Packers XLV

Let's Break Down The Pack's Confounding 2020 Draft.

Posted April 26th, 2020 @ 06:04pm

Gutey's third draft class. Where do we begin? Well, the obvious spot to start is with his first selection, the one that will now determine whether he is still the general manager in four or five years. I wrote about the earth-shattering, Titletown-tilting selection of QB Jordan Love on the morning after the first round and there will be plenty of time to delve deeper in the days and weeks ahead.

For me, the reality of the Pack's 2020 draft is the undeniable fact that the starting lineup didn't noticeably improve. I have to think the Packers stand alone in this regard. And that's what frustrating to Packer fans, myself included. As I said on "In the Zone" Saturday, the Pack's championship window is by no means closed, but I'm not sure my mutt terrier could squeeze through it.

A team that surprised most and reached the NFC title game, didn't identify and add draft capital that can make it better in 2020. If the trade-up in round one had netted them linebacker Patrick Queen or WR Michael Pittman, they would have addressed areas that need upgrades.

But the theme of this draft is the remaking of the Packers offense into one that more resembles the way Matt LaFleur wants to play. That means a much stronger commitment to running the ball and using those running formations in the passing game as well. We will see less and less three receiver sets (not to mention four WR spread formations), and more multiple tight end looks--think San Francisco.

That doesn't forgive passing on what was considered the deepest WR class in decades. But when they committed to moving up for Love, they became hamstrung when it came to grabbing a receiver they may have coveted. They came off the board in droves in the second and the loss of their fourth round pick in the Love deal took away their best chance to move up even if they wanted to.

In all, seven receivers came off the board in the second, with Denzel Mims, a name that was assigned to the Pack in the first round in a lot of mocks, getting plucked just three picks before Green Bay. I was pounding the table, yelling Logan Wilson's name when they were on the clock (just like I had done for Queen in the first round). If not, electric Antonio Gibson from Memphis would be fun, or maybe OT Josh Jones or DT Justin Madubuike from A&M.

Instead, Gutey went running back, a position we figured they'd target at some point in the draft, with Jones and Williams in the final years of their rookie deals. But in the second round? And AJ Dillon was a prospect that most believed had a 50-50 shot of being picked on Friday. Felt like kind of a reach, especially when this felt like a pick that needed to strongly impact this year's team. Not that Dillon can't do that, especially if one of the other guys gets hurt. Dillon seems to be built in the Derrick Henry mold, just a shorter version. By taking him here, Gutey needs to hit on this pick. I'm not saying he needs to be Henry, but he needs to be better than Eddie Lacy was.

The third round pick is where Gutey lost me. I joked to my son Jackson right before the pick, 'watch the Pack take a fullback here.' I was a little bitter that the first two picks didn't inject much into next year's team and knew the Pack wouldn't be picking again until another 100 or so names came off the board. There were some highly touted inside linebackers on the board, a couple of tackles and a couple prolific tight ends.

Turns out, Gutey did grab a tight end, albeit one I'd never heard of--I'm guessing most of you hadn't either. And in Josiah Deguara they appear to have drafted, wait for it, their new fullback. LaFleur envisions Deguara replacing Danny Vitale and playing the part of 49er Kyle Juszczyk. Fine, you want a guy like that? Take him in the sixth round, not the third. I almost used an exclamation point right there, but it seemed like overkill. Just know that I really wrote that sentence with an exclamation point in mind.

The Pack's first three picks netted them a possible QB of the future, possible future "thunder" part of a thunder and lightning backfield with Aaron Jones in 2021 and an H-back who figures to play 15-20 snaps a game and help on special teams.

And to top it all off, they had to wait some 70 picks before they'd be on the clock on Saturday. By then, the dream of adding a wide receiver who could impact 2020 was dead. Barring a free agency addition like Tyler Gabriel (which I would heartily endorse) or a veteran casualty added in the next few months, the team plans to roll with Adams, Lazard, Funchess, MVS, EQSB, Jake Kumerow, Malik Taylor and Reggie Begelton.

We're already hearing that next year's WR class might be as good or better than this one. That gives us 12 months to wait and see whether Gutey and his staff will pass on another stellar class.

When they finally picked again, the added a familiar name, former Gopher Kamal Martin. Love his game, love his love for the game, hate his injury history. If he can put that behind him, he can be on the field in sub packages as a guy with the cover ability and speed to cover tight ends and help in the running game a bit. I still wish the Pack had added a much stronger prospect at this position. In Martin, Kirksey and Burks, the Pack is counting on guys who have all had a tough time staying on the field.

With the three sixth round picks, Gutey surprisingly went all offensive line all the time. Jon Runyan is a guy we've all seen play for years at Michigan, and his dad in Philly before him. In drafting former Oregon Center Jake Hanson, they get a look at a guy who could be Corey Linsley insurance, if they let the veteran walk in 2021. Lucas Patrick could also be the starter-in-waiting at center. The third pick, Simon Stepaniak, a fellow Hoosier, tore his ACL in December and figures to land on the practice squad. A former captain, he's versatile enough to play all three interior spots, which will earn him a look.

With the two seventh round picks, Gutey decided to roll the dice on a pair of defensive players. Of the two, former Hurricane Jonathan Garvin has a better chance to stick, likely as an OLB, maybe to replace Kyler Fackrell. He played DE at Miami and scouting reports say he had the talent to go on day two, but dropped because he didn't show effort consistently. He has a similar build as the Smiths and if he can follow their lead, he may have a shot.

The safety that the Pack took first, Vernon Scott from TCU, was seen as a likely undrafted player, but the Pack liked his speed (he ran in the 4.4s) and  think he can cover in the slot. He's a dart throw.

The Pack added 15 undrafted guys after the draft, including a (gasp) wide receiver, Darrell Stewart, from Michigan State. A few interesting guys to keep an eye on: CBs Stanford Samuels (Florida State) and Will Sunderland (Troy) and DE Willington Previlion (Rutgers).

The Packers are getting trashed nationally for this draft class, for the main reason we're all frustrated: they didn't do much to take their 13-3 team over the top, while their NFC competitors most certainly did.

What you can't deny is this: Gutey and his staff have put their careers in Green Bay on the line with this draft strategy. It really starts and ends with the Jordan Love pick. But it is now obvious the offense is taking on the identity that its coach wants. And if the LaFleur offense takes off in year two, led by a defiant Aaron Rodgers, and this team is once again an elite NFC team, the lack of new weapons added will be a non-story.

It's very easy to sit back and say the Packers bungled this draft, and they may very well have. But like most drafts, we'll probably look at it very differently in a few years.

Let's hope that's the case.

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Comments (18):

I’m sensing a little angst coming from the Packer faithful. It’s pretty clear Gute and LaFleur are looking towards shaping the team as they see fit. Like I said Friday, these things have a way of working themselves out. Personally, I don’t hate this draft, but I don’t love it either. I do find it curious, though. We’ll all have to wait and see, assuming there is a season.

on April 26th, 2020 at 03:40pm

Shocked how freaked out Packers fan are about these draft picks. RELAX! Just for fun go check out the post 2012 draft grades of the Seahawks. Fs across the board! How’d that work our for them? Packer fans need to not worry so much about what moronic Viking fans think either. Not sure why you give them the time of day! Steelers fan Tony

on April 26th, 2020 at 08:01pm

Dinner - It'll e okay. Come over to YORE MOM's house after church and I'll have cookies and milk ready.

on April 27th, 2020 at 04:01pm

Not to change the subject, but Davey said on his Saturday morning show that Green Bay should have lost to Detroit twice.Does anyone know what he meant by that?

on April 27th, 2020 at 07:13am

I think the main "fan" issue here is, who do you cheer for? There isn't a jersey selling pick here. Sure, in a couple years number 10 might be flying off the shelves, but no one wants that to happen this year. What we wanted was a direct impact to put us up on San Fran. The organization appears to be banking on the second year development of system to do that. We over performed last year, and everybody knows it. The team still needs to make a big step forward in development if this is the right coaching staff. They have basically said, We are going to be better this year because we have been in the system for another year. We shall see.

on April 27th, 2020 at 08:15am

Not to change the subject but Greg said the Vikings would beat the packers twice,anyone know what he was talking about? He keeps running his mouth but the queens have never won a thing!!

on April 27th, 2020 at 10:40pm

Greg--THC was referring to you only beating the Kitties thanks to a horrific blown call by the refs in each game last year.

on April 27th, 2020 at 11:41am

Purpletroll, I did say they would sweep the pack. So I was off by one! Hey, it happens.

on April 28th, 2020 at 03:06pm

You think the team has helped Rodgers with skilled position players in his career? Here is an mind blowing amazing stat : Career TD passes to a no # draft choice: Peyton Manning...293...Brett Favre...127...Drew Brees...104...Tom Brady...105...Ben Roethsberger….69...Now THE BIG STAT: AARON RODGERS....1....that's correct 1...uno...1... to Mercedes Lewis in 2019. Future Hall of Fame QB with no help....you decide. He probably leads for career TD passes to undrafted free agents. AMAZING !! GO PACK GO !!

on April 28th, 2020 at 10:36am

Sorry....In my post I should have added career TD passes to a number 1 draft choice. Sorry....GO PACK GO !!

on April 28th, 2020 at 10:40am

I swear the Patriots and Packers must of had a bet on who could have the worst draft this year. I mean if one pick is questionable ok relax as you all like to say, but both of these teams sucked 1-7 and took reaches step best. I’m thankful the Pack took Love though. I did not want him with the Pats as this guy looks like another Winston in the making and that’s on the upside.

on April 28th, 2020 at 11:16am

Davy...I just read the article on your brother Dan in the Milwaukee Sentinel/Journal. For some background for readers on this site: Dave's brother Dan owns a manufacturing company in Janesville, Wi. that is diverting their manufacturing to making masks to combat the Covid 19 outbreak. They are supplying thousands of masks to front line areas of need. People like Dan's company are true heroes in this time of need. Also..Dan and his wife and kids came down with Covid 19 and are recovering. They think they got it while traveling thru Chicago's O'Hare Airport in March. We know this is a sports site but we all should know sports are just the merry -go-round part of life. Families and love ones are priorities. All you guys on here keep people like this in your thoughts and prayers. GO PACK GO !!

on April 28th, 2020 at 11:59am

You Know, I first hated the picks, now I love them. The national media and kfan and skor 1500, talk more about the Packers now then in 5 years when they win 10 to 13 games each year. They just take them for granted that they will be good again, Good to hear some Packers talk, Now Brett is even getting the talk starting on 12 leaving. God this is fun in the times were living in right now. The skor and kfan, talk about there team for 20 minutes a hour, and 40 minutes on Pack. Life is good.

on April 29th, 2020 at 04:49pm

Thanks for the kind words about my brother's company's work, South Side. I'm proud of what he and his team is accomplishing and grateful that his family has recovered. Greg, what I said on my show was that I think the Pack is likely a 10-11 win team...they won a lot of close games last year and could just as easily have lost both games to the Lions.

on April 29th, 2020 at 09:45am

thanks for your musings Head Cheese.. also, nice to read about your brother. like you, i also lost it with the 3rd round reach, er, pick. scratching my head that the Pack and Patriots invested so much at TE given everyone in the draft world assumed that this was a weak draft class at TE. it has been a headache to try to understand Gutey's frame of mind over the draft. did you know that Kamal Martin, A.J. Dillon and Jordan Love trained together in CA over the off-season? it doesn't explain the Deguara pick, but it may point to the Dillon and Martin choices. i see LaFleur and Gute looking at locker room culture. i am going to assume that they just loved Love. they aimed for Love and when they landed him, they shifted to considering creating a Jordan Love friendly locker room environment. maybe some insurance if things don't go as hoped with Rodgers' attitude about Love. with probably their careers on the line, this 2020 draft was about getting Love and creating a good environment for him. now, in 2022, who are the Packers' starting tackles? if Bakhtiari is one of them, how many gazillion dollars do they pay him? and, when will the Packers' cap be healthy again?

on April 30th, 2020 at 10:32am

I know it happens Greg but you’re always off,for the crap you give Dave he treats you like an adult,you owe him an apology!!

on May 1st, 2020 at 02:28pm

Not since the cowboys in "Blazing Saddles" gathered 'round the campfire to eat their beans has so much empty noise and malodorous air been spewed out as during this past week since the draft. It comes from Know Nothings who fancy themselves NFL gm's and coaches and can't distinquish between fantasy and reality, facts or fiction. Loudmouth drunks in a bar, nerdy geeks sitting alone in their bathrobes in their bedrooms with their devices, talking heads who aren't experts on pro football but play them on tv and radio. You can't possibly even begin to grade a draft before the players picked have played even one down in the NFL. You might as well go to a hospital nursery and assign the newborns their college GPA's. It requires at least 2 years or longer for a draft to provide a body of evidence to evaluate. If you want to grade a draft we should be talking about 2017 and the several just before that. Then we would have something to say. As far as the alleged "rift" between Aaron Rodgers and the Packers is concerned that's really fake news. Unless and until ARod himself comes out and says it and demands out of Green Bay no one else knows anything about his feelings or the state of relations with his coach and gm. Fact is Rodgers just tweeted a repudiation of those stories. Should the Packers have draft a receiver? Well, who said this was really such an historically great draft for that position? Nothing shown or proved yet by any of them. If/when Justin Jefferson turns out to be Laquon Treadwell II will the high marks now be the same? The Packers aren't so hard up at wide receiver as some think. They've got an elite Pro Bowler in Davante Adams. They added an experiened, former high round pick in Devin Funchess. They've got big, fast young prospects in third year pros MVS and St. Brown. (Davante didn't come through as an accomplished receiver until his 3rd season which is the same point as MVS and ESB.) They've had a knack over the years for finding good UDFA's like Lazard. They went undefeated over a 4 game stretch last season when Adams was out with a foot injury. Somebody was catching passes. Gutekunst and LaFleur know all this. The pundits, trolls and fantasy denizens don't. R E L A X. The Pack is fine and probably getting better.

on May 1st, 2020 at 09:31pm

I saw recently that Pittsburgh may be open to trading Ju-Ju-Smith-Schuster. Gutey: That would be a great wideout to team with Adams and Rodgers. At least make the call....he is only 23 years old and very productive. Worth a try. GO PACK GO !!!

on May 4th, 2020 at 01:54pm

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