Uncharacteristically for Ted Thompson, the Green Bay Packers actually traded up multiple times. With Nick Perry the headliner for the 2012 Draft class, Packers fans should expect big things from this draft. Each player drafted has the potential to develop into at least a starter, if not a star.
I breakdown every pick and assign a grade, culminating in an overall grade for the draft.
The Green Bay Packers came into the 2012 NFL Draft desperately needing an outside linebacker to pair with Clay Matthews. Matthews constantly faced double teams in 2011 and was unable to generate the pressure needed for the team to be successful. A big, strong guy with superior pass-rushing skills, Nick Perry should be able to start right away in 2012 to help Matthews generate pressure.
The Packers filled a serious need with one of the best players available. That deserves an A.
The loss of Cullen Jenkins in free agency condemned the Packers defense last season. The unit was unable to generate consistent pressure, dooming the rest of the defense in the process. Jerel Worthy is expected to help rectify the situation. A borderline first-round talent, Worthy slipped into the second-round until the Packers moved up to snatch him. The Packers didn't give up much, giving the Eagles a fourth-rounder and swapping second-round picks.
Worthy fills a need and was a steal at his draft position. However, the Packers had to move up to get him.
As one of the premier corners in the 2012 NFL Draft, Casey Hayward also fills a need for the Green Bay Packers. An instinctive corner with impeccable ball skills and a willingness to tackle, Hayward is a perfect fit for the Green Bay Packers defense. The addition of Hayward also allows the Packers to consider moving Charles Woodson to safety to cover the loss of Nick Collins. The Packers did trade up to get Hayward, giving up third and fifth-rounders in the process.
Hayward is highly regarded, and an ideal fit for the defensive system. However, the Packers did have to trade up to get him.
Even after drafting Jerel Worthy in the second-round, Ted Thompson decided to go back to the defensive line with Mike Daniels. The Packers still needed depth for the unit, and that is exactly what Daniels provides. He almost certainly won't start, but he should factor into the defensive line rotation in 2012, and he does have the talent to potentially develop into a competent starter.
A solid fourth-round pick, Daniels has the potential to develop into an impact player and outperform his position.
The Green Bay Packers desperately needed a safety after cutting Nick Collins, and Jerron McMillian fills that need. McMillian is a strong, physical safety who excels at stuffing the run, but does struggle against the pass.
McMillian does have potential, but he was a huge reach in the fourth-round, and was way over-drafted. This choice would have been fine in the sixth-round, but with better safety prospects such as George Iloka and Markelle Martin still on the board, it's hard to defend.
Terrell Manning has the potential to drastically outperform his draft position. A highly competitive player, Manning is effective against the run and has demonstrated the skills to develop into a threat as a pass-rusher. At 237 pounds, Manning will need to add weight to succeed as a rush linebacker, but he does have special teams value immediately.
In order to draft Manning, the Packers were forced to trade up with the Patriots, giving up a sixth and two seventh-round picks in the deal. While the price wasn't steep, the fact that the Packers previously owned this pick stings.
Manning offers good value in the fifth-round, and has the potential to develop into an impact player. However, the Packers did have to trade for a pick they had already owned, not smart.
The Green Bay Packers came into the draft needing offensive line depth after cutting Chad Clifton, and that's exactly what Andrew Datko provides. A solid player in college, Datko lacks the necessary strengths and skills to start in the NFL and will certainly require some time to develop. However, Datko does have the potential to grow into a competent NFL player.
A solid overall pick, Datko does have an injury history, and is coming off an injury that ended his 2011 season.
After losing Matt Flynn in free agency, the Green Bay Packers also had a need for a backup quarterback. (Sensing a trend here?) B.J. Coleman fills that need. An athletic quarterback with a strong arm who can accurately deliver the ball, Coleman has a lot of potential.
A year or two of learning under Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy should turn him into the next great Packer quarterback export.
Coleman offers plenty of potential for a seventh-round pick making this a solid selection overall.
Ted Thompson and company put together a solid draft in 2012. They filled needs across the board, and all of the players drafted have the potential to develop into a competent starter. Thompson did reach a little bit, and was forced to step out of his comfort zone, trading up three times, but this draft should provide the necessary boost for the Green Bay Packers to return to the Super Bowl in 2012.
Overall Grade: A-