Week 8 has come and gone in the NFL (save for tonight’s Monday Night Football game between Denver and Kansas City), and the Packers stand 4-3 at a crossroad after their bye week. They can either build an offensive gameplan to suit Hundley’s skillset and potentially sneak into the playoffs with a 10-6 or 9-7 record, or continue to appear out-coached week after week and miss their first postseason berth since 2008. If the Packers do happen to reach this playoffs this year, it is near certainty that a good portion of the Packers’ 2017 draft class will have made a positive impact. With roughly half the season in the books and no game to recap yesterday, let’s take a look at every rookie’s midseason grade. Keep in mind that draft class evaluations are best made 3-4 years down the road, so these grades are certainly not final as the players continue to mature and get more experience at the professional level.
2nd Round, 33rd Overall, CB Kevin King: While King did not come in and become the #1 conerback right off the bat, ever since he shut down Julio Jones in Week 2 he has become a key cog and starting boundary corner in otherwise disappointing secondary. King has yet to record an interception on the year, and makes the occasional typical rookie mistakes, but he has shown flashes of exceptional play and looks poised to be a longtime contributor in this secondary. If Green Bay is going to make the playoffs this year, King will need to continue to grow, learn from his mistakes, and be ready to step up to the challenge of covering the opposing team’s top receiver week in and week out. Grade: B+
2nd Round, 61st Overall, ILB/S Josh Jones: Jones made plays early and often in training camped, unofficially being dubbed as the Packers’ “Training Camp MVP”. Of course, being MVP while playing football in shorts doesn’t mean much, especially if Jones doesn’t translate this success to the regular season. This isn’t necessarily the case, as Jones has made some splash plays this year. Looking back to the Packers’ Week 3 overtime win against Cincinnati, Jones had a monster game, recording 12 total tackles as well as two sacks on Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton. However, since this game, Jones has not made many plays and he has lately been exposed as somewhat of a liability in run defense. While he was drafted to be a hybrid safety/linebacker in the Packers’ Nitro package, Jones needs to work on crafting his overall game in order to earn more opportunities to make plays in this defense. If Jones can more consistently bring down ball-carriers and get to the opposing quarterback like he did against Cincinnati, he could fight for consideration for Green Bay’s “Rookie of the Year” honor. Grade: B
3rd Round, 93rd Overall, DL Montravius Adams: After sitting out virtually all of the preseason due to foot injury sustained in the first week of training camp, it appears the Packers’ coaching staff has not yet taken the training wheels off of rookie defensive lineman Montravius Adams. Drafted to supplement the interior pass rush produced by fellow big DL Mike Daniels, Adams has only been active for one game this season and has yet to record any statistics. One positive takeaway from Adams disappointing start is that he will be a fresh body in the Packers’ front seven as the season wears on and the games get colder. Overall, it’s impossible to give Adams any grade quite yet as we haven’t really seen him in action. Grade: INCOMPLETE
4th Round, 108th Overall, OLB Vince Beigel: Similar to Adams, Beigel has been kept out of action due to a foot injury from the summer. Beigel decided to undergo surgery on his foot prior to training camp in order to try and be healthy in time for the regular season, which obviously did not exactly happen. The rookie pass rusher from Wisconsin missed all of the preseason, and found himself on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List as he was not able to participate in any portion of training camp. Green Bay allowed Beigel to practice a week ago exactly, opening a 21-day window for him to get activated to the 53-man roster. If the Packers’ do not activate him by the time these 21 days are up, he must either be cut or sent to IR. Look for the Packers to activate him in time for his debut before this Sunday’s rivalry matchup against Detroit. Grade: INCOMPLETE
4th Round, 134th Overall, RB Jamaal Williams: Williams started out the season looking likely to replace Ty Montgomery as the #1 running back in this offense after a solid if unspectacular training camp. Looking back seven weeks later, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While Williams is a respectable pass-blocker, he has looked like an average plodder while carrying the football and has offered no threat in the passing game. With only 33 yards on 10 carries this season, Williams has been buried on the depth chart due to the emergence of fellow rookie Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery’s role in the passing game. While Williams may have find future success with this team, the first half of his rookie campaign has been nothing but a disappointment. Grade: D
5th Round, 175th Overall, WR Deangelo Yancey: Not much to say here, as Yancey got stuck in a numbers game in training camp and was a part of the teams cutdown to 53 players. Luckily, he was retained on the practice squad and has the potential to be activated down the stretch or to make a name for himself next offseason. Grade: INCOMPLETE
5th Round, 182nd Overall, RB Aaron Jones: Finally, we’ve made it to the real hidden gem in this year’s draft class. Jones’ has come all the way from the 4th-string, inactive running back in Week 1 to this team’s spark plug in the running game. He is far and away this team’s leading rusher, with 62 carries for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns in only four games of meaningful action. Jones has virtually replaced Montgomery as the lead back and is currently the Packers’ most effective weapon on offense right now with Coach Mike McCarthy seemingly afraid to hand the reins to Brett Hundley. While defenses will eventually start to gameplan for Jones if he continues to play like he has in the past few weeks, this UTEP product is well on his way to helping Packer fans forget all about Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Grade: A
6th Round, 212nd Overall, OL Kofi Amichia: Similar to Yancey, Amichia was released during the 53 man cutdown and was placed on the practice squad. However, Amichia really failed to impress the coaching staff during the preseason and personally I feel that it speaks volumes that Amichia was never activated during the injury crisis at offensive line during the first half of this season. Amichia saw an undrafted rookie get activated and the a former undrafted tackle fromm Arizona’s practice squad get poached without ever receiving a promotion to the active roster himself. While he may eventually develop into quality depth along the offensive line, the fact that Amichia stayed pat during panic mode at the offensive line does not reflect well upon how Green Bay feels about him. Grade: F
7th Round, 238th Overall, RB Devante Mays: Mays has yet to see the field on offense this year, and his only real to claim to fame so far is that he was in fact active in Week 1 over Aaron Jones. However, due to the emergence of Jones and the presence of Montgomery, the Packers have not yet needed to call Mays’ number. While he looked good in the preseason, it would be premature to give Mays a grade as he has yet to have any opportunities, much like Montravius Adams and Vince Beigel. Grade: INCOMPLETE
7th Round, 247th Overall, WR Malachi Dupre: Dupre, along with Yancey, made for a fun training camp battle to keep an eye on this summer, but ended up losing out and was released during roster cuts. However, Dupre did not return on the practice squad, instead taking a spot on the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad. After sustaining what very well could’ve been a career ending hit in his preseason debut against Philadelphia, it’s was absolutely incredible to see him return to the field just a couple weeks later. While he personally a favorite of mine, it’s tough to give him a anything but an F as he was no longer with the Packers less than five months after he was drafted. Grade: F
OVERALL DRAFT CLASS GRADE: B
At first glance, this draft appears to be all over the board. Comprised of ten total draft picks, three of them did not even make the team’s initial roster coming out of camp. Thankfully, they were all late-round picks and therefore do not factor heavily into an overall draft grade, and Amichia and Yancey always have the chance to develop. Next, you have two mid round guys, Adams and Beigel, who have not really played yet due to injury, but given time they may become big contributors for this defense that sorely needs them. Third, Williams and Mays have not gotten many opportunities at the halfway mark, but this is most likely due to the emergence of Jones and Montgomery’s fit in this offense more so than what it says about their ability. Last, but certainly not least, we are left with King, Josh Jones, and Aaron Jones. Barring something very unforeseen, these three have some shown very bright glimpses of play-making ability and will continue to be invaluable contributors to this team at present and for the foreseeable future.
All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com