Rob Demovsky breaks down the Green Bay Packers' 2017 draft class.
Round 2, No. 33 overall: Kevin King, CB, Washington
My take: Another draft, another defensive player for the Packers with their first pick. Forget that this one came in the second round after general manager Ted Thompson traded out of the first round Thursday -- it still qualifies as the sixth straight year the Packers have used their first pick to improve their defense. Yet here they are with a defense that ranked 31st in passing yards allowed last season. There's no way to argue that taking a cornerback like King was the wrong call given the Packers' shaky pass defense in 2016, but they need to make sure they get more from him than they did from some of their recent first-rounders. Nick Perry (2012), Datone Jones (2013) and Kenny Clark (2016) made minimal impacts as rookies, and Damarious Randall (2015) regressed in Year 2 after a solid first season. This is a Super Bowl-contending team that needs to get better on defense to live up to the billing.
How he fits: The Packers think King has a chance to be a No. 1 cornerback. They essentially played all of last season without one after Sam Shields sustained a season-ending (and possibly career-ending) concussion in Week 1. King also gives the Packers their tallest cornerback (6-foot-3): He's the tallest corner Thompson has ever drafted, and he's an inch taller than the Packers’ previous tallest cornerback, LaDarius Gunter. Just like most of the Packers' defensive backs, King can play multiple positions from safety to the slot cornerback to the outside corner spot.
Round 2, No. 61: Josh Jones, S, NC State
My take: Safety isn’t a position of major need given how Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix played last season, but Jones isn’t your typical safety. If he can do what the Packers think he can -- hold up in coverage and play near the line of scrimmage almost like a linebacker would -- then he could be invaluable. The Packers lost one versatile defensive back when Micah Hyde signed with the Bills in free agency. Jones might be a faster version of Hyde. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds at the combine, which was even faster than what Packers new cornerback Kevin King (4.43) ran. Regardless of what the Packers say about the state of their secondary, their decision to draft a pair of defensive backs with their first two picks this year tells all. They know the onus is on the back end of the defense to improve.
How he fits: Last year, the Packers experimented with playing Burnett as essentially an inside linebacker in their nickel defense. Jones believes he can do the same thing. “Without a doubt,” he said. “I’m versatile. I can do whatever.” Jones had eight interceptions in his three seasons at NC State.
Round 3, No. 93: Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
My take: Even the lineman the Packers took fits the theory that they fully intended to field a faster defense this season. Adams showed remarkable speed for a 6-foot-3 1/2, 304-pound defensive tackle when he ran a 4.87 40-yard dash at the combine. If it wasn’t clear before the Packers took Adams, it’s evident now what they thought of their defense last season. Following cornerback Kevin King and safety Josh Jones in the second round, Adams was the third straight defensive player to start the draft for the Packers. Not since 2012, when GM Ted Thompson used his first six picks on defensive players, have the Packers made this kind of a commitment to that side of the ball in the same draft.
How he fits: Adams' quickness along the line should make him the perfect complement to some of their power players like Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark. The defensive line group is all of a sudden a lot deeper than it was when last season ended. The Packers signed veteran defensive end Ricky Jean Francois in free agency.
Round 4, No. 108: Vince Biegel, OLB, Wisconsin
My take: The difference between Biegel and his Wisconsin teammate T.J. Watt might not be all that great. The Packers passed on Watt at No. 29 when they elected to trade out of the first round, and Watt went No. 30 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Biegel actually ran a tick faster than Watt at the combine -- his 40 time was 4.67 seconds compared to Watt's 4.69. He also benched the same number of reps (21) as Watt, although his vertical jump of 33.5 was lower than Watt's 37 inches. Yes, the Packers could've have taken Watt in the first round, but they turned that into cornerback Kevin King (at No. 33 overall) and Biegel. Also, Biegel, a fifth-year senior, played more at Wisconsin than Watt, who was essentially a two-year player.
How he fits: It could be argued that pass-rusher was as big of a need -- if not a bigger one -- than cornerback after the Packers lost Julius Peppers and Datone Jones in free agency. Yes, they re-signed Nick Perry to a five-year, $60 million deal but other than Clay Matthews, there weren't any other proven rushers from the outside linebacker position. Biegel played primarily left outside linebacker and although his sacks total (4.0) dropped last year from 15.5 in the previous two years, the Packers think he can provide immediate pass rush.
Round 4, No. 134: Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU
My take: This is the kind of running back you get in the fourth round: a productive player who has some question marks. He has battled knee injuries and off-the-field issues. He left BYU for a year (2015) because he violated the school’s honor code. Williams said the honor code violation was “having a girl in his room.” When asked how NFL teams reacted to that, he said, “Most of them laughed.” It’s hard to argue with his production. He rushed for 1,375 yards in 10 games as a senior and finished as BYU’s career rushing leader with 3,901 yards, yet 14 running backs were taken before Williams. Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine might have been a better pick with the Packers’ first fourth-round pick (No. 108 overall) but after they took outside linebacker Vince Biegel at that spot, Perine lasted only six more picks before Washington selected him.
How he fits: He has a much different style than Ty Montgomery, the Packers receiver turned running back. He’s more of a bruising, aggressive runner, so he could serve as a nice complement to Montgomery’s versatility. Williams’ upright running style resembles former Packers running back James Starks. The Packers would love it if he turned into this year’s Jordan Howard, the fifth-round pick of the Chicago Bears last year who finished second in the league in rushing last year.
Round 5, No. 175: Deangelo Yancey, WR, Purdue
My take: The Packers should take a receiver every year given how important Aaron Rodgers and the passing game is to Mike McCarthy’s offense. You don’t have to hit on one every year, but this way it ensures that a steady stream of players will always be in the developmental stage. It’s what the Packers did in this same round last year with Trevor Davis, who showed some potential as a speed receiver. The last time GM Ted Thompson didn’t take a receiver was in 2012. In the next draft, he took two of them. Dating to the 2013 draft, Thompson has picked seven receivers, including Yancey.
How he fits: The 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver was a big-play threat for an otherwise lackluster Purdue team. He averaged 19.4 yards per catch as a senior last year, and his best game came against Wisconsin with six catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He was not invited to the combine and showed only average speed at his pro day, when he ran a 4.53 40-yard dash. He’s possible insurance in case the Packers lose one of both of their receivers entering the final years of their contracts -- Davante Adams and Jeff Janis -- and if Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb experience a sharp decline.
Round 5, No. 182: Aaron Jones, RB, UTEP
My take: If you're going to wait until Day 3 of the draft to take a running back, you might as well take two of them. That's what general manager Ted Thompson did after taking BYU's Jamal Williams in the fourth round. Until Saturday, the Packers had ignored the position in free agency and in the draft. Outside of cornerback, it was the probably the weakest position on the roster, so it makes sense to double up and see if you can find at least one contributor at that spot. It's the third time Thompson has taken two running backs in the same draft: He did so in 2007 (Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn) and 2013 (Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin) and each time, he found one contributor (Jackson and Lacy).
How he fits: At 5-foot-9 1/2 and 208 pounds, he's a different body type than Williams (6-0, 212). Williams is more of a bruising runner between the tackles, while Jones has more quick-twitch ability. They could be perfect complements to each other and to the returning Ty Montgomery.
Round 6, No. 212, Kofi Amichia, T, South Florida
My take: It wouldn't be a Ted Thompson draft if he didn't take an offensive lineman. Even in one of the weakest O-line drafts in years, the Packers still took one. The 2015 draft was the only year in Thompson's 13 drafts as general manager that he hasn't taken an offensive lineman. In eight of those drafts, he took multiple offensive linemen. It's always smart to keep a well-stocked collection of developmental offensive linemen.
How he fits: Most of the linemen Thompson has drafted played left tackle in college. Most of them end up moving to another position. At 6-foot-4 and 291 pounds, Amichia is a prime candidate to move to guard. He almost certainly won't need to play right away; the Packers signed veteran Jahri Evans last week mostly as a one-year starter at right guard to replace T.J. Lang, who signed with the Lions in free agency.
Round 7, No. 238: Devante Mays, RB, Utah State
My take: We get the point, Ted Thompson. You’re serious about finding a running back after losing Lacy in free agency and cutting James Starks. Mays became the third one the Packers' general manager selected in this draft -- something this team hasn’t done since 1974. It did happen in the NFL last year, when the Seahawks took three backs in the same draft: C.J. Prosise (third round), Alex Collins (fifth round) and Zac Brooks (seventh round). The Packers committed a fourth-round pick (BYU’s Jamaal Williams), a fifth-round pick (UTEP’s Aaron Jones) and a seventh (Mays).
How he fits: It’s possible the Packers could have converted receiver Ty Montgomery and the rest rookies on their running back depth chart. Although Day 3 picks are never locks to make the team, it’s a good bet in two months, the three backs will be on the roster. Mays rushed for 966 yards in 13 games as a junior but was limited to only six games because of a knee injury last year.
Round 7, No. 247: Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU
My take: What looked like a defense-heavy draft turned to the other side of the ball on Day 3. Packers GM Ted Thompson finished it off with six straight offensive players, including five skill-position players. There should be plenty of competition in the running back and receiver rooms given the three running backs and two receivers taken on Saturday.
How he fits: At 6-foot-2 1/2, Dupre has good size -- similar to Geronimo Allison, the undrafted free-agent receiver who became a contributor late last season. With Dupre and Deangelo Yancey (fifth round), it will make for some competition for the likes of Allison, Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis for the final few roster spots at the receiver position.