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June 23, 2017

Draft Review: Roster Analysis

With the draft now history, here’s a position-by-position look at the Packers’ 90-man roster:

QUARTERBACK: Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf believed in drafting a quarterback every single year, but once again Ted Thompson didn’t adhere to his mentor’s philosophy. With Brett Hundley likely to be moved next offseason, it would’ve made sense to spend a day 3 pick on someone like Miami’s Brad Kaaya. Instead, Thompson will wait another year to find a No. 2 or hope that second-year man Joe Callahan shows enough to move up the depth chart. Undrafted rookie Taysom Hill is a terrific athlete who’s at least a few years away – if, that is, he doesn’t switch positions.

RUNNING BACK: Thompson had never drafted three running backs before, but he also had never gone into late April with so little depth at the position. Ty Montgomery figures to be the starter and fourth-round pick Jamaal Williams, fifth-round pick Aaron Jones and seventh-round pick Devante Mays will battle it out for the other two spots on the 53-man roster. Unless a veteran like LaGarrett Blount is added, Thompson will be keeping his fingers crossed that a converted wide receiver and a couple of rookies can get the job done in 2017. There was no need to draft a fullback with Aaron Ripkowski and Joe Kerridge returning.

TIGHT END: The work here was done in free agency with the signings of Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks. Along with Richard Rodgers, this is as good a group as there is in the entire league. The team also likes Beau Sandland, a rugged player who spent the last two months of his rookie season on the practice squad.

WIDE RECEIVER: The top 3 are set, but Thompson needed someone to challenge Geronimo Allison for the No. 4 spot. Along with speedy second-year man Trevor Davis, he now has fifth-round pick DeAngelo Yancey and seventh-round pick Malachi Dupre. Both rookies are more than capable of moving up the depth chart in a hurry. Perennial tease Jeff Janis will have to excel on special teams in order to ensure a fourth season in Green Bay. Max McCaffrey (size) and Antwan Goodley (speed) are longshots with with redeeming traits.

OFFENSIVE LINE: The recent signing of Jahri Evans solidified things a bit, but depth along the line is still shaky. The only addition in the draft was sixth-round pick Kofi Amichia, who’s probably a year away from being ready for the NFL. Tackle Jason Spriggs must improve in his second season or else an injury to either Bryan Bulaga or David Bakhtiari would be calamitous. Don Barclay figures to survive for another year as the backup center, although young Jacob Flores showed some potential last summer. Kyle Murphy,  Lucas Patrick and Justin McCray are other candidates for the last spot or two on the 53-man roster.

DEFENSIVE LINE: This position is without question the deepest it’s ever been under Thompson – even with Letroy Guion suspended (again) to start the regular season. Third-round pick Montravius Adams joins a slew of talented young players who’ll be fighting for snaps come the fall. That group is highlighted by promising second-year men Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry. Also around are Christian Ringo and Brian Price, who might not make the final 53-man roster in Green Bay but could find work somewhere else in 2017.

LINEBACKER: Thompson made little effort to keep veterans Julius Peppers and Datone Jones from leaving in free agency. That was the right move, but adding only fourth-round pick Vince Biegel in the draft is a bit risky – especially when you consider the injury histories of starting outside linebackers Nick Perry and Clay Matthews. Perhaps Thompson is expecting Kyler Fackrell to take a big step forward in his second year. Or maybe he’s counting on third-year man Jayrone Elliott to turn from “Mr. August” into “Mr. October.” Another young player to keep an eye on is Reggie Gilbert, who spent last season on the practice squad. Inside, the top three players remain the same but look for third-round pick Josh Jones to cut into their playing time. He has the size and the speed to be a major factor in the nickel and dime packages. Journeyman Jordan Tripp isn’t a huge step down from the veterans above him on the depth chart.

SECONDARY: Last season ended with Damarious Randall and LaDarius Gunter starting at corner, and the results were predictable. Thompson signed Davon House as a free agent and drafted Kevin King in the second round in an effort to fix a major problem. He needs both to play well because it’s pretty clear he’s not very confident in any of the returnees. While things should be better outside, the slot could be a problem since only Randall and Quinten Rollins have the skill set to play inside. Perhaps speedy Josh Hawkins or converted wide receiver Herb Waters will turn raw potential into consistent production this summer. Things at safety are much better. The starters are very good and Jones and talented second-year man Kentrell Brice will provide solid depth. Even longshot Jermaine Whitehead is more than just a camp body.

SPECIALISTS: Jake Schum had a mediocre first season in Green Bay, so it’s no surprise one of the best punters in the country was signed as an undrafted free agent. Justin Vogel of Miami isn’t an elite prospect, but he’s talented enough to win the job. Rookies Taybor Pepper and Derek Hart will battle it out to replace Brett Goode as the long snapper, although the unsigned veteran could reclaim the job at any time.


7 Responses “Draft Review: Roster Analysis”

  1. Mike in SF
    May 3, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Short and sweet. Gonna be a long couple of months before we see anyone in pads. Looking forward to seeing the growth of the 2nd year players.

  2. Nerd
    May 3, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    I’ve heard Amichia can play C. That would be sweet if he could back up Linsley.

    I like Vogel, i think he can beat out Schum.

  3. Madfan
    May 3, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    The best draft, IMO, is the one that looks two years in the future.

    When it comes to QB, I wondered if and how TT would address next year’s situation in this year’s draft. That is, would he draft a QB this draft to be Hundley’s replacement in 2018? Obviously, he did not, but I fully understand TT’s consideration of drafting a QB in the second day.

    If Hundley is traded after the 2017 season, who is ready to back-up Rodgers for 2018? Callahan? Possibly! A 2018 draftee? Yikes! A free agent veteran???????

  4. Nerd
    May 3, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    They got a priority FA QB. But I think Mike really likes Callahan. Kind of a cross between Flutie and Bert Favor.

  5. Saguaro
    May 6, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Who is going to return punts? Really. I suppose kick returns are less important because so few are returned out of the end zone now. But I would like to think that next season’s D will at least force a few punts.

  6. Cudahy Cheesehead
    May 16, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Now that Biegel is injured, I don’t understand the lack of interest in Erik Walden. Walden’s stats don’t look to be falling off like Dumervil’s.

  7. Cudahy Cheesehead
    May 22, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Looking forward to your tape analysis of Jahri Evans………..

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