The Packers entered this draft with a variety of needs. This is the event that General Manager Brian Gutekunst called “the lifeblood of our franchise.”
That’s the way it always has been. The Packers have been a draft and develop team essentially since Ron Wolf took over the reigns in titletown.
This was Gutekunst’s first crack as the man in charge of his most important event.
He started with a bang by moving down 13 spots in the first round and picking up an extra first round pick. By doing so, he essentially passed on Derwin James, a reported favorite of theirs.
Once James was off the board he moved up and selected Jaire Alexander. Alexander marked the first of 11 picks that Gutekunst would make through the weekend.
Here’s the full class and a list of some things that I liked as well as I didn’t like.
1 (18) Jaire Alexander – CB Louisville
2 (45) Josh Jackson – CB Iowa
3 (88) Oren Burks LB Vanderbilt
4 (133) J’Mon Moore WR Missouri
5 (138) Cole Madison OG Washington State
5 (172) JK Scott P Alabama
5 (174) Marquez Valdez Scatling – WR UCF
6 (207) Equanemious St. Brown WR Notre Dame
7 (232) James Looney DE California
7 (239) Hunter Bradley LS Mississippi State
7 (248) Kendall Donnerson EDGE Southeast Missouri State
What I liked: Some people complained that the Packers took two corners in the first two rounds after doing so just three years ago. I would not be one of those guys. I was not in love with Jaire Alexander going into the draft, but after a second look it’s easy to see what the Packers love. Alexander plays with an edge. He’ll be capable of playing inside or outside through his career. His blazing speed and quick twitch ability makes him the odds on favorite to be the slot cornerback for the 2018 season.
Their second round pick represents my favorite pick in the draft. Josh Jackson was my top cornerback. I would have been more than content if they took him at 14. They got him at 45. Once the pick was made it was a message to the cornerback room. There is a lot of talent there. It was a clear objective by Gutekunst to get more talent at a position that has failed them since 2015.
I liked that Gutekunst took three shots at wide receiver similar to what Ted Thompson did last year at running back. St. Brown, Moore, and Valdez-Scatling all bring an intriguing size/speed combination. As it stands right now, the rookies should have a chance to compete for a starting position. My favorite of the bunch is EQ St. Brown. When the draft started, I would have been content if they picked him at 76. They got him at 207.
What I didn’t like: I subscribe to the theory that the draft is essentially four rounds long. Rounds 5-7 are simply just preferred free agents. That being said picking a punter and long snapper is a little odd considering the needs for some competition around the roster. Perhaps a tight end or offensive lineman would have been a better selection.
EDGE rush was essentially ignored. Gutekunst said afterwards that he didn’t believe it was a strong class. He was right when he said that, however, it’s hard not to feel some concern. Vince Biegel, Reggie Gilbert, and Kyler Fackrell better be ready to make big leaps.
Favorite Pick: Josh Jackson – CB1. They got him at 45. I think he’s a ballhawk that will be a fantastic addition.
Best Value: Equanemious St. Brown – A 6th round pick that it would not surprise me in the least if he was a starter at some point this season. St. Brown’s size/speed combination should catch the eye of the fans, and the quarterback early in training camp.
Mike Pettine/Joe Whitt – Finally, the Packers give Whitt some tools to work with. With all due respect to Ted Thompson, it was easy to see that picking a safety and former basketball player to play cornerback was not a wise decision. It’s predictably blown up in their face. Derwin James was a favorite of the Packers (and myself), but I understand some of the apprehension of picking him to make him a slot cornerback. Instead of repeating their mistakes from 2015, they learned from it. Alexander and Jackson are natural cornerbacks that will not have as steep of a learning curve.
Aaron Rodgers – Building a championship level defense will make the quarterback’s life much easier. The Packers took a step in that direction by getting two building blocks at cornerback. They added three more weapons with interesting skill sets to create competition at a position that is in transition. Rodgers is the face of the franchise, any time the team has what feels like a good draft, he wins.
Bryan Bulaga – Reports surfaced before the draft that the Packers asked Bulaga to take a pay cut. That was a request he rebuffed. The prevailing thought was that if the Packers were able to add a tackle prospect or two, that Bulaga would be on the way out. Instead they only drafted a guard. Bulaga’s job should be safe in Green Bay for now.
Geronimo Allison – They drafted three receivers. Allison should be pushed to be the team’s third receiver. He’s a nice player but certainly a replaceable talent. There’s a crowded group looking to upend him to be Rodgers’ third receiver.
Justin Vogel – A team probably doesn’t draft a punter (that can also kick off) while planning to cut him. Vogel was a Pro Bowl alternate last season, but it appears he is likely on the way out.
Jake Ryan – Oren Burks was added to infuse some athleticism into the ILB group. It’s likely that Josh Jones will spend some time there as well. Between Martinez, Jones, and Burks, there may not be a spot for Ryan to regularly see the field.