It took about 40 hours and three rounds, but GM Ted Thompson finally drafted players who produced better in pads than they did in shorts. Vince Biegel and Jamaal Williams won’t win any beauty contests, but they’ll help the Packers win games.
In my opinion, Biegel’s tape is very similar to T.J. Watt’s, who went 30th overall to the Steelers. The biggest difference is – pardon the pun – size. Watt is a few inches taller and has the frame to be 10 pounds heavier by this time next year. But as far as productivity is concerned, there’s not much separating the two.
Speaking of tape, Biegel’s is actually better than Kyler Fackrell’s, who was drafted by the Packers in the third round in 2016. Biegel is stronger vs. the run and a bit more explosive off the edge. The only thing he doesn’t do as well as Fackrell is play in space. Like so many of the linebackers drafted by Thompson over the years, Biegel is a bit rigid and mechanical in his movement. But he’s no more rigid and mechanical than Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez, and that’s why I could see him being moved inside at some point in the future.
Biegel could work inside on early downs and then rush off the edge in the dime package. He could also be effective blitzing up the middle thanks to his outstanding instincts, good balance and knack for slipping blocks.
The leading rusher in BYU history, Williams is a slightly smaller and slightly slower version of James Starks, whom Thompson drafted in the sixth round out of Buffalo in 2010 and who enjoyed a long career as a dependable second banana in Green Bay. That’s probably what should realistically be expected from Williams.
I don’t see anything overly exciting on tape, but Williams runs really hard between the tackles, protects the ball and is a plus in the passing game. He does a pretty decent job in protection and has a knack for finding open spaces when his quarterback extends a play – a trait that should be quite useful in Green Bay.
The 212-pound Williams, who sat out the entire 2015 season for personal reasons, ran 4.59 at the Combine, and he plays to that speed. That’s why turning the corner in the NFL will be a challenge. Still, he always keeps his legs churning and takes what the defense gives. And that’s a good thing for a player whose main job will be to find ways to keep the chains moving and to keep the best QB in the league on the field.
WR DEANGELO YANCEY – He visited with the Packers prior to the draft, so there was obviously significant interest in the former Purdue star. He’s big (6’2, 205) and runs well enough (4.53), but lacks quickness and drops too many passes. The former could make getting open against NFL corners a problem and the latter could get him a ticket out of town. But give the young man credit for putting up impressive numbers in an awful system and without a decent quarterback. He’s more than capable of challenging Geronimo Allison and Trevor Davis for the No. 4 job behind Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb.
RB AARON JONES – For a player his size (5’9, 208), the former UTEP star is surprisingly difficult to bring down. And while he lacks great speed (4.56), he has an explosive first step that allows him to beat defenders to the corner. Jones also understands how to run routes and screen defenders away from the ball. He’s a more than willing pass protector, but he’ll need to work on his technique. I fully expect Jones to be part the final 53-man roster and provide the offense with the type of change of pace back it hasn’t had since Johnathan Franklin in 2013.
OL KOFI AMICHIA – It certainly won’t happen overnight, but the former South Florida star has a chance to be a pretty good player down the road. He just needs time to add size and strength. He’s already a good athlete and a tough competitor who battles, scraps and fights for positioning, and since he was only a two-year starter in college, he’s nowhere close to reaching his potential. Offensive line coach James Campen has done more with a lot less over the years.
RB DEVANTE MAYS – Thompson used his penultimate pick on yet another running back. This one missed most of last season with a leg injury and will probably spend next season on the practice squad. Mays has obvious talent as a runner – he’s blessed with a powerful lower body and a nice burst – but he has a ways to go to be a three-down back. He was used very little in the passing game at Utah State. The practice squad was invented for young players just like this.
WR MALACHI DUPRE – Of the 17 players drafted in the seventh round by Thompson, the former LSU star is far and away the most talented. While Dupre didn’t run a great 40 at the Combine (4.52), he’s nevertheless a legitimate deep threat. That’s because he has good functional playing speed, adjusts well to the ball in the air and uses his size (6’2 1/2) to make catches outside his frame. He’ll need to work on his route running, but that part of his game should improve with experience and quality coaching. It’s rare to feel confident about the chances of a player drafted so late making the final roster, but this ain’t a typical late-round pick.
OVERALL ANALYSIS: Thompson valued measurables and potential on day 2 of the draft, but day 3 was all about production. From his initial choice of Biegel to his final choice of Dupre, he targeted players who excelled on the football field – even if their work in the underwear Olympics wasn’t worthy of a gold medal.
My first impression is that this is far and away the best group of day 3 players Thompson has ever drafted. I can see at least five or six of them making the final 53-man roster, and more importantly, I can see a few of them becoming above average long-term starters. That would be quite an accomplishment since only nine of the 63 players picked by Thompson on day 3 have enjoyed that type of career in Green Bay.