Welcome to this week’s “What Do I Know?” We’ll be taking a look at all things Packers in the wake of the NFL Draft two weeks ago. Most metrics seem to indicate the team had a successful draft weekend, but they haven’t fixed all the holes yet. So, where do we stand and where do we go from here? I’m glad you asked!
1. The secondary looks… Good?
Let me tell you, that’s a scary heading to write as a Packers fan. Worry not, I’ve knocked on wood several times. But don’t they look good? Kevin King, Jaire Alexander, and Josh Jackson are a solid base of talent with veteran help in the form of Tramon Williams and Davon House. Add in depth in the form of Lenzy Pipkins and Quinten Rollins and it looks like less of a hole than years past. The safety position is a bit light behind starters HaHa Clinton-Dix and Josh Jones, but neither of them have histories of injuries so there’s hope that the lack of depth won’t be an issue.
2. Time to step up, Kevin and Josh
Speaking of Josh Jones, he and his second round counterpart from a year ago, Kevin King, need to step it up in 2018. The two looked promising as rookies a year ago, but each of them is being thrust into a large role this season. Josh Jones is undoubtedly a starter at safety and King will likely be a starting cornerback after ending last season with a shoulder injury. The two showed the potential to be future Pro Bowl caliber players, but they’ll need to turn that potential into reality if the defense wants to be successful in 2018.
3. Bigger and Better
With the selections of J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St Brown, Green Bay added size and speed to the receiving corps. The three are the tallest receivers on the team, all standing at 6-foot-2 or taller. By comparison, Davante Adams is the largest receiver on the team currently at 6-foot-2 himself. While they weren’t high selections, the three all are oozing with potential. The team threw several darts at the wideout dart board and are hoping they happen to hit a bullseye with one of them. As things stand, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb are the unquestioned top two players at the position, everything beyond that is up for grabs. Jimmy Graham will see a good amount of snaps as a stand up receiver, but there are still several reps available for the rookies, don’t be surprised if a few of them burst onto the scene this year.
4. Size and Speed
A clear philosophy of the Brian Gutekunst Era appears to be, “when in doubt, draft the best athlete.” Oren Burks, James Looney, Kendall Donnerson, and the three receivers are all incredible athletes. Often times we see players who don’t have great measurables but who had great stats get taken high because of their “football IQ.” Green Bay clearly wanted to increase the speed of the team, moving away from slow and strong players to fast. Donnerson ran a 4.48 second 40 yard dash at 250 pounds, that’s one fast linebacker, and the same goes for Burks. Looney is a great athlete along the defensive line, and the three wideouts are all great athletes in their own respect. The team added malleable chess pieces that should be fun to watch. In the past, teams would outrun the Packers. That may be a thing of the past.
5. Special teams picks?
A punter and a long snapper in the same draft. You don’t see that often. Heck, you never see that. Last year there wasn’t a single punter drafted, leading to the Packers picking up Justin Vogel, who set a team record in net punt average. JK Scott, the punter from Alabama, has the potential to be the best punter we Packer fans have ever seen in Green and Gold. He’s got a booming leg and was phenomenal with placement. As Rich Eisen yelled after Scott was drafted, “He’s a field flipper!” He’ll be fun to watch. As for Hunter Bradley, the long snapper out of Mississippi State, it’s hard to get excited over the position. However, the Packers had several long snapping issues over the past two years, and if the selection fixes that then it was a great one. Special teams draft picks are okay, so long as you hit on them.
6. Good Job, Gute
On the whole, it’s hard not the be excited about the Packers draft. Of course, if they all end up being busts we’ll be furious with Brian Gutekunst, but that seems unlikely. He addressed needs of the team effectively and picked up an extra first round pick next year in the process. It was hard to know exactly what we were getting with the hire of Gutekunst earlier this year, but all he’s done is make savvy football decisions since taking over. Seems like he was the right call to me.
7. What About the Pass Rush?
One of a few issues that remains on the Packers’ roster is pass rush. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are effective when healthy, though it seems as though the two are never on the field at the same time, one is always hurt. Behind them, Vince Biegel is an unproven commodity and Kyler Fackrell looks every bit the part of a bust. The interior defensive line should make the outside linebackers look decent, but we still lack topshelf talent at the position.
8. What About the O-Line?
While the team did draft Cole Madison, a guard/tackle out of Washington State, there are still several questions along the offensive line. The right tackle position was a revolving door in 2017, and at one point the team was without its top four tackles. Assuming health at the tackle position, we still need a starting guard to replace Jahri Evans (barring they re-sign him). If everyone stays healthy it’s a position of strength. But let’s be honest with ourselves, does that ever happen? It’s not too late to add talent at the position, but it’s something to watch as we wait for training camp to start in a few months.