Thoughts Following Green Bay Packers Draft

Yet another interesting Green Bay Packers draft has come and gone. This one left many fans scratching their heads, as Ted Thompson went off the grid and picked some players that they weren’t seeing listed to them in mock drafts or that they weren’t familiar with.  Of course that’s a really dumb way to judge a draft. Who knew anything about Nick Collins, James Jones or Greg Jennings when they were drafted? The truth is nobody knows until these guys step onto the field, not even Thompson. Here are some of my thoughts following the Packers draft:

– Fourth-round pick Jake Ryan was my favorite pick of the draft and not because the Packers finally selected an inside linebacker. It’s because I think he’s really good and they got the best value with him than they did with any of their other picks, as I think he should have gone a round earlier. Thompson never really had a good opportunity to draft an inside linebacker before Ryan. There was none probably worth a first-round pick and most of the good ones were gone by Green Bay’s second round pick. Maybe Ryan was his guy all along? Ryan jumped off my television screen whenever I had the misfortune of watching Michigan games. He’s an all-out effort player who is a great leader and really good against the run, as he hits run lanes with authority to bring down ball carriers and has very good strength to take on blocks. Time will tell whether he can be a three-down linebacker, but those are a rare breed these days. I would not be surprised to see him start week one.

– The Damarious Randle pick was a little confusing to me. He has the talent and abilities to be worthy of the selection, but is he the right fit? Can Randle play outside corner or is he just a slot guy? I don’t think a slot guy should have been picked with Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde already on the roster, even if they plan on starting Hayward outside. Especially when they follow it up by drafting another corner in the second round. Texas defensive tackle Malcolm Brown should have been the selection in my humble opinion and would have been a steal at pick 30. The fact that Bill Belichick nabbed two picks later makes me feel even stronger about it. Brown would have given the Packers great versatility along the defensive line and would have instantly improved the run defense. Then you could have picked up Quinten Rollins and another corner later in the draft to fill both needs. The defensive line should have been invested in more than it was.

– The Packers did not head into this draft with many needs at all. You can make an argument that they only needed to upgrade the starter at one position — inside linebacker. However, what they needed to do improve the most was special teams. It’s one-third of the game and it cost the Packers a Super Bowl berth last year. They lost key special teams contributors Jarrett Bush, Davon House and Jamari Lattimore. All of these players drafted should be able to contribute on special teams other than Brett Hundley and and maybe Christian Ringo. That’s not a coincidence, as Mike McCarthy is very intent on improving the unit this season. I just wish they put the same effort in hiring a better special teams coordinator as they did changing the players.

– The Brett Hundley pick was one I liked a lot. I think they got him at the perfect spot and for great value. The fourth-round would have been too high for a quarterback, and I’m pretty surprised Hundley was drafted this low. Only giving up a seventh-round pick to move up for him was a no-brainer. Hundley had first-round talk surrounding him going into the college football season and clearly has talent to work with. Obviously, in a perfect world he never sees the field, but backup quarterback suddenly becomes your most important position if your starter gets injured.  Also, if McCarthy develops him in the quarterback school and he delivers in preseason then the Packers can trade him for a higher pick than they selected him.

– I was very surprised outside linebacker was not addressed with a pick. Clay Matthews may still be playing more inside, Julius Peppers is obviously up there in age, and Nick Perry and Mike Neal are entering the final years of their contracts. It may not be an immediate need this year, but Thompson usually always looks ahead to the needs of future years.

– On the contrary, I was not surprised that the offensive line didn’t receive a pick for the first time ever under Thompson because they have strong starters and depth there that’s under contract for the next couple of years. Don Barclay and J.C. Tretter provide great depth inside and in Barlcay’s case right tackle. Also, if David Bakhtiari got injured the Packers would be fine sliding Bryan Bulaga over to left tackle.

– It will be nice seeing a returner being able to return the ball past the 15-yard. Ty Montgomery will be able to that and probably more, which is an OK trade off for selecting him what I felt was a round early.

– This draft feels like a boom or bust one for the Packers with not a whole lot of middle ground in between. Randle and Rollins are big projections with one switching positions and the other only having one year of football experience. Montgomery also seems like a high ceiling, but low floor prospect. The Packers are depending a lot on their coaches to develop these guys. We could be talking about this draft as one of Thompson’s best or worst drafts pretty easily and it would not surprise me much one way or the other.

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Matt Bove is a writer at PackersTalk.com. PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on twitter at @RayRobert9.

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