It’s an important part of the drafting process in the NFL to take a look back at who you were able to pick, and what other options were available. I’m taking a look back at my three mock drafts from last year to see where the Green Bay Packers succeeded and where they missed out.
Mock Draft v.1.0
1st Round – Pick # 27 – DT Kenny Clark, UCLA
2nd Round – Pick #57 – LB Su’a Cravens, USC
3rd Round – Pick #88 – RB Kenyan Drake of Alabama
4th Round – Pick #125 – LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
4th Round – Pick #131 – OT Joe Haeg, North Dakota St.
4th Round – Pick #137 – ILB Antonio Morrison, Florida
5th Round – Pick #163 – NT Hassan Ridgeway, Texas
6th Round – Pick #200 – DE Matt Ioannidis, Temple
7th Round – Pick #248 – P Riley Dixon, Syracuse
I got the Packers first round pick correct on my first attempt, and then failed by changing my mind for later ideations. Clark was pretty quiet for most of his rookie season, but came on late with several strong performances. He’s never going to be a guy who gets recognized because his job is to eat up double teams, but you know he’s playing well when the ILBs are making plays.
Cravens was taken 4 picks before the Packers selected in the 2nd round by the Redskins. He showed flashes of being a hyper athletic ILB with the capacity to cover TEs and RBs out of the backfield. Drake went off the board 15 picks before the Packers selected in the 3rd round. He had an up-and-down season with the Dolphins while being lost in their RB depth chart. He looks to be a receiving threat out of the backfield and a good kick returner.
I dramatically underestimated how early Jaylon Smith would go. The Cowboys took him early in the 2nd round, and he did not play a snap as a rookie. Next season will show if he ever recovers from his gruesome knee injury to live up to the potential he had as a top prospect. Joe Haeg was drafted in the 5th Round (Pick 155). Haeg started 14 games for the Colts this season. They believe he is a building block for their line going forward. He’s shown the ability to play both Guard and Tackle.
The Colts also drafted ILB Antonio Morrison (4th round, 125) and Hassan Ridgeway (4th round, 116). Morrison played in all 16 games, started 4, and had 52 tackles during his solid rookie campaign. Ridgeway played in 16 games, started 5, and had 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Both are considered contributors to the Colts defense moving forward.
Ionnidis went in the 5th round (152) to the Redskins. He played in 10 games, but made a minor impact on the team. Dixon was taken in the 7th round by the Broncos (pick 228). He won the job out of the camp and had the longest net average for a Rookie Punter in NFL history. He looks to be the next in line of elite Punters in the NFL.
Mock Draft v.2.0
1st Round – Pick # 27 – DT Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
2nd Round – Pick #57 – WR Braxton Miller, Ohio State
3rd Round – Pick #88 – OT Willie Beavers, Western Michigan
4th Round – Pick #125 – OLB Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
4th Round – Pick #131 – RB Jordan Howard, Indiana
4th Round – Pick #137 – OT Cole Toner, Harvard
5th Round – Pick #163 – CB Harlan Miller, SE Louisiana
6th Round – Pick #200 – ILB Kris Frost, Auburn
7th Round – Pick #248 – P Riley Dixon, Syracuse
Vernon Butler went 30th overall to the Carolina Panthers. His rookie campaign was interrupted by a high ankle sprain. Playing with an exceptionally deep position group, Butler didn’t have a chance to make a big contribution in his rookie campaign. Miller was drafted by the Texans in the 3rd round (85), and won Houston’s 3rd WR job out of camp. Miller’s transition to WR got off to a rocky start, but certainly wasn’t aided by the terrible season Brock Osweiler had. He finished the season with 15 receptions for 99 yards and 1 touchdown.
Beavers was drafted in the 4th round (121). The Vikings cut him during the preseason, added him to the Practice Squad, and then re-activated him in late September. With all the injuries to the o-line, Beavers was forced into action early and he struggled mightily. Schobert was picked by the Browns in the 4th round (99). He had a very quiet rookie campaign, despite being given plenty of opportunities on a terrible Browns defense.
Jordan Howard was selected by the Bears in the 5th round (150), and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Toner was drafted in the 5th round (170). He was only active for two games, and is seen as a project o-lineman for Arizona. Harlan Miller (6th round) was also drafted by the Cardinals and was activated late in the year. Frost went undrafted and is still struggling to find his way on a NFL roster.
Mock Draft v.3.0
1st Round – Pick # 27 – DE Jarran Reed, Alabama
2nd Round – Pick #57 – RB Derrick Henry, Alabama
3rd Round – Pick #88 – ILB Deion Jones, LSU
4th Round – Pick #125 – ILB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
4th Round – Pick #131 – OT Jerald Hawkins, LSU
4th Round – Pick #137 – OG Cole Toner, Harvard
5th Round – Pick #163 – CB Daryl Worley, West Virginia
6th Round – Pick #200 – RB/WR Keenan Reynolds, Navy
7th Round – Pick #248 – WR/TE Devon Cajuste, Stanford
Jarran Reed was projected as a first rounder, but slipped to 49th overall to the Seahawks. Reed played 15 games and tallied 34 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Henry went 45th to the Titans, and had a solid rookie campaign splitting time with DeMarco Murray.
Deion Jones was one of the best rookies in all of football, but the Falcons took him in the 2nd round (52). It was thought to be a reach at the time, but clearly Thomas Dimitroff saw the unique skillset Jones brings to their defense.
Hawkins went to the Steelers (4th round, pick 123) and spent the season on IR. Daryl Worley went much earlier than I would have thought (3rd round to the Panthers), but had a really solid rookie campaign and should be a factor on the Carolina defense in the future. Reynolds was drafted by the Ravens in the 6th round, and spent most of his season on the Practice Squad. Cajuste was signed by the Packers during the season and will have a chance to compete for a roster spot next season.
In review, a General Manager’s job is not easy. Some players come in with great tape and measurables and just don’t pan out. Sometimes you have a great player on your board (Deion Jones), and they get drafted before your pick. And sometimes you try to fill needs and end up missing out on a player who could have made a big impact (Jordan Howard). Looking back on some of the mistakes of the past can help us all to remember that Ted Thompson needs to consider scheme fit and player development to get the most out of the 2017 draft, in order for the Packers to get back to the Super Bowl.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig