When I'm talking about NFL draft grades for the Green Bay Packers right after the draft, I'm not necessarily talking about the player and his NFL career. No one knows how their NFL careers will turn out. What I'm looking at is the first the need and then value of the pick.
1st round: Iowa LT Bryan Bulaga. I wrote more about him earlier here and here. Offensive line has been talked about as a major need after the sack attack suffered by QB Aaron Rodgers early last season. LT Chad Clifton and RT Mark Tauscher return in 2010, but the future looks cloudy. He is a true tackle and the Packers had no true tackles on the team after Clifton and Tauscher. Also, it had been expected since the NFL combine in February that Bulaga would be drafted in the top 5 or at least the top 10. So to have a top 5 talent fall down to pick No. 23 overall is a great value. Grade: A.
2nd round: Purdue DE Mike Neal. Who? More on this surprising pick here. Everyone was expecting/hoping the Packers would draft an outside LB to replace the outside pass rush provided by DE Aaron Kampman. Instead they went for a strong DL who can bring an inside pass rush. They're counting on Neal to occupy the linemen inside and that will help their returning LBs (LB Brandon Chillar? LB Brad Jones?) on the outside. I'm not sure if I like this strategy, but that's what they're going with. Unfortunately Neal might not have been a good value here. No other team drafted a pass rushing defensive lineman for another 17 picks until the Bills drafted DE Alex Carrington. Grade: C.
3rd round: Georgia Tech S Morgan Burnett. More on him is available in my earlier post. While starting FS Nick Collins and SS Atari Bigby have played good to great over the past three seasons, there is no depth behind them. Bigby has missed extended time over the past two seasons, and his replacement has usually been a major SS Aaron Rouse-type disappointment. As valuable as it would have been to add a top cornerback, adding a safety for depth was just as important, if not more so. Unfortunately this was no value pick because the Packers had to surrender their 4th round pick to the Eagles to trade up to pick No. 71. However, they wanted Burnett and two teams who also needed help at safety were right behind (the Bears at No. 75 and the Giants at No. 76). Burnett would like have been taken before the Packers could have drafted him 15 spots later. Grade: B.
Round 5 through Round 7: My draft grades for these players are available here.
Overall: This isn't my favorite draft of the past few seasons. They focused heavily on offensive tackle and defensive end, drafted an unnecessary tight end, and failed to add depth in several areas, most notably outside linebacker and cornerback. But I do like all the players they selected. A good looking group of players, and having a top 5 talent fall to them at No. 23, helps make this year look good. Overall Grade: B.