NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked to the podium at the 2013 NFL draft at Radio City Hall in New York City. He had the 26th pick of the draft in his hand.
“With the 26th pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers select Datone Jones, defensive end, UCLA,” Goodell said.
Ted Thompson and the Packers started the draft in predictable fashion, grabbing the best available player on the board. But it was also a smart pick for the Packers. Jones dominated at the combine, posting a 4.8 40-yard dash and a 112" broad jump. And he was the top performer at the entire combine with a 4.32 20-yard shuttle.
The 6’4”, 283-pound defensive end has the ability to rip through the line and could be this year’s version of J.J. Watt.
The second-round (61st overall) and fourth-round (125th overall) picks in the draft went to filling a major hole in the team. In the second round, the Packers took Eddie Lacy, running back from Alabama. In the fourth round, UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin was also taken.
Lacy, arguably the best running back in the draft, was picked after Giovani Bernard, Montee Ball and Le’Veon Bell, and only Bernard had a better draft grade by NFL.com. He was the leading rusher for the Crimson Tide en route to Alabama’s second consecutive national championship.
Lacy is a powerful running back that is compared to Frank Gore and can immediately work his way into the Packers’ lineup and make an impact.
Presumably backing up Lacy will be Franklin, a running back that relies more on cuts and finding the open space rather than lowering the shoulder into defenders.
Franklin was a top performer in the 40-yard dash, running a 4.49. He also had a strong showing in the 60-yard touchdown shuttle, finishing with a time of 11.23. One concern was Franklin’s problem with fumbles, but in his senior season, he had just one fumble. Franklin has received comparisons to Doug Martin and Bernard Scott.
Because the Packers selected both Lacy and Franklin, it is assumed that Cedric Benson will not return to the team. The Packers showed they may not be re-signing the back when they attempted to sign Steven Jackson in the offseason. But after losing him to the Atlanta Falcons, Thompson decided to pursue youthful talent.
Despite making smart picks for running backs and on the defensive line, the Packers could have improved the offensive line and secondary better than they did.
The Packers needed a safety, and by the time Jones, Lacy and Franklin were drafted, there weren’t any left of enough value for the Packers to pick.
The Packers have Morgan Burnett and M.D. Jennings, both of whom are young safeties with some upside. However, the two aren’t wowing anyone, and the Packers could use someone to replace Charles Woodson when he retires, which should be soon. Jennings has trouble in run defense, while Burnett often leaves the underneath routes open to cover the bigger plays.
The Packers would have been smart to draft a safety and let him naturally grow in the system before Woodson leaves the team.
The 2013 draft may have been the deepest offensive lineman draft in history, which was why the Packers were able to focus on other aspects of their team before trying to beef up their line. In the fourth round, the Packer selected David Bakhtiari (109th overall) and J.C. Tretter (122nd overall).
Bakhtiari needs to bulk up, as he will most likely move to the inside part of the line, and he doesn’t necessarily fit into the Packers line well. However, Thompson continued by the draft-the-best-player-on-the-board mentality with Bakhtiari.
Tretter is a very athletic offensive lineman and can move laterally really well. Being a converted tight end, Tretter could also be a threat on third downs if the Packers want to utilize him there.
Ted Thompson does not mess around when it comes to the draft. He prefers to find the talent in the draft rather than test the waters in free agency.
Because of his ability to fit the best players on the board onto a spot on his team, as well as find big value picks, the Green Bay Packers once again had one of the best drafts in the NFL. With Aaron Rodgers’ new extension, the Packers should be a playoff contender for the years to come.