With the season over, the only thing for Green Bay Packers fans to look forward to is the offseason. Last offseason, there was an outrage over our draft. where we picked up a franchise quarterback in the first round, while our franchise quarterback went on to have an MVP season.
The Packers have had their share of draft busts and mistakes, and here are some of the mistakes since the 2016 NFL Draft (I will take into account the needs of the team that year)
2016 Pick 48 - Jason Spriggs, T
Alternatives - Deion Jones, LB (Pick 52), James Bradberry, CB (Pick 62), Yannick Ngakoue, DE (Pick 69), Austin Hooper, TE (Pick 81),
Honorable Mentions - Tyler Boyd, WR (Pick 55). Justin Simmons, S (Pick 98)
Jason Spriggs just could not transition into the pros, and considering that the Packers gave up three picks to move and select him, this was an awful pick. Jones would have added a defensive game changer, giving the Packers the coverage linebacker they always needed. Pairing him with up with Blake Martinez who we picked in the same draft would have given us an upper tier inside linebacker combo. Bradberry has always been a solid cornerback., and having him might have saved us from the LaDarius Gunter experience. He's since broken out on the Giants in 2020.
Ngakoue has logged at least 8 sacks in every season as a pro, and while he's not much of a run defender, he'd add another pass rusher to the 2016 team whose secondary was questionable at best. Hooper took a couple of seasons to develop, but he's regarded as a very good receiving tight end. We had Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers in 2016, and Hooper would have gotten opportunities after that
Special Mention - Trevor Davis, WR over Tyreek Hill, WR
I'd put this down to the Packers obsession with height. Davis and Hill were placed as the returners on kickoffs and punts in their rookie season. While Davis ranged from average to okay, Hill picked up 3 touchdowns from returns in 2016 and has since developed into a top 5 wideout in the league.
2017 Pick 32 - Traded out of Pick 29 for Pick 32 (Kevin King) and Pick 108 (Vince Biegel)
Honorable Mentions: Chidobe Awuzie, CB (Pick 60)
The Packers traded away the chance to draft a future DPOY in T.J Watt for a playoff villain and a linebacker who lasted all of 1 season with Green Bay. The less said about this trade the better. Awuzie deserves some mention as well, since the Packers were looking for cornerbacks. Prior to this season where Mike Nolan designed the worst defense in the league, Awuzie has always graded solidly in coverage (70.5 in 2019) and has gotten his hands on 25 passes from 2018 to 2019.
2017 Pick 61 - Josh Jones, S
Alternatives - Juju Smith-Schuster, WR (Pick 62), Taylor Moton, OL (Pick 64) Alvin Kamara, RB (Pick 67), Cooper Kupp, WR (Pick 69)
Honorable Mentions: Chris Godwin, WR (Pick 84), John Johnson III, S (Pick 91), Eddie Jackson (Pick 112), George Kittle (Pick 146)
Jones is another player who measured very well in the athleticism department, but ended up not measuring up in terms of football ability. This was a weird draft for the Packers, who hit on Jones and Williams in the same draft but the rest of the class was downright atrocious. If the Packers were looking for a safety, then John Johnson III would have been the pick as he's been excellent both against the run and the pass. The Rams defense didn't look the same once he went down in 2019. The receiver talent missed goes without saying, since we lost Jordy Nelson after the season ended.
2018 Pick 45 - Josh Jackson, CB
Alternatives: Dallas Goedert, TE (Pick 49), Donte Jackson (Pick 55), Carlton Davis (Pick 63), Mark Andrews (Pick 86)
Honorable Mentions: Jessie Bates III (Pick 54), Fred Warner, LB (Pick 70), Michael Gallup, WR (Pick 81)
The Packers went cornerback in back to back picks in 2018, thank God for Jaire Alexander because Jackson has been a disappointment. He's allowed a passer rating of over 106 in his 3 seasons, and in 2018 and 2020 where he played meaningful snaps, he's missed about 18% of his tackles. Goedert and Andrews have shown themselves to be dual threat tight ends, especially Andrews, who has caught 17 of Lamar Jackson's 62 touchdown passes from 2019-2020. The Jimmy Graham experience did not work as we have seen. Jackson and Davis aren't spectacular corners but they've shown that they're viable starters in the league.
2019 Pick 12 - Rashan Gary, LB
Alternatives: Brian Burns (Pick 16), Jeffery Simmons, DT (Pick 19), Montez Sweat, DE (Pick 26)
Honorable Mentions: Noah Fant, TE (Pick 20), Deebo Samuel, WR (Pick 36), A.J Brown, WR (Pick 51)
Gary is by no means a bad pick, but Burns and Sweat have shown out more in their 2 years in the league. Both have generated 60 quarterback pressures each in their 2 seasons, and each have 16 sacks. (Burns has 16.5) Sweat would have been a great choice, as he's been excellent at stopping the run game (87.0 grade in 2020) in addition to giving Kenny Clark a running mate who can generate pressure from the interior spot. Simmons has improved across the board in year 2, where he's been able to garner more pressure on the quarterback while stopping the run at a high level as well.
The 2020 Draft will not be mentioned because there hasn't been much to grade off of. AJ Dillon has been okay except for the Tennessee game where he really impressed. Kamal Martin has been solid in terms of being an all around inside linebacker but he's only played 190 snaps. Jon Runyan was inserted into some tough spots and came out of his 159 snaps without a penalty or sack allowed. Krys Barnes has arguably the most impact of all the Packers rookies this year, and his progression in year 2 is one to keep track of.
Here's to a better 2021 NFL draft