The Packers have been stuck in a rut of division-round losses for the past two years. Here’s a look at how well they used the draft to improve a team that, beyond a high-end passing game, doesn’t really have much to brag about.
What they needed: Running back, nose tackle, linebacker, offensive line, tight end quarterback.
Who they got:
Round 1: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA.
Round 2: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama.
Round 4: David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado.
Round 4: J.C. Tretter, OT, Cornell.
Round 4: Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA.
Round 5: Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa.
Round 6: Nate Palmer, LB, Illinois St.
Round 7: Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley St.
Round 7: Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland.
Round 7: Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida.
Where they hit: Franklin fits perfectly with the West Coast offense, and he could become a star in that system. Jones, who’ll man one of the three spots on the defensive line, lays the foundation for a future without Ryan Pickett and/or B.J. Raji. Bakhtiari is the latest college left tackle whom the Packers will move elsewhere on the line, possibly to guard.
Where they missed: There’s a reason Lacy was available late in round two. From chronic injury problems to a concern that he lacks true passion for football, Lacy has potential bust written all over him. While they needed running backs, Franklin fits. Lacy may not. They also failed to build depth at tight end and to give quarterback Aaron Rodgers a better understudy than Graham Harrell.
Impact rookies: If Franklin instantly can become a three-down back (blitz pickup will be the key), he could emerge as a candidate for offensive rookie of the year. Jones’ potential impact would be realized via increased production from the linebackers.
Long-term prospects: The Packers continue to be an elite team. With an improved defense, offensive line, and running back corps, they can get back to the Super Bowl and win it. With this crop of rookies, it’s quite possible.