Green Bay was a let down in 2018 and needs some work to become competitive for 2019. Aaron Rodgers seemed to have comfort with only Davante Adams and the defense was decent at best. With their highest draft pick in years, can they turn it around?
Aaron Rodgers only looked comfortable throwing to Davante Adams last season. Adams was targeted a whopping 169 times last season which was more than double the next receiver. Jimmy Graham and Marques Valdes-Scantling together, who were second and third in targets, combined for only 160 targets. If this offense wants to succeed they need to first get Rodgers some reliable options, and second have a little more balance.
On defense the Packers made some nice selections last season with Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson. Their cornerback situation seems solid. At safety though, they looked abysmal last season as the only one who looked engaged was Josh Jones at strong safety. They added Adrian Amos at free safety so this could be a nice improvement. Clay Matthews was not himself last year and the team a lacked pass rush. He is now part of the Rams organization. The Packers need to get to the quarterback more and that should be a focus here.
Round 1, Pick # 12 Rashan Gary, Edge/Defensive Line- Michigan
Rashan Gary is a former top overall recruit out of high school. He has a great combination of size and athleticism.Look at these combine numbers, a 4.58 second 40 yard dash, 26 bench press reps at the combine, a 38 inch vertical, and a ten foot broad jump. All this was done standing at 6’4 and 277 Lbs. He is very versatile and can play the edge or defensive end in the 3-4 base that Green Bay runs and add great pass rush next to Kenny Clark.
His college numbers do not jump out at you but the tape does. He was regularly doubled and you can easily see his skill level and athleticism. Rashan Gary is a great fit for Green Bay and they should hope that he falls to them.
Round 1, Pick #30 T.J. Hockenson, Tight End- Iowa
Jimmy Graham is past his prime. He was targeted 89 times last year with only 636 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He simply does not fit with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have a chance with a second pick in the first round to grab his replacement.
T.J. Hockenson is an every down tight end. His blocking prowess is just as good if not better than his receiving skill set. He is 6’5 and 250 Lbs. and runs a 4.70 second 40 yard dash with a 37 inch vertical. Hockenson has incredibly soft hands and excellent route running skills. He looks to fit the mold of former Iowa and now NFL football star George Kittle. This would be a huge grab for the Packers and Rodgers gets another x-factor on his offense.
Round 2, Pick #44 J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Wide Receiver- Stanford
In the second round the Packers add another weapon to their offense and it is truly an upgrade over any receiver on the squad not named Davante Adams. Arcega-Whiteside is possibly the best receiver in this draft at winning 50-50 balls and routinely wins jump ball opportunities. He will easily win Rodgers trust due to this trait. Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks at drawing teams offsides and then getting a free play during which he goes for broke. Arcega-Whiteside has the ability to win 50-50 throws and could be the main beneficiary of these plays.
Arcega-Whiteside just finished his senior year with 1.059 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 12 games. For his collegiate career he averaged a very impressive 16.4 yards per reception. Adding Hockenson in the first round and Arcega-Whiteside in the second makes this offense very scary once again.
Round 3, Pick #76 Amani Hooker, Safety- Iowa
Here in the second round the Packers double down on Iowa but this time on the defensive side of the ball. Amani Hooker can play both safety positions with good size and strength and solid ball skills. He ran a 4.48 second 40 yard dash and graded out well in most other athletic categories. In only 25 NCAA games Hooker totaled 125 tackles, six interceptions, nine passes defended and a Touchdown. The only able safeties on the squad are Adrian Amos and Josh Jones so adding another safety, especially one this talented is a wise move.
Round 4, Pick #115 Tytus Howard, Offensive Tackle- Alabama St.
Tytus Howard is a small school prospect but by no means a small man. He stands at 6’5 and 322 Lbs. and performed well enough at the small school to earn a Senior Bowl and NFL Combine invite. He is a former quarterback converted to offensive lineman and is incredibly athletic. His performance during pass sets is what should appeal to the Packers as he was dominant. With the need to keep Aaron Rodgers healthy and off his back, Tytus Howard would be a welcome addition to the offensive line.
Round 4, Pick #119 Austin Bryant, Edge- Clemson
Put Austin Bryant om any other NCAA team and he most likely becomes a first or second round talent. Since he was on the Clemson Tigers, whose defensive line was so stacked, he kind of becomes the forgotten one of the bunch. Needless to say, this does not mean he did not produce. In his two years as a full-time starter he produced 95 tackles, 30.5 tackles for a loss, 17 sacks, one pass defended, one interception and two forced fumbles.
Bryant has the size and athleticism to play either 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker. he can run around a 4.75 sec 40 yard dash at 6’5 and 270Lbs. He has good flexibility and should fall into the rushing carousel nicely in Green Bay.
Round 5, Pick #151 Benny Snell Jr., Running Back- Kentucky
Snell has been incredibly productive in college. He has totals of 3,873 rushing yards at 5.3 yards per carry with 48 touchdowns in 39 games. Sounds like one of the top running backs right? Then came the draft combine where he graded out in the lower half of all running backs in 40 yard dash, bench press, broad jump and vertical. He is durable and works hard on the field and has good vision. Aaron Jones needs to put together a full season and Jamal Williams is wildly inconsistent. Picking Snell Jr. in the fifth round is a low risk high reward type of pick.
Round 6, Pick #186 Joe Dineen Jr., Linebacker- Kansas
Joe Dineen Jr. is a safety converted to linebacker for the Jayhawks. Dineen has a nose for the football and seems to be around during every tackle opportunity. His last two seasons in Kansas he totaled an outstanding 275 tackles, 32.5 for a loss, 5.5 sacks, two passes defended, one interception, and two fumble recoveries.
As of right now Blake Martinez is the only linebacker on the roster right now that has played any significant snaps. If Dineen can come in and play how he has for Kansas, there is a possibility he leap-frogs Oren Burks for the other inside linebacker spot.
Round 6, Pick #196 Malik Gant, Safety- Marshall
Malik Gant is a small school safety with some nice tackling power. He is 6’2 and 200 Lbs. and has racked up at least 89 tackles in each of his past two seasons at Marshall. During that time he also has 13 passes defended and a pair of interceptions. Gant improved every season at Marshall and as I mentioned before the Packers do not have much depth at safety. Gant can come in and compete and also can play a valuable gunner role on special teams.
Round 7, Pick #228 Keelan Doss, Wide Receiver- UC Davis
Keelan Doss is another big bodied receiver that the Packers grab to add depth at the position and push the guys they drafted last year. He is 6’3 and 211 Lbs. and runs the 40 yard dash in the 4.60 range. In 44 collegiate games he has 321 receptions for 4,069 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers is the key to the Packers success and keeping him happy should be the top priority for the Packers. Give him some weapons to throw to.
The Packers had three picks in the top 50 and used them wisely. They drafted a former number one recruit and versatile lineman in Rashad Gary and two new weapons for Aaron Rodgers to target in T.J. Hockenson and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Then they attacked their lack of depth at safety by drafting another player out of Iowa, Amani Hooker, who can play both safety spots.
Then with two picks in the fourth round they address the offensive line and grab small school tackle Tytus Howard and edge rush talent Austin Bryant. Bryant looking back may be a steal in the fourth round. In the fifth round they grab running back depth with highly productive Wildcat Benny Snell Jr.
With two more picks in the sixth round the Packers finally address the linebacker position with tackle machine Joe Dineen Jr. out of Kansas. they also grabbed Malik Gant out of Marshall for added safety depth and special teams. Finally in the seventh round they grab a small school but big bodied receiver Keelan Doss from UC Davis to try to give Rodgers as many weapons as possible.
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