Packers: 3 takeaways from the draft

Green Bay Packers

With the NFL draft now over, these are my three biggest takeaways from what we saw from the Green Bay Packers.

All NFL drafts are important for every team, but this one felt particularly crucial for the Green Bay Packers. After missing the playoffs for the second season in a row, they must return to their winning ways quickly, to maximize the final years of Aaron Rodgers time in Green Bay.

General Manager Brian Gutekunst was very aggressive in free agency with four splash signings and he brought that same mentality to the draft. It is clear that this Green Bay Packers organization is in “win now mode” as they should be.

While we won’t truly know for at least three years whether or not this was a successful draft, based on what they’ve done, we can get a brief glimpse into what the Packers organization may be thinking. With that in mind, these are my three takeaways from draft weekend.

Defense, defense, defense

For the second season in a row, Gutekunst prioritized defense in the draft and for good reasons. At the end of the Ted Thompson era, this Green Bay defense was decimated and lacking playmakers.

So Gutekunst would spend his first three picks in the 2018 draft on defense as well as five of the eight draft picks this year, including both selections in round one.

For much of Aaron Rodgers’ time in Green Bay, it has been the defense that has held this team back. The one time, Rodgers had a top ten defense in the league, they won a Super Bowl. Gutekunst is giving defensive coordinator Mike Pettine all the tools he needs to build this defense into a powerhouse.

While the offense is to blame as well for some of the issues that we saw last season, I think a majority of those problems can be attributed more towards the scheme, rather than the roster. Considering the free agent moves that were made, as well as the draft, it is clear that Gutekunst has confidence in Matt LaFleur to make life easier for everyone on offense.

After overhauling the cornerback group last year, Gutekunst spent big money and draft capital to solidify the back-end of the secondary, as well as the EDGE rushing group in 2019. Both of which were huge liabilities last season.

Just about all the defensive players brought in are highly athletic and versatile, which Pettine will love to have at his disposal as he will be able to move guys around and disguise their defensive looks to confuse offenses.

Last year, we saw some decent improvements from this defense as a whole, but there was still work to be done and Gutekunst has done just about everything that he can to solve those issues.

Lane Taylor is on notice

Even with the free agent signing of Billy Turner and the hopeful return of Cole Madison, there were still question marks around this offensive line unit entering the draft.

One of those question marks is Lane Taylor who is coming off of a down 2018 season in which he allowed eight sacks. Now, the hope is that he bounces back this year, but we don’t know for sure that he will.

There are also some concerns about Taylor fitting into Matt LaFleur’s new offense, particularly in the zone running scheme that requires athleticism and the ability to work well in space, whereas Taylor is more suited for a power running game.

Enter second-round pick, Elgton Jenkins of Mississippi State. During his time there, Jenkins would show off his versatility by playing all over the offensive line before settling into the center position. However, with Corey Linsley at center, there are no intentions of Jenkins playing there in Green Bay, he will likely be a guard.

Jenkins is a very athletic player, scoring a 9.34 on the Relative Athletic Scoring table, which was one of the best amongst interior offensive linemen in this year’s draft class and I expect him to compete for a starting guard spot right away.

Overall, he really just fits well in LaFleur’s system. Jenkins moves well in space and once locked on to a defender, he is able to steer them away from the ball carrier. He will also hold his own in the passing game with solid technique and on film, I’ve rarely seen him miss a blocking assignment.

Much of an NFL player’s success is based around the system that they are in, and it would appear early on, that Matt LaFleur’s offense just fits Jenkins more than it does Taylor.

Confidence in the young receivers

There was plenty of speculation leading up to the draft about the Green Bay Packers selecting a wide receiver with an early pick. And in round two, they had plenty of options including A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf, two players that Green Bay had been linked to in the pre-draft process. However, they chose to go in a different direction.

Shortly after becoming head coach, LaFleur said that he really liked the trio of young receivers that the Packers had, and while you take a statement like that with a grain of salt, given how free agency and the draft have shaken out, there was some definite truth to it.

Looking back at last season, it doesn’t take an expert to see that there was a disconnect between Aaron Rodgers and his rookie receivers. With injuries early on to Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison, they were thrown into the fire almost immediately and had to figure things out on the fly.

Although there were struggles which should have been expected, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown had some big moments as well. MVS would total three games with at least 75 receiving yards, including two over 100. And EQ would have two games of 89 and 94 yards respectively.

While I think everyone can agree that J’Mon Moore had a rough rookie season, don’t count him out in 2019. He may not have seen much playing time last year, but this is a new offensive system and a fresh start for the second year receiver. Scheme matters when it comes to a player’s development and overall success, let’s see how things play out for Moore in the new offense.

Under LaFleur, as I mentioned above, his offense is supposed to make everyone’s jobs easier, it is a big reason that he was brought in. It still remains to be seen how this young trio will adapt to the new system, but I suspect they will and I am anticipating a big jump from all three of them in year two.


24 thoughts on “Packers: 3 takeaways from the draft

  1. I’m hoping for a top five defense, and an OL that only gives away at most 20 sacks. If that happens, I don’t see how GB loses. Barring injury to AR.

    If AR gets sacked over 40 times, then the OL sucks or is mediocre. If the defense is a bust, then back to the drawing board.

    Looking for a big jump all across the board in 19.

    1. Question: Assuming King comes back healthy (he’s 100% now), what do you think of our secondary?

      I think our two new safeties should allow Jones to move where he belongs to ILB, and Alexander is a devastating slot CB (the Rams lost the Super Bowl because they had no one like him).

      Do you think Jackson will progress at the other outside corner spot, or is he just a wasted pick because he’s too slow? How about Tony Brown?

      I just think if the front 7 progresses as well as expected, this secondary could make teams pay. Your thoughts?

      1. I agree with much of this. On paper, the defense looks lights out potential. You should not be able to stop that front seven, except for the best OLs, or if they’re having a bad game. With that said, if your QB can’t ever stay comfortable, they HAVE to do something! That is where a strong secondary comes into play. It depends on these second-year players and their development.

        If Amos and Savage live up to the hype, and Jaire and Jackson each make their respective jump, while King stays healthy for a change; then the only place I expect to see offenses go to is towards Martinez, and possibly Jones, in the middle. Assuming that the QB is throwing it away, or getting sacked.

        However, these are all assumptions, based on appearance, and past season performance. Any given Sunday, you never know! Fingers crossed! GOPACKGO!

        1. Martinez is fine. Jones is a bust. They need a second middle LB. Burks looks like a bust if he doesn’t make the jump. Jackson looked like a star in the preseason but became a liability when the lights came on.
          He might have to move into a Micah Hyde type position. Not a linebacker, not a corner, not a safety hybrid role. King regressed. They could use another DLineman. Otherwise everything looks good. Hopefully one of the above players has a coming out party. Otherwise they are holding the defense down.

          1. Yeah, we’re all hoping for a last-season-Fackrell party for at least Fackrell, again, and two others! Jones and King would be nice. Burks as well. Or one at least! Assuming that all the FAs and draft selections are at least good, and Daniels and Clark keep “exploring” the body of QBs across the league with sack pressure. Then it definitely should happen. “On paper!”

      2. I believe we could have the best defensive backfield in the NFL Defensive backs are the best athletes on your team. When King was healthy he covered Julio Jones stride for stride. The best ability is availability.The month of September with three home games after a win over Chicago will give the Pack a great chance to get off to a fast start. 3 and 1 or 4 and 0.

    2. I really think we shored up the offensive line through the draft and free agency. Jenkins will take over at left guard if Lane Taylor hasn’t improved. I’m really hoping Spriggs has a good year when called upon.

      1. Agreed. I really don’t think we need to burn any more money on FAs unless it is a real team-friendly one-year deal on ILB or WR. But certainly, ILB if we do. Other than that, we should stand pat and save that 7-9 million dollars for in-season emergencies!

  2. I said all along receiver is one of our deepest, most talented positions. I’m thrilled Gute spent draft picks elsewhere.

    Hopefully, we’ll see some packages with MVS and ESB outside, opening up the field while Davante punishes hapless slot corners inside. THAT would be beautiful.

    1. I think you are right we have Allison as well as three good young receivers and hopefully a good offensive line to keep,Aron upright to pick apart defenses

      1. Allison’s okay, but I think he’s reached his peak. When he’s on the field, his immense lack of speed allows the defense to condense…majorly. It hurts everyone, from Davante to the tight end to the running game.

        Yes, I know Geronimo gets some long balls, but that’s off CB’s giving him absolutely no respect over the top–which you can’t do with any receiver. When they play honest, he’s smothered.

        Kumerow can already do everything Allison does, but faster and a little taller. MVS and ESB are vastly superior weapons to both of them, and Moore sounds like a man possessed to prove himself.

        We’re loaded.

        1. I agree. Wr is loaded. If Moore finds his way, it will be hard to decide who steps on the field.

    2. I’d like to see Kumerow make the 53 man roster. Rodgers likes this guy and he’s a smart route runner.

  3. ahhhahaha worst receiving unit in the NFL not even close! as a Packer fan who saw them win a superbowl with Jenning, FInley, Driver, and Jordy this team will continue to waste AR career. the Patriots on the other hand drafted a RB 1st last year and 1st round WR this year cuz they understand how important it is to have decent Weapons.

    1. Lol, you guys get all worked up.

      Since New England understands how important the wr and RB position is, how many wr’s or rb’s has bill drafted in the first or second round in his 20 years with the team? I will give you a hint. It was a draft bust running back taken 21st overall in 2006. That was the only running back or wr they drafted in the first outside of last year. Historically, they have taken other teams cast aways and late draft picks.

      In fact, they have had 43 first or second round picks in that span. They have used 7 on a running back or wr, including 2 in the last 2 years. Of the other 5 wr’s or rb’s drafted, all were busts except for Deon branch, who was a decent starter.

      The Patriots aren’t a good example for your argument. You don’t have to draft those positions early to find stars. Phillip Lindsay had a better rookie year than Sony, and he was undrafted. Antonio Brown is arguably the best in the league and he was a 6th rounder. That isn’t unusual.

      Even your example of the packers star players don’t include a single 1st round pick. It includes 2 2nds, 2 3rds, (I included James jones,), and a 7th. Jordy was not an impact player for that team. Finley was also on IR. And the starting RB was a bust 2nd round pick Brandon Jackson.

  4. This draft was a minor disaster, it makes it clear that “Gute” is cut from the same cloth as TT. With the deepest draft in years at positions of need, like the OL, “Gute” takes a high maintenance DE that is unproven with PICK 12! Trade down and get this risky guy if you must have him. Trade up with 2 4th rounders (Denver) and get one of the best defensive players, or just take one of the top OL, the best WR, or a higher rated DE or better, LB. Then, to add insult to injury, GIVE UP 2 4th rounders to take an undersized S rated at 89 by CBS. Two players with”potential”, one who was lazy at MI, one who may not have the size and hitting ability for the pros. This was as bad as any first round I have seen with the pack- very few 1st rounders other than AR make a big difference on this team.

    1. How can you judge without seeing what happens on the field? At this point it’s your scouting vs Gute’s. Yes, we all have preferences or favorites we would have liked to see drafted, but there is obviously something about the players they drafted and those on the roster that they know that made them do what they did.

  5. I’m not surprised one bit by the first round pick. He’ll end up on the heap with the last first round defensive picks except for Kenny Clark. I’m hoping Gary makes a liar out of me and is ROY. I do believe our secondary has the potential to be one of the best in the NFC. I would have loved to see us pick a wide receiver with one of our two fourth round picks. Oh, wait a minute we kissed them goodbye for a safety from a class of about eight really good safeties. Only time will tell and I love the Green Bay Packers for over 50 years so I’ll live and die with them just like the rest of us. Maybe next year we can finally go offense and draft two studs either a wide receiver or running back. GO PACK GO!!!

    1. Agreed, but if the Pack has pick 12 again, maybe Gute and Co gotta go! I am personally underwhelmed by the manner in which the pack dumped MM (Yes, should have been 3 years ago, but why not finish last season and get pick 11 or 10??) and apparently did not consider how difficult it is to find a new HC. We could have another really bad year or maybe LaFleur will have or develop winning qualities very fast in his first head coaching job- he could be a bust, and no great knock on him, being HC is not just calling plays, ask MM or maybe Ray Rhodes!

  6. Your analysis of Jenkins is contrary to that of Lance Zierlein on His point about Jenkins is that he’s an extremely strong anchor on pass blocking, but lacks lateral movement. So he will be serviceable on zone running plays, but not ideal.

    1. If he has a high RAS, then he is very athletic. People can have different opinions. But athletic lineman and zone run goes hand and hand. RAS is essentially a measure of athleticism. A 9.34 is about as high as they get for a lineman. It technically means he is more athletic than 93.4% of lineman in the NFL.

      1. Although I agree, RAS does take into account size too. Since he’s pretty much avg height/weight, your original comment is absolutely correct

        1. Didn’t even have to look. It would have brought the score down if he was unusually small or large.

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