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Cheese Curds, 4/30: Packers valued athleticism immensely during the 2018 draft

The Packers have always preferred draft picks to be top-level athletes, but Brian Gutekunst’s first draft class underscored that preference even more.

Vanderbilt v Mississippi Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

One of the biggest takeaways that a Green Bay Packers fan can glean from their team’s draft class over the weekend is that athleticism is crucial in the eyes of the Packers’ scouts. In fact, it may be more important now than ever before.

The Packers started off the draft with three players who tested above the 91st percentile at their respective positions by two different measures of overall athletic performance (SPARQ and RAS), and followed that up with another player in the 93rd percentile and one more above the 75th. In all, only one pick came in below the 50th percentile (guard Cole Madison), as the team landed elite athlete after elite athlete all weekend.

Now of course there is more to playing football than just being a great athlete. Linebacker Oren Burks, for example, will likely need time to absorb the Packers defensive scheme as he continues his transition from safety to linebacker. The trio of big, fast wide receivers will need to demonstrate route-running skills, separation ability, and consistent hands if they expect Aaron Rodgers to throw them the football.

But those things, by and large, can be taught, while raw athletic ability — in most cases — cannot. The Packers added athleticism to their roster this weekend, that much is certain. Now it’s time for those players to start putting that athleticism to good use.

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Every draft that Ted Thompson ever made was done with an eye on the future, so why shouldn’t his protege follow the same script? Besides, there are plenty of reasons to think that Green Bay can get some contributions from this year’s rookie class in rotational roles, even if there aren’t many (or any) immediate starters.

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This is an interesting approach, trying to imagine how the Packers' decision makers would justify the team's draft class.

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