Rob Demovsky breaks down the 2016 Green Bay Packers draft class.
My take: This pick probably wouldn’t have been necessary had B.J. Raji not surprised the Packers by his decision to walk away from football. But without one of their most reliable run stoppers -- and with defensive tackle Mike Pennel suspended for the first four games of the season -- this became a bigger need than anyone might have expected. While this may be a good pick, it probably does more to keep the defense where it was last year than advance it to where McCarthy wants it. Linebacker, the spot that needed upgrading the most, remained untouched. Thompson passed on UCLA outside linebacker Myles Jack (who had injury issues) and Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland. ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay listed those two players as his top two available heading into Friday’s second round.
Plenty of choices: There were so many choices when the Packers went on the clock at No. 27 that it was worth wondering if Thompson might trade back. He said he fielded some calls but obviously found nothing to his liking. Had there been a chance to go back into the second round, he still might have been able to get an impact defensive lineman. Among those still on the board were Alabama’s A'Shawn Robinson, Baylor’s Andrew Billings and Louisiana Tech’s Vernon Butler. (Butler went No. 30 to Carolina.)
Can I see some ID, please? Clark isn’t old enough to buy beer yet. He doesn’t turn 21 until Oct. 4. But Thompson had no issues with his age. “He was able to get a lot of that maturity at UCLA,” Thompson said. “Just over the phone and certainly at the combine in interviews he carries himself well, he’s articulate. He’ll stand up here, and you’ll be impressed with him.” Plus, he’ll have some familiar mentors in Green Bay with former UCLA standouts Datone Jones and Brett Hundley already on the Packers’ roster. Clark said he has been in contact with both since he was picked. He said Jones texted him right before he was picked. “I think mentally I was just ready [for the NFL],” Clark said. Clark had to grow up quickly when his father went to prison in 2005 -- a story that ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura and Mark Fainaru-Wada chronicled earlier this week.
Comparisons: Clark, a true junior, blossomed on the field last season with 6.0 sacks and 11.0 tackles for loss. When asked who he modeled his game after, he mentioned two players he has spent time watching: Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins and Detroit’s Haloti Ngata. He compared his body type (6-foot-2½ and 314 pounds) with Atkins (6-1, 300) and said he liked how much Ngata uses his power. Clark lifted 29 reps on the 225-pound bench press at the combine. That was the sixth-highest count among the 51 players who benched in Indianapolis.
*Acquired in trade with Colts
My take: This isn't a pick for this season but perhaps for 2017 and possibly for either tackle spot. Left tackle David Bakhtiari is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is on track for a big pay day -- either with the Packers or on the free-agent market. However, it doesn't automatically mean Bakhtiari has lame-duck status. Perhaps Spriggs is insurance against right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who has battled balky knees throughout his career. There's no way to know when he might begin to slow down. Offensive line will be a big issue next offseason. In addition to Bakhtiari, starting guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang will be free agents after this season as will backup linemen JC Tretter.
Where will he play? Spriggs made 47 starts in 48 career games at left tackle, but that doesn't mean he couldn't play other spots for the Packers, perhaps even at guard. "He can play anywhere on the line," Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst said. "We'll see how that shakes out. He's very athletic, ran really fast and benched a lot." Spriggs started right away as a freshman despite weighing only about 250 pounds when he arrived on campus. At 6-foot-5 5/8, he weighed 301 pounds at the combine and said Friday that he's up to 305. "Coming in I didn't really think I'd play as a freshman," Spriggs said on a conference call shortly after he was picked. "But we had one of our veteran tackles get injured. I think he helped me a lot to get that much more playing time and that much more experience."
Trade details: To move up to the Indianapolis Colts' spot at No. 48 overall, the Packers gave up a their second-round pick (No. 57), fourth-round pick (No. 125) and a seventh-rounder (No. 248). "The way our board looked, it was just one of those things we thought we'd have the opportunity to get a player we wouldn't be able to get if we sat still," Gutekunst said.
Round 3, Pick No. 88: Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State | Highlights
My take: General manager Ted Thompson is apparently confident in Sam Barrington and Jake Ryan as his starting inside linebackers. Or maybe this inside linebacker class did nothing for him. Either way, Thompson ignored what was one the Packers’ biggest perceived needs. He did help the defense with two of his first three picks, including UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark in the first round and now Fackrell. One of the best things about the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Fackrell is that he already has experience playing in a 3-4 defense at Utah State. His sack numbers -- 12 in three-plus seasons -- don’t jump off the page, but it’s not like the Packers are looking for someone to come in right away and get double-digit sacks as a rookie. It’s a good sign that Fackrell appeared to come back strong from a torn ACL in the 2014 season opener. He started all 13 games as a senior last year.
No more Neal: The selection of Fackrell likely means the end of Mike Neal's tenure in Green Bay, something the veteran free agent outside linebacker acknowledged on Twitter shortly after the third round ended on Friday. Neal has made free-agent visits to Detroit and Seattle but remains unsigned.
Old man Kyler: After taking a couple of youngsters -- Clark is 20 and second-round pick Jason Spriggs is 21 -- the Packers went to the other end of the spectrum with Fackrell, who will turn 25 midway through his rookie season. That didn't concern Thompson. "We take things like that into account, but not a lot," Thompson said. "We took a guy yesterday who was, like, 19. But it wasn’t on purpose." Fackrell is married with a 2-year-old daughter, Delaney.
Utah State pipeline: The only two Utah State players drafted in the first two days went back to back. Fackrell went one pick after the Bengals took his former teammate, inside linebacker Nick Vigil. “It is funny that we went [87 and 88],” Fackrell said.
My take: The first of two compensatory fourth-round selections, the 6-foot-2, 237-pound Martinez -- the Pac-12’s leading tackler last season with 141 stops -- adds competition to a position that was the thinnest on the roster entering Saturday with Clay Matthews' move back outside. Martinez will battle 2015 fourth-round pick Jake Ryan, who started seven games last season (including playoffs), and 2013 seventh-round pick Sam Barrington, who is coming off a foot injury that required surgery and ended his season after just one game.
Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf said Martinez could play all three downs and showed the ability to cover tight ends and backs out of the backfield while at Stanford, meaning he could see his initial action as the team’s dime linebacker in passing situations. Last year, the Packers were forced to play Joe Thomas, whom they’d cut at the end of training camp and was re-signed off Dallas’ practice squad, in that role.
Athletic big guy: For a big guy (6-foot-5, 296 pounds), the Packers liked Lowry’s athleticism. His 40-yard dash time of 4.87 seconds at the combine tied Robert Nkemdiche, who went in the first round to the Cardinals at No. 29, for the fastest time among defensive linemen over 290 pounds. “It’s cliché, but Dean’s a blue-collar guy [and] probably an underrated athlete,” Wolf said. The only knock on him physically may be his short arms (31 inches, which tied for the shortest among all defensive linemen at the combine). “He does have short arms for his frame, but we didn’t really see that as an issue,” Wolf said. “There’s a lot of guys with long arms who don’t extend them.”
My take: Without Jordy Nelson, the Packers lacked speed in their receiving corps. In fact, they had the slowest pass-catching group in the league last season. Davis changes that. He ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the combine, which was the third fastest among all receivers who ran in Indianapolis. The Packers say they had him timed in the mid-4.3 range. “That was one of the main attractions, definitely,” Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf said. So was the fact Davis played with No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff as his quarterback and the fact he can return kickoffs. He averaged 16.6 and 16.8 yards per catch in his two seasons at Cal after transferring from Hawaii.
Stanford is going to have to start holding alumni meetings in the Green Bay Packers' locker room.
The Packers used their final pick of the 2016 NFL draft to select Stanford left tackle Kyle Murphy, who became the second ex-Cardinal player in the Packers' seven-man draft class and the third player from Stanford to be drafted by the team over the past two seasons.
In the 6-foot-6, 305-pound Murphy, the Packers get a player who started all 14 of the Cardinal's games last season at left tackle. Ted Thompson said Murphy would be "at tackle for now, because that's what I've seen him play."