Back in 2015, I did a series breaking down the Draft Classes of Ted Thompson. I stopped at 2012 then because it is not fair to judge a class after only a couple of seasons. I decided to go by the common tactic of getting a gauge after three years.
So I am back in 2017 to look at the past two classes that we can judge somewhat decently. Next week we will cover 2014, but on this day we take a gander at the 2013 Draft and see what can be gleaned from it.
But first some background. The 2012 Packers were a solid, typical Packers team from this era. Going 11-5, they won the NFC North again, going to the Divisional Round before being run out of the stadium (almost literally) by Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. And after the season, there were a ton of needs, including offensive tackle, running back, defensive end, inside linebacker, and cornerback. They did tackle most of these positions in the draft, but how successful were they? Let’s take a look
ROUND 1 (Pick 26) – Datone Jones, DE. UCLA
Probably Should have Taken: Travis Frederick, C. Wisconsin
Datone Jones, much like Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy the year before was a project as a high pick. A great athlete (4.80 40 time, 31.5″ vertical, 9’4″ broad jump), Jones was miscast as a 3-4 end, especially early on. It didn’t help that after a great first training camp, he sprained his ankle and missed most of the preseason. And while he played every game, he never really recovered to the guy he was in camp. It all continued from there as he was eventually moved to linebacker and put up great pressure numbers, but had problems finishing the play and avoiding stupid penalties. He ended up leaving this offseason for a defense he is more suited for, the Vikings. There is still a significant amount of talent. Maybe he can realize it there. But, this was a pick that did not work out for the Packers.
ROUND 2 (Pick 61) – Eddie Lacy, RB. Alabama
Probably Should Have Taken: Lacy
After trading down with the 49ers, the Packers made their second pick at 61st and took National Title Game hero and power back Eddie Lacy. And if I had profiled this draft back in 2015, this pick would’ve been a home run on the level of Nick Collins. In those first two seasons, Lacy became NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year, became the first 1000 rusher since 2009, became the second Packer to run for 1000 yards in his first two seasons, and scored 20 touchdowns. But then it all went downhill. Weighing in at the 2013 Combine at 231 lbs., Lacy showed up in 2015 noticeably heavier than his previous two seasons and it really affected his play. Slow to hit the hole and not elusive enough to break as many tackles, Lacy was a shell of his first two seasons. He lost the weight and showed up in 2016 in great shape and was off to a great start before shredding his ankle up and going on IR. He then signed with Seattle this offseason. Issues aside, this was a very good pick which greatly helped the 2013 and 2014 offenses.
ROUND 4 (109th Overall) – David Bakhtiari, T. Colorado
Probably Should Have Taken: Bakhtiari
This is the home run of the Draft, possibly since Aaron Rodgers. Drafted at 109th behind such studs as Edmund Kugbila, Josh Boyce, Ace Sanders, and Matt Barkley, Bakhtiari has been everything the Packers could’ve asked for and more. An elite left tackle, “Bakh” stepped into the lineup after Bryan Bulaga was lost for the season during Family Night and hasn’t looked back, getting better and better every year until he was named 2nd Team All-Pro this past season. A building block for the team, his contract extension before last season started was one of the best moves Ted Thompson has made in a long time. Still only 25 years old, Bakhtiari is well on his way to being one of the best tackle in the league for a long time and is on track to be in the Packer Hall of Fame.
ROUND 4 (122nd Overall) – JC Tretter, T. Cornell
Probably Should’ve Taken: Tretter
Probably the most versatile lineman drafted by the Packers in the past 20 years, Tretter was the definition of swing tackle as well as a dynamite center. The only problem for him was injuries. He missed most of his rookie season after breaking his ankle in a fumble recovery drill and was placed on IR with a knee injury in 2014 after getting the starting center job. He was a great sixth lineman in 2015, even starting the Wild Card game against Washington at Left Tackle and holding his own. He then started the first six games at center last year before injuring his knee again and going on IR. He signed a big deal with Cleveland to be the starting center this offseason and his versatility will be missed.
ROUND 4 (125th Overall) – Johnathan Franklin, RB. UCLA
Probably Should’ve Taken: Franklin or William Gholston, DE. Michigan State
This is a sad story. When this draft occurred, I was so much more excited for Franklin than I was for Lacy. A speedy, shifty back out of UCLA, Johnathan was the perfect fit for this team. He could hit the home run as a runner or a receiver. I was talking all offseason to my friends about what Franklin would do in this offense. And after two middling games early on, he exploded in Week 3 against Cincinnati, running for 103 yards and a score. But sadly his career ended in Week 12 after suffering a serious neck injury on a kick return. Much like Terence Murphy year earlier, Franklin is a story of what could’ve been.
ROUND 5 (159th Overall) – Micah Hyde, CB/S. Iowa
Probably Should’ve Taken: Hyde
We spoke earlier about JC Tretter’s versatility, but he has nothing on Micah Hyde. Hyde played everywhere in the secondary, and he was solid at all of it, and healthy for four years. Starting 33 of his 63 games in green and gold, Hyde was a special teams dynamo his first two seasons, returning 3 punts for scores in those two years. He also had a sack each season and became more of a ball hawk as his tenure went on, recording 8 picks over the past three seasons. A leader on and off the field, Hyde will be tough to replace as he moves on to Buffalo after getting a huge contract in free agency. But for four years, he did everything and was extremely valuable. A home run in Round 5.
ROUND 5 (167th Overall) – Josh Boyd, DT. Mississippi State
Probably Should’ve Taken: Ricky Wagner, T. Wisconsin
Boyd was a serviceable player for two-plus seasons in Green Bay, but after seeing Bulaga go down in 2013 and Don Barclay starting 16 games at right tackle, Ricky Wagner probably would’ve been a better pick here. But for Boyd, he was a pure run stuffer at 3-4 end, recording 28 tackles in 26 games. But he made no splash plays and was nothing more than a guy before a devastating knee injury in 2015.
ROUND 6 (193rd Overall) – Nate Palmer, LB. Illinois State
Probably Should’ve Taken: AJ Bouye, CB. Central Florida
Nate Palmer was an athletic guy from a small conference who was a project pick in Round 6. He was a decent special teams player, but never really developed into anything on defense. He also fought injuries, missing the entire 2014 season. Getting benched after 10 games at inside linebacker in 2015, he was waived in April 2016 and went to Tennessee where he played last year. Nothing more than “a guy.”
ROUND 7 (216th Overall) – Charles Johnson, WR. Grand Valley State
Probably Should’ve Taken: Johnson
Charles Johnson was an extremely athletic guy who put up amazing numbers at his Pro Day, including a 4.39 40 time at 6’2″, a 39.5″ vertical, and 11’1″ broad jump, all of which screamed potential deep threat. But he got hurt in training camp and only played in one preseason game before being cut and placed on the practice squad. Then he got signed to the Browns active roster before it was revealed that he had a torn ACL. He didn’t play in the NFL until 2014 when he signed with the Vikings. That year he broke out with 31 catches in 12 games. He never could capture that magic again and is now with the Carolina Panthers.
ROUND 7 (224th Overall) – Kevin Dorsey, WR. Maryland
Probably Should’ve Taken: Paul Worrilow, LB. Delaware
A deep threat receiver in college, Dorsey never got going in Green Bay. He wasn’t quite good enough to make the team in 2013 but was placed on IR with a toe injury. He then went to the Practice Squad for five weeks in 2014 before being signed to the active roster and playing in 3 games for the Packers, catching 1 pass for 4 yards. He was then released in February 2015 and is out of the league.
ROUND 7 (232nd Overall) – Sam Barrington, LB. South Florida
Probably Should’ve Taken: Barrington
A great value in Round 7, Barrington was a thumper in the middle similar to Desmond Bishop. After getting hurt seven games into his rookie year, Barrington became the starter at inside linebacker in 2014, starting 7 games and recording 53 tackles and a sack. He went in to 2015 as the starter but injured his foot and missed the entire season after only 1 game. He ended up being one of the final cuts last year before catching on with Kansas City and then New Orleans. As of this writing he is a free agent.
Lane Taylor, G. Oklahoma State (Current Starter at Left Guard)
Chris Banjo, S. SMU (Special Teams Leader for three seasons)
Breaking Down the Class:
Home Runs (3) – David Bakhtiari, Micah Hyde, Eddie Lacy
Good Pick (2) – JC Tretter, Sam Barrington
Average (2) – Datone Jones, Josh Boyd
Misses (3) – Nate Palmer, Kevin Dorsey, Charles Johnson
Incomplete (1) – Johnathan Franklin
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.