A Review of the 2015 Green Bay Packers Draft Class

A review of the Packers' 2015 draft class, now that three years have passed.

The start of the combine tomorrow marks the beginning of a major ramp-up of interest in the 2018 NFL draft. So as we prepare to ramp up the draft mania, let’s first take a brief look back.

The prevailing wisdom around the NFL is that it takes three seasons for you to truly know what you have/had in a draft class. While day-of draft grades make good headlines, it’s impossible to know what sort of value you got in those players before they’ve spent significant time in the NFL game.

The 2015 draft class has now had three full seasons in the NFL. In hindsight, it certainly was not one of former GM Ted Thompson’s better drafts.

Of the eight players taken by the Packers in that draft, six are still on the team—both compensatory picks Christian Ringo and Kennard Backman have since left the team. Ringo is now a member of the Detroit Lions, and Backman has not stuck with a roster since his rookie season in Green Bay, spending some time in camp and on practice squads with the Lions and the New England Patriots.

The other six have provided mixed results at best in their time on the field so far.

My grades for each pick take a variety of factors into consideration: expectations out of a pick taken at that point in the draft, quality of play produced, and expectations out of the player moving forward.

Here’s a brief look.

Round 1, #30 Overall: Damarious Randall, DB, Arizona State University

The mercurial Randall has seen some high highs and very low lows in his three years as a Packer so far. During his rookie year, he flashed some real potential as a playmaker and potential shutdown corner, but like almost all rookie defensive backs, made plenty of mistakes that simply cannot happen on a football field. Nevertheless, he made a couple game-saving plays and demonstrated skill befitting that lf a first-round selection.

2016 was an entirely different story. Randall spent much of the season playing through injury and missed six games, five of which came in a row after undergoing surgery. The time he did spent on the field was marred by him being routinely torched by opposing quarterbacks. He did have a fine game against Seattle late in the season, during which he nabbed two of his three interceptions on the season and had a couple other nice pass defenses, but overall it was an extremely forgettable year.

2017 had an auspicious start for Randall as well. He routinely drew the ire of Packers fans by being out of position and giving up big plays. But after he was benched by Mike McCarthy against Chicago, he quietly turned around his season, becoming one of the Packers’ more reliable defenders and finishing the season with four interceptions, nine pass deflections and a touchdown in 14 games.

The massive swings in Randall’s game play in his first three years make it difficult for him to earn a high grade, but if the momentum he picked up in the latter half of 2017 carries over into 2018, he could very well earn a lucrative contract extension and be a long-term member of the Packers, which would serve to boost this grade up a couple notches.

Grade: C+

Round 2, #62 Overall: Quinten Rollins, DB, Miami (OH)

Like Randall, Rollins had a solid rookie season, and there was some legitimate debate among Packers fans and analysts about which of the two had a brighter future at the cornerback slot. The Packers were so confident in the performance of Rollins and Randall that Casey Hayward was deemed expendable after the 2015 season.

Rollins finished his rookie season with six pass deflections, a pair of interceptions and a touchdown. Like Randall, there were some clear rookie moments. He also didn’t demonstrate the same sort of speed and playmaking ability that Randall flashed, but was in general a solid depth player who had some potential as a nickel back moving forward.

But when the Packers lost Hayward to free agency and Sam Shields to a career ending injury, Rollins was forced into the spotlight alongside Randall. And it wasn’t pretty.

Rollins’ relative lack of speed and his inexperience, combined with a slew of injuries, made him a liability in the backfield in 2016. Then in 2017, Rollins played in just six games, starting one, once again as a result of injuries, and the limited time he did see on the field was not promising.

2018 is a contract year for Rollins, and based on the last couple years, the smart money is he will not be back in 2019.

Grade: D+

Round 3, #94 Overall: Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford

The jury is still very much out on Montgomery, who has flashed some remarkable talent but simply has not been able to stay on the field in his first three seasons.

Montgomery has provided some value to the Packers as a utility receiver and runner in a similar vein to Randall Cobb, but has yet to develop the same sort of rapport with Aaron Rodgers that Cobb has. This is likely due to a lack of playing time caused by bad luck with injuries. Montgomery missed 10 games in his rookie season, then after missing just one in 2016 he came back to miss another eight in 2017, when he had been tabbed at the beginning of the year to serve as the Packers’ starting running back.

As a runner, Montgomery showed surprising patience and burst in 2016, but often was caught stuttering behind the line and failed to gain much momentum as a back in 2017. He is a strong, physical player, but not a natural blocker and could not be relied on in blitz pickup the same way a guy like Aaron Ripkowski could.

As a receiver, Montgomery has shown value as a slot player and possession receiver, including a breakout game in 2016 in which he had 10 receptions. But he has not proven to be the kind of player who can stretch the field through the air—his long in three seasons is 31, and his career yards per catch average is just 8.0.

Despite being used all over the field in three seasons, Montgomery still has a very ill-defined role on the team heading into 2018. There’s a chance he can make himself valuable to the team this year, but I would bet on him being part of a receiver exodus after this season is over.

Grade: C

Round 4, #129 Overall: Jake Ryan, ILB, Michigan

Ryan has been more consistent than the previous draftees mentioned on this list, though he hasn’t necessarily had the same highs that some of them have shown. With a 4.65 40 time, Ryan isn’t exactly going to chase most guys down from behind, and he has not typically been reliable in coverage over the middle of the field.  Leave him in single coverage on an athletic tight end, and odds are you’re not going to like the results.

Ryan has been a steady presence on the field, missing two games in each of his first two season and one in 2017. He is a good contributor in the run defense, but cannot be counted on as a pass rusher or as an every-down defensive player. In him, the Packers have a guy who would be an excellent depth and rotational player, but should not be counted on to carry a major load as a starter.

Grade: C

Round 5, #147 Overall: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Oh boy, here we go, Hundley fans.

As a rookie, Hundley barely saw the field, attempting just 10 passes in the regular season. However, the Packers saw enough out of his impressive preseason performances that year to allow Scott Tolzien to walk in the 2016 offseason, giving Hundley the top backup duties. In 2016, Hundley saw action in four games, completing just two of 10 passes for 17 yards and throwing one interception.

We all know what went down in 2017. Rodgers was hurt against the Vikings, and Hundley played significant time in 11 games, starting nine. During that time, he showed an inability to make plays downfield, notching a dismal 5.8 yards per attempt. He threw nine touchdowns (none at home) in 11 games to 12 interceptions, and finished with a 70.6 rating.

Hundley made several clutch plays during his run as a starter that allowed the Packers to at least tread water in hopes that Aaron Rodgers could make a miraculous recovery to push the team into the playoffs. One that sticks out is his beautiful game winner to Davante Adams in the second Bears game.

But on the whole, Hundley’s year was miserable. He went from potentially being trade bait for a third or fourth round pick to a guy that no GM in his right mind would give up a pick or player of any sort for.

In fairness to Hundley, he was a fifth round pick who was asked to step in and take the place of the world’s best quarterback, a guy who makes every aspect of the game look easy. He probably never should have been put into this position in the first place—a fault that lies with Ted Thompson and the front office for not making a move to get a legitimate veteran backup in to at least compete with him. Heck, the Vikings managed to have three competent backups on their roster this year!

But if we are judging the level of play on the field alone, Hundley failed to meet the standard of play one would ask for out of a reasonably competent backup quarterback, let alone a reasonably competent starter. He likely played himself out of Green Bay as soon as his contract expires, and if the team enters the season with him as their primary backup quarterback again without giving him any legitimate competition, then it deserves what it gets.

Grade: D+

Round 6, #206 Overall: Aaron Ripkowski, FB, Oklahoma

In his first three seasons, Ripkowski has been an extremely reliable replacement for John Kuhn at the fullback slot. Though the Packers do not use a traditional fullback as often as they once did, he clearly has Rodgers’ and McCarthy’s trust in pass protection situations, and has been a punishing presence as a lead blocker while also serving as a mostly reliable runner in short yardage situations.

There’s no reason to think Rip is going anywhere any time soon—he could (and should) be a regular presence in the Packers’ offense for years to come, as long as the team is interested in using a fullback, which makes him a great value pick in the late rounds.

Grade: A

Round 6 (comp), #210 Overall: Christian Ringo, DE, Louisiana-Lafayette

Ringo spent two years with the Packers, but did not play a single game his rookie year, spending the season on the practice squad. His second year he suited up for eight games, made two tackles and forced a fumble.

Call this one a whiff, which often happens with these late-round comp picks.

Grade: N/A

Round 6 (comp), #213 Overall: Kennard Backman, TE, Alabama-Birmingham

Backman’s rookie year with Green Bay was the only year he spent on an NFL roster. He suited up for seven games, but did not register a single receiving statistic. He has bounced around practice squads since.

Like with Ringo, I’ll avoid giving the pick an “F” for the simple fact that these very late-draft picks are often complete flyer picks that cannot be always be expected to turn into long-term contributors. But also like Ringo, this was a definite whiff by Thompson.

Grade: N/A

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (37)

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John Kirk's picture

February 27, 2018 at 05:07 pm

Abysmal. On top of that, this draft was also a potential culprit in letting Hayward walk.

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Turophile's picture

February 28, 2018 at 04:16 am

Interesting that the one guy that got an 'A' grade (Ripkowski) might have been outplayed by the other FB, Kerridge.

I wouldn't call the draft abysmal, but it isn't a great one either. The greatest disappointment for me was Rollins, I had high hopes for him

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Community Guy's picture

February 27, 2018 at 05:32 pm

i think if Rollins or Hundley would have been better, we would feel differently about this draft.. but, yeah, a disappointing return for the draft investment.

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I bleed green more's picture

February 27, 2018 at 05:43 pm

I think Hundley grade was a bit generous.

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Colin_C's picture

February 27, 2018 at 05:54 pm

I feel like this grade is too harsh on Randall, and probably Monty as well. Monty is a talented football player, but just hasn't been able to settle into a true position or stay healthy, no fault of his own. Randall's 2016 season obviously has to be taken into account, but he WAS injured, which will most certainly affect your performance, especially in a reactionary position like CB. I agree with the other grades, as I don't think the rest will improve much. But if Monty and Randall can both finally shake the injury bug, I think Philbin and Pettine will get the most out of them this season.

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Flow49's picture

February 27, 2018 at 09:38 pm

Randall does seem to have a knack for clutch and game changing int’s. If he can cut down on the bonehead plays and be more consistent we’d have a pretty darn good player in 23. Hopefully 2018 is the year it all clicks for him.

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Tundraboy's picture

February 27, 2018 at 10:41 pm

God I hope so. Another example, where if the law of averages applies , we may be due for a pleasant surprise or two.

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Bearmeat's picture

February 27, 2018 at 05:51 pm

Rips grade was generous too. Dude was flat our bad in 2017 and he was just ok in 2016.

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nigrivasilayesrej's picture

February 27, 2018 at 07:28 pm

Yep. And Rollins should be an F.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 28, 2018 at 06:01 am

I agree with you and Turophile: Rip was quite bad in 2017. One thing that separated him a little is he has some ability to carry the ball, but if MM isn't going to give any carries to his FB, then I think Kerridge is better.

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HankScorpio's picture

February 27, 2018 at 06:24 pm

Why is Hundley still on the roster? Does Gute intend to give him a shot to win a roster spot? That would raise serious questions about his ability to evaluate QB talent, IMO.

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nigrivasilayesrej's picture

February 27, 2018 at 07:26 pm

Draft & develop at its finest!

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Bert's picture

February 27, 2018 at 08:43 pm

Lesson learned. BPA is a pretty good draft approach.

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Hawg Hanner's picture

February 27, 2018 at 09:14 pm

While Ripkowski has been serviceable does he really rate an "A". If that means he was the best player of this bunch the entire draft was a bust, which it arguably was. None of the players are special to any degree. Not one.

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Tim Backes's picture

February 27, 2018 at 09:48 pm

My feeling is that when you have a late-round pick that locks down a position/starting role for the foreseeable future, it's a really solid pick. I can see the argument for the A being a bit high but he was a good value in a late round spot considering his contributions on offense and special teams.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 28, 2018 at 06:20 am

I agree in general with that philosophy, so I'd give a guy like Jolly or to a lesser extent Janis a pretty good to decent grade. But I think when we are talking about punters, kickers and fullbacks, that needs to be adjusted. Teams don't start drafting FBs until the 4th round, unless they are running backs with real running ability in a FB's body. In 2015, Rip was the third FB drafted in 2015. OTOH, supply is limited. Only 4 players noted specifically as FBs were drafted that year, and just 3 in 2013, and again in 2016, when all 3 FBs were drafted in the 6th round.

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Since'61's picture

February 27, 2018 at 09:52 pm

Regrettably Tim your grades are spot on. Although I would give Rip a B. The fact is 2015 has been an abysmal draft for the Packers. None of the picks have become starting players and none have been able to remain in a starting role due either to injuries or lack of talent.

I still have hope for Monty but he needs to stay healthy. The rest are JAGs or role players at best. Thanks, Since '61

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Bert's picture

February 27, 2018 at 10:00 pm

So just a question to the other CHTV posters: How does 2015 rank with Ted's other drafts? Typical, an aberration? Do you think 2015 was the worst or is there another one that takes the Golden Sombrero? Be interesting to see what you guys think. My opinion is that Murphy should buy Ted a RT ticket to Barcelona April 26-29 and keep him as far away from the draft room as possible. Let Gute take a swing at it on his own and see what happens.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 27, 2018 at 10:39 pm

Both in 2015-2016 members of this class did play well helping the Packers go deep into the playoffs and the NFC championship game. As usual with this team in recent years, injuries have wipe out whole position groups. That is not on Ted Thompson, no matter what the Ted haters say. Overall, Ted's drafts have been good enough to keep this team either playing in the NFC championship, or knocking at its door. At that point it is coaching and luck after a team gets there. Thompson did his job. How well is unknown at this point. To use a old and hoary cliche, "only time will tell".

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Bert's picture

February 28, 2018 at 09:05 am

Lots of factors in play. Drafting, coaching, injuries etc. But I'm inclined to believe that both Ted and the coaches have been a huge beneficiary of Aaron Rodgers. I kinda think AR has made average drafting and average coaching look much better than they actually are.

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Bear's picture

February 28, 2018 at 12:33 am

How does Ted’ drafts compare with the “other” General Managers year by year?

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John Kirk's picture

February 28, 2018 at 08:36 am

Just scroll down, after you click the link, and compare for yourself...

http://www.drafthistory.com/index.php/teams/

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Bear's picture

February 28, 2018 at 12:33 am

How does Ted’ drafts compare with the “other” General Managers year by year?

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flackcatcher's picture

February 27, 2018 at 10:13 pm

Grading players is always subjective. So I can't complain about Tim's grades. Just a few short points. Ringo was a numbers cut more than a performance cut. Packers choose to keep a FA veteran and extra DB over Ringo. (ironically both players were cut later in the season.) Randall and Rollins were good in 2015. Really good. They were core players in the defensive backfield that carried this team into the playoffs that year. Haywood was injured for most of that year, and House went down late in the season. In 2016 neither Randall nor Rollins should have been back on the field after ripping up their groins. It was a sign of how thin and desperate the Packers were in the DB that both played. 2017 speaks for it self in injury and field play. Both Ryan and the Ripper were role players, and that's how they were used. Ripkowski's role changed with Rodgers injury. And finally Hundley. He had issues, but the head coach did him no favors by forcing him to run an offense that had been customized for Aaron Rodgers. His lack of playing time and inability to make decisions was deadly to the Packer offense. It is something that McCarthy has blamed others for, when Hundley failed. When it is clear that the scheme was not working McCarthy did not adjust. That is on McCarthy period. Is this draft a bust. No. But it is not a success either, and in that respect it has set the Packers back.

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billybobton's picture

February 28, 2018 at 01:29 pm

Good Grief!

Neither was good, where do you get your information?
go look at any site with metrics, they were bad, bad all year
bad their second year

the only way Randall gets a better grade than Rollins is someone 'believing' that Randall was spectacular this year....he was not as his metric grades indicate.....50+ place in a 32team NFL with 2 other GB CBs right there with him

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stockholder's picture

February 27, 2018 at 10:30 pm

The 2015 draft was a band-aid. Everyone thought Randall was a Reach. Rollins was going to be a starter in time. (and had a chance to get in the first round. ) Thats the trouble with bad scouting,hype, and taking NEED. The eagles showed you the way. Power and speed. Weight room GUYS. Taking a small school athlete is like taking a match. They burnout because they were projections, and can't fill the need. The draft is the future. Need is Free Agency! We need a TE. Don't take the band-Aid. You want a edge Rusher. Then trade the guy that isn't. Every guy drafted must show he'll be a starter. Don't take the band aid!

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Tundraboy's picture

February 27, 2018 at 10:37 pm

Did we really have to revisit 2015? Me, I'm only looking forward now.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 27, 2018 at 10:45 pm

WHY YES WE DO!! (Got keep the cheesehead tv writers working thru the off season don't you know :0)

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Bear's picture

February 28, 2018 at 12:34 am

Sorry for double post

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RCPackerFan's picture

February 28, 2018 at 06:50 am

For me this draft class has been all about injuries. Randall, Rollins and Montgomery all have missed significant amounts of time due to injuries. Also their play has suffered from injuries.

This class will be entering year 4. It would be great to see what Rollins and Montgomery could do when fully healthy.
Hopefully year 4 they will be.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 28, 2018 at 07:42 am

There's a lot of truth in that thinking, RC, and if there is no history of injury when drafted, it should be taken into account when analyzing the GM as a talent evaluator. As a bean counter, I look at the surplus value generated by draft classes. Still, sometimes GB didn't get the benefit of certain players, but the talent was there, like Giacomini. Didn't do much here but he has played a long time in the NFL as a 5th rounder.

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RCPackerFan's picture

February 28, 2018 at 08:21 am

A perfect example of that is Sherrod. He was a guy that suffered a freak injury. We have no clue how he would have been had he not suffered that nasty injury. Is it Thompson's fault? no.

To go along with Giacomini, Allen Barbre, Will Blackmon, Marshall Newhouse, Jamon Meredith, and Lawrence Guy all had longer careers after leaving GB.

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billybobton's picture

February 28, 2018 at 01:31 pm

This is revisionist history at best
he looked terrible before the injury as well

and notice for guys like Barbre there was POSITION CHANGE involved

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Colin_C's picture

February 28, 2018 at 10:29 am

My feelings exactly RC! Let's keep our fingers crossed that this is the year at least some of them make it through the season. I think then we'll have a better idea of what we have in them.

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RCPackerFan's picture

February 28, 2018 at 10:34 am

Are we not due to have a healthy year one of these years?

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Tundraboy's picture

February 28, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Could not be anymore overdue.

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lou's picture

February 28, 2018 at 11:58 am

You did your homework to a "T", great analysis of the picks, some may disagree minimally on the grades you gave which should be expected but the player over views were spot on, my compliments.

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