Monday, May 02, 2016

2016 NFL Draft: Packers Select Seven Players at Four Positions

The Green Bay Packers' 2016 draft didn't exactly work out like I expected (I thought they'd select a cornerback and tight end in the mid-rounds) and I got a big surprise when GM Ted Thompson traded up in the 2nd round for one of the best offensive tackles in the entire draft.

It wasn't a flashy year and it won't get any high grades from the pundits who grade every team's draft the day after, but they filled a three gaping holes on the roster and they added a lot of size.
Defensive line. They had to replace NT B.J. Raji and they got DT Kenny Clark (who could be another Mike Daniels) in the 1st round before selecting Northwestern's DE Kyle Lowry at the end of the 4th round. Lowry's selection was a bit of a surprise because I thought the Packers were done with DE types who eventually became converted LB (Mike Neal, Datone Jones). Jones hasn't officially converted to OLB so maybe nothing's changed yet with their defensive scheme. Lowry seems like an early down, 3-4 DE who can play the run and record the occasional coverage sack.

Offensive tackle. I didn't think they'd spend a high pick on an offensive lineman when the starting five are already set, but instead they moved up to the middle of the 2nd round to draft Indiana's OT Jason Spriggs, who could have been selected at the end of the 1st round. After all the injuries last season, and all the fail by their backups (Don Barclay in particular), they had to do something, and I'd rather they'd error on the side of too much when it comes to protecting QB Aaron Rodgers. For good measure, they also drafted Stanford OT Kyle Murphy at the end of the 6th round. Before the draft, I was hoping they could select Murphy in the 4th round to take over as their top backup, so getting him in the 6th round as their 2nd backup OT is a great value. It's looking like Lane Taylor or JC Tretter will find themselves in a training camp battle to be the top inside backup because Spriggs and Murphy should both make the team.

Linebacker. I liked Utah State OLB Kyler Fackrell before the draft as a poor man's Clay Matthews. He had a lost 2014 season to a knee injury and he's old for a rookie (he'll turn 25 during the 2016 season), but he's good in coverage and he should be able to help take off some of the load from Matthews and be an upgrade over LB Joe Thomas. Stanford ILB Blake Martinez's draft profile is very similar to the one for Jake Ryan last year and that's a good thing. At worst, Martinez will push to Ryan and play on special teams. Neither Ryan or Martinez are great in coverage but the Packers need early down starters like Martinez and Ryan to play against the run.

Wide receiver. They needed another receiver for developmental purposes, and they grabbed a 5th round speedster in Cal's WR Trevor Davis who they can stash on the practice squad next season. If he's fast and has good hands, then he's got something they can work with and we check back in on him in 2017.

They didn't address all their needs, but they added multiple players at the three positions where they needed depth. I don't expect any of their draft choices will be starting Week 1, but the defensive lineman should find themselves in the rotation right away and the linebackers might not be far behind, once they figure out their roles. Neither tackle will win a starting job but they're very welcome. Just a solid draft to add some size and depth where they needed it.

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