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Packers 2018 Draft Class - NFL Player Comps

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Packers 2018 Draft Class - NFL Player Comps

The easiest way to explain a draft pick to fans is to compare a player to a curent NFL player.  I've been doing this for the last two years on PackersTalk.com (you can view 2014 here, 2015 here, 2016 here, and 2017 here).  They're never perfect and almost by rule, they're quite optimistic.  The reality is that all ten of the players that Brian Gutekunst selected aren't necessarily going to be stars, starters, or even role players.  

These comparisons are more about the things that these players excel and struggle with than it is a true projection of their NFL "ceiling".  As you can see in the previous two years' comparisons, sometimes these comps work out (HHCD, Linsley, A Jones), sometimes they do not (Thornton, C. Bradford).

Round 1- Jaire Alexander: Chris Harris, Jr., CB, Denver Broncos

Chris Harris Jr. has long been one of the very best slot cornerbacks in football.  He and Aqib Taliib created a tandem whose aggressiveness was lethal with the pass rush of Von Miller (and for a time DeMarcus Ware).  Jaire Alexander might have even more upside than Harris did as an outside cornerback.  Harris Jr. was never much of a punt returner, which is where this comparison fails, but as a cornerback there are a ton of simliarites. Both players have a swagger and enjoy hitting, despite their size.  If Alexander ends up like Harris, Green Bay hit a home run.

Round 2- Josh Jackson: Josh Norman, CB, Washington

Josh Jackson is a difficult comp.  Josh Norman is very close to Jackson physically, but with only 14 turnovers caused over the course of a six year career, actually doesn't project to have the same kind of ball skills that Jackson clearly possesses.  Jackson worried everyone with a 40 yard dash time in the low 4.5s at the combine, but the rest of his athletic traits are unquestionably elite.  Norman is quite a bit slower than Jackson, with a 4.57 recorded 40 time at a pro day. Both of these players are shutdown corners with aggresiveness at the catch point.  Norman does have 64 passes defensed, most of which have come in the last four seasons.  Jackson attacks the ball the same way, he just catches the ball (a lot) better than Norman.  Both players are a shade over 6'0" tall.

Round 3- Oren Burks: Derrick Johnson, LB, Free Agent (most recently Chiefs) 

Over and over again, Kansas City's Derrick Johnson appeared at the very top of Pro Football Focus's coverage grades for inside linebacker.  at 6'3" 242 (about 10 pounds heavier than Burks plays at now) Johnson is the perfect mold of what Burks can become.  At no point in his career did Johnson dominate in the run defense phase, buit he became a worthwhile player in the league because of the current NFL's pass heavy tendendcies.  

The one big difference with Johnson and Burks is that Johnson was much more ready to be a pro.  He was excellent in each of his first two professional seasons. 

Round 4- J'Mon Moore: Jordy Nelson, WR, Oakland Raiders

Moore is a bit taller than Nelson, but they had similar concerns coming out of school, specifially their timed long speed.  Despite running in the 4.6s in one workout and having an "agreed upon" 40 time of 4.52, Nelson was long Green Bay's most useful deep threat.  Moore, despite running his combine 40 at 4.6 (he ran 4.49 at his pro day) Moore, according to PFF was 3rd in the SEC in deep receiving yards.  

Moore isn't a caucasian farm boy from Kansas so he won't likely get the hilarious "sneaky fast" commentary from announcers and analysts, but he too plays faster than his forty time on film.  Green Bay's stud receivers usually come from round two, Moore might achieve at that level despite being taken in round four.  Any comparison to the Packers' greatest receiver of the Ted Thompson era is both dangerous and lofty, but the athletic similarities with size, speed and agility are there.  So is the YAC ability (younger Nelson's YAC).

Moore, like Nelson early in his career, struggles with drops.

Round 5- Cole Madison: David Bakhtiari, OT, Green Bay Packers

People soon forget that David Bakhtiari had legitimate concerns coming out of Colorado and was "only" a fourth round pick.  Bakhtiari isn't 6'6" like your average left tackle, and exhibited a lack of play strength right away that not only limited him to "just" an elite pass blocker in his first few years in Green Bay but concerned people out of college.  "DBak" has since improved his strength considerably and is as well rounded (and as good) as any left tackle in the league.

People also forget that Bakhtiari, when drafted was projected to guard, despite being such a successful pass blocker.  Madison allowed just 22 pressures in 776 pass blocking snaps, per PFF. Madison also achieved PFF's #2 overall grade amongst all tackles in the NCAA. He played right tackle at WaSU, but will play guard for the Packers.

Round 5- JK Scott: No Comp

Round 5- Marquez Valdez-Scantling: Jeff Janis, WR, Cleveland Browns

The Janis is dead. Long live the Janis

Round 6- Equanimeous St. Brown: Jordan Matthews, WR New England

"EQ" as he will be henceforth known because typing out Equanimeous is nonsense, is an athletic freak.  According to RAS, St. Brown is in the 98+ percentile of athletes ever tested at the WR position from a height weight speed perspective.  We don't have full agility, flexibility or explosiveness scores on St. Brown, but it isn't going to change the fact that he's special athletically.  

So was Jordan Matthews, and it never really showed up on tape.  The tape was great, but it was as a "big slot", not necessarily the #1 outside downfield threat that his athletic testing numbers would tell you he should be.  ESB lined up all over the field for Notre Dame.  42.9% from outside left, 39.4% from outside right and 17.4% in the slot.  

Round 7- James Looney: Datone Jones, DE Dallas Cowboys

This comparison might scare Packers fans, and I can understand that.  The reality is, though, that if Looney provides what Jones did to the Packers, he's one of the best seventh round picks in team history.  Datone was drafted as a 5 tech, then moved to EDGE, but never really found a position that suited him.  This is likely because he should have been a 4-3 LDE his entire career.

Fortunately, Pettine plays a more flexible scheme than Capers ever did, so he can just look for specific ways to use Looney if he makes the team.  The athletic talent is there, it just falls on the coaching staff now to maximize it in a way that they never quite did with the phyiscal Adonis that was Datone Jones.  The main difference (obviously), is that Jones was a first round pick and has to be qualified as a "bust".  There are no seventh round busts.

Round 7- Hunter Bradley: No Comp

Round 7- Kendall Donnerson: Jabaal Sheard, DE Indianapolis Colts

Sheard may not have been a 7th round pick, but as far as pass rushers go (they have the highest ARS of any position) the second round is a mid to late round.  Sheard doesn't quite meet Donnerson's athleticism (pretty much no one does), but he's obviously more refined and came from a higher end program in Pitt, than Donnerson is comign from at Southeast Missouri.  

Sheard also started (relatively) slow, with just 23 sacks in his first four seasons before finding a resurgence with the New England Patriots.  If Donnerson ever makes it (and the odds aren't great), you can bet it will be in year three or four.

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Ross Uglem is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @RossUglem 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (22) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Nice writeup!

Marquez Valdez-Scantling == Jeff Janis

I thought so too. Hopefully he can do special teams like Janis!

4thand1's picture

We won't need a gunner. Our new punter will have a 5 miinute hang time.

Bearmeat's picture

The Janis is dead, long live the Janis.

That literally made me LOL.

The TKstinator's picture

Withdrawn.

4thand1's picture

Wish he selected.

worztik's picture

We ALL wish 4th!!!

worztik's picture

That’s just a case of a mental “breakdown” as I said before. We all have them; me more-so than the rest! I enjoyed the comparisons, Ross, and I appreciate the time you spent writing/researching the information...

worztik's picture

I really like that the comparisons favored our picks over the ALL-PRO, in some cases, players that our picks were compared to!!! Love the CBs that you comped to our rookies... ;~€))

Ross Uglem's picture

good catch. I guess. I've used the same intro to this piece for a few years and I didn't quite catch that. It wasn't even that I typed Thompson's name it was a simple cut and paste error.

The TKstinator's picture

No sweat, brother. (Hulk Hogan voice)

Oppy's picture

I don't know anything about Donnerson, but I'm going to have to look into him now that you compared him to Jabaal Sheard.

I was vocal around here about my desire for Sheard to land with the Packers a number of years ago during the draft. Tough, physical pass rusher.

4thand1's picture

Madison projected to play guard, I don't get? I remember when Bahk started out, he seemed to get better every game. Madison has a ton of experience at RT, hopefully he can be the starter there if Spriggs doesn't get any better. Bulaga may not be around for long.

Ross Uglem's picture

I mean they said he was a guard basically immediately after drafting him. I think Sitton was a RT in college as well and they also immediately stated he'd be a guard.

4thand1's picture

Yes I saw that too, I still don't get it though.

MarkinMadison's picture

The way they are sitting at RT right now, they better just give him a shot at it.

worztik's picture

4th... I think Spriggs (yuk) and Murphy (OK) will fight it out with ALL the other OL dudes coming to camp. Campen will put them where they’re the most effective and the best fit. I see that one of our UDFA candidates is a 6’7” guard?!?! That’s quite a mountain to see over for Arod. We’ll see what happens but, wherever he plays, he’s supposed to be a mauler... can ya say Josh Sutton?

4thand1's picture

Yes he is huge and mean, I like it.

Lare's picture

All new offensive & defensive schemes in Green Bay, tough to project players when we don't know what role or position they'll be playing.

Is also unrealistic to expect rookies to step in and be effective starters. Yes, it happens, but it's probably the exception instead of the rule.

4thand1's picture

They waited forever with Bishop too, seems to be a pattern. I think this is MM not having faith in rookies. We have a ton of them now, put em in.

Bert's picture

Yeah. Given the past performance of some of the veterans MM damn well better have faith in the rookies or he'll be looking for a job......I hope.

HankScorpio's picture

I don't know about player comparisons but the more clips I see of J'Mon Moore, the better I like the pick.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

I just want Anthony Barr to stay down & exit the week 2 game on a stretcher & see him flip the bird back to Rodgers.

I compare Jaire to what we WANTED Terrell Buckley to become.

EQ reminds me more of former WR Derrick Alexander.

MVS reminds me of a younger Victor Cruz.

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