Since the days of the legendary Ron Wolf, the Green Bay Packers have followed strict guidelines when evaluating draft picks. Ted Thompson continued this tradition while heading up the Packers front office. As such, it can be expected that current General Manager Brian Gutekunst will, for the most part, follow the same trajectory.
Every NFL team has certain ground rules they abide by when selecting draft picks. The very best incorporate modern era analytics, and use formulas to find the players who suit their schemes. The Green Bay Packers are one of the very best organizations at identifying prospects that meet their standards, and fit their team culture.
One of former GM Ted Thompson’s greatest gifts was his innate ability to pinpoint successful, productive receivers. Green Bay has been drafting, more or less, the same athlete at wide receiver for over a decade. Pass catchers who weigh at least 191 pounds, run the 40 in 4.56 seconds or less, and post under 7.08 in the three cone drill.
This year was an awful time for prospects to skip drills at the combine. Many teams will choose to select the players they have the most information on. Thus, if a team has a full athletic profile of one prospect, and a similar grade on another, expect them to go with the safe choice they know well.
Thankfully, the 2020 NFL Draft is just under a week away. Today we’ll take a final look at predicting players the Packers could covet in all seven rounds.
Only players who fit the general athletic thresholds the Packers established under Ted Thompson were considered in the first four rounds.
Round 1- Josh Jones, OT, Houston: A smooth operator on the blind side, Jones is one of my draft crushes. He dominated Senior Bowl week. Jones looked like a pissed off bouncer in Mobile, Alabama, tossing defensive lineman out of the club with ease. His flashes of dominance will have NFL offensive line coaches salivating. There are some fundamental techniques to clear up, but with proper coaching, Jones could become the best tackle in this draft class.
Round 2-Michael Pittman Jr, WR, USC: I’m, admittedly, late to the party on Pittman. A late-riser in NFL draft circles, Pittman’s production (101 receptions, 11 touchdowns in 2019), and athletic profile, fit the Packer’s mold. Pittman will have learned the drive and determination it takes to succeed in the NFL from his father, and bring that work ethic with him to Green Bay. He can become the chain mover, and red zone target this offense has lacked. Now to add a speed demon for Aaron Rodgers.
Round 3-Terrell Burgess, Nickel, Utah: This is where the draft really gets interesting for the Packers, who does the team covet? Which position do they most wish to upgrade? We could easily see another trench player here, depending on how the board falls. Adding Burgess as a chess piece for the defense will make defensive coordinator Mike Pettine smile. Green Bay played an NFL high 52% of plays in dime personnel last season. The nickel position is a full-fledged starter and a key piece to Pettine’s defensive attack. Burgess displays fantastic awareness in coverage, and is rarely caught out of position. He is impressive in man to man, with smooth footwork and change of direction skills. The former Utah Ute shows excellent burst when attacking the football and is exactly the type of competitor this Green Bay defense needs.
Round 4-Jonathan Garvin, Edge, Miami: Still just 20 years old, Jonathan Garvin has one of the highest ceilings of any player in this class. He fits the mold of a Mike Pettine edge rusher, and will be able to learn behind the Smiths and Rashan Gary. NFL teams can never have enough pass rushers. Garvin’s length will remind some of Packers great Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.
Round 5-John Hightower, WR, Boise State: Aaron Rodgers’ offense has been craving an electric slot weapon since Randall Cobb was released. Hightower brings the burst, and big play ability the Packers have sorely missed. Matt Lafleur can scheme the speedster touches all over the field. He’s a walking house call with the acceleration to be effective on jet sweeps and in the return game.
Round 6, Pick 192, Dalton Keene, TE Virginia Tech: Another chess piece for Matt Lafleur’s offensive system. Keene has experience playing a variety of roles, and is tailor made for the Green Bay Packers football team. He can fill in at full back, play the H-Back role, or lineup in the slot. Dalton Keene is tenacious and determined with the ball in his hands. Keene could quickly become one of Aaron Rodgers favorite targets.
Round 6, Pick 208, Jon Runyan, OT, Michigan: Green Bay may very well package one of these picks in order to move up in the draft. However, the Packers will be certainly be all in on Jon Runyan. He passes all the Packers athletic tests, and comes from an NFL bloodline. High upside pick who Packers brass may see as a guard.
Round 6, Pick 209-Raequan Williams, IDL, Michigan State: An NFC Championship thrashing at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers illuminated the fact that Green Bay must add to the defensive front. Williams is a stout run defender, who could become an excellent depth piece for the Packers.
Round 7, Pick 236-Darryl Williams, OL, Mississippi State: A three year starter in the SEC, Williams displayed his versatility as a Bulldog, playing both guard and center. The Packers could return to the well that produced Elgton Jenkins here. Williams checks all the boxes athletically, and can provide depth on the interior offensive line. If he can develop a stronger lower body, the Alabama native has all the tools to mature into an NFL starter.
Round 7 Pick 242-John Reid, CB, Penn St: Phenomenal change of direction skills could lead to Reid carving out a role at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. He is a sticky man coverage corner, who’s impressive ball skills, and instincts will be coveted. The Pack can do a lot worse than Reid in the seventh round.
Check out my Twitter feed this week @CANDRAFTGEEK647 for clips of each Packers target in action!Nick is a lifelong Packers fan. 4th and 26 was on his 13th birthday, unlucky. Follow him @CANDRAFTGEEK647 on Twitter for all your Packers draft needs and questions.