The Green Bay Packers have been a model franchise for drafting and developing players since the Ted Thompson era. A big part of that is finding hidden gems in the NFL Draft in the middle and later rounds. Since we are talking about ‘steals,’ I won’t be counting first or second-round picks. Instead, I’ll consider players anywhere from the third to the seventh rounds. Let’s go back ten years to the 2013 NFL Draft and work our way up to the 2021 draft class to find some of the top Packers draft steals.
I’m not counting the draft classes of 2022 and 2023 on this list because it’s too early to fairly judge those players.
Packers Draft Steals of 2013
David Bakhtiari – Round 4, Pick 109
For the most part, the Packers find a lot of their starting offensive linemen in the middle rounds of the draft. David Bakhtiari is a prime example of that. He was taken in the 4th round and was the ninth offensive tackle taken in the draft. You could argue Bakhtiari has had a more successful career than all eight players taken ahead of him. An argument could be made that Lane Johnson has had more success, but Bak being a left tackle makes him more valuable than Johnson, who plays right tackle for the Eagles.
When healthy, Bakhtiari is one of the top left tackles in the league. Trent Williams is probably at the top of the list, but Bak is right there with him. He is entering his 11th season in the NFL at age 32 there should be plenty left in the tank for arguably the biggest draft steal for the Packers in the last ten years.
Micah Hyde – Round 5, Pick 159
Micah Hyde is often considered a player that got away. He was a do-it-all player for the Green Bay defense while he was a Packer. He played four seasons in Green Bay, playing in 63 games while starting just 33 of them.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and I’m sure there are people out there that knew Hyde could have been used more efficiently in their defense. But I’m not sure anyone knew he’d have the success he has in Buffalo. I’m sure if the Packers knew what Hyde would accomplish in his career they would have been very happy to re-sign him.
In his six years in Buffalo, he has been named to the second All-Pro Team twice (2017, 2021) and the Pro Bowl once (2017). Even if he hasn’t had all of his success in Green Bay, I still consider him a draft steal for the Packers from the 2013 Draft.
Packers Draft Steal of 2014
Corey Linsley – Round 5, Pick 161
Corey Linsley is yet another example of the Packers finding a quality offensive lineman later in the draft. Linsley was one of the top centers in the league while in Green Bay and it hasn’t changed while he’s been in Los Angeles playing for the Chargers.
He was the fifth center taken in the 2014 draft. Players taken ahead of him were Marcus Martin (SF), Travis Swanson (DET), Bryan Stork (NE), and Russell Bodine (CIN). None of those four players taken ahead of Linsley are even in the league anymore. Linsley, on the other hand, is entering his 10th season in the NFL and has been an All-Pro twice and been named to the Pro Bowl once as well.
Packers Draft Steal of 2017
Aaron Jones – Round 5, Pick 182
Aside from Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones might be the biggest Packers draft steal in the past ten years. Jones was the 19th running back taken in the 2017 Draft, which was loaded with running backs who are still relevant heading into the 2023 season. Some players taken ahead of Jones are Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Jamaal Williams, who was also taken by the Packers.
Looking at that list, you could argue that Jones is at, or near, the top of the list in terms of careers. He is and always has been criminally underrated. People will be quick to put McCaffrey, Mixon, Cook, and Kamara all ahead of Jones. But I think we all know that Jones is one of the top running backs in the NFL. Getting him in the 5th round is the definition of a steal.
Packers Draft Steal of 2018
Marquez Valdes-Scantling – Round 5, Pick 174
Picking Marquez Valdes-Scantling as a steal might be a bit of a stretch. I added him here because he played a decent-sized role in the Green Bay offense in his four years as a Packer, especially as a 5th round pick. In his four years as a Packer, he provided the team with a deep threat that their offense was lacking. He caught 123 receptions for over 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns and averaged 17.5 yards per reception. He signed with Kansas City last offseason and went on to win a Super Bowl with the Chiefs.
Not bad for a guy who was the 19th receiver taken in the 2018 Draft.
Packers Draft Steal of 2020
Jon Runyan Jr. – Round 6, Pick 192
This ‘steal’ may also be a bit of a stretch, but anytime you can get a starting offensive lineman in the NFL in the 6th round, you have to feel pretty good about it. Jon Runyan Jr. was taken with the 192nd pick and was a starter for the Packers by his second season in the league.
Runyan Jr. may not be one of the top linemen at his position in the league, but I wouldn’t call him a liability either. Quality starters are hard to come by in the NFL. You’ll happily take a guy like Runyan Jr. in the 6th round all day long.
Christian Borman is a lifelong Packers fan residing in the Madison area. He writes for PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter @christianborman.Christian Borman is a lifelong Packers fan residing in the Madison area. He writes for PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter @christianborman.