Re-Grading the Green Bay Packers' Past 5 Drafts
While many believe the Packers and Thompson are one of the premier drafting teams in the league, it's sometimes hard to figure out whether or not that's true. Sure, Green Bay has hit on plenty of players in the past, but it has also had plenty of misses on draft picks.
Well, today we're going to give out grades to the Packers' last five drafts. The grades will be based on how the players the Packers have drafted have performed on the field as well as their potential for the future.
Picks: DT B.J. Raji (1.09), OLB Clay Matthews (1.26), OL T.J. Lang (4.09), RB Quinn Johnson (5.09), OL Jamon Meredith (5.26), DL Jarius Wynn (6.09), DB Brandon Underwood (6.14), LB Brad Jones (7.09)
The two big names from this draft are Raji and Matthews, and those two players alone make this one of the most successful drafts in recent years.
Matthews is one of the premier outside linebackers in the league. While Raji may have had a down year last season, a switch back to defensive tackle this year could get his career back on track.
However, the Packers' 2009 draft is so much more than just those two players. For example, getting Lang in the fourth round is fantastic value due to Lang's emergence as one of the better offensive guards in the league. In fact, Lang was the 15th-best guard in the league last year according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The Packers also got a few years of production out of Wynn, and Jones has turned into a decent starter at inside linebacker. Overall, this draft produced a nice blend of players who have produced in different capacities for the Packers.
Picks: OL Bryan Bulaga (1.23), DL Mike Neal (2.24), DB Morgan Burnett (3.07), TE Andrew Quarless (5.23), OL Marshall Newhouse (5.38), RB James Starks (6.24), DL C.J. Wilson (7.23)
What makes the 2010 draft so impressive for the Packers is that every single pick has started a number of games. That's simply unheard of in this day of draft busts.
The biggest names, and the most productive, from this draft are Bulaga, Burnett and Starks. They've all had key roles in the past few seasons of the Packers being one of the better overall teams in the league. They're also all going to be counted on in the future to continue to play at a high level.
While the rest of the draft outside of those three players isn't great, the Packers did get some decent production from this group.
Neal has recently switched positions to outside linebacker and shown flashes of potential. Newhouse is no longer with the team but played admirably when he was thrown into a difficult decision two years ago. Quarless is currently the starting tight end.
While this group doesn't have any elite players in it, it's an extremely strong group that has produced plenty of quality starters for Green Bay.
Picks: OL Derek Sherrod (1.32), WR Randall Cobb (2.32), RB Alex Green (3.32), DB Davon House (4.34), TE D.J. Williams ( 5.10), OL Caleb Schlauderaff (6.14), LB D.J. Smith (6.21). LB Ricky Elmore (6.32), TE Ryan Taylor (7.15), DL Lawrence Guy (7.30)
The 2011 draft was simply not a good draft for Green Bay. In fact, only one player from this draft has had a positive impact for the Packers.
That player would be Cobb, who is quickly becoming one of the best wide receivers in the league. His playmaking ability is truly special, and he's only going to get better. Without Cobb, this draft would be a complete failure.
Of this group of picks, Williams, Schlauderaff, Smith, Elmore and Guy made extremely little impact. Green, House and Taylor have had minimal impacts, and Sherrod has been injured his entire career.
If anyone ever wanted to say that the Packers weren't a quality drafting team, this would be the draft to point to. Making matters even worse is that the majority of these players are no longer in Green Bay to make this draft class look better in the future.
All in all, this must be a hard draft for the Packers to look back on.
Picks: LB Nick Perry (1.28), DL Jerel Worthy (2.19), DB Casey Hayward (2.31), DL Mike Daniels (4.37), DB Jerron McMillian (4.38), LB Terrell Manning (5.28), OL Andrew Datko (7.34), QB B.J. Coleman (7.36)
The 2012 draft has the potential to be a very good draft for the Packers. It's already pretty good, but there is a chance it can be extraordinary.
This is mostly due to the first four picks for the Packers. While that group has struggled with injuries, they've all shown that they could become fantastic players in the near future.
Hayward has Pro Bowl written all over him, and he should get back to creating turnovers at a high rate once he's healthy. Daniels enjoyed a mini-breakout season last year with more playing time coming in the 2014 season.
Both Perry and Worthy have struggled with injuries since entering the league, but the Packers still believe they can be impactful players. This group of defensive players will be key for Green Bay's future.
What keeps this draft from earning the highest grade possible is the lack of production once you get past Daniels in the fourth round. McMillian, Manning and Coleman are no longer on the roster, and Datko has failed to get off the practice squad.
If the Packers had just one player late in the draft who produced, this would be the best draft of the past five years. However, the first four picks still have the potential to make this draft the best by all living up to expectations and producing at a high level.
As for now, the 2012 draft gets a solid grade.
Picks: DL Datone Jones (1.26), RB Eddie Lacy (2.31), OL David Bakhtiari (4.12), OL J.C. Tretter (4.25), RB Johnathan Franklin (4.28), DB Micah Hyde (5.26), DL Josh Boyd (5.34), LB Nate Palmer (6.25), WR Charles Johnson (7.10), WR Kevin Dorsey (7.18), LB Sam Barrington (7.26)
This is definitely the hardest draft to grade simply due to the fact that we've had one year to judge these players. However, the premature grade for this class is very good.
It all starts with Lacy, who proved last year that he's going to be a key member of the Packers offense for a long time. He was the Offensive Rookie of the Year last year and should only get better.
Once you get past Lacy with this draft class, it's all about potential. Jones had an up-and-down rookie year, but his athleticism is off the charts, and he should improve in 2014. The same goes for Franklin, Hyde and Boyd.
We also can't forget about the fact that Bakhtiari stepped into a difficult situation and played extremely well as a rookie left tackle.
When you look at the overall potential of this group of players, it's hard to not get excited. Don't be surprised if within the next few years this is remembered as one of the best drafts the Packers had under Thompson.