In 2013, the Green Bay Packers had the 26th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Ted Thompson drafted eleven players in that year’s draft, with a high number of lottery tickets on day three. In fact, Ted drafted just twice on the first two days of the draft, with nine of his picks coming between the 4th and 7th rounds.
Now that the 2013 class has wrapped up its fourth year in the NFL and free agency decisions have largely been made, it is a good time to look back at that class to see how they project moving forward and what the group’s long-term impact will be in Green Bay.
This idea came to us thanks to friend of APC and former Field Gulls manager Danny Kelly, who now writes for The Ringer. Danny noticed this week that there is an astoundingly low number of high picks in that draft that remain with their original teams as of this week:
Interesting stat I found researching this class: just 32 of the top-100 picks from 2013 are still with the team that drafted them. https://t.co/e1nnxCAccD— Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly) June 7, 2017
Let’s take a look at the Packers’ picks to see how they fared in Green Bay and where they are now.
Still with the Packers
Of all eleven players in the draft class, only one got a second contract in Green Bay (though that was not for the team’s lack of trying this offseason). Left tackle David Bakhtiari has been a four-year starter, stepping in as a rookie when Bryan Bulaga went down with a torn ACL on Family Night in 2013. Bakhtiari signed his contract extension just before week 1 of 2016, and he is now paid like the top-ten left tackle that his play justifies. His contract has just over a $6 million cap hit in 2017, though it swells to $11.2 million next season.
Departed in 2017 Free Agency
The team’s first pick in 2013, Jones was chosen 26th overall and was thought to be the long-term answer for the Packers at the 5-technique defensive end position that has long been in flux on the team’s 3-4 line. Jones never lived up to the billing of a first-round pick, and eventually moved to the hybrid “elephant” position, playing both outside linebacker and as an interior pass-rusher. At this point, he projects better in a 4-3 defense as an end, and he signed a one-year contract with the Vikings this offseason for about $3.7 million.
Lacy’s weight issues have been well-documented...probably far too well-documented, in fact. Ultimately, Lacy was fantastic for two years in Green Bay, then dropped off with fairly poor play in 2015 before landing on injured reserve last season. The Packers made an effort to bring him back, but he instead signed a one-year contract with the Seahawks for $3.5 million plus incentives.
Once the heir apparent at center, Tretter’s injuries kept him from becoming a full-time starter and instead left him as a versatile 6th man at nearly every position across the offensive line. He started just eleven games in four years (ten at center in the regular season and one at left tackle in the 2015 playoffs). With no sure starting job available in Green Bay, the Browns gave him a three-year, $16.75 million contract to be their next starting center.
The versatile defensive back never had a single consistent role throughout his tenure in Green Bay. He started as a slot corner, started for half a season at free safety while Ha Ha Clinton-Dix developed as a rookie, then filled in at strong safety for an injured Morgan Burnett before returning to a slot/backup safety role in 2016. Instead of returning to Green Bay in a jack-of-all-trades role, Hyde got a huge payday from the Bills that averages $6.1 million over five years — far more money than the Packers would have been willing to pay for a DB who is neither a starting safety nor can play boundary corner. Still, Hyde’s intelligence and toughness were valuable commodities that the team needs to replace this year.
Released In 2016
Barrington was one of the final cuts that the Packers made last season as they chose to stick with three inside linebackers in 2016: Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez, and Joe Thomas (plus some Clay Matthews as well). This came after an injury-marred career, as Barrington only spent about half a season as a primary starter on the inside. He was counted on in 2015 as one of the team’s inside linebackers, but his injury was one of the falling dominoes that forced Clay inside midway through that campaign. Barrington spent brief stints with the Chiefs and Saints last year, and he is currently a free agent.
A prototypical 3-4 defensive lineman, Boyd ate up blockers but struggled to do much else. Unfortunately for him, he suffered a serious injury in 2015 after just two games and the Packers waived him last May. He sat out the 2016 season, but is currently on the Colts’ 90-man roster.
Palmer started out as an outside linebacker, but after sitting out all of 2014 with an injury, he moved to the inside for the 2015 season. It’s easy to forget that he ended up starting 10 games there that season, beside Barrington and Matthews, but the Packers gave him his walking papers in early April 2016. Palmer signed with the Titans last year, playing mostly special teams in 14 games. As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, he re-signed with Tennessee for a two year contract worth $2.3 million.
Receivers Leaving Early
Being a seventh-round pick as a wide receiver is a tough task, especially when you’re drafted by a team like the Packers that typically has a deep and talented receiving corps. these two players were part of that class and both were off the Packers’ roster by 2014.
Johnson was a tantalizing physical specimen from Grand Valley State, and the Packers snuck him onto the practice squad for a month during his rookie season before the Browns signed him to the active roster. However, during his initial physical exam, he was discovered to have had a torn ACL, and was placed on the non-football injury list for the remainder of his rookie year. In 2014, he again made the practice squad, this time in Cleveland, but was again signed to an active roster after a few weeks — this time by the Minnesota Vikings. This offseason, after not receiving a qualifying offer from the Vikings as a restricted free agent, he got a one-year, $1.7 million contract with the Carolina Panthers.
Dorsey spent his whole rookie year on injured reserve, then started on the practice squad with Johnson in 2014. He earned a promotion to the Packers’ active roster in October of that season, staying on the 53 through the end of the year but only suiting up for three games. He was waived in February of the following season, and had only a cup of coffee with the Patriots that spring before being released.
The Tragic Ending
Franklin was supposed to be the receiving back to complement Lacy. He was supposed to provide shiftiness, speed, and pass-blocking ability. And he did show those things as a rookie, particularly during a week three game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He picked up 103 rushing yards and a score on just 13 carries in relief of an injured James Starks (who was spelling an injured Eddie Lacy). With Lacy and Starks back the next week, Franklin returned to spot duty on offense and a special teams role. However, against the Vikings in November, Franklin suffered a neck injury that ended his career far too soon.
Now, after stints working for the Packers and for the University of Notre Dame, he is employed by the Los Angeles Rams in their Community and External Relations department.
Ultimately, the Packers came away with one star, several solid players, and a few decent role players in this draft. In fact, seven players — more than half of the 11-man class — remain on NFL rosters to this day, while Franklin’s absence is due to a single catastrophic injury. All in all, that’s not a bad class, but it is reflective of the trend that Danny Kelly pointed out; numerous players in this draft class have moved on to new teams, even players who are still useful in the NFL as a whole.
The Packers will certainly hope for a better outcome next year when they look to re-sign players from their 2014 class. While Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a sure bet to return, having already received his fifth-year option as a first-round pick, other names like Davante Adams and Corey Linsley are viewed to be among the priorities for contract extensions this summer or during the season.
For draft-and-develop teams to continue functioning with that philosophy, they mustbe able to retain the players that they do develop, and that was not the case with the vast majority of the Packers’ 2013 draft class.