Round 1, Pick 18 – Jaire Alexander CB Louisville
I’ll tie both trades and the selection into grading this pick. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that both Derwin James and Tremaine Edumunds would be on the board at 14, but that is how things played out. Both James and Edmunds had been linked to Green Bay prior to the draft, picking one of the two seemed inevitable. Initially I was pretty steamed that they would trade out given they had those two potential difference makers right in their fingertips. When I saw what they got in return, trading back made a lot more sense. The Saints made the Packers an offer that they basically couldn’t refuse, a chance to pick twice in the first round of next years draft. The Packers would move up to Pick 18 to take Jaire Alexander later on.
Alexander is do it all cornerback, meaning he can play in the slot or outside. This ability could mean he will be shadowing one wideout all over the field if he develops into a true number 1 cornerback. He will come into Green Bay and immediately be one of the best athletes on the field. The Packers were in desperate need of a cornerback who could play in the slot, and Jaire Alexander is just that.
I think they did the right thing trading back, although sticking and making a selection would’ve also been a good move. It may have been beneficial to have attempted to get back in at 16 or 17 to grab one of the two aforementioned players. Jaire Alexander plays at a position of much higher need than safety or inside linebacker however. The Packers needed a cornerback who could contribute right away, and they needed a guy who can play in the slot. They got both with this pick. It’s clear the front office valued Alexander close to that of the other top players on the board. When they traded out, they had a plan to trade back up and they executed it well. If you ask me the real losers of that initial trade down were the New Orleans Saints, they spent two first round picks and came away with only Marcus Davenport.
Round 1, Pick 45 – Josh Jackson CB Iowa
For the second consecutive year, the Packers got a cornerback in the second round which was still in the green room at the draft. At the start of the round, my fellow Pack to the Future draft writers and myself were clamoring for names like Harold Landry and Dallas Goedert at 45. Cornerback Josh Jackson ended up falling our way in the mid second round. Jackson was a popular name mocked to Green Bay in the first round throughout the offseason. The Packers got really good value with this pick, which to me is clearly a big reason why they selected two cornerbacks with their first two picks. Jackson is a big physical outside cornerback with outstanding ball skills. He led the nation in both pass break ups and interceptions last season with 8 interceptions total. Jackson has a chance to make an even bigger impact that Alexander in this upcoming season. I love that he was given the number 37 by the organization, we can only hope he develops into the cover man Sam Shields was at the height of his career.
The front office went the route of best player available when they picked Josh Jackson. Even with the addition of Jaire Alexander in round 1, the Packers still had a need at corner. The team now has 3 promising young cornerbacks with Kevin King already on the roster. The young corners have a good mentor on the roster in Tramon Williams, and could learn a lot from Davon House as well. Ideally all 3 of the young draft picks will develop into something good, and the Packers will have 3 reliable options by the time Williams and House exit. Times have changed in the NFL, you need to have 3 starting caliber cornerbacks. The Packers could have gone after needs like edge rusher, tight end, wideout, or offensive tackle instead of double dipping at corner. I like the pick because overall because Josh Jackson was the best player on the board in my opinion despite maybe not being the biggest positional need.
Round 3, Pick 88 – Oren Burks LB Vanderbilt
As many had speculated, the Packers moved back into the third round after trading their third round pick to move up in the first round. The pick was a coverage inside linebacker out of Vanderbilt named Oren Burks Ted Thompson had never really invested big time draft capital at the inside linebacker position. The 2006 draft in which AJ Hawk and Abdul Hodge were picked in the first three rounds comes to mind as the last time the Packers used big time capital at off ball linebacker, that was over ten years ago. This is clearly a pick that somewhat fills the void that Joe Thomas’s departure left. The Packers obviously hope Burks develops into a better all around player than Thomas was for them. Burks played all over the field at Vandy, something consistent with Mike Pettine’s desire to have hybrid players. The team has indicated that Burks will primarily be playing inside linebacker
Burks fits the mold of the inside linebacker I hoped the Packers would come away with in this draft. He’s the athlete you want as a coverage linebacker. Burks ran a 4.59 40 yard dash time and jumped 39.5 inches in the vertical jump at 6’3″ and 233 pounds. His 3 cone time of 6.82 tested above the 90th percentile as well. Burks solidified himself as a late day 2 pick with a stellar combine after originally being labeled a day 3 pick.
He has coverage ability and will likely get time in sub packages right away. It will be nice to have someone who can cover a back out of the backfield or a receiving tight end well for sure. Burks never really stuck to one position at Vandy which worries me. He’s going to have some work to do in getting better at stopping the run. Not too much production at Vanderbilt. This is a potential pick primarily, but it fills a need on the defense as well.
Round 4 Pick 133 J’Mon Moore WR Missouri
J’Mon Moore represents the athlete at wideout the Packers have been missing for years. Moore tested in the 96th percentile in the 3 cone drill with a time of 6.56 seconds at the combine. Moore was also able to test in the 92nd percentile in short shuttle (4.04) and the 86 percentile in vertical jump (38″). He probably fell in the draft due to running a 4.6 second 40 yard dash at the combine. Moore plays much faster than that on tape, and ran a 4.48 40 at his pro day to further prove that. “Really, I just lined up at the wrong line at the 40. The combine is something different, let me tell you.” was Moore’s response when asked about his slow run at the combine. He and Deangelo Yancey are an 85.3% match athletically according to MockDraftable.
It was high time the Packers got a rookie to compete for the starting job opposite Davante Adams on the perimeter. I clamored for the Packers to take a hard look at the abundance of fast wideouts on the free agent market this spring. A legitimate deep threat wideout is something this offense has been missing since at least 2014. Moore has long speed and elite change of direction. Personally I think he will be WR3 by the end of this season, if not by Week 1. Good positional need and a good fit. A-.
Round 5 Pick 138 Cole Madison OG Washington State
Madison just plain looks like a Packers offensive linemen, and fortunately also fits the offense they run well. Madison was a 4 year starter at Washington State, only missing 4 starts his freshman year. He moves well in pass pro and is able to sustain blocks. Madison allowed very few pressures in his time at Washington State. He needs to get stronger to play guard at a high level in the NFL. He has also only played right tackle in college. I could definitely see him playing some right tackle this season if Bulaga is not ready to start week 1. I like that they stuck to the tackle convert to a guard narrative with this pick. I thought a player they intended to play at tackle was certainly a bigger need here.
Round 5 Pick 172 JK Scott P Alabama
I wasn’t crazy about this pick. It goes to show you that new GM Brian Gutekunst values the punter position much more than Ted Thompson. After years of mediocrity at punter, the Packers seemed to have found something in rookie Justin Vogel last season. I wasn’t a fan of the corresponding move to cut Vogel loose rather than provide competition to Scott in camp. Vogel did request to be released in order to have a better chance at making at NFL roster this season, and who could blame him. It would take a lot for the Packers to cut Scott in favor of Vogel, plain and simple.
The Packers most likely get an instant upgrade at punter, which is why this isn’t a terrible pick by any means. When Alabama punted on occasion, Scott performed very well in college. He is also able to hold for Mason Crosby well and kickoff. Scott is a solid athlete for a punter, so we may see him make a tackle or two that other punters wouldn’t. It seemed a little early for a punter considering the other needs that hadn’t been addressed yet, but this is a much safer pick than most 5th rounders.
Round 5 Pick 174 Marquez Valdes-Scantling WR USF
MVS, as I will be referring to him in his time as a Packer, is a crazy athlete at wideout. He stands at 6’4″ 206 pounds and runs a 4.37 40, that is absurd. I know what you’re thinking…That sounds a lot like Jeff Janis. It does. The organization may have seen the resemblance in giving him the number 83. This is a potential pick, he has coachable traits. The coaching staff will have to work through some rough routes to start out, again similarly to Janis. One would think he could develop into a special teams ace early on with all that length and athletic ability, which could end up being his ticket to a roster spot this season. I like the athletic profile of this boom or bust pick at a position of big need, however there was a few wideouts I liked better still on the board at this spot.
Round 6 Pick 207 Equanimeous St. Brown WR Notre Dame
I still have yet to attempt to pronounce his first name. I have a feeling he will be referred to as ESB plenty in Green Bay. This is an incredible value pick. It reminds me a bit of getting Malachi Dupree in round 7 last season, hopefully this pans out better. St. Brown was viewed as a top 100 and even a top 75 talent by many draft experts, but the Packers drafted him at 207. I suspect that he may have been by far the best player on their board, and that is why they made the selection despite the crowded receiver room. I’m not a huge fan of triple dipping at any position, but when you get this kind of value why pass it up. It’s very possible that one of the three rookie pass catchers is cut prior to week one, which is never good. ESB continues the trend of tall athletic receivers being picked by the Packers in this draft at 6’4″ running a sub 4.5 40 yard dash.
Round 7 Pick 232 James Looney DL Cal
This kind of reminds me of the Monty Adams pick last year. Looney is a good athlete that played a lot better his second to last college season than he did in his final season. He lacks the size and strength to play inside, and therefore will likely play defensive end in Mike Pettine’s multiple system. I like the idea of adding another body at defensive end to compete with Mo Wilkerson and Dean Lowry, especially with the potential of playing some 4 man defensive fronts under Pettine.
Round 7 Pick 239 Hunter Bradley LS Mississippi State
This pick didn’t make much sense to me. It may upgrade the long snapper position a little, but it had to have been worth taking a chance on getting this guy as a UDFA instead. I do not really see anything overly special that this kid brings to the table as a long snapper that we have not had in recent years. Is Brett Goode that bad of an athlete to the point where he’s costing you games with his punt coverage? I think not. Bradley has had all sorts of knee issues as well. Furthermore, this wasn’t even the final pick the Packers had in the draft. They could have drafted a long snapper 9 picks later at the very least. I would’ve taken a chance on a Tight End, Edge Rusher, or Offensive Tackle instead. There were also guys on the board like Quenton Meeks and Holton Hill at cornerback that would’ve been big values at this spot in my opinion.
Round 7 Pick 248 Kendall Donnerson OLB SE Missouri St.
There were more pro ready guys on the board than Donnerson for sure. This is a project pick purely. At 6’3″ 250 pounds he posted a 4.48 40 yard dash time and a 40 inch vertical. Those are crazy numbers. Most picks this late in the draft are complete gambles, and so is this one. Some NFL coaching could turn those coachable traits into something big, or it could fizzle out. Donnerson has big time special teams potential as well. I suspect that Donnerson spends at least one year on the practice squad if he doesn’t show something big on special teams.
Overall Grade: B+
I read a lot of analysis on this draft, plenty of draft experts considered this draft to be elite. I like a lot of aspects of this draft class. It is lined with athletes at every corner. They also gained another first round pick next season. As always, it is far too early to tell exactly how these picks will grade out. Time will tell.