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2016 Packers’ Rookies Failed to Impress

As one wrap-up to the 2016 season, the folks at nfl.com issued grades on the rookie classes of each NFL team. The article’s title says most of what you need to know: “2016 rookie grades: Packers, Rams, Jets get limited production.”

Bucky Brooks’ overall assessment was that the Green Bay Packers’ rookies “failed to make a significant impact on the roster despite the presence of several promising players.” He felt first-round pick Kenny Clark failed to “deliver many splash plays.” Third-rounder Kyler Fackrell did have three splash plays, two sacks and a forced fumble, but otherwise had little impact. He credited fourth-round pick Dean Lowry with getting two sacks toward the end of the season. Brooks also felt that second-round Jason Spriggs “showed promise” as a key O-line reserve. Finally he said that undrafted free agent Geronimo Allison’s rise from the practice squad to being a key playoff contributor was impressive.

To those ratings, I would add that fourth-round pick Blake Martinez and fifth-round pick Trevor Davis went in the opposite direction of Allison: they were featured somewhat prominently in early games, but were an afterthought by season’s end. Finally, sixth-round offensive tackle Kyle Murphy only played in three games and he was inactive in the playoff game at Atlanta, in which defensive tackle Letroy Guion had to be called in to finish the game as an offensive lineman.

Martinez started 10 games on the year, the most among the rookies. The only others who started any games were Allison (3), Clark (2), Spriggs (2), and safety Kentrell Brice, another undrafted free agent (1). Due to being on special teams, however, four rookies did play in all 19 games: Clark, Spriggs, Brice, and Marwin Evans, yet another undrafted rookie – which also means the four were rarities in that they stayed healthy all year.

Overall, Green Bay’s rookies were rated by nfl.com as tied with the Houston Texans for ninth least impressive rookie group.

Best NFL Rookie Classes

The Packers rookies as a group started a total of 18 games. How does that compare to some of the top-rated rookie groups? Read it and weep:

Chicago Bears (selecting No. 9) – The team’s rookies had 66 cumulative starts. The leaders were: C Cody Whitehair (Rd. 2, 16 starts); RB Jordan Howard (Rd. 5, 13 starts); OLB Leonard Floyd (Rd. 1, 12 starts); CB Cre’von LeBlanc (undrafted, 9 starts); ILB Nick Kwiatowski (Rd. 4, 7 starts); and, S Deon Bell (Rd. 4, 6 starts). Howard, a fifth-round pick, is right up there with Dak Prescott as being the biggest steal of the 2016 draft.

Atlanta Falcons (selecting No. 17) – The team’s rookies had 62 cumulative starts and they helped propel the team to the Super Bowl. Leading the way are some names Packers fans should recognize: S Keanu Neal (Rd. 1, 17 starts); LB Deion Jones (Rd. 2, 16 starts); LB De’Vondre Campbell (Rd. 4, 13 starts), CB Brian Poole (undrafted, 13 starts); and TE Austin Hooper (Rd. 3, 4 starts).

Dallas Cowboys (selecting No. 4) – The team’s rookies had 56 cumulative starts. Leading the pack were QB Dak Prescott (Rd. 4, 17 starts) and RB Ezekiel Elliott (Rd. 1, 16 starts); also making major contributions were DT Maliek Collins (Rd. 3, 14 starts) and CB Anthony Brown (Rd. 6, 9 starts). These rookies helped Dallas to a 13-3 regular season record.

San Diego/LA Chargers (selecting No. 3) – The team’s rookies had 38 cumulative starts, including: DE Joey Bosa (Rd. 1, 11 starts); TE Hunter Henry (Rd. 2, 10 starts); LB Jatavis Brown (Rd. 5, 7 starts), and CB Trevor Williams (undrafted, 5 starts).


Comparing the number of starts rookies get isn’t a perfect way to rate them. Teams that did poorly the year before are bound to afford rookies more opportunities to play than the better teams. It might also be argued that some teams want to bring young players along gradually. Even so, it seems to be a fair indicator of which teams drafted wisely and poorly in 2016. As for Green Bay, it’s bad enough that the rookies contributed little to the team. What’s worse, it’s hard for me to envision any of the class of 2016 developing into star players. I truly hope I’m wrong about this.

I’m quite sure no Packers’ rookies were even close to making it onto any best-of lists. I also doubt there are many who would say the Packers’ roster was so packed with talent the 2016 rookies had little opportunity to show their stuff.

I had intended this look back at the 2016 draft to be merely a prelude of the upcoming draft in April. I can’t help it if it turned out to be another indictment of Ted Thompson and his scouting team.

In a day or two, I’ll look at the Packers’ recent draft history from another perspective. We’ll see if Thompson comes out any better in that analysis.

Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”



  1. PF4L February 20, 2017

    I happen to agree, Rookies starting isn’t a great way to rate them. I prefer the eye test. sorry if this is a lil rough for some of you. But if the sun isn’t shining, i’m not going to tell you to put on some sun block.

    I doubt Bucky watched all the Packer games, i did. Where to start………
    Mr. Kenny Clark (1st rd)…Thank you for your 5 solo tackles, 0 sacks,, 0 ff’s. Just another TT 1st rounder.
    Mr. Jason Spriggs (2nd rd)…Thank you for helping out, when you weren’t getting laid out on your ass, or juked out of your jockeys. you looked impressive. (TALL)
    Mr. Kyler Fackrell (3rd rd)…showed a little life with 2 sacks, 1 FF. Get in the weight room, toughen up so you don’t get bitch made by M. Moses and please make more than 7 solo tackles.

    Let me cut to the chase as this is boring me…….TT better have the best draft that anyone has ever had in the history of the NFL, or this defense is fucked again.

  2. Big B February 20, 2017

    You could make the case that the undrafted (Allison and Brice) guys outperformed the less than distinguished Class of ’16. Draft and develop won’t work if this is what your draft “harvest” brings- there were plenty of needs/opportunities but this group didn’t get it done. To say Spriggs showed promise is to view the timeline in reverse: he got worse as the season went on, and cost us extra picks to move up……… so the Bears wouldn’t get him. It still isn’t clear to me what prompted that move- it seemed Bahktiari and Bulaga were OTs for the near future, so whatup with Spriggs? Pack paid a premium for what purpose?

    1. PF4L February 20, 2017

      Spriggs was drafted as Bahktiari’s cheap replacement….until they had a whole training camp to give Spriggs the eye test.

      The eye test led the Packers to sign Bahk to an extension on Sept 13th, 2016

  3. Anti-McCarthy Fan February 21, 2017

    Breakings news: Mike McCarthy got arrested after stealing 20 hamburgers from Burger King and he will face 10 years in prison after throwing 4 hamburgers at Aaron Rodgers.

  4. MMTTDCSUCK February 21, 2017

    A typical TT “The Frugal GM” clusterfuck . . . Over valued and head scratching draft choices. EVERY FUCKING YEAR! the same old thing. This guy has no idea how to pick talent. His scouts blow chunks at assessment, and have no idea WTF a blue chip player is. Of course it does not help picking in the bottom of the first round every year, but hey! trade up then! This draft team in Green Bay has continued to miss more often than not. Why is it that some teams choose great DE’s or ILB’s every fucking year? While Green Bay whiff’s on them every fucking year? I would love to see this brain trust leave right now and never come back. Hell I would even bet that there are guys on this site that could out pick that fuck TT every year. What is this guy looking at? The draftee’s COCK SIZE? Because he certainly is not looking to see if they are “gamers”. Most of these guys stand around, or act like they are lost out there. It is like he drafting prepubescent players for a porn shoot . . .

    1. PF4L February 21, 2017

      And here’s what kills me MM….with all that, were counting on this one draft to fix our front line pass rush and our cornerbacks to “spring” us into the Super Bowl next season?

      I can say this, i had a hell of a lot more optimism and enthusiasm last off season, than i do this off season.

      All things considered…i’m starting to agree with the 3 stooges, maybe just making the playoffs is a successful season now in Green Bay.

      Sad as this is too fucking say.

      1. PF4L February 21, 2017

        I’ll also admit to agreeing with McFatAss when he says….” It’s not easy winning in this league”.

        The more i think about the teams Ted puts together every season. The more i can’t argue with that.

        1. MMTTDCSUCK February 22, 2017

          Amen PF4L!