As with most things in life, hindsight is certainly 20/20 when it comes to reviewing the crapshoot NFL draft. Still, for a franchise like Green Bay that is staunchly Draft-and-Develop, it can be a fun exercise to take a look at recent hits/misses and the impact they had on the roster today. The rule of thumb with NFL Draft classes is you need 3 years before you can truly “grade” a draft, but some of the misses in the 2014 draft have already had a direct result on the perceived team needs for Green Bay as we head into the 2016 season. The jury is still out for some of these players, but if the early returns are any indication, this draft could contain one of Thompson’s biggest regrets.
Round 1 (21st overall) – HaHa Clinton-Dix, Safety
Not much to criticize here. Safety was a glaring hole for the Packers coming into the draft, and Ted wasted no time addressing it in the 1st round. After a decent rookie season, Clinton-Dix made major strides in his sophomore season, primarily by cleaning up his poor tackling. He may not reach the All-Pro level of Nick Collins, but he seems well on his way to being a solid player for years to come. Things go downhill quite quickly for Green Bay from here, however…
Round 2 (53) – Davante Adams, WR
This is by far the most interesting pick of Green Bay’s 2014 draft. Ted Thompson must have been licking his chops coming into what was widely considered one of the deepest WR classes in years, and that has already proven true. Just look at the players drafted in the 1st round alone – Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, OBJ, & Brandin Cooks to name a few. The 2nd round is where Ted has landed studs such as Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb in years past. When Adams was selected many were ready to anoint him a star before he even stepped on the field, purely based on Ted’s track record.
But in a 2015 season where Green Bay sorely needed a WR to step up after Jordy’s injury, Adams failed to deliver. Meanwhile, several players that Ted opted to pass on in favor of Adams have already established themselves as stars around the league: Allen Robinson (61st), Jarvis Landry (63rd), John Brown (91st), and Martavis Bryant (118). It is possible Green Bay would still be playing today if they had selected one of these players instead of Adams, particularly Allen Robinson.
To be fair, I am still pretty high on Adams. Despite lacking game-breaking speed, he flashed tons of potential in huge games vs. New England and Dallas in his rookie season. Jordy’s injury forced Green Bay to rush Adams along quicker than they may have liked in 2015, and it seemed early season injuries/struggles snowballed into Adams regressing in his 2nd season. It is easy to forget even Nelson struggled mightily with drops early in his career, but was able to play behind guys like Driver, Jennings, and even James Jones while he developed his game. Still, one has to wonder if this pick goes down as one of Ted’s biggest regrets.
Round 3 (85) – Khyri Thornton, DT
A colossal bust. Questioned immediately at the time the pick was made, Thornton has already been cut. It happens.
Round 3 (98) – Richard Rodgers, TE
Another pick that was a surprise to many the moment it was made. Two years into his career, he has proven to be exactly the player he was considered to be coming out of Cal – Strong hands but below average speed, a poor blocker, awful after the catch (despite McCarthy’s insistence at throwing him quick screens on 3rd and 1 that seemingly fail every time), and a poor route runner. Some of these flaws may improve over time, but he does not appear to have the tools to be anything close to a #1 tight end at this stage.
Round 4 (121) – Carl Bradford, LB
See: Thornton. Another bust.
Round 5 (161) – Corey Linsley, C
This pick may have saved the draft for Ted. Drafted primarily for depth purposes, he immediately established himself as an above-average starter when Tretter got injured in 2014. Should be a main-stay on this line for years to come.
Round 5 (176) – Jared Abbrederis, WR
Battled injuries early in his career and was never given much of an opportunity in 2015 despite a glaring lack of production from the position group. On the roster bubble heading into next season.
Round 6 (197) – Demetri Goodson, CB
A developmental prospect.
Round 7 (236) – Jeff Janis, WR
No comment necessary. A potential steal, as any production from a 7th round pick is pretty rare.
So to recap, Ted spent 6 picks after the 1st round on the following positions: WR (3), DT, TE, LB. With the exception of maybe WR, all four of these position groups remain fairly huge “needs” for Green Bay heading into 2016.