As is the custom around the NFL and the blogosphere, we have decided to weigh in with our opinions on the success of the Packers' draft. We each likely have different ways of judging that success or failure, but in every case the Acme Packing Company writers have
Ultimately, my grade comes down to how well a team fills needed positions with players of appropriate value. With Datone Jones and Eddie Lacy in the first two rounds, I had the draft off to an "A" start. The fourth round puzzled me a bit, as I did not expect to see offensive linemen go back-to-back with other players at need positions like Quinton Patton and Jesse Williams still available. Ultimately, there's a player who can play tackle and another who can play center in that mix. However, the trade up to nab Johnathan Franklin was a terrific move in my opinion, as was the choice of Charles Johnson late.
The reason I can't give a grade in the A range is because I think J.C. Tretter would have been available two rounds later, Nate Palmer could probably have been signed after the draft, and I was a little disappointed to see no safeties added, even late. That said, the early picks will always set the tone for a draft weekend, and in my opinion, Ted Thompson knocked it out of the park with both of them when looking at both need and value.
Grading drafts based on what anyone thinks the players drafted will become doesn't make any sense. None of us have any idea whether Datone Jones or Charles Johnson will become the best player the Packers picked up. We can, however, give out grades based on where a team picked players relative to how other teams valued them, whether they made reaches when trading down or waiting to get a guy made more sense, and whether or not they filled needs. In those respects, Ted Thompson did an excellent job. The only reason I've given an A- instead of an A is because I feel that doubling up on running backs and offensive linemen when there were a number of talented defensive players falling into the 4th round was unnecessary. Hopefully, the players already on the roster at linebacker and secondary spots step up, while Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin are both impact players, proving me entirely wrong.
In this draft, Ted Thompson did a great job of balancing immediate need, providing depth and finding potential starters in the future. To start the draft, Thompson selected Datone Jones who should be an immediate part of the defensive line rotation, providing a run defense/pass rush balance and play making ability that no other end on the Packers' roster possesses. Next, the Packers selected a feature back who should immediately start and upgrade the run game. Ted followed this up by selecting two versatile linemen who can back up nearly every line position and compete for multiple starting spots in the future and added an insurance policy for Eddie Lacy in Jonathan Franklin.
Thompson spent the remainder of the draft selecting solid project players who have the potential to become at the very least solid contributors and possibly even starters as Green Bay begins to lose talent in a tight cap environment. This was exactly the type of draft Green Bay needed shore up immediate weaknesses and set up for the future. I would have give the draft an A, but I thought there were a few missed opportunities such as adding Jesse Williams or Quinton Patton in the fourth round that Thompson missed out on.
I’ve only once given an A to a draft class immediately following its selection. That was 2009, when B.J. Raji, my top rated defender, fell to pick 9 due to false reports of a positive drug test and Packers scooped up Clay Matthews, my second rated pass rusher, at pick 26. I also thought highly of the two tackles the team selected, T.J. Lang and Jamon Meredith. Four years later, that grade still looks good albeit for different reasons. Raji has been a very good player, but not the elite defender I envisioned on draft day. However, Clay Matthews has become a top echelon defender and easily the team’s best player on that side of the ball. Lang has become a solid starter, which is a fine return for a fourth round pick, but Meredith didn’t last a full season on the team. I bring this up because it’s extremely difficult to judge drafts so soon after their completion. At best, you can grade the process and where we perceive the team found value.
This year is no different. Datone Jones looks to be a fine fit and a nice player, but late in the first round is probably where he should have gone, so it’s hard to justify giving the team "bonus points" here. Eddie Lacy was projected to go much higher than pick 61, though. Given the team’s need at the position and where Lacy was selected, this is probably this class’s best pick. Bakhtiari is a nice player who most thought would go a round earlier, as was the case with Johnathan Franklin. It’s a nice haul, but there’s it’s not the type of class you can see multiple pro bowlers coming from. If 2009 is the standard for Ted Thompson, I can’t justify higher than a B, which isn’t a bad score at all.
The Packers hit on Datone Jones with its first pick. Jones should be able to contribute from day one and challenge for a starting spot in training camp. The drafting of Eddie Lacy was a good move, with great value in the second round. Adding Johnathan Franklin solidified the backfield position and turned it into a strength for the Packers. The Packers were also able to get some offensive line an linebacker depth in the later rounds with a few solid draft choices. The prospect I'm most intrigued with is the Johnson, the WR from GVSU who the Packers got in the 7th round. He is tall (6'3") which is something other than Jordy Nelson, the Packers haven't had in a while. Overall, it was another successful draft by Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers.
Check out all of Acme Packing Company's draft coverage: 2013 NFL Draft Central | Green Bay Selects Datone Jones in First Round | Green Bay Drafts Eddie Lacy in Second Round | Complete List of Packers' Draft Picks| Packers Undrafted Free Agent Tracker