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Expectations for Each Green Bay Packers Draft Choice in 2013

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Expectations for Each Green Bay Packers Draft Choice in 2013

UCLA defensive lineman Datone Jones. Photo by Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.

It's rather amazing how much is expected from an NFL player simply based upon where he taken in the NFL Draft. It's basically the sole determining factor for the public at large with everything else, including previous college production, being relegated to almost insignificant.

Those who were selected in the early rounds are expected to play bigger roles and make a bigger impact than those selected in the later rounds of the draft or those that went undrafted.

That's just the reality of the NFL and little can be done to change it.

It's important to note, however, that nearly every rookie gets a "pass" his first year in professional football, even those taken in top 10 overall. Rookies that perform at Pro Bowl level right away are the exception and not the rule.

One year in the NFL is too early to declare a player a bust and for most of them, it takes a couple years to blossom. While they don't get forever to develop, they all deserve ample time to prove themselves.

With that, let's take a look at the Packers rookie class, taking a general look at what is expected of each of their draft choices in 2013.

First Round Draft Choice Datone Jones, Defensive Lineman

As the Packers' first round pick, there's obviously more expected from Jones than any other rookie. For a team that has struggled to find a consistent pass rush threat outside of Clay Matthews and labored to prevent the ground games of the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers from running wild over them last year, Jones is candidate No. 1A to find improvement on the defensive side of the football. Standing 6-4, he has the length no other Packers defensive lineman currently possesses and will be asked to play the dual role of end in the team's 3-4 base defense and pass-rushing tackle in their nickel and dime subpackages. Jones will eventually be expected to be a three-down playmaker, but whether he's able to be that type of person in just his first year in the NFL remains to be seen.

Second Round Draft Choice Eddie Lacy, Running Back

Expectations for Lacy are somewhat tempered by the notion that it doesn't really matter which running back makes the Packers run game improve. It only matters that it, indeed, improves. Whether it's Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris, Alex Green or James Starks is immaterial. In any case, Lacy is the front-runner when it comes to the most likely player to become the featured back the Packers are seeking. No one will be disappointed if Lacy fills only the role of powerful, one-cut back who plays primarily on first and second downs and in goal-line and short-yardage situations. There are other players on the team who can play the traditional third-down back role who act as personal protectors for Aaron Rodgers and outlet receivers. It will be expected, however, that Lacy's toe fusion surgery will not be chronic issue.

Fourth Round Draft Choice David Bakhtiari, Offensive Lineman

The only expectations for Bakhtiari in his rookie season are that he makes the 53-man roster and displays promise as a potential future starter. Barring injury, the only spot on the offensive line that's open is at right tackle, and it would appear Marshall Newhouse and Don Barclay have the inside track on winning that job. Nobody's counting Bakhtiari out of the running before training camp begins, but he's definitely an underdog as things currently stand. Because the Packers typically keep only seven offensive linemen active on game days, it will likely be a challenge for Bakhtiari to become one of those seven who suit up on Sundays.

Fourth Round Draft Choice J.C. Tretter, Offensive Lineman

Any expectations for Tretter in his rookie season were shattered on the first day of OTAs in Green Bay when he reportedly broke his ankle in a fumble recovery drill. It hasn't been ruled out that he'll be able to return by mid-season or late in the season, but such a scenario would be unlikely. If Tretter is able to come back from his injury to play in 2013, it will be considered a bonus, and he certainly won't be expected to fill anything more than a backup role. The only realistic expectation is that Tretter gets healthy enough for a return in 2014.

Fourth Round Draft Choice Johnathan Franklin, Running Back

In much the same case as Lacy, Franklin won't be expected to carry the burden of improving the Packers run game alone. But for someone who came into the NFL Draft as a name-brand and known quantity, Franklin can be expected to play at least some kind of role in the Packers offense in 2013. He may not be fully ready by Week 1 of the regular season, but at some point during the year, he should be ready to see meaningful playing time. Whether he sees time as a rotational running back playing a series at a time or filling some kind of third-down back role has yet to be determined.

Fifth Round Draft Choice Micah Hyde, Cornerback

With cornerback arguably the deepest position on the Packers roster, there's no rush for Hyde to be a part of the Packers defense, at least in 2013. Assuming everyone is healthy, the best case-scenario might be that Hyde is the fourth on the depth chart behind Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House. And Hyde will have to prove he can leapfrog Jarrett Bush to even climb that high. Perhaps taking over Bush's role as a reserve cornerback and special teams regular is exactly the role Hyde will fill.

Fifth Round Draft Choice Josh Boyd, Defensive Lineman

For a team that plays with only two defensive linemen on the field at any particular time, there's absolutely no expectations for Boyd to make an impact or even make the team for that matter. Before training camp starts, he sits behind Jones, B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson and Mike Daniels in the pecking order with Johnny Jolly providing additional competition. If Boyd were to simply crack the 53-man roster, that would show promise on the Packers' part to keep him around and continue his development. Spending a year on the practice squad would not be a disappointment if it came down to that.

Sixth Round Draft Choice Nate Palmer, Outside Linebacker

From simply a numbers standpoint, Palmer steps into a good situation. Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Dezman Moses will more than likely occupy the top three spots on the Packers depth chart at outside linebacker, but there's most certainly room for four on the Packers roster. Mike Neal may make himself heard at the position before things are over and done with, as will undrafted rookies Andy Mulumba and Donte Savage. But Palmer would appear to have the inside track on that fourth-string job, at least to open training camp. It will be up to him to earn that gig and keep it. As far as making an impact in 2013, however, special teams might be the extent of it.

Seventh Round Draft Choice Charles Johnson, Wide Receiver

While Johnson sat out of the majority of OTAs due to an unspecified injury, other wide receivers on the team received valuable practice reps, including undrafted rookies Myles White and Tyrone Walker, both of whom Aaron Rodgers recently praised. Beyond Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones, there's room for a fourth and fifth wide receiver to make a modest impact on the Packers offense in 2013, but Johnson is going to have to earn his playing time. There's currently a dozen wide receivers on the 90-man roster, so there's no shortage of competition. Because the Packers invested a draft choice into Johnson, he might have the inside track or get first dibs on a job, but by no means is he guaranteed of one.

Seventh Round Draft Choice Kevin Dorsey, Wide Receiver

Dorsey sits in almost the same boat as Johnson as a player who missed nearly all of the team's offseason program due to another unspecified injury. If he's able to return during training camp without missing any more time, he likely will not have fallen too far behind his competition. But at the same time, it certainly wouldn't be beneficial to miss any more. Making the practice squad might be a more likely scenario for Dorsey in his first year in the NFL, but there's a job for him on the 53-man roster is he's able to earn it.

Seventh Round Draft Choice Sam Barrington, Inside Linebacker

There's a lot less competition at inside linebacker than there was just days before the NFL Draft when D.J. Smith was released and Desmond Bishop was still on the Packers' roster. With those two out of the way, the road to a roster spot has become easier for Barrington, although it's still far from a given. Behind incumbent starters Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk are backups Jamari Lattimore, Terrell Manning and Rob Francois. If the Packers find room for Barrington among that company, he's going to need to make his mark on special teams, at least in his first year.

Brian Carriveau is the author of  the book"It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (25) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

JakeK's picture

In other words, if Datone Jones doesn't have an impact as a rookie, basically don't count on anyone... The issue with Lacy & Franklin is pretty basic. GB will have a revamped OL that just might take an entire season to sort out. If the run game doesn't produce early in the season, look for both McCarthy & Rodgers to air it out as in the past. Revamping the entire OL all at once is extremely high-risk.

I just hope McCarthy can keep his cool during pressers.... I have a feeling the pressure cooker will be on in 2013.

Point Packer's picture

This post is SO stupid I couldn't ignore it. So her I go, this is the dumbest thing I've wasted my time reading in awhile. Congrats.

Spawn oh Cow and Rocky.

Skippy's picture

Actually I agree with him. Only Jones has a chance to make any meaningful contribution this season. Have you seen McCarthy's latest press conferences? He's not the same person he was from 5 years ago. Gets mad quickly.

Point Packer's picture

Second dumbest comment of the year.

Congrats.

Erik's picture

No you are the dumbest.

dawg's picture

OL, what OL? Just bodies!
Thats why Rodgers is a MVP!

Al Fresco's picture

I've seen people like Cahill come in as rookies and take over, in his case the pro bowl year one. There was not talk of development or learning curve, he came in and did the job.

When it came to our number one Perry, I heard needs time, new position, learning curve. All the stuff from the staff that to me suggest he didn't show them what they were hoping for out of the gate.

Yes he got hurt but yes he played a lot of back up before that. When your first isn't out there learning the game in real time, something is not right IMHO. Either he doesn't get it or physically he's not able to get it done?

I for one expect things from first rounders that I don't for the later rounders. Hopefully this will be his break out year. He got a pass last year but it won't be so easy this year.

Stroh's picture

Who is Cahill? Wasn't that a john wayne movie?

Kalil played LT and was a top 3 draft pick, he should have been ready to start yr 1, just like Joe Thomas did in Cleveland.

Perry played DE and had to learn to play a completely different position as a 34 OLB, than he did as a 43 DE. Perry was a late 1st round pick, not a sure fire yr 1 impact player. Your comparision makes absolutely NO SENSE. Your entitled to your opinion, but not understanding the differences shows your complete lack of knowledge for football and the schemes/positions the players are playing in.

Bomdad's picture

More appropriate comparison might be Clay Matthews. He didn't light the league on fire in his first six games. That's all we got on Perry.

PackerBacker's picture

Even CMIII, though, isn't a fair comparison. He came in with experience as a linebacker. Perry had none.

Fish/Crane's picture

Jimmy Cahill He got a chance to play in the last game for Cathedral Junior High up in Superior. He lit it up and then quit the game on top. That's Cahill.

Brooklyn81's picture

Dude was just stating an opinion no need to rude to him. Yeah some ppl don't know as much about the X&O's of football but no need to degrade them. Damn!

Stroh's picture

Players from this draft that IMO will make a meaningful contribution this year are...

Jones - Hopefully an impact player on the DL. He should have no trouble w/ anything other than the level of competition. He'll be used in almost the exact same way that UCLA used him.

Lacy - Hopefully becomes the starting RB, at the very least needs to be a strong contributor to the Packers resurgent running game.

Bakhtiari - Backup OL, hopefully won't need to see the field this year. IMO he's best suited as an OG. He would need to gain another 10 lbs to have a chance as a OT. No impact.

Tretter - PUP to start and if he can get on the roster at the end of season all the better. No impact.

Franklin - He should see the field plenty. Hopefully takes the KR role from Cobb and secures a limited role in the offense. Decent impact as a returner and potential 3rd down RB.

Hyde - Major accomplishment to beat out Bush on ST. IMO that was the idea in drafting him. Nominal impact if he is as good as Bush on ST, no impact on D.

Boyd - Spend the year on PS gain another 10+ lbs and be ready to get on the field next season as a backup NT.

Palmer - See a lot of time on ST this year and show some development as a 34 OLB. Nominal impact on ST and slightly less on D, but should be a game day active roster player this season.

Johnson/Dorsey - One of the 2 should secure a roster spot, the other on the PS. Limited to no impact as a rookie for whichever is on the roster and less for the one on PS.

Barrington - Secure a spot on the PS. I don't see him being in position to make the 53 man roster this year. That would be a good goal in yr 2. No impact.

I bleed Green More's picture

I think your right, most of your picks I agree with. The best part about this time of year is to see if we are close to being correct.

al's picture

im board bring on traning camp !!!!!!!!!!!!

Stroh's picture

Here's an article that points to the potential impact that Lacy and Franklin could have on the Packers rushing attack. Props to Brandon, former manager at APC for finding it.

http://thesidelineview.com/columns/nfl/metrics-breakdown-top-running-bac...

An aspect the Packers running game has been poor at for the past 3+ yrs, for various reasons, is likely to get a significant boost. Broken Tackles by RB.

ben's picture

Datone will be defensive rookie of the year. Perfect compliment inside Perry's power rush. Could have a jj watt like impact. Moses should start along side jones at mlb with richardson & house & burnett suprising in the 2ndary. Alex, lacey, & franklin are 2nd to harris.

PackerBacker's picture

I think JJ Watt might be setting his bar a little too high.

Tibbits's picture

Yeah. If Jones can get 6+ sacks and a good amount of stuffs at the point of attack, I'll be absolutely thrilled with his rookie year. If Perry can also get 6+ sacks without being a liability in the other aspects of the D, Clay will have a much easier time getting free and the defense will greatly improve.

Jones might have a similar build to JJ Watt, but there are no other players like JJ.

Lucky953's picture

It's a BIG step up to the NFL from college: the complexity and volume of the schemes, the far faster speed of play, bigger/stronger/faster competitors, and the physical toll of playing 16 games, usually with nagging injuries. Talent and college experience cannot prepare you for all that. The Packers will bring all these guys along at the pace they can handle. As many in the organization have repeated ad nausea, look for the biggest increased contribution from the second year guys. I think Jones will make a few plays, but he won't be a consistent contributor. Running backs won't contribute unless they can pass pro. That still remains their number one job priority: block a blitzing 6'3 240 lb man with 4.7 speed and a veteran attitude. My biggest hopes for the coming year are for Perry to show he can play linebacker, for Jerron McMillian to show he can defend the pass, for Don Barclay to show he can pass pro, and for a healthy running back who can both protect AR and gain 4.5 yds per carry.

dawg's picture

Why does the media constantly avoid the conversation on the OL coach Campen!
51 sacks of a NFL MVP quarterback? who just signed a 100+mil. contract.
Then move (linemen) right side to the left side. and no one has any concerns?
Lacy/Franklin may have had a better OL in collage than they have in GB!

Stroh's picture

There were a myriad of reasons for the sacks and Campen was quite a way down the list. Scheme and play calling (both on McCarthy), lack of running game, Rodgers holding the ball, etc... All played as big or bigger role than the OL coach. And it was McCarthy that flipped the entire OL. As far as I can tell it hasn't been proven to be better than it was last year. Since, you know they haven't played a game yet.

Phatgzus's picture

Injured/under-performing starting linemen.

Lou's picture

Jones is the key, any contributions from the rest of the draft would be icing on the cake. Jones needs to provide the rush that has been absent since Jenkin's left and be able to force the run instead of getting washed out like Neal (why they are looking at him at LB). If he can do that and Perry can contain and rush from the opposite side that could take the defense to another level even with a below average defensive line rotation and a soft inside LB (Hawk). If this is not the case no matter how high in regard the team views Capers, he is history after the season.

MarkinMadison's picture

I think Lacy has the ability to pass pro, and so he will be on the field early in the season, and he will make a meaningful impact.

I think Jones has a chance but DL is harder to project than RB IMHO. He will certainly be given every opportunity to have an impact.

I agree with the Hyde v. Bush assessment. Bush is great on special teams, but if TT can replace him with someone younger, cheaper and who might be able to contribute to the D, then TT will do so.

The rest (with the possible exceptions of Franklin and Palmer) will need help from injuries to see the field this year. I wonder if Boyd and Bakhtiari make it through waivers to the practice squad. The Packers have the luxury of developing guys. Most teams do not.

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