An Actual Offseason Will Make This Year's Draft Even More Interesting

The stakes are high for the Packers entering the draft and the 2021 season.

A year ago at this time, we were a month into the COVID-19 pandemic and had no clear idea of exactly how long it would last. There were hopes that things would be back to "normal" by the summer, or certainly by the start of the NFL season. 

That, of course, didn't end up being the case.

NFL offseason training activities were virtual, and training camp was very much abridged. There were no preseason games or big scrimmages. It was an unusually quiet spring and summer for the NFL, as many braced for the possibility that football wouldn't even happen in the fall, or at least not an entire season.

This year, the picture is a lot clearer. We know significantly more about the disease, vaccines are being rapidly distributed, and the hope is that things will finally start to resemble normal again by later this year. 

And that could make things a bit more interesting for this draft and beyond.

The Packers' draft picks in 2020 were a complete mystery to the public until the regular season began. And even then, most saw little to no time at all.

As you may have heard, first round pick Jordan Love was inactive every game of the season. AJ Dillon saw the field sparingly at first, then missed over a month with COVID complications, then had a random explosion of a game against Tennessee before going back to being a relative non-factor. Josiah Deguara had a promising start to the season but then tore his ACL. Etcetera etcetera.

Fans didn't have any preseason games to watch on TV to analyze how these players were developing, and were not allowed in the stands at training camp. Meanwhile, journalists were given stricter rules than ever before about what they were and were not allowed to share regarding player performance and events happening at camp while doors were shut to outsiders.

For as much scruitny as the team got for its 2020 draft class, the lens will be focused even more on the 2021 class. Fans who were upset with the way last year's draft went are likely to be predisposed to being critical (to say the least) of this year's draft and the individual picks if they do not hit the ground running in training camp and preseason games.

There's also the fact that the Packers are coming off back to back seasons where they were a game away from an NFC Championship and could very well be heading into a "last ride" scenario wtih an all time great quarterback. That'll dial up the intensity on the criticism of this year's draft if the perception of it is anything close to the perception of the 2020 draft.

I'm more than content to play things out, but I can't deny I'm very interested to see not just the response to this year's draft, but also the way this year's rookies (and sophomores) are analyzed once we finally get actual public training camps and preseason games. The stakes feel higher than they've been in years entering this season, and I expect the general mood of the fanbase to reflect that for much of the year to come.

A year ago at this time, we were a month into the COVID-19 pandemic and had no clear idea of exactly how long it would last. There were hopes that things would be back to "normal" by the summer, or certainly by the start of the NFL season. 

That, of course, didn't end up being the case.

NFL offseason training activities were virtual, and training camp was very much abridged. There were no preseason games or big scrimmages. It was an unusually quiet spring and summer for the NFL, as many braced for the possibility that football wouldn't even happen in the fall, or at least not an entire season.

This year, the picture is a lot clearer. We know significantly more about the disease, vaccines are being rapidly distributed, and the hope is that things will finally start to resemble normal again by later this year. 

And that could make things a bit more interesting for this draft and beyond.

The Packers' draft picks in 2020 were a complete mystery to the public until the regular season began. And even then, most saw little to no time at all.

As you may have heard, first round pick Jordan Love was inactive every game of the season. AJ Dillon saw the field sparingly at first, then missed over a month with COVID complications, then had a random explosion of a game against Tennessee before going back to being a relative non-factor. Josiah Deguara had a promising start to the season but then tore his ACL. Etcetera etcetera.

Fans didn't have any preseason games to watch on TV to analyze how these players were developing, and were not allowed in the stands at training camp. Meanwhile, journalists were given stricter rules than ever before about what they were and were not allowed to share regarding player performance and events happening at camp while doors were shut to outsiders.

For as much scruitny as the team got for its 2020 draft class, the lens will be focused even more on the 2021 class. Fans who were upset with the way last year's draft went are likely to be predisposed to being critical (to say the least) of this year's draft and the individual picks if they do not hit the ground running in training camp and preseason games.

There's also the fact that the Packers are coming off back to back seasons where they were a game away from an NFC Championship and could very well be heading into a "last ride" scenario wtih an all time great quarterback. That'll dial up the intensity on the criticism of this year's draft if the perception of it is anything close to the perception of the 2020 draft.

I'm more than content to play things out, but I can't deny I'm very interested to see not just the response to this year's draft, but also the way this year's rookies (and sophomores) are analyzed once we finally get actual public training camps and preseason games. The stakes feel higher than they've been in years entering this season, and I expect the general mood of the fanbase to reflect that for much of the year to come.

__________________________

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 (8)

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mnbadger's picture

April 15, 2021 at 06:37 am

oops, somehow the story duplicated itself. GPG

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EddieLeeIvory's picture

April 15, 2021 at 06:44 am

You can say that again!

The pick (trading up for) J Love will either be one of the greatest moves in Packers history, or a terrible one.
Time will tell......cannot judge it yet.
Just like the 2005 pick of Rodgers didn't pay real dividends until 2009.
Four years is a lot of patience these days....with the woke superhype ESPN & other fraudulent media screamers fueling young fans with their clickbait propaganda

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blacke00's picture

April 15, 2021 at 07:30 am

Totally agree!

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Leatherhead's picture

April 15, 2021 at 06:55 am

We are fortunate to be good enough that we don’t need rookies to start right away and they can develop first, at least at critical spots.

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Coldworld's picture

April 15, 2021 at 08:34 am

The other factor changing the landscape was the, then unexpected, shrinkage in the cap. I have no doubt that, had the team known that, it would have changed calculations not only as to drafting but also cap management from Ball.

It seems highly that has had a big impact on this season in terms of free agency, resigning existing players and the context of draft planning. It’s also affected the draft classes from last year and the analysis of players this year. This is an odd period for GMs and cap managers across the league.

We will likely see a lot more of the draft class from last year this year. The difference is that, at least early, the change in cap landscape seems to push us towards a ready now focus early in contrast to building for the then next year and beyond last year. That is the way to ensure enduring talent but right now, with limited other options, the draft this year needs to improve us now.

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Turophile's picture

April 15, 2021 at 07:40 am

every year is important in its own way, which is why I'm happy that the Packers modus operandi is NOT to mortgage the future for the now. In fact if you look at the last two drafts, both first round picks (Rashan Gary and Jordan Love) were not drafted for the current year. We have already seen some of the benefit of taking Gary at #12, though for Love we will have to wait longer.

One good test of how good your team is at drafting, is how many good veteran free agents they bring in each year. The more they get in, the less effective their drafting is likely to have been. Good teams that draft well spend most of their money in keeping their own. While Green Bay has had it's drafting failures, having three best-in-the-business on offense (Bakhtiari, Rodgers, Adams) along with Jones at RB, is a good sign.

One often unappreciated consequence of performing consistently well, is the continuity it brings to management (coaches/coordinators/scouts/GM). Good teams are usually stable teams, and a big part of WHY they are good is good drafting and good coaching.

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stockholder's picture

April 15, 2021 at 10:31 am

I don't believe the stakes are that high at all. Gute only needs money. So unless Rodgers gives him another 13-3 year. The Packers will move on. Gute can take a surprise. It doesn't matter. Free Agency brought the competitiveness back to Green Bay. And it's one last year for this teams chemistry. One last shot for Rodgers.

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fastmoving's picture

April 15, 2021 at 12:29 pm

Stick to your lawnmower Favre!!!!

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