Green Bay Packers top personnel executive Brian Gutekunst now has his first draft under his belt as the man in charge. He quickly illustrated that he isn’t afraid to make deals as you will see in the Green Bay Packers 2018 NFL Draft review.
In the first round, he executed two trades as well as another in the third round. Here is a breakdown of those moves via ESPN.com.
Traded the 27th overall pick (obtained from Saints), a third-round pick (76th overall) and a sixth-round pick (186th overall) to the Seattle Seahawks for the 18th overall pick and a seventh-round pick (248th overall, obtained from the Minnesota Vikings).
Under Gutekunst’s guidance, the Packers showed they weren’t afraid to make moves. The moves that the Packers pulled off showed they had a plan and stuck to it. Gutekunst has stated he wants to create competition at multiple positions. From what the Packers did, it appears they are off to a good start in doing so.
Here is a list of the prospects that the Packers selected in this year’s draft. Along with where these prospects were selected by the Packers, we have also added where they were projected by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, giving you an idea what kind of value, if any, these picks had:
First round, 18th overall: Jaire Alexander, cornerback, Louisville, first round projection
Second round, 45th overall: Josh Jackson, cornerback, Iowa, first or second round projection
Third round, 88th overall: Oren Burks, linebacker, Vanderbilt, fourth or fifth round projection
Fourth round, 133rd overall: J’Mon Moore, wide receiver, Missouri, fourth or fifth round projection
Fifth round, 138th overall: Cole Madison, offensive line, Washington State, fifth or sixth round projection
Fifth round, 172nd overall: JK Scott, punter, Alabama, third or fourth round projection
Fifth round, 174th overall: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, wide receiver, South Florida, sixth or seventh round projection
Sixth round, 207th overall: Equanimeous St. Brown, wide receiver, Notre Dame, third or fourth round projection
Seventh round, 232nd overall: James Looney, defensive line, California, sixth or seventh round projection
Seventh round, 239th overall: Hunter Bradley, long snapper, Mississippi State, no projection given
Seventh round, 248th overall: Kendall Donnerson, edge rusher, Southeast Missouri State, seventh round or an undrafted free agent projection
Green Bay Packers 2018 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: Josh Jackson
A lot will be published about Alexander, the player the Packers selected in the first round. Alexander is a very solid prospect and he should help the Packers secondary. But the player we believe is the best player from this draft for the Packers is fellow cornerback Josh Jackson.
Leading up to the draft, many had Jackson slotted to go in the mid to late first round. But it appears that his 4.49 40-yard dash time caused him to slip. This is why he landed with the Packers in the second round. But they might be getting a steal in Jackson. Not only does he have great size, but he is a magnet for the ball. The 6’0”, 196-pound corner had an eye-popping eight interceptions for the Hawkeyes last season, with returning two of them for touchdowns.
Jackson was just a starter for one season in Iowa, which makes him pretty raw. But don’t overlook his ball hawking ability. The Packers are in need of a cornerback to make plays and they will get that in Jackson. He won’t be asked to start immediately on the boundary. Jackson most likely will play behind veterans Davon House and Tramon Williams, which will give him time to learn. Expect big things from him when he does get into the lineup.
The Head Scratcher: Failing to Bolster Pass Rush
This draft wasn’t very deep at pass rusher. Gutekunst must have also thought that the quality wasn’t very good either. The Packers didn’t select a pass rusher until the seventh round of the draft.
By doing this, Gutekunst is banking on current young players on the Packers roster to contribute. Starters Nick Perry and Clay Matthews have shown they can get to the passer, but also have shown they struggle to stay healthy. They are backed up by third-year player Kyler Fackrell along with second-year players Vince Biegel and Reggie Gilbert. If Biegel, Fackrell or Gilbert, can’t take advantage of the opportunity, Gutekunst will be criticized for not addressing the position in this year’s draft.
The Surprise: JK Scott
When a punter is selected in the draft, it sets up the person who drafted him for possible criticism. This is what happened when former head coach/general manager Mike Sherman selected BJ Sander in the third round of the 2004 draft. Sander punted just one year for the Packers. He performed so poorly, he was cut prior to his second season, even with being a third round selection.
Sander will be in the back of the minds of Packers fans when they see Scott punt this season for the Packers. Gutekunst spent a fifth round pick on the former Alabama punter. Many will say that spending a seventh round pick on a long snapper, Bradley, is more surprising. But at least the Packers are in need of a long snapper.
Last year’s punter, Justin Vogel, set a single season team record for punting average last season. With Vogel entering just his second season in the NFL, most believed the starting punter job would be his this season for the Packers. Even with the Packers saying it will be an open competition, it is very doubtful that Vogel has much of a chance to keep his starting job. It would be very hard to believe or see Gutekunst cutting a fifth round pick.
Although surprising, it should be pointed out that Scott was rated by most as the best punter prospect in this draft.
The Steal: Landing the Saints 2019 First Round Pick
Many Packers fans were screaming at their televisions when the Packers traded out of the 14th pick. But it appears that the rookie Gutekunst played it correctly. Not only did they get the Saints first round pick next year, but they still landed a prospect they reportedly coveted. The Packers didn’t have to give up much, their third-round pick, to trade back up to 18th either.
As Gutekunst stated, first round picks are hard to pass up. But it appears they didn’t miss out on the player they wanted, Alexander. However, it should be interesting to see how Marcus Davenport’s career turns out. The Saints selected Davenport with the Packers original 14th overall pick. Davenport could’ve filled the Packers glaring need at pass rusher.
Most Likely To Turn Heads in Training Camp: Oren Burks
Burks has the athletic ability that the Packers haven’t had at the inside linebacker position in many seasons. Packers linebacker Blake Martinez was one of the leaders in tackles last season in the NFL. But he doesn’t have the speed and coverage ability that Burks is projected to have.
Burks will be flying around at training camp and should excite Packers fans. Not only does he have pass coverage ability (he was once a safety at Vanderbilt) but has shown the ability to pass rush. That type of versatility is a major plus in a Mike Pettine’s style of defense. Pettine has said that he wants players that can do several things, which Burks can do.
The wide receiver position will have a lot of competition this coming season. There is some unknown behind starting wide receivers Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. Moore, Valdes-Scantling, and St. Brown are big athletic targets that should make Aaron Rodgers very happy. On tape, Moore looks similar to former Packers wide receiver James Jones. He isn’t a blazer, but he gets open and is a playmaker. St. Brown was a very good get in the sixth round. He is a big target and has a lot of raw ability.
Cole Madison is projected as a guard, but he does have the ability to play tackle like he showed at Washington State. He should be in the mix for the starting right guard position heading into training camp.
Out of the three seventh-round selections the Packers had, it seems Bradley is the only one to have a real chance of making the roster. The Packers were in need of a long snapper, so they reached by taking one in the seventh round.
Looney will face an uphill battle in making the roster. The defensive line is probably the deepest on the Packers roster.
To the common fan, there isn’t much known about Donnerson. It’s easy to assume that he was selected because of his workout numbers. Unless he shows that he can excel on special teams in training camp, the best thing for Donnerson is to make the Packers practice squad.
Packers fans who find anything to complain about this draft will point to the lack of pass rushers selected. Still, even without landing a top end pass rusher, this draft was a successful one for Gutekunst and the Packers. They addressed a position of need, cornerback, and were able to land a prospect they coveted in Alexander, and another one that had first-round talent, Jackson, in round two.
The Packers were able to land wide receivers who will provide competition and also a linebacker who can help in several different areas. Madison will compete for a starting position, guard, as a rookie.
Gutekunst put an emphasis on special teams and he addressed that late in the draft. Not only will Scott and Bradley contribute immediately on special teams, but Burks skills should translate well on special teams.
Gutekunst had a spotlight on him running his first draft and it appears that he flourished doing it. It is impossible to give individual grades on these picks until they have a couple of seasons under their belt. But for filling needs and getting good value on their picks, Gutekunst passed with flying colors.