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Packers draft reaction: Oren Burks’ arrival could mean fewer linebacker snaps for Josh Jones

The Packers landed über-athletic linebacker Oren Burks, suggesting that 2017 second-rounder Josh Jones could see more time as a traditional safety moving forward.

Vanderbilt v Mississippi Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers didn’t want to wait until Saturday to land their next prospect. The team traded back into the third round to select Oren Burks, a linebacker from Vanderbilt.

Under Ted Thompson, the Packers didn’t invest premium draft capital in off-ball linebackers. Burks’ selection represents a shift under new general manager Brian Gutekunst, who sent the top pick in the fourth round and a fifth-round pick (No. 147 overall) to the Carolina Panthers for the 88th pick.

Burks graded as one of the most athletic players at his position (95th percentile by SPARQ, behind only Matthew Thomas and Leighton Vander Esch in the draft class). Those physical gifts along with his play suggest a rangy linebacker capable of sticking with slot receivers and tight ends in pass coverage. Those types of pass catchers have given Green Bay considerable trouble in recent years, and Burks will receive plenty of chances to earn a role defending them.

And drafting Burks could mean a change for 2017 second-round pick Josh Jones. Jones spent most of his rookie campaign lining up as an off-ball linebacker in nickel and sub packages. He’ll likely continue to see some action at linebacker, but Burks’ arrival and the departure of veteran safety Morgan Burnett suggest Jones will play in a more traditional safety role than last year.

Regardless of the Packers’ plans for Jones, they clearly desired a full defensive makeover after a disappointing 7-9 season. The team fired longtime coordinator Dom Capers and replaced him with Mike Pettine, added Muhammad Wilkerson to bolster the D-line, and have now spent three consecutive draft picks on defense. The offense still has holes to fill, but Green Bay doesn’t want to remain one-dimensional any longer.


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