It's time for the weekend, Packers fans, and Ted Thompson has started it off nicely! We're four picks into our draft loot for 2014, and we have the top safety, a playmaking (and highly productive) receiver who compares favorably to Michael Crabtree, a situational lineman, and a tight end who may have been overdrafted. All in all, though, it seems to be shaping out as well as a TT draft seems on the face of it; we've got two instant contributors, and two guys who should push for playing time early. Let's break it down pick by pick.
Ha'sean "HaHa" Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
This pick made me punch the air a little bit with triumph. I was a bit crestfallen when C.J. Mosley got snatched up by the Ravens, but getting Clinton-Dix made up for that. While he wasn't the first safety off the board, he's a better fit in Green Bay than Calvin Pryor would've been; he plays centerfield just as well as anyone in this draft. What makes Ted Thompson look even smarter is that the Clinton-Dix pick triggered a rush on safeties (Deone Bucannon to Arizona at 27 and Jimmie Ward to San Francisco at 30), resulting in some botched value. It's clear that TT couldn't have traded back and gotten a Day One-quality player, and it just happens that the best player available matched a major need. Something tells me Burnett gets a lot better with a competent player beside him. The secondary just got a whole lot better.
Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Getting Adams at this point is very good value for the Packers. Adams can instantly replace the production of James Jones and then some, and he's being compared to 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree, in that he does not have outstanding size or speed but rather a great vertical and excellent ball skills. Adams is the kind of jump-ball prospect who should scare the living daylights out of the rest of the league. Oh, and he may not be a burner, but he can make plays deep. Even though it meant passing up Allen Robinson, this is really a great pick.
Khyri Thornton, DE/DT, Southern Mississippi
Ted Thompson does have the tendency to use his mid-rounders on slightly obscure players, and he certainly did so with Thornton. In hindsight, he probably would have been better served trading up a few spots for Louis Nix, but hey, who knew that Houston would take him? Thornton has a great first step, and he manhandled his inferior competition. According to Jason Hirschhorn, he also made his presence known at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where the opposition had to constantly dedicate double-teams to him. His size makes him an intriguing fit as an interior pass-rusher. He could be a guy who spells Raji or adds an extra punch on passing downs, but he's also a guy we might have been able to pick later.
Richard Rodgers, TE, California
Rodgers, meet Rodgers. Rodgers, meet Rodgers. Rodgers, the other Rodgers went to California. Rodgers, the other Rodgers went to California. You get the point. The Packers needed a new tight end, and they might have flown off the board more quickly than anticipated; ASJ went in the early second, Niklas a pick before Davante Adams, and C.J. Fierdorwicz was the first pick of the third round. Richard Rodgers is more of a fourth- or fifth-round kind of guy; he has pass-catching ability, but he isn't going to draw double teams. He'll probably be able to exploit attention lapses while teams find a way to stop Nelson, Cobb, Boykin, Adams and Lacy from racking up yards and points, but I'm not sure he normally goes in even the early stages of Day Three. I won't dock this grade too much, however, because Crockett Gilmore went the pick after. This essentially means that no tight ends are left over for Day Three other than guys like AC Leonard and Colt Lyerla.
The Packers have had themselves a heck of a draft, and they're about to get into the territory that Ted Thompson's most comfortable in: Day Three. Expect the team to start taking fliers on guys with present flaws but major potential. Some guys to look out for include:
Christian Jones (My personal favorite)
This draft looks like one of TT's better efforts, and I expect it to stay that way.