Early Impressions of Packers Rookies After Week 1

Many people were critical of the Packers 2020 Draft. The team did not pick a wide receiver and many said they didn’t give Aaron Rodgers the help he needed to push the Packers to the next level after a 13-3 season and a trip to the NFC Championship Game a year ago.

But the Packers had several rookies contribute during their convincing season-opening win over the Vikings in Minnesota.

Yes, it’s been only one game, but here is a look at the performances of the rookies who played for the Packers in Week 1 against Minnesota. Obviously, first-round pick Jordan Love was not active for the game.

G Jon Runyan, Jr.

Runyan was pressed into service when injuries to Lane Taylor and Lucas Patrick left the Packers short of guards.

The sixth-round pick out of Michigan played 15 snaps on offense and seven more on special teams against the Vikings.

Runyan did not allow a pressure in pass protection and made some solid blocks on running plays. The best news for Runyan was that as a rookie playing in his first NFL game (no preseason either), he was not overmatched or overwhelmed and more than held his own against the Minnesota defense.

Runyan made a good first impression in limited action and appears to have a bright future.

TE Josiah Deguara

The rookie third-round pick was on the field for 24 offensive snaps seven more on special teams. He lined up as a tight end and an H-back and lined up a few times as a slot receiver. Deguara made his first NFL catch and gained 12 yards. He was targeted twice in the game.

Deguara’s run blocking was good and that bodes well for his future as the coaching staff will be looking for someone to take over that role next season if Marcedes Lewis retires or is not brought back.

Look for Deguara’s versatility to be big part of his attraction to Matt LaFleur and the Packers coaching staff. He will see the field as part of the team’s tight end rotation throughout the season with his role likely to expand as he gets more comfortable in the offense.

RB A.J. Dillon

Dillon was on the field for five offensive plays, the fewest of any Packers running back. He ran the ball twice and gained 14 yards. He showed some power and burst in his two attempts, but it is clear that at least early in the season, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams will be getting most of the playing time. Williams’ ability as a pass blocker and receiver will keep him on the field early on.

Dillon showed some potential in his limited snaps, but he will need to learn to pick up pass rushers and run accurate patterns to see the field more often.

S Vernon Scott

Scott was on the field for three plays on defense and six plays on special teams. He was not involved in any tackles and nobody threw to a player he was covering.

ILB Krys Barnes

Barnes was the biggest surprise out of all the rookies. He started last week on the practice squad and was added to the active roster on Saturday, one day before the game.

Barnes got the start ahead of Oren Burks and was on the field for 15 defensive plays and eight plays on special teams. He was extremely active in the game, making six total tackles including two tackles for loss.

Barnes read plays well and caught Dalvin Cook behind the line of scrimmage twice, a good sign for the defense. He was far from overwhelmed. Barnes was always a heady player in college and that continued in his NFL debut.

He showed some definite promise in his first start.

Edge Tipa Galeai

Galeai was one of two players put on the active roster for this game from the practice squad. He was on the field for nine defensive plays but did not register a tackle and was not credited with a pressure on the quarterback.  

Edge Jonathan Garvin

The seventh-round pick out of Miami (Florida) was on the field for six plays on defense and a pair on special teams. He was not credited with any tackles or pressures.

Overall, despite the lack of OTAs, minicamps and preseason games, the Packers rookies were able to make some contributions to their opening game win. Look for more contributions from these rookies as they get more reps in practice and get more comfortable in the system.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (60)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Ferrari-Driver's picture

September 17, 2020 at 12:24 pm

Good morning Gil,

After my wife finished plucking the feathers off the crow, I ate him for dinner with a cheap glass of wine.

I was among the many who were critical of the Packers immediately after the draft. Just another reason why I would make a terrible General Manager in the NFL.

Great article. Keep up the good work.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 17, 2020 at 01:19 pm

Great comment and love the honesty!

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 02:49 pm

Thanks Ferrari-Driver. I hope the cow tasted good...lol. I appreciate your kind words and that you read regularly. Thanks for commenting.

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CoachDino's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:59 pm

Stand up dude -

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CoachDino's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:59 pm

Stand up dude -

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 17, 2020 at 06:04 pm

Good Sir! Life is too short to drink bad wine.

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ricky's picture

September 17, 2020 at 12:40 pm

One game with limited reps is a nice start. Now, once the other team's best DL man is not hurt, let's see if this continues. Barnes definitely looked like he belonged, which could well mean that if this continues, Burks will be gone next year. Let's also not forget the apparent effect the (moving up to) draft a new QB has had on Rodgers. He was more very sharp, his deep balls were accurate, he threw a laser to Adams with beautiful placement, and he threw from a better base, rather than throwing off his back leg like recent years. Rodgers also seemed much more animated during the game, pumping up other guys on the sidelines and sitting with other players, rather than looking at his tablet while sitting alone. Whether this counts as a good draft move remains to be seen; but right now, a rejuvenated Rodgers is a welcome sight.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:14 pm

Agree on Barnes and Burks. It seems every year, Burks can't get on the field and win over the coaching staff. Rodgers does seem very motivated this year. Hope that continues. Yes, drafting Love may have been a big wake up call for A-Rod. Thanks for the comment, ricky.

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Archie's picture

September 17, 2020 at 12:52 pm

Yes, and three of the best Packer rooks were inactive....QB Love, ILB Kamal Martin and the injured G/C drafted in the 6th round.

This could yet go down as an all-time vintage draft. Give it 2-3 years.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:15 pm

Tough to truly evaluate a draft until 3 years go by. We shall see how this group pans out. Thanks for the comment, Archie.

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Mike Rossmeier's picture

September 17, 2020 at 01:13 pm

Other than Special Teams, I was very surprised that anyone besides DeGuara and Dillon saw the field for regular snaps in their first game. Can't hurt that they trust these guys that much.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:16 pm

I was presently surprised as well, MilkCan44. Let's hope we can get something from these rookies throughout the season. Thanks for commenting.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 17, 2020 at 01:27 pm

Overall I was pleasantly surprised with how much the rookies played an how well they played.

Dillon - He only had 2 rushes but he flashed on both the runs. The one he makes a tremendous cut especially for a RB his size. One thing I would like to see him brought in for is goal line situations. Bring him in on the 1-2 yard line and let him power his way in.

Deguara - He already made the block of the year. He added a nice reception and he showed he can play everywhere. He looks like he is going to be a tremendous fit for this offense.

Runyan - He played 15 snaps and looked really good (from what I saw). I do think he could be a great find. I'm not sure how much he will play moving forward, but perhaps he will become our next Mark Tauscher type of player. The starter in front of him gets hurt, he takes over and never looks back.

Barnes - I don't think any rookie had a bigger surprising start then Barnes. No one expected to see that. While he played 15 snaps, he made the most of them. 6 tackles 2 for loss. He really shined! I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do moving forward.

Overall our rookies performed well. Thus proving that you need to wait until they actually play before you can call players busts and teams draft picks were horrible.
I look forward to seeing how all of these guys plus others get move involved as the season goes on.

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Coldworld's picture

September 17, 2020 at 04:26 pm

One thing I noticed is that the Packers played people in roles they were familiar with in college. It may seem obvious, but in the past it has not always been team practice. I think that shows intelligent coaching.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:23 pm

Very smart, Coldworld. Start with their strengths and then build from there. That's what you have to do when a player had no offseason reps and no preseason games. Always good to hear from you.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 18, 2020 at 06:44 am

Yup, that is a great point.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:22 pm

I was also pleasantly surprised RcPackerFan. Barnes was the biggest surprise of all. The guy went from getting cut, to signing with the practice squad to being activated for the opener to starting and then finishes second on the team in tackles. Not too much of an emotional roller coaster in a week's time. Hope for more positive play from these rookies. Thanks for the comment and the solid analysis.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 18, 2020 at 07:04 am

And I don't mean to say I was surprised because of the players themselves. I'm just more surprised at how much they played and played well with the offseason they have had. No mini camps, no preseason games.

Barnes I think had the best story of any player. Its crazy to think all of the stuff he went through in 1 weeks time.
And to add to your point of finishing 2nd on the team in tackles.. He did that in 15 snaps.

I'm really excited about our rookie class!

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GilMartin's picture

September 18, 2020 at 01:37 pm

It is a great story. What a week this kid had. I hope it's the start of something big but hey, one game at a time.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 17, 2020 at 01:27 pm

Never understood the angst that comes following the draft. Happens every year! I was excited following the draft!

Gutey is such an upgrade over TT, particularly those last 3 to 5 years every Packer fan should be eternally grateful. The success and upgrades happening to this team in such a short time is exciting. Yes, obtaining LeFleur is a significant upgrade IMO over McCarthy. The game passed MM by as he became focused on stats, probability, and conservatism on both O and D when they had a lead. Became very predictable and therefore beatable. He also lacked awareness of younger players talent and abilities and would consistently go to broken down veterans whose best days were behind them. I am loving the change and upgrades starting in the front office, to the sidelines, to the talent on the field.

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

September 17, 2020 at 03:56 pm

I often think people are so focused on their own mock drafts or those of the so-called experts that they get upset if they see anything different.

The Dillon and Deguara picks got lambasted by many fans. I have to say I am pretty excited about both of them after only 1 game . Maybe we did get Rodgers some help to win now, but everyone was so focused on the WR position that they failed to realize it.

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Coldworld's picture

September 17, 2020 at 04:30 pm

I happened to love both and Martin, but let’s be honest it’s worse after a brutal season end anyway, change unnerves some people a lot, there are those who were emotionally shaken by us taking love as well as others who struggle with not this year picks. To add to that, a lot of us had more time on our hands and less outlets. Glad we made it to actual football.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:48 pm

Imagine that, actual football. So glad the season got started. Thanks for commenting, Coldworld.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 18, 2020 at 09:18 am

Cold, you nailed it.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:29 pm

Very possible, TheKanataThrilla. We shall see how these rookies play the rest of the season. Everybody always has gut reactions to drafts but they need to give it 2-3 years to see how they play out. The potential is there for Dillon and Deguara, let's see what they can do. Thanks for commenting.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 17, 2020 at 08:05 pm

Gutedkunst decide to draft football players instead of RAS score projects and the results are now trending upward. All solid picks this draft.

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GilMartin's picture

September 18, 2020 at 01:39 pm

I hope they can keep it up. A good start for sure. Thanks for the comment, jannesbjornson.

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splitpea1's picture

September 17, 2020 at 04:08 pm

It was a great start for Barnes and some of the offensive rookies, but before we get carried away with Gute, let's take into account how some of his defensive picks in previous years have panned out. And right now we're going to need more contributions from second-year players Gary and Keke if we're going to be getting this defense up to par.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:49 pm

Definitely need to see how the defense evolves and how the players Gute drafted do. The 2018 draft isn't looking good as of now, 2019 has a lot more promise. Thanks as always for commenting, splitpea1.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:25 pm

I was a big McCarthy fan but it was time to move on from him after 13 mostly very successful years. Same with Thompson, his health didn't allow him to continue, but I think the change to Gutekunst benefited the team. Thanks for commenting, KnockTheSnotOutOfYou.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 18, 2020 at 07:50 am

Thanks Gil!

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nostradanus's picture

September 17, 2020 at 02:42 pm

Thanks Gil nice article,

I too was disappointed in the Packers 2020 draft I thought they took a big gamble taking Love And of course that pic remains to be seen how it works out. Then I thought they overdrafted Dillan and Deguara, but what the hell do I know? It was great to see the Packers dominate the Vikings and get all these young guys some actual game experience in the first game of the season.
Dillan - Came as advertised, a Big back with the speed and feet of a little back, he’s going to be a good one.
Deguara- also came as advertised, a very heady, no nonsense do it all player. He should be a fan favorite for years to come, blue-collar Green Bay loves this type of player.
Barnes- Judging from training camp I originally thought I would be plugging in Martin’s name here, but what a nice surprise Barnes has been at inside linebacker, I hope it continues.
Runyan- This is one pic that I was a fan of from the beginning, I believe Runyon will eventually be protecting Jordan Love someday, hopefully not too soon, I think Rogers has some good years ahead of him especially after they win the Super Bowl this year.
Scott, Galeai, Garvin- It was just nice to see these young guys get their feet wet in an actual NFL game good for them. Who knows they may be needed at critical times this season and it’s good to have a little experience.
Go Pack!

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:51 pm

Glad you enjoyed the article, nostradanus and thanks for the kind words. I agree with your take on these rookies and especially of Runyan who I followed at Michigan over his time there. I think he can be a quality NFL lineman like his dad. Thanks for the comment.

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Minniman's picture

September 17, 2020 at 03:02 pm

Thanks for the article Gil. Agree, it's a good sign that the draft class are not only getting reps but by-and-large getting those reps in the thick of action.

Personally, I'm really looking forward to the week 3 Saints game as a real litmus test of where the Packers are at.

Re Jon Runyan: His draft perplexed me a bit. He was a consensus pick (with few red flags) to become a solid-to-good professional player..... so why didn't he go earlier than the 6th round? That always puzzled me. I guess we'll get to see how oppositions work on his weaknesses, and how he responds, and we'll find out.

Re Krys Barnes. I did see one play (the goal line stuffing of Dalvin Cook) where he was a full yard+1/2 into the end zone a couple of seconds after the snap. If Preston Smith wasn't left relatively unblocked - allowing him to pinball Irv SmithJr (I think!) back into Cook to stuff him - then the outcome would have been different (as Cook breaks the plane in the hole Barnes should have been covering). Sure, this a nit-picky thing that I'm sure the coaches will tidy up with him....... it perplexed me with Blake Martinez too on goal line stands, no point in laying the wood after they've broken the plane!

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Matt Gonzales's picture

September 17, 2020 at 04:05 pm

Agreed on all point. With Runyan - did he play tackle or guard in college? Typically on a college team your best OL is playing blindside tackle and will get moved to a spot in the NFL that best suits their body type. If he was playing guard in college that is a perceived slight that will move the player down the draft board (tackles can play guard, but a college guard is assumed to not have what it takes to go out on an island as required by OTs).

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 06:54 pm

Runyan was a tackle at Michigan. They moved him to guard because of his arm length or lack thereof. I think he could play tackle in a pinch if the Packers need him to, but as a rookie, I'm sure that's not their first or even third option. Thanks for the comment, mattgsx.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 17, 2020 at 08:13 pm

He handled Chase Young two years in a row. Sometimes the brain trust/evaluators overlook the obvious and analyse themselves and the player into a corner.

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GilMartin's picture

September 18, 2020 at 01:40 pm

Paralysis by analysis. It happens.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 05:53 pm

Glad you enjoyed the article, Minniman. I think the length of Runyan's arms and some of his measurables made him slip in the draft, but the kid looks like a player. As for Barnes, give him some time to learn the defense and show what he can do. Your observation on the play is dead on, but let's see what he does in a month or two.
I am also looking forward to the Saints game as well. Thanks for the comment.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

September 17, 2020 at 06:47 pm

Does Adams' limited participation today mean he could be ready to offer some depth on the DL?
I'm not at all encouraged by what I saw last week, but I hope they will all bounce back with reps this week and maybe Keke and Monty can fill the gap while Kenny gets healthy.

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Stroh's picture

September 17, 2020 at 11:43 pm

Any Adams participation will only serve to bury him on the depth chart again. It should also serve to hasten his exit from GB... Thankfully!

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Lphill's picture

September 17, 2020 at 04:19 pm

A little early in the season Gil for this analysis, what’s more concerning is the poor play of the packers defense especially late in the game and what’s the plan with no Kenny Clark ? thanks

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Coldworld's picture

September 17, 2020 at 04:31 pm

Scrap prevent D now.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 06:35 pm

It is a first impression piece, Lphill, but I went with it because of the lack of preseason games and offseason programs so we really didn't get to see these guys before Week 1. No Clark is going to be a problem. I think we see some Gary up front and maybe some 2-4-5 or 2-3-6 defenses trying to make the offense guess who's rushing the passer and who's dropping back into coverage. Thanks for the comment, always good to hear from you.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 17, 2020 at 08:16 pm

4-2 schemes would help Pettine out, but maybe he is not a flexible guy.

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

September 17, 2020 at 04:27 pm

You must have been reading my mind Gil. I was so hoping that somebody would write an article on the Rookies after the first game. It is one game, but to not be happy with the performance of many of the Rookies with a reduced training camp and no preseason games you must still be upset that Gute didn't pick the guys in your mock. My only disappointment was that Lafleur didn't run Dillon when we were on the 1 yard line.

We can see how Lafleur's vision is taking shape. Many were upset with a lack of a WR, but we are bringing back power football. The best part about power football is the ability to win the time of possession and wear down the opposing D. We saw that in spades last Sunday. This should help keep our D off the field and well rested. But let's all agree to do away with our pathetic attempt at prevent D. The Vikes had no business lingering in that game.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 06:38 pm

The prevent D was not up to snuff. We were up by 19 when we went into it and promptly gave up 3 TDs and 3 2-point conversions. Luckily we scored 2 TDs so the game was never really in doubt. The prevent D has to change. I'm glad I was able to read your mind, LOL, actually maybe it's just great minds think alike. Thanks for the comment, TheKanataThrilla.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 18, 2020 at 08:03 am

I'd actually enjoy not only ongoing articles after each game for rookies, but for 2nd year players. Who has stepped up and blossoming in year 2?

I'm going to say it often during Dillon's career with the Packers, but use him and 'Knock the Snot Out Of' the defense in certain situations whether in short yardage, or in the open field with a full head of steam with a trembling CB/Safety needing to bring him down.

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Cheesey51's picture

September 17, 2020 at 08:44 pm

I totally agree with you. Power football time control, wear down their D and do away with prevent D
And more AJ Dillon in red zone

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GilMartin's picture

September 18, 2020 at 01:41 pm

I think we'll see more of Dillon in the red zone and everywhere else as the season goes on and he learns the offense. Pass protection is a key to him getting on the field. Thanks for the comment, Cheesey51.

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CoachDino's picture

September 17, 2020 at 06:35 pm

Gil "I'm a big Fan" - Great insight.

One game so opinions should be tempered, the take away being ...they can do it, now can they repeat it, then can it be repeated consistently, lastly can it be repeated in the big games. Time will tell but there's reason to be optimistic.

The big angst in the draft is drafting a wr as a weapon for AROD that will make an impact in order to put the team over the hump. That's the national and often local narrative. Very easy for all of us to understand, makes sense.

The impact Degura makes goes beyond yards and blocks. It's the way he fits the offensive scheme being implemented and all the advantages it brings. The Illusion article spoke to this. The issue being most of us have a harder time grasping it and all that it brings. We like to hear about the Big name WR who is being talked about on TV and has these big time numbers. The assumption being that he will bring those #'s to the team.

Very seldom does that ever happen. PFF has run very informative studies on the odds being against draft picks making much impact early on and the odds that many will never pan out. We like to think every pick will work out and if the pick is made in the 1st few rounds it should for sure. In the end that's not the way it works. The #s prove it. Heck just look at all the high draft picks that are finding new teams when they didn't pan out. We have our misses, doesn't mean the GM is terrible. The bad ones never hit on the gems and can't find anything of value past the first few rounds.

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GilMartin's picture

September 17, 2020 at 06:48 pm

Thanks so much for the kind words, CoachDino, I really appreciate that. You're spot on about this being one game and they have to show they can do it consistently.

I love how Deguara fits into LaFleur's system and that's why they reached a little to draft him in the 3rd round when most experts gave him a 4th round grade.

The Packers strive to find 4 starters in a draft. That's roughly a 50% success rate. That's a good draft. There are always things you can't control: injuries, attitudes, off the field stuff, coaching changes, etc.

Thanks for a well thought out comment, CoachDino.

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Cheesey51's picture

September 17, 2020 at 08:40 pm

I looked forward to your writing. This article is a concise objective review of the rookies and their contributions. the packers made a good move in hiring MLF and Guteys draft picks are proving to all of us lazy boy recliner QB's we are in for an innovative coach (in his 2nd year) who keeps Improvingregardless of the score or quarter in the game.
Gutey and his staff appeared to have picked the right pieces (regardless of main media and fans opinions) to fit MLF's football puzzle.
Look forwRd to more reporting . Thanks

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 18, 2020 at 08:16 am

What I really like about Gutey is the fact is he is his own man. He isnt afraid to make hard decisions even though he knows the national media and fans would persecute him. This last draft was 180 degrees from what everyone else expected and wanted. Think about how resolute and sure Gute was in his draft choices when he knew what everyone's reaction would be. This is a leader who makes tough choices instead of a GM who takes the path of least resistance. Think about how fortunate us Packer fans are to have him leading the team.

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GilMartin's picture

September 18, 2020 at 01:42 pm

Thanks so much for the kind words, Cheesey51. I really appreciate that. You made my day. I hope Gute and the front office keep making decisions that keep this team a winner. Thanks for commenting.

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Cheesey51's picture

September 19, 2020 at 06:25 pm

Right on Gil

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Guam's picture

September 18, 2020 at 08:12 am

The rookies are contributing and this is without any playing time for Love, Stepaniak or Martin. I believe most of the experts thought Stepaniak was the best of the three OL the Packers drafted, so he may be in line for playing time when he gets healthy. Martin looked like the starter at ILB until he was injured, so another possible plus from this draft.

Unfairly, I also think the perceived success or failure of this draft is going to hang on our first round draft choice - QBs tend to have that effect.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 18, 2020 at 11:05 am

Guam,
Probably right! I wonder though how good Love has to become in order for most 'reasonable' fans (is there such a thing) & evaluators give Gutey a passing grade on the selection, and how good he must become to be a very good selection?

Be really interesting wouldn't it to know Rodger's true assessment of Love's football talent and future?

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GilMartin's picture

September 18, 2020 at 01:45 pm

I doubt we'll know for quite some time. I'm sure Rodgers won't say anything to the public or media. Thanks for the multiple comments.

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GilMartin's picture

September 18, 2020 at 01:44 pm

We shall see what happens when Stepaniak and Martin are able to return. I think Martin will probably be back sooner. You're right about Love and the way everything a QB does is magnified, whether it's good or bad. I don't think Love sees the field much until 2022 at the earliest barring several injuries. Thanks for the comment, Guam.

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