The conclusion of the 2018 season was far from what anyone expected for the Green Bay Packers prior to the beginning of the season. With just three wins in the final 10 games, the Packers’ postseason hopes were dashed well before the final few weeks of the season. As a result, Green Bay found itself in one of its highest spots in the draft pecking order of the past decade.
Almost unfortunately, the Packers rather improbably won an additional game in the final stretch of the season that dropped them several slots down in the first round. Green Bay still landed a legitimate prospect with a high ceiling at pick 12 with the choice of Michigan’s Rashan Gary. But would things have played out differently with a top-10 pick?
Some alternative draft options, as well as how the Packers’ draft haul stacked up against that of another divisional rival, are analyzed in today’s musings.
Is Montravius Adams’ roster spot in peril?
It was one thing for Green Bay to bring defensive lineman Fadol Brown back for the 2019 training camp, but it was another for the Packers to draft Kingsley Keke. Although he was a fifth-round selection, Keke will be a versatile player along the Packers’ defensive line next season and is already someone team personnel is drooling over. While many talked about Keke, who will wear a number 96 jersey to theoretically put an end to Muhammad Wilkerson’s short-lived stay in Green Bay, it could also put pressure on Montravius Adams.
A 2017 third-rounder, Adams spent his rookie season on injured reserve before making minimal contributions in his second season. There was some boom-or-bust potential when the Packers initially drafted Adams and the addition of Keke could put him on the bubble. Last year, the Packers kept five defensive linemen at the final cutdown. Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, and Dean Lowry figure to be locks to make the roster unless something unforeseen happens. Tyler Lancaster found a niche on the roster in 2018 as an undrafted free agent. The addition of Keke would give the Packers five solid rotational players for 2019 even before Adams and Brown.
The Packers cut ties in the past with former third-round pick Khyri Thornton in short order when it became apparent he would not be a strong rotational piece for the team. Adams has work to do to make sure he does not become the next far-too-early casualty.
Would a loss to the New York Jets in Week 16 have changed the Packers’ draft plans?
Green Bay came out on the winning end of a back-and-forth, 44-38 overtime duel with the Jets in Week 16. But had they not left MetLife Stadium with a win, the Packers would have owned the eighth overall pick with a 5-10-1 record, one pick ahead of the Detroit Lions.
At that spot, Green Bay would have had the opportunity to pounce on a defensive player such as Ed Oliver or Devin Bush. With a higher pick in the second round as well, the Packers could have been afforded the opportunity to take a tackle like Dalton Risner or quarterback Drew Lock, whom the organization was rumored to be keenly interested in.
General Manager Brian Gutekunst said the Packers were “locked in” on Rashan Gary since February, but it would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall in the Packers’ war room had Ed Oliver been available. While everyone in Titletown is certainly hoping for Gary to become the next great edge rusher to wear number 52, it will be fascinating to watch the career trajectories of both Gary and Oliver for years to come.
The Packers’ draft is one that Detroit Lions fans might wish they had
Looking back at the early draft results, the Packers look to have had perhaps the strongest draft from top to bottom in the NFC North. While time will tell about the success of Green Bay’s eight selections, especially on the first day of the draft, I personally would be jealous as a fan of another divisional squad.
One could argue the Lions’ best two value picks were their first two picks of the third day in Austin Bryant and Amani Oruwariye. Detroit passed on an opportunity to take one of the top defensive players on the board in round one to grab T.J. Hockenson, which is not a bad pick in itself. However, the Lions could have easily swiped another quick-fix, high-potential tight end like Irv Smith with their early second-round pick and still addressed the position without a premium choice. Instead, they reached mightily in the second and third rounds with Jahlani Tavai and Will Harris to fill defensive holes.
Watching the NFL Draft with a Lions fan, it was hard to ignore his agony over the team’s first three selections. After all, the team’s rocky experience with another top-ten tight end, Eric Ebron, still looms in the rear-view mirror despite the differences between him and Hockenson. But with the draft as top-heavy in defensive talent and loaded with tight end depth as it was, Green Bay did better to take Gary early and add Jace Sternberger later in the third round.