It is the day after the 2017 NFL Draft and the internet is going to be overrun with report cards. The truth is it's going to be near impossible to assign letter grades to draft classes that have yet to play a single down in the NFL. Get back to us in 2019-2020 and then those grades can be applied.
What we can do right now is look at each team and answer a simple question: "Did they fill the holes on their roster?"
In the case of the Green Bay Packers, the answer to that question is a resounding "yes."
Going into the draft, the biggest holes on Green Bay's roster were as follows: cornerback, edge rusher (which one was the bigger need is debatable, but they were both needs nonetheless), running back, offensive line (specifically at guard), and maybe wide receiver in the later rounds.
General manager Ted Thompson was able to check every single one of those off his shopping list.
Given the way the board fell in the first round, Thompson made the wise choice to move back four spots to first selection of round two also add the first pick of the fourth round.
By making that trade, Thompson was able to fill two holes with solid prospects. First, Washington cornerback Kevin King was the pick at #33 and he could very easily challenge for a starting spot in training camp. King is well suited for man coverage but is also versatile enough to play the slot. At 6-foot-3, he's much taller than both Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins (both are 5-foot-11) and he's also fast. King ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine.
After getting burned by Julio Jones in the NFC Championship last season, this speed will be a welcome addition to the Packers secondary.
With their other second round pick, the Packers chose safety Josh Jones out of North Carolina State. While safety was not an immediate need for Green Bay, they did lose Micah Hyde to the Buffalo Bills in free agency so this choice does fill a hole. Hyde was a jack of all trades for the Packers and Jones possesses the skills to be the same guy. Jones lined up all over the field and has the size to play in run support but also has the speed to play in coverage. Much like with the King pick, the Packers added more speed to their secondary as Jones ran a 4.40 40-yard dash, which is now the fastest on the Green Bay defense.
It's also worth noting Morgan Burnett is a free agent after the 2017 season, so the Packers could be bracing themselves for that loss with this pick. Burnett also was speculated to be playing linebacker in some nickel sets this season, which Jones could also play since he is roughly the same size as Burnett (6-foot-1) but weighs 12 pounds more (Jones is 221, Burnett 209). Depending on what happens with Burnett, the Packers may have filled both a 2017 and 2018 hole with Jones.
If there was even one head scratcher among the Packers' 10 draft selections, it would be their third round pick, and even this one still made some sense upon examination. Green Bay selected Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams at #93 overall, which was by no means a need but when you look at Adams' skill set coupled with the Packers' desire to develop a pass rush then this pick starts to make sense.
He's not the edge rusher many fans wanted at this point, but Adams is big and powerful and can help generate an interior pass rush. However, he more than likely will be a 5-technique defensive end. He also ran a 4.87 40-yard dash which is impressive for someone weighing in at 308. With someone like Mike Daniels lined up opposite him, Adams could help the second level of the Packers defense rush the quarterback by disrupting the offensive line. He also did not miss a game in four years at Auburn, so the Packers are getting another reliable presence along the defensive line.
After getting burned with the Khyri Thornton pick in the third round of the 2014 draft, this was the one pick that raised eyebrows in Green Bay. Adams has also drawn comparisons to Jerel Worthy, who was taken in the second round by the Packers in 2010 and that didn't work out well either. That being said, with Letroy Guion's off field issues, Adams could be his permanent replacement, let alone playing the first four weeks of 2017 with Guion suspended again. So while this was not a glaring need, the Packers clearly felt they needed depth on the defensive line.
The edge rusher the Packers needed came at the top of round four — the pick they added thanks to the trade out of the first round — in Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel. Biegel's selection became immediately popular among the loyal fan base thanks to his Wisconsin roots, but there are a lot of football reasons to like this pick too.
Biegel is tough, aggressive and fundamentally sound. While it is a bit cliche, he really never takes a play off. The only area of concern the Packers had, according to director of football operations Eliot Wolf, was Biegel's celebrations. "He plays so hard that he gets super excited and sometimes it doesn't look like he has a plan after the play's over," Wolf said.
That sounds like a player the Packers and their fans will love. The fact he went to Wisconsin and is from Wisconsin Rapids is just a bonus.
At this point it was four picks for the Packers and all four went on the defense. Green Bay clearly needed to improve their defense. Consider those holes filled.
The final six picks of the Packers' draft went on offense. Green Bay used their second fourth round pick to address the need at running back, selecting Jamaal Williams of BYU. Some will say he had some red flags on off field concerns, but when you realize that he was suspended for having consensual sex (most definitely a violation of BYU’s Honor Code, which Williams signed) it kind of takes some of the edge off. While he knowingly broke the rules, it could have been something far far worse.
As for his on field performance, he is BYU's all-time leading rusher and doesn't get knocked back too often. He can get yards after contact and also has a good burst when he sees an open lane. This is the exact kind of smart ball carrier the Packers needed.
The Packers weren't done with running backs either. After taking Purdue wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey with their first pick in the fifth round, Green Bay went right back to the ground game by taking Aaron Jones from UTEP. This is the second time in five years the Packers drafted more than one running back (Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin in 2013).
Aaron Jones is a different style runner than Williams. He is more versatile than the bruising Williams is and also is a solid receiver, which is an area Williams will need to improve in given how the Packers offense operates. So it looks like it's another case of Thunder and Lightning like Lacy and Franklin were called four years ago. Hopefully this combination works out better than the last with Lacy now in Seattle and Franklin retired due to a neck injury.
Green Bay addressed its need at guard with the selection of Kofi Amichia from USF with their sole sixth round pick. With newly signed Jahri Evans on board as the likely opening day starter and with Don Barclay and Kyle Murphy competing for the backup spot, Amichia will be given time to learn the ropes. He is a typical Thompson pick, a left tackle in college that is better fit at guard in the NFL. He's athletic, as he ran a 4.99 40-yard dash and is a decent pass protector. Pro Football Focus had him ranked as the fifth best pass protecting tackle in the 2017 draft class.
The seventh round saw the Packers take a third running back, this time Devante Mays from Utah State. With the selection of a third running back, things are not looking up for either Don Jackson or Christine Michael at the moment, but that's what training camp and OTAs will sort out. As for Mays, he is a more straight ahead runner whois not as agile as either Williams or Aaron Jones. He also only started two games and played in six as a senior after an early season leg injury.
The final pick of the 2017 draft for Green Bay could end up being another steal for Thompson. The Packers selected LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre, who was given a round 4/5 grade by Pro Football Weekly. The knock on Dupre was that he would on occasion display some non-interest. He showed flashes in what was an overall poor offense, but he also struggled with drops. Dupre could have benefited from a better quarterback in college and will now get the mother of all upgrades in the NFL with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback.
Between Dupre and Yancey, the Packers added depth to the receiver room which was badly needed. While Rodgers and Jordy Nelson rediscovered their chemistry late in the season, Randall Cobb had another down year until finally springing to life in the postseason, so it will be interesting to see if/how he bounces back. Davante Adams is also entering a contract year, as is Jeff Janis. Geronimo Allison was also brought back on a restricted rights tender but could also be facing league discipline under its substance abuse policy for a marijuana arrest that he settled last week.
Overall, Thompson checked off every single thing on his to-do list entering the draft. King and Josh Jones improve the the league's 31st-ranked passing defense, Biegel could be an immediate contributor as an edge rusher if the Packers move Clay Matthews around like they want to, they have multiple options at running back, Thompson added competition at guard, and the team finally reloaded their wide receiver corps (which should makes Rodgers happy). Throw in the undrafted free agents and the Packers are sitting pretty as the calendar turns to May.
Holes will of course pop up as the season gets underway and inevitable injuries occur, but Packers fans should rest easy knowing Thompson did his job and the team now as depth in areas of previous weakness. Mini camps and OTAs are next, and it should be fun to watch all this sort out.
The 2017 Green Bay Packers are taking shape. Now it's up to the coaching staff to mold it into a championship squad.
What grade do you give the Packers for their 2017 NFL Draft class?
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