Despite reaching the NFC Championship game last season, the Green Bay Packers will need contributions from their rookie class in order to contend in 2017. After being dismantled by Atlanta’s high-flying offense, GM Ted Thompson addressed defensive needs with the Packers’ first four picks of the Draft. In the later rounds, Green Bay addressed the lack of depth at running back by drafting three in the last four rounds of the draft.
After trading back from the 29th overall pick to the 33rd, Washington’s corner Kevin King was the first player selected by Green Bay. A long, rangy corner who was often overlooked in a star-studded Washington secondary that included Sidney Jones and Budda Baker, King blew up the Combine by running a 4.43 forty-yard dash, leaping 39.5 inches, and registering quality marks in the shuttle drills, critical for cornerbacks. Teams worried about his change-of-direction and speed in game situations, but knowing that the raw ability is there should mean those qualities could be easily taught. After Sam Shields went down with an injury, the Packers had to rely on practice-squad players at corner and it showed in their playoff performance. With the veteran Shields gone, King will likely be placed in a high-usage role immediately. However, the addition of Davon House from Jacksonville will allow King to acclimate to the NFL more gradually. Expect the rookie to be a constant presence in the red zone matched up against another team’s tallest receiver, as King’s 6’3” frame will be beneficial in short field situations.
The Pack doubled down on the secondary with their second second round pick, drafting NC State’s versatile safety Josh Jones. With the ability to play corner as well, the uber-athletic Jones will be a valuable situational addition for the Packers going forward. Overlooked for conference and national honors, Jones racked up 106 tackles and three picks in 2016. While he doesn’t have great ball skills, Jones is a punishing downfield tackler, though his aggressiveness can often cause him to overshoot the play. With veteran Morgan Burnett and rising star Haha Clinton-Dix entrenched in the starting safety roles, Jones will have to wait to get his chance at a starting role. But with Micah Hyde leaving for Buffalo this offseason, the Packers have little depth at the position, meaning Jones will have plenty of opportunities to make a name for himself in 2017.
Green Bay stayed on the defensive side of the ball with their next two picks, bolstering the front seven by adding defensive tackle Montravius Adams and outside linebacker Vince Biegel with their third and fourth round picks. The 6’4”, 300-plus pound monster Adams was second-team All-SEC last year after registering 4.5 sacks and consistently blowing up plays in the middle of the field. Some teams held concerns about his desire to play after a lackluster junior season, and his disappointing Combine performance did him no favors. Third-year player Christian Ringo will enter the year as the starting nose tackle, and Adams will likely back him up, which should comprise a healthy dosage of snaps for the Auburn product going forward. The selection of hometown stud Biegel in the fourth round was a good consolation for passing up on his pass-rushing companion TJ Watt, and the drafting of the former Badger was for more than just sentimental reasons. While undersized by NFL standards, Biegel is a high-motor player and has a natural feel for the game. Durability has been an issue for the former captain at Wisconsin, but if he can stay healthy, he could see some playing time at outside linebacker this year. However, Biegel will most likely only see the field on special teams in 2017.
With their next five picks, the Packers addressed their depth on the offensive side of the ball. After being forced to convert wide receiver Ty Montgomery to running back last year, Green Bay drafted rushers Jamaal Williams in the fourth round, Aaron Jones in the fifth and Devante Mays in the seventh. The BYU product Williams is the most likely to make an immediate impact in 2017, as he has the size to handle an early-down workload but isn’t strictly a power back. Compared to James Starks, Williams will probably play a similar role to the former Packer. Jones, at only 5’9” and 208 pounds, is a threat to take it to the house whenever he touches the ball, but is too small to be anything more than a complementary back. Former Utah State rusher Mays will likely take over as the primary goal-line rusher in 2017, as his 5’11”, 230 pound body is well-suited for short-yardage and goal-to-go situations. With Montgomery the only non-rookie running back, expect big contributions from this group.
After losing JC Tretter and TJ Lang in the free agency this past offseason, the Packers attempted to gain some depth in the trenches by snagging C Kofi Amichia in the sixth round. Amichia has the versatility to play every position on the line, a valuable quality for a unit that is short on talent. However, the South Florida product weighed in at around 280 pounds during his pro day, which would make him light. If injury afflicts the Packers line, Amichia could see significant playing time, but don’t expect much. Green Bay grabbed two wideouts to add to their star-studded unit in fifth rounder DeAngelo Yancey and seventh rounder Malachi Dupre. Yancey has little attributes outside of being a vertical threat, and many were surprised that he was drafted as high as he was. Dupre was a good value in the seventh round, and is a more reliable target than Yancey. However, both receivers will need to show their value on special teams in order to justify being given a roster spot.
The Packers did a good job of addressing their weaknesses in this draft, and will need their picks to step up immediately in order to contend in a competitive conference.