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Packers Fooled Everyone With Josh Jones Pick

The two most pressing needs going into the draft for our beloved Green Bay Packers appeared to be at cornerback and for another pass rusher – presumably an outside linebacker. And some people were also looking for help at running back.

The first Packers’ pick proceeded according to plan, and everyone seems upbeat that long and lean cornerback Kevin King is going to be a successful outside cornerback, maybe in the mold of the Seahawks Richard Sherman.

Next up was the team’s original second-round pick, overall selection number 61. Instead of nabbing an edge rusher or even a running back, however, Green Bay made a surprise choice: safety Josh Jones, out of North Carolina State. He seems like a fine player, but certainly doesn’t fill any gaping hole in the team’s roster.

Of all the positions that Packers could have targeted, I would have thought safety was about the least needy position.

So why was this choice made? I have enough theories to satisfy almost anyone.

First, this could actually be a time when the “best player available” route was taken. Josh Jones might just be the complete package: very fast (4.41 dash time), very tall (6’3”), plenty strong (20 bench press reps), and a spring-like leaper. Maybe those abilities were too much for Packers to resist regardless of the position he plays.

Another theory might be that the Packers had their eyes on one or two linebackers they thought were high value at pick number 61 – but the run on such players, chosen at numbers 47, 49, 54 and 57, left the linebacker cupboard bare. When the Packers took Jones at number 61, no other team saw good value in an outside linebacker at that point either. The next outside linebacker chosen, by the Bengals, was Kansas State’s Jordan Willis at number 73.

It’s also possible that the Packers were too clever for their own good. Could it be that the edge rusher the Packers really wanted was fourth-round pick Vince Biegel’s college teammate, T.J. Watt? There were certainly plenty of rumors to that effect. Maybe the Packers thought they could finesse their way to getting Watt plus another draft pick by trading down just a few spots. Minutes before the Packers were to pick at number 29 in the first round, they made their trade, from pick 29 to 33.

Green Bay did indeed get a valuable extra pick, the first selection of round 4. Perhaps though, they weren’t anticipating the Steelers nabbing J.J. Watt’s little brother at number 30? We’ll probably never know, but such gambles do occur on draft day, and sometimes they don’t turn out as planned.

But here’s a final theory. Green Bay has become pre-disposed over the last three years to letting veteran players go, usually when they’ve reached about age 29 and their usually-lucrative contracts have run out. Safety Morgan Burnett has a four-year contract, at an average of $6.2 million, which will run out in 2018. Burnett will be 29 when the team assembles for the 2018 season. You know, like (give or take a couple years) Josh Sitton, James Starks, T.J. Lang, A.J. Hawk, Tramon Williams, Jarrett Bush, Brett Goode, Andrew Quarless, James Jones, Scott Tolzien, Mike Neal, and B.J. Raji.

Are the Packers planning on Josh Jones replacing Burnett on next year’s roster? That’s the theory I’m leaning toward.

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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7 Comments

  1. Howard May 5, 2017

    Have to agree that Burnett may not be resigned. I do believe there is one other way of looking at this. To me there was a need for an edge rusher, but the Packers pass defense has to have at least one corner that does not consistently need safety help to not get beat deep. Two would be great. For now baby steps. The other major problem with the pass defense is the ILBs in pass coverage. Ryan has shown improvement. Martinez did not show improvement and to me Thomas is a liability as the dime linebacker. Thomas started out O.K but as the season went on he failed, topped off by his dismal attempt to tackle Matt Ryan in the NFCC.

    The Packers need to upgrade there coverage in the middle of the field. Who knows if Jones is that guy yet, but I think the team is looking at Jones to at some point this season upgrade that position, at least in the dime package.

  2. Nick May 5, 2017

    Well you forgot one other possibility which this regime seems to constantly do and that is move him to another position like say cornerback?thats my guess

  3. Kato May 5, 2017

    Long term, replacement for Burnett. For now, I see him as a better, more athletic version of Hyde. He will be covering tight ends, and possibly be a dime backer, being used similar to Matheiu if he ends up being the real deal. I could also envision Randall being moved to safety where he belongs. Much better suited to be a free safety.

  4. Chuck May 5, 2017

    Agree. Most likely HYDE replacement with an eye on keeping Burnett from holding Pack hostage next year.

    Also. Consider the possibility that Jones could also play Inside Linebacker in time. He might just be amazing in that role on passing downs.

  5. Gort May 5, 2017

    My first thought on this was a replacement for Micah Hyde. Glad to see that a few other experts agree.

  6. Deepsky May 6, 2017

    Remember Burnett plays hybrid linebacker a lot because the Packers are in nickel and dime a lot. The Packers needed a decent safety to take his spot.

  7. KILLER May 6, 2017

    I’m a huge Josh Jones admirer — so much so I ranked him worth a Top 10 pick prior to the draft.

    I do think this was best player available. Actually, delayed BPA. I think Jones has greater potential than Kevin King — who I also respect and deemed worth an 11-20 round 1 pick prior to the draft.

    Yeah, Jones will eventually replace Bennett. I agree with your analysis that Bennett was always on his way out and the Packers have a very obvious pattern of systematic back-stabbing 29+ year old “oldsters”. I always laugh when the Packers or web sites or magazines note or brag the Packers have such a young team. Well, no duh. Just cut or don’t resign veterans, don’t hardly participate in free agency and force draft picks to play too early. Hey, anyone can do it!

    This time is a little different though as Jones was BPA and should end up being a big upgrade as well (no insult to Bennett intended).

    I don’t think the Packers were targeting T.J. Watt. King and Jones are both far better and King was at a position of greater need. Also, word is the Packers liked Dalvin Cook almost as much as King and RB was also a position of greater need.

    Rob, I do disagree with your entire first paragraph. CB was the greatest need but OLB was not even top 3. OG and RB both exceeded it. An argument for NT and ILB both exceeding the OLB need can also be made. Sure, Matthews is washed up if he does not go back to PEDs but the Packers just invested a ton of money in Perry and drafted Fackrell in the 3rd last year. RG is a sucking vacuum, NT will be a vacuum at least the first 4 weeks, and ILB is always a sucking vacuum. And RB? Such a vacuum a WR is starting and they threw a bunch of late round “mud” picks against the wall hoping someone will stick.

    The “some people” who wanted RB help were the Packers leadership and drafters. They almost took Cook with their first pick and then threw 3 later picks into a spot that half or more drafts does not get a single pick.

    The Packers painted themselves into a corner with their cornerback situation, intent to get rid of Bennett, and incompetence in free agency. What if they had really gone for it in free agency, gotten Bouye for CB (along with House — but forgoing TE Kendricks), and said, hey, we can win with Bennett as safety? Then they could have drafted Dalvin Cook for RB and OLB Jordan Willis — also a Top 10 talent (think DeMarcus Ware II) in round 2. This would have freed up the Biegel pick and the picks for Williams, Mays, and Davis for other players at other positions as well. Even besides that huge benefit, would you rather have Bouye, Cook, and Willis or King, Jones, and an extra ten million not invested in the team that can be used in shady real estate deals to enrich the already rich?