The Green Bay Packers haven’t drafted that well in the past couple years. Earlier this week, I made that statement and didn’t think twice about it, but apparently some of you disagreed.
Yeah, I get it, Ted Thompson is a master drafter who can do no wrong. He picked Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews and blah, blah, blah. Matthews made an almost immediate impact and there are several other guys that fit that bill — Nick Collins, Morgan Burnett, Bryan Bulaga, etc.
However, most of Thompson’s draft picks don’t fit that bill. That’s been especially glaring in the past two drafts. In those two drafts, Thompson’s picks have actually missed more games than they’ve started, whether by injury or coach’s decision. You can chalk that up to whatever you want, but as Shawn pointed out recently, the Packers haven’t been drafting impact players.
In two seasons, the Packers draft classes of 2011 and 2012 have started a combined 45 games, while they’ve sat out a combined 124. And yes, I’d love to break it down even further.
The 2011 draft class produced just one guy who started any games that season — linebacker D.J. Smith, who started just three (he was also the only guy to play in all 16 games). Meanwhile, that class missed a combined 58 games in their rookie season and that doesn’t include the two guys who didn’t even make the team. Seventh-round pick Ricky Elmore didn’t make the final roster and sixth-round pick Caleb Schlauderaff was traded prior to the season because he wasn’t going to make the final roster.
In 2012, the 2011 draft class stepped it up slightly. They accounted for 26 starts, but still missed a combined 41 games. Randall Cobb led the way with eight starts. Tight end Ryan Taylor is the only member of the 2011 class to play in all 16 games in 2012. However, this class also lost another member when seventh-rounder Lawrence Guy was relegated to the practice squad and later signed by Indianapolis.
Sure, the Packers got Cobb in the 2011 draft, but he has literally been the only impact player from that class thus far. And, he wasn’t an offensive impact player until his second season.
In 2012, the Packers went defense heavy in the draft largely because they had to. Since they refuse to participate in free agency, the only way to improve their historically bad defense was to draft a bunch of defenders. As such, the 2012 class actually registered more starts than its predecessor, tallying a total of 16.
Of course, that class also sat out a combined 25 games. Second-rounder Casey Hayward, the draft class’ top performer, led the way with seven starts. First-rounder Nick Perry was close behind with five, but he also missed 10 games. Hayward joined fourth-round pick Jerron McMillian as the only guys to play in all 16 games.
The Packers two seventh-round picks, Andrew Datko and B.J. Coleman, failed to make the active roster.
The Packers actually succeeded in improving their defense in 2012, but Hayward was the only draftee to make a real contribution to that improvement. In fact, that starts to illuminate the fact that the Packers have gotten next to nothing out of Thompson’s last two first-round picks.
Derek Sherrod, the 2011 first-rounder, hasn’t started a game in two seasons and missed all of 2012 because of injury. Last year’s pick, Nick Perry, was given a starting job in training camp. He started five games and played in six, recording 18 tackles and two sacks before going on injured reserve.
You can point to them injuries all you want, but the fact is the Packers haven’t gotten any impact from their past two first-round picks.
In fact, in those two drafts, I’d argue they’ve only selected two impact players — Cobb and Hayward. In addition to those guys, the only guy who has any claim that he’s actually a starter when the season opens is Perry.
Two drafts, three starters.
I’d say that’s fairly pathetic.