fumbles forced, and fumbles recovered) in his first three seasons (13) than Collins did in his first three years (8).

Raji and Bulaga were here partially because they were first-round picks and have yet to develop into some of the best at their position. However, with another year or two they might easily bump themselves up into that +1 range. The same goes for Lang, now that he remains entrenched at left guard.

Grades of zero are generally given to players who have not made a significant impact, but whose presences did not set back the organization at all either. In this case, I think all PFF's grades are about accurate; players like Breno Giacomini, Mike Neal, and Jarius Wynn seem to fit the bill. Andrew Quarless is one player who definitely could vault himself up by a half a point this season if he can stay healthy and make a solid impact on offense, and the same goes for Neal on defense.

The -0.5 grades come in for cornerback Patrick Lee (2nd round, '08), defensive end Jeremy Thompson (4th round, '08), and tackle Jamon Merideth (5th round, '09). I agree that Thompson did virtually nothing and was a waste of a pick, but since it was a 4th-rounder it wasn't that big a deal. However, Lee seems to be getting off far too easily for a second-rounder. Sure, he was injured frequently, but even when he was healthy he couldn't get on the field on defense. That deserves a -1.0 grade in my book.

Finally, we get to what is clearly the worst draft pick of this three-year span, quarterback Brian Brohm. That pick got a grade of -1.5 and I see no reason to quarrel with it. It was a completely wasted pick, and the only thing going for it is that it wasn't a first-rounder.

What do you think? Which picks should be graded higher or lower than what they earned from Pro Football Focus? Only four out of the 24 picks got negative grades - does that make you feel like this three-year span was a thorough success?

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