The 2018 off-season has been a wild one, but we finally had the NFL draft this past weekend. New general manager Brian Gutekunst has been very active during his first offseason. With many holes to fill, the Green Bay Packers were stocked with 12 picks (most among teams). The biggest need was getting the secondary some help. Gutekunst signed a couple veterans in Tramon Williams and Davon House, but the Packers needed answers more than band-aids. Next, Aaron Rodgers needed some weapons after the team cut wide receiver, Jordy Nelson. Lastly, they needed to get faster on both sides of the ball. Let’s look at three draft steals for the Green Bay Packers that Gutekunst made in his first draft as general manager.
Green Bay Packers Draft Steals
Pick 45: CB Josh Jackson
During mock draft season, a lot of experts had the Packers drafting Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson at 14. As a redshirt junior, Jackson had eight interceptions, which lead the nation. His knack for the ball was the reason many had Jackson a sure first-round pick. The slide was contributed to him being a “one-hit wonder”. Also, he only ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at the combine. Jackson’s NFL comparable has been Richard Sherman. We all know the career he’s been able to put together. Not super fast, but tall with elite ball skills.
Pick 133: WR J’Mon Moore
The longtime fan favorite, Jordy Nelson, was released this offseason. This left the Packers with a glaring hole at wide receiver. Davante Adams is the clear number one with Randall Cobb sitting at number two. Cobb has been a slot receiver most of his career so that left a need for another outside receiver. Moore’s draft stock slipped because he ran a 4.60 40-yard dash at the combine. He ended up beating that with a 4.48 40-yard time at his pro day, however. After watching his tape, it’s clear he plays more at the 4.48 speed than the 4.60 speed that was recorded. Standing at 6′ 3″, this gives Rodgers another Adams type receiver. Moore won’t blow the top of the defense, but with his route running ability will create enough space for number 12.
Pick 207: WR Equanimeous St. Brown
In his first draft, Gutekunst ended up drafting three different wide receivers. This wasn’t the plan going into the draft, but a result of how the draft board came to them. Rated as the 87th overall player by NFL.com, Brown’s height (6′ 5″) and speed (4.48) gives Rodgers another athletic target. Moore needs to prove his speed while Brown speed is undeniable. His versatility as a wide receiver is why he could be the biggest steal of the draft. Brown can play from the outside or from the slot. Character issues are what hampered his draft stock, but setting those aside will only improve his game.
BONUS: Saints 2019 1st-Rd Pick
Packers nation shook their heads when Gutekunst traded out of the 14th pick. Safety Derwin James was still on the board, who was a fan favorite even before he put on the green and gold. There was a lot of chatter that Gutekunst was just another Thompson by trading all the way back to 27 with the New Orleans Saints. With so many holes to fill, why trade back when a top prospect fell into your lap? Because he was able to pick up an additional first round pick next year. The 2018 draft class was viewed as a weak class for edge rushers. The 2019 class, however, is viewed highly for the pass rush headlined by Nick Bosa. Gutekunst took a calculated risk by trading back but ended up trading to 18 to draft Jaire Alexander anyways. All while adding capital to make a splash next year.
Overall, the new regime’s first draft went about as well as one could. Adding speed and competition to your roster is never a bad thing. Gutekunst didn’t address the pass rush at all, in this draft, mainly because they expect guys already on the roster to contribute. Vince Biegel and Kyler Fackrell are guys to look out for this year. It’s a new and exciting era, in Green Bay.
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