The Green Bay Packers roster just doesn’t seem all that talented this season. They do have enough talent to be a better football team than they have shown so far, but they aren’t executing. The team has no pass rush to speak of. Neither the offense or the defense seem to be able to play a complete game. Defensively the Packers have come out slow in almost every game thus far this season. Fortunately they have been able to adjust and play better in the second half. Brian Gutekunst is tasked with bringing talent onto the field for the Packers. The fact of the matter is that Brian Gutekunst has come on as general manager of the Green Bay Packers inheriting some rather poor draft classes of the last 3 years under Ted Thompson.
The first 3 rounds of the 2015 draft yielded players like Damarious Randall, Quentin Rollins, and Ty Montgomery. Only Montgomery remains on this roster, and while he is a dynamic weapon, the Packers didn’t strike gold with their 3rd round pick. Randall showed some talent, but appeared to be more suited to play free safety, the position he currently mans in Cleveland. Jake Ryan provided decent return, but nothing eye popping. Largely a disappointing draft class as a whole.
Fast forward to 2016, and you’ll see a bit of improvement. First round pick Kenny Clark is the best player on the Packers defense, and a promising player at only 23 years old. Other notable picks are Jason Spriggs, Kyler Fackrell , Blake Martinez, and Dean Lowry. Spriggs is and uber-athlete at tackle, but he has largely under performed his draft status. Kyler Fackrell has also been disappointing despite athletic talent. Blake Martinez came in and took charge of the inside linebacker position, he is not a star player however. Dean Lowry was a definite hit on day 3 as a rotational player and occasional starter on the defensive line. Not a great class outside of a big hit on Clark and Martinez.
It is a little early to judge the 2017 class. This isn’t a horrible class, but there are some definite wash out picks already. Players like Kevin King, Jamaal Williams, and Aaron Jones have been solid. The jury is still out on Josh Jones and Montravius Adams, the two have not played much this season though. Several players from this draft class are not on the 53 man roster. Vince Biegel, Deangelo Yancey, Kofi Amichia, Malachi Dupree, and Devante Mays are all wash outs. That is half of the draft class not on the roster or practice squad after one season. All of those picks, apart from Dupree, were real head scratchers to me on draft day for different reasons.
General Manager Brian Gutekunst really has his work cut out for him with those poor draft classes coming ahead of his start as general manager. On the bright side, all signs are pointing to his first swing at a draft being successful. Rookie corners Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson have played a lot of snaps this season. They’ve looked good out there thus far this season, and posses a ton of potential. Linebacker Oren Burks looks like he could become an outstanding player if he can become better against the run. Marquez Valdes-Scantling looks legit, and so does Equanimous St. Brown. Both have been productive with injuries thrusting them into the lineup. JK Scott has been excellent punting the football as well. They are getting big impact from two rookies, and have also seen contributions from 4 other draft picks.
The jury is still very much out on players like J’mon Moore, Cole Madison, James Looney, Hunter Bradley, and Kendall Donnerson. The day 1 & 2 picks look very good, and there’s some gems from day 3 making noise as well. The Packers will also have the advantage of possessing the Saints 1st round pick this spring. With everything factored in, this has the looks of a really good draft class for a first year GM. 2015 looked like a good draft class with Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins playing well as rookies as well, so we must temper our expectations. It’s worth noting that Alexander and Jackson seem to be performing better than the 2015 pair of corners did.
So what if Gutekunst can continue to draft well? The Packers could then continue to become a more talented roster as they recover from the poor drafts of 2015 to 2017. A draft and develop team that does not draft well will not be successful. Unless of course their quarterback is Aaron Rodgers.