In the 13 years that Ted Thompson has run the NFL draft for the Green Bay Packers, one can tell that he certainly loves draft picks. In six of those drafts now, Thompson has accumulated 10 draft picks or more, which includes the 2017 NFL draft which netted the Packers 10 more players.
Ever since Thompson hired Mike McCarthy as head coach in 2006, the Packers have been primarily a draft-and-develop team.
In eleven seasons using the draft-and-develop philosophy for the most part, that marriage of Thompson and McCarthy has led to a 114-61-1 regular season record, with six NFC North titles, nine playoff appearances (including eight consecutive), four NFC title game appearances and one Super Bowl win.
But this offseason and before the draft, Thompson threw a curve ball at the draft-and-develop only strategy. In fact, Thompson and the Packers signed five free agents, which is the most they have signed since 2006, which was McCarthy’s first year as head coach.
The five free agents signed were tight end Martellus Bennett, tight end Lance Kendricks, cornerback Davon House, defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois and guard Jahri Evans.
Those moves set up the draft which took place starting last Thursday night. I’m going to write about each one of the draft picks, plus NFL scout Chris Landry will share his thoughts on each player.
After trading out of the first round of the 2017 NFL draft on Thursday night, the Packers decided to make sure that their defense became bigger and faster in the second and third rounds on Friday night, especially in the secondary.
With pick No. 33 (along with pick No. 108) that the Packers acquired from the Cleveland Browns for pick No. 29, the Packers drafted Kevin King of Washington.
King was a three-year starter in the very talented Husky secondary, where he started at safety in 2014, before starting at cornerback in 2015 and 2016.
In his career with Washington, King had 165 tackles, 28 passes broken up, six interceptions and two forced fumbles.
The 6’3″, 198-pound King put on quite a show at the NFL Scouting Combine. King ran a 4.43 in the 40, plus led all defensive backs in the 20-yard shuttle (3.89), 60-yard shuttle (11.14) and 3-cone (6.56).
This is Landry’s take on King:
“King ripped up the Combine with an absurd 99th-percentile SPARQ score and 4.43 straight-line speed. King struggles with short-area routes as most plus-sized corners do, but his ceiling is sky high as a long boundary presence with highlight-reel ball skills. On tape, King reminds of Antonio Cromartie in his prime.”
Then with pick No. 61, the Packers brought in some more size and speed for their secondary, as they drafted Josh Jones of North Carolina State.
The 6’1″, 220-pound Jones ran a 4.41 in the 40 at the combine, plus had 20 reps in the bench press drill, which was tied for first among all safeties. In addition, Jones had a vertical leap of 37.5 inches (third) and a broad jump of 11 feet (second).
In his career at North Carolina State, Jones matched his workout prowess with his play on the field. In three years with the Wolfpack, Jones had 229 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, eight interceptions, 17 passes defended, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
Jones did not allow a touchdown in coverage as a senior.
Here is Landry’s take on Jones:
“Jones’ stock skyrocketed at the Combine, blazing 4.41 with a 37 ½-inch vertical, absurd 11-foot broad jump, and 20 reps on the bench. An inconsistent tackler with mouth-watering athletic traits, Jones has boom-bust characteristics as a free-strong safety tweener.”
After adding talent and speed in their secondary with their first two selections in the draft, the Packers added some size, strength and speed to their defensive line, as they selected Montravius Adams of Auburn.
The 6’4″, 305-pound Adams showed his speed at the combine, as he ran a 4.87 in the 40. Adams was third-team All-SEC honors as a junior and second-team All-SEC this past season, as he had a breakout senior season.
In his career with the Tigers, Adams had 147 total tackles, 19.5 tackles for a loss, 10. 5 sacks, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
This is Landry’s take on Adams:
“Adams’ down-to-down consistency improved as a senior, and scouts at January’s Senior Bowl described his performance as “dominant” in Mobile. While he should push for early-down run-stopping snaps as a rookie, Adams’ pass-rush upside is limited. At his ceiling, Adams likely projects as a 3-5 sack-per-season player in the pros.”
In the fourth round, with the first pick of that round acquired in the trade with the Browns, the Packers went the local product route, as they selected linebacker Vince Biegel of Wisconsin.
That pick was a big hit in our household, as Vince our Beagle, was very pleased with the selection.
The 6’3″, 246-pound Biegel had a great career as a Badger, as he had 191 total tackles, 39.5 tackles for loss, 21.5 sacks, five pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
In addition to that, Biegel was third-team All-Big Ten in 2015 and second-team All-Big Ten in 2016. Plus, Biegel was a team captain and was part of the winningest senior class in school history, which posted a record of 41-13 (.759), including a 26-7 (.788) mark in Big Ten play and three consecutive bowl wins.
At the combine, Biegel ran a 4.67 in the 40.
This is Landry’s take on Biegel:
“Turning 24 in July, Biegel is an over-aged prospect, undersized by NFL edge-player standards, and got overpowered too frequently in college. An overachieving son of a coach, Biegel projects as a special teamer whose long-term ceiling is likely in the Erik Walden range.”
With their second pick in the fourth round, the Packers selected running back Jamaal Williams of BYU.
In his career as a Cougar, Williams rushed for 3,901 yards (5.4 average) and 35 touchdowns. Williams also added 60 receptions for 567 yards and another score.
In 2016, the 6’0″, 212-pound Williams rushed for 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns, which includes one game when Williams ran 287 yards and five touchdowns before an ankle injury sidelined him.
At the combine, Williams ran a 4.59 40.
This is Landry’s take on Williams:
“A decisive, downhill grinder on college tape, Williams is a two-down back with a ceiling in the Alfred Morris range. That said, he could find himself with a big rookie role behind Ty Montgomery.”
With their first pick in the fifth round, the Packers selected wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey of Purdue.
In his career as a Boilermaker, the 6’1″, 220-pound Yancey had 141 receptions for 2,344 yards (16.6 average) and 20 touchdowns. Wisconsin fans might recall that Yancey lit up the Badger secondary in 2016, as he had six catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
Yancey ran a 4.53 in the 40 at Purdue’s pro day, plus shined in the three-cone drill (6.84).
This is Landry’s take on Yancey:
“Yancey generated minimal pre-draft buzz because he struggles to separate and drops too many passes, but he is big with some downfield playmaking ability, which makes him flier worthy.”
With their second fifth-round pick, this one as a compensatory pick, the Packers selected running back Aaron Jones of Texas-El Paso.
Jones had a great career for the Miners, as he rushed for 4,114 yards (6.3 average) and 33 touchdowns. Jones also added 71 catches for 646 yards and seven more scores.
The 5’9″, 209-pound Jones was second-team All-Conference USA in 2014 and first-team All-Conference USA this past season.
At the combine, Jones ran a 4.56 in the 40 and excelled in a number of other drills, including the vertical jump (37.5 inches) and broad jump (127.0 inches), plus posted a very impressive 6.82 three-cone time.
This is Landry’s take on Jones:
“On tape, Jones is a determined inside runner with plus vision, darting quickness, and serious big-play ability. In 2016, Jones led the nation in touchdown runs that began outside the red zone (12), including nine TD runs of 40-plus yards. While probably not an NFL workhorse, Jones is one of this year’s top sleeper running backs.”
In the sixth round, the Packers selected offensive lineman Kofi Amichia of South Florida.
The 6’3″, 304-pound Amichia started two games at right tackle in 2014 before starting 26 straight games at left tackle in 2015 and 2016. Because of his size, Amichia will play guard/center in the NFL.
Amichia was named first-team All-American Athletic Conference in 2016.
The former Bull had a great pro day at USF, as he ran the 40 in 4.99, did 32 reps in the bench press drill, had a vertical jump of 33½ inches and a broad jump of 9 feet 6 inches.
Amichia also scored a 31 on the Wonderlic intelligence test.
This is Landry’s take on Amichia:
“Has started 26 straight games at left tackle for a USF program that has broken the school’s rushing record in back-to-back seasons – posting 3,501 yards and 44 touchdowns on the ground in 2016 – and consistently ranked among the least sacked teams in the nation. At 6030 304, he runs and moves his feet well.”
In the seventh round, where the Packers acquired another pick after a trade with the Denver Broncos, Green Bay first took yet another running back, this time Devante Mays of Utah State.
In two years with the Utes, Mays rushed for 1,221 yards (6.1 average) and 12 touchdowns. Mays missed half of the 2016 season due to an ankle/knee injury.
The 5’10”, 230-pound Mays had a great pro day, as Landry explains in his take on Mays:
“Mays (5’10/230) is the third running back the Packers have drafted this weekend, so they’re taking as many chances at their weakest offensive position. He ran 4.52 at Utah State’s Pro Day with an explosive 40.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-9 broad jump. Mays will compete for a final roster spot.”
With their final selection of the draft and their second seventh-round pick, the Packers picked wide receiver Malachi Dupre of LSU.
Like Yancey, Dupre has great size, as he’s 6’2″ and 196 pounds. In his career at LSU, Dupre had 98 receptions for 1,609 yards (16.4 average) and 14 touchdowns.
At the combine, Dupre ran a 4.52 in the 40, plus was a top performer in both the vertical jump (39.5 inches) and broad jump (135.0 inches).
Here is Landry’s take on Dupre:
“A top-two wideout recruit out of high school, Dupre’s college stats were torpedoed by horrific quarterback play in LSU’s run-first offense. Built like Justin Hunter but not as straight-line fast (4.52), Dupre is a long, lanky, developmental wideout with no clear calling card. Like Hunter, Dupre struggled on college tape with press-man coverage and contested catches, lacking a my-ball mentality. Dupre’s best NFL projection is probably in the Andre Holmes range.”
So, the Packers definitely improved their size and speed in the secondary with the selections of King and Jones.
They also added strength, speed and athleticism in the trenches with their selections of Adams on the defensive line and Amichia on the offensive line.
With the selection of Biegel, Green Bay added a productive edge rusher, plus is a player who has the ability to move inside at linebacker.
And with the selections of Williams, Jones and Mays, the depth and talent at the running back has certainly been enhanced. So much in fact, that the Packers released both Christine Michael and Don Jackson earlier today.
Finally at wide receiver, the Packers added two more big receivers, who have shown a big-play ability in college catching the deep ball. The addition of Yancey and Dupre will push the younger receivers on the team, which includes Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis and Geronimo Allison.
It’s also important to note that Davante Adams will be a unrestricted free agent in 2018 unless the Packers extend his contract.
Bottom line, the Packers have added 15 players to their roster this offseason via free agency and the draft, which does not even include the undrafted free agent rookies the team has signed.
The Packers are a team which has been a participant in two of the last three NFC title games and don’t be surprised if Green Bay makes it three out of the last four with the new additions on their team helping them to get there.