Evaluating Recent Draft Classes

nfl_a_hayward_bl_400            With the NFL Draft just weeks away, it’s worth looking back on the Packers’ recent draft classes. While one can’t expect a player to pay big dividends in his first season with the team, three years of minimal production doesn’t go unnoticed in a town like Green Bay. Below is a summary of players drafted by the Packers in the first three rounds of the past three drafts.

Blue Chips

The Packers’ willingness to let Greg Jennings walk in free agency said something about their confidence in third-year receiver Randall Cobb. Cobb’s value spans from catching the ball downfield to taking carries out of the backfield to fielding returns on special teams. Perhaps the biggest draft day win since 2010 has been offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, whose presence has become vital to the Packers’ passing game.

To keep the secondary strong, Ted Thompson invested in a pair of mid-round defensive backs: Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward. Burnett has been a solid producer in his three seasons with the Packers and Hayward brings unlimited potential after drawing DROY consideration in 2012. There is still some wait-and-see with both players but the consensus points to a bright future for this pair.

Still Some Potential

Thompson’s push to improve the pass rush in last year’s draft yielded mixed results in the fall. Both Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy made their way to Injured Reserve but not before showcasing some potential. Perry’s injury was particularly disappointing as the college defensive end was in the process of transitioning to outside linebacker in the pros. The clock is beginning to tick for third-year running back Alex Green, who saw a number of opportunities to become Green Bay’s feature back last season but couldn’t make it happen.

The Packers have yet to capitalize on two early-round linemen, both of whom have struggled to stay healthy. Mike Neal showed some potential in his first moderately healthy season with the Packers last fall but not enough to ease the front office’s concerns over the defensive end position. Derek Sherrod is yet to fully recover from a broken leg suffered in Week 15 of the 2011 season and does not appear ready to compete for the starting left tackle position this July.

About Mike Davidsen

Mike Davidsen grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Finance. Mike has been a Packers season ticket holder all of his life and just recently became a shareholder. Mike joined GPN in May 2010 and specializes in draft analysis.

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