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2015 NFL Draft: Ranking the Packers' draft picks by first-year impact

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APC ranks the Packers' eight draft picks in order of their likelihood to make an impact in 2015.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It takes years to gain the perspective necessary to fully judge a draft class in the NFL. Teams select players based on long-term outlook, and often their potential isn't immediately apparent as a rookie.

Still, for a team like the Green Bay Packers, getting first-year contributions is important. They don't reach the NFC Championship game if not for the play of Corey Linsley or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, both of which stepped into starting roles and held them down throughout the season.

2015 will be no different. Some members of their rookie class must step up and make an instant impact. Here's a subjective ranking of all eight Packers draft picks in terms of likeliness to play meaningful roles this season.

1. Damarious Randall - Cornerback - Arizona State

The most impactful draft pick from last year's class is a toss up between Clinton-Dix and Linsley, picked in the first round and fifth round respectively. From the outset of the 2015 class, it appears another Day 1 pick could have a battle for that honor with a selection from Day 3.

The edge, for now, goes to Damarious Randall. He possesses the ball skills and instincts to make plays deep down the field as well as in the backfield, a rare combination for a defensive back his size. The Packers will give him every chance to earn significant playing time, though it's unclear how much of that will come in the slot as opposed to the boundary.

Randall's cover skills need some work. For a player so athletic, he does allow receivers to slip behind him a little too often. However, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt has molding starting-caliber players out of far less talented pupils before.

2. Jake Ryan - Inside Linebacker - Michigan

If Jake Ryan earns the inside linebacker role next to Sam Barrington, it could push him to the top of this list. Not only would the former Michigan Wolverine have a starting role in the base defense, but his presence would allow the Packers to keep Clay Matthews on the outside more often.

At the same time, it's far from guaranteed that Ryan wins the job. Green Bay is expected to take a look at several other players at inside linebacker including Nate Palmer, Carl Bradford and Joe Thomas. It would not terribly shocking if Ryan was relegated to special teams duties as a rookie before emerging as a more regular contributor on defense in 2016.

Still, the opportunity is there for Ryan. If he can grab hold of the job during training camp and the preseason, he could be this year's Linsley.

3. Quinten Rollins - Cornerback - Miami (OH)

There's an argument to be made that Quinten Rollins is better prepared for the NFL than his first-round counterpart Randall. Rollins played (and excelled) at cornerback last season whereas Randall hasn't played the position since junior college.

At the same time, Rollins has only played one year of football since high school. Randall may be learning a new position, but he did line up over the slot at times for the Sun Devils. Meanwhile, Rollins moves from the MAC to the NFL, a larger jump than the one Randall is taking from Arizona State.

All things considered, it looks like Randall has a better chance at contributing this year. But it's a debate that could go either way.

4. Ty Montgomery - Wide Receiver - Stanford

To be clear, Ty Montgomery doesn't appear likely to contribute all that much on offense in 2015. Rather, he has a chance to hold down both returner roles and allow Randall Cobb and Micah Hyde to concentrate on offense and defense respectively.

More than just that, Montgomery may be the best return man in his draft class. He averaged 27.4 yards on kickoffs and 18.3 on punts. So long as he can hold onto the ball, the coaches may favor him for both jobs.

5. Aaron Ripkowski - Fullback - Oklahoma

At least for one more year, John Kuhn is likely to handle fullback duties in Green Bay. The selection of Aaron Ripkowski doesn't change that, though it suggests that Mike McCarthy and his staff are grooming his replacement.

Ripkowski might already be a better lead blocker in the ground game, something that will serve Eddie Lacy well when the Packers use multi-back sets. However, it'll be some time before he matches Kuhn's aptitude for pass protection or his overall knowledge of the offense.

6. Kennard Backman - Tight End - Alabama-Birmingham

In Green Bay, late-round tight ends have found regular playing time as rookies. However, those snaps have come mostly on special teams. Such was the fate of Ryan Taylor, a member of the 2011 draft class. At least for now, that appears to be the fate of Kennard Backman.

Backman possesses the talent to do more long term. He spent most of his time at UAB as an in-line tight end who can block as well as make plays with the football. Still, with Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers and Justin Perillo ahead of him, Backman isn't likely to have a significant role on offense in 2015.

7. Christian Ringo - Defensive End - Louisiana-Lafayette

After selecting Christian Ringo in the sixth round, the Packers' coaching staff discussed Ringo as a Mike Daniels clone. Daniels, of course, has been the team's best defensive lineman each of the past two seasons, and is one of the rising stars of the league.

However, if Ringo is going to follow in Daniels' footsteps, that probably means waiting a year before carving out a consistent snaps. That's just fine, as Green Bay's defensive line rotation has plenty of options without him.

8. Brett Hundley - Quarterback - UCLA

Few fifth-round picks garner as much immediate attention as the Packers' selection of Brett Hundley. The UCLA quarterback was viewed as a potential first rounder a year earlier, and by landing in Green Bay his chances of becoming a first-year starter are next to nil. It'll require multiple injuries to put Hundley in that position this season.

And that's fine. Hundley won't turn 22 until June and can spend the next few seasons learning the NFL game without heavy scrutiny. If all goes well, he'll have a chance to become the primary backup in Green Bay and perhaps a starter elsewhere in the future.

Jason B. Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He also serves as an SB Nation newsdesk contributor and NFL writer for Sports on Earth.