Based on the big win against Seattle, the Green Bay Packers draft choices from 2015 to now have been pretty solid.
Though Ty Montgomery’s numbers weren’t great, the 2015 third-round draftee produced 93 yards of offense (54 by run, 39 by pass). He got yardage on nearly every play, despite his blockers opening up precious few running lanes.
Ty’s fellow draftee of the class of 2015, Aaron Ripkowski, a sixth-rounder, supplied some of the rare good run blocks for Montgomery. He’ll likely have at least a 10-year career in Green Bay, as did his predecessor, fullback John Kuhn
Defensive backs Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, high draft choices of 2015, were instrumental in limiting Russell Wilson to 158 passing yards and a passer rating under 70.
Fourth-round choices Blake Martinez (2016) and Jake Ryan (2015) are certainly NFL-quality inside linebackers. Both appeared to be more aggressive — with Martinez getting the bulk of the snaps — than we’ve seen in the past. Given that Morgan Burnett was utilized almost entirely as an inside linebacker last week, having two additional dependable inside linebackers plugs up that former hole in the roster nicely.
Kenny Clark, first-rounder in 2016, is proving to be a force against the run, reminding us of B.J. Raji for the few years he was at his best.
Dean Lowry doesn’t get talked about much, but the 2016 fourth-rounder got almost a third of the defensive snaps against the Seahawks. It looks like the coaches trust him to be a capable defensive line fill-in whenever Mike Daniels or Clark need a rest.
But after the victory over Seattle, another name can be added to the argument as to who has been Ted Thompson’s best draft pick in the last three years. And by best I don’t mean best player, but best value.
The 200th Draft Pick of 2016
After being rarely used in 2016, tackle Kyle Murphy got his opportunity versus the Hawks due to Bryan Bulaga’s injury, and he made the most of it. Murphy played right tackle for all 82 offensive snaps and he got stronger as the game went on.
Murphy is a Southern California product who, like my wife, went to San Clemente High School. He came to the Packers from Stanford University, where he started at tackle all four years and where he was named to multiple All-PAC-12 teams. The Packers’ three Ms from Stanford are working out well: Montgomery, Martinez, and now Murphy.
Since he’s 6’6” and 305 pounds, Murphy will probably weigh between 320 and 330 in a couple of years. When drafted, the primary concern about Murphy was a lack of quickness. While the Seahawks’ vaunted defensive line exposed that weakness early on, he and the rest of the Packers’ offensive line went from giving up four sacks in the first half to none in the second half.
Here’s how the Packers’ last four offensive drives went: six plays, 94 yards, touchdown; nine plays, 65 yards, touchdown; 12 plays, 53 yards, field goal; and 12 plays, 48 yards (including three kneel-downs), end of game. That’s winning football!
We aren’t sure yet if Bulaga will start the game against the Falcons. But even when Murphy returns to the bench, the Packers can now have confidence that he’ll respond well if he’s needed down the road. And when Bulaga hangs up the spikes, Kyle Murphy now has the clear advantage over 2016 second-rounder Jason Spriggs for being Bulaga’s successor.
For a latter round draft choice with minimal prior game experience, Murphy came through big time against one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. He might just turn out to be one of Thompson’s best-bargain draft picks ever.