It’s been a couple of interesting days for the Packers, and Ted Thompson’s Christmas arrived Thursday night. The NFL Draft is through two of the three days in which teams pick from the best college players, and the Pack has come away with three young men who each can make an impact.
But with every draft pick comes a player who they replace. And besides, who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned “Winners and Losers” list. So here we go, who won and who has lost over the past two days.
Kenny Clark, Jason Spriggs, Kyler Fackrell
Let’s start with the obvious. For each of these three, this weekend has been a dream. It is the culmination of all their work on the field, in the film room and weight room, and they got to hear their names called by Roger Goodell, Antonio Freeman, and Sam Barrington in Chicago. Being drafted alone makes them winners, but it goes deeper still. Each of them has a chance to be an impact player fairly early on. Clark will have every chance to win the starting nose tackle job or at least be the other defensive end opposite Mike Daniels, all at age 20. Spriggs can step in and be the swing tackle as well as be groomed to be the left tackle of the future. And Fackrell can be a nickel linebacker and special teams stud early on as well. Each of them has a role here and they know that they are the select three so far that Ted Thompson has called and welcomed to Green Bay.
Barrington, besides being recognized again as the Packers representative for Walter Payton Man of the Year, got to announce Fackrell’s pick, and also didn’t get any serious competition yet for his starting job at middle linebacker. He is coming off an injury, but he can look to Jake Ryan and see his running mate in the middle of the Packer defense. It has to be a pretty good feeling to know that you still have your job, and for him, it’s even sweeter after seeing himself as a 7th round pick a few years ago.
Kenny Clark is listed at 6’3”. Spriggs is 6’6”. And Fackrell is 6’5”. All three have great size, and Spriggs and Fackrell in particular have extremely long arms which will help them dramatically. Between them, Julius Peppers, Datone Jones, Jayrone Elliott, and even Letroy Guion, the 2016 Packers should have the length to rival even the Bucks for Wisconsin tape measure supremacy. It should be incredibly exciting to see them create havoc in passing lanes, kicking lanes, and drive-thru windows.
But with every winners list, we have to talk about the losers.
With the sudden retirement of BJ Raji and the suspension of Mike Pennel, things looked right for Boyd to step back into the starting role he had back in 2014. But now the newcomer Clark appears to have a fast track into the lineup and Boyd has a little more work to do to get back onto the field following his ankle surgery last year. And now his roster spot is also in jeopardy. He was a depth lineman before the Draft, now he has to fight to make it past Week 5 when Pennel returns.
Another guy who faces a tough roster battle is Barclay. Now over two years removed from his ACL surgery, the backup lineman has one final chance to prove that he can still be productive in Green Bay. But it will not be at tackle. JC Tretter was just fine as a swing tackle at the end of last season and Jason Spriggs is the future at the position for the team. And with the return of Lane Taylor and Josh Walker, Barclay has to be at his very best to even make the team as a guard.
And finally, we have a potential replacement candidate for Fackrell to take over for. Thomas was solid as the dime linebacker in coverage, but Fackrell comes in with experience and with scouts talking well about his coverage ability. Throw in the fact that he is a draft pick and four inches taller and more physical in general and Fackrell has a great chance of unseating the former undrafted free agent. Thomas has already been cut from the Packers twice and brought back. It could be three strikes and he’s out.——————
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.