Green Bay Packers 2016 NFL Draft: The Reasons Behind the Picks

So now that we know the Packers 2016 draft class, do we know why they were chosen? 

Another year, another draft class that Packers fans have to rationalize over.  While some teams are usually very upfront and transparent with their draft selections, Ted Thompson usually has more than one agenda and sometimes it takes a while to figure out why the Packers picked a player when they did.  So what was the reason behind the 2016 draft for the Green and Gold?

Round 1, Pick 27: Kenny Clark, DT UCLA – I’m not entirely sold on the concept that this pick was directly caused by the sudden retirement of BJ Raji.  First off, while BJ Raji (at least in my opinion) justified his first round pick by his spectacular 2010 season alone, he was not this irreplaceable cog in the defense that many fans seem to make him out to be.  The Packers actually preferred Ryan Pickett to Raji at NT, which put Raji at DE, a position he felt less comfortable and more importantly less productive in. However, the biggest problem is that nose tackle simply isn’t an important position with the Packers.  While traditionally the 3-4 nose was considered the lynchpin to the defense, the Packers are only in their base 3-4 defense 15-30% of the time a year which essentially makes the starting nose tackle a part time player.  In reality BJ Raji played 41% of all defensive snaps (a lot of which were at DE) while nickel corner Micah Hyde played 62% last year.  The bigger reason why Clark was drafted is likely versatility.  Ideally Clark could play NT on a handful of snaps every game but then kick out to the 3 or 4 technique along side Mike Daniels in sub-packages.  On a similar vein, it’s also a big reason why Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson and Andrew Billings all fell in the draft; none projected to be pass rushers down the line and run stuffing nose tackles simply aren’t that important in the league anymore. 

Round 2, Pick 48: Jason Spriggs OT Indiana -  A pick for 2017, Spriggs joins the Packers as the presumed left tackle of the future.  Actually I think this pick says a lot about what the Packers will do next offseason when 4 key offensive linemen will be headed to free agency.  First off, this likely shows that the Packers are more invested at retaining a guard than they are at retaining tackles.  TJ Lang and Josh Sitton are both top 10 guards and the head coach Mike McCarthy has stated that on the offensive line, importance goes up as players moves closer to the ball.  Furthermore, guards are usually cheaper to sign than tackles (especially left tackles) and the Packers might be able to fit in Lang and Sitton but signing Bahktiari likely eliminates the chance of signing either.  With the signing of Spriggs, the Packers have the option of resigning Lang or Sitton or maybe both.  The second issue is that the Packers probably aren’t that in love with Bahktiari especially at the prices he’s likely to command on the open market.  In a rare trade up, Ted Thompson actually gave up draft picks to get Spriggs and during his press conference Thompson was uncharacteristically forward about wanting to go up and get Spriggs.  In the short term, Spriggs instantly upgrades the Packers swing tackle position and given the injury history of Bahktiari and more importantly Bryan Bulaga, Spriggs will likely play sooner than later.

Round 3, Pick 88: Kyler Fackrell, OLB Utah State – To be honest, it was a little surprising that the Packers were able to generate the 7th highest sack rate in 2015 with the combination of Mike Neal, Nick Perry and Julius Peppers at OLB when Clay Matthews was moved to the inside.  Obviously shifting Matthews back out will help a lot in that regard but the Packers decided to not retain Mike Neal and neither Peppers or Perry is likely a full on starter at this point in their respective careers.  While Jayrone Elliot hopefully will continue to develop and the yearly “Mr. August” OLB will make a bunch of splash plays in the preseason, Fackrell provides great depth and a position that the Packers have frequently rotated and also provides some added value in pass defense.  Fackrell is already probably the 2nd best coverage OLB on the team and the Packers will be able to disguise their schemes a little bit more; in 2015 it was a given than the only LB on the defense that was going to drop back in coverage seriously was Matthews but I could see a situation now where Matthews lines up ILB with Fackrell at OLB, but it’s Fackrell that drops back to guard the middle while Matthews runs the delayed blitz that he so loves.  

Round 4, Pick 130: Blake Martinez, ILB Stanford – Packers fans wanted a ILB and just like last year they had to wait until the 4th round to get him (Ryan was picked one spot ahead at 129 last year).  This again proves what most of the writers at Cheeseheadtv have been saying this offseason which is that Ted Thompson truly does not care about inside linebackers.  I get the feeling that the Packers would prefer to focus their pass coverage on the defensive secondary, and in reality the Packers have positioned themselves well in that regard as they have one of the most complete and dangerous defensive secondaries in the league.  Given that the Packers don’t need an ILB to cover that often severely diminishes the value of the position as a whole.  Does it make sense to use a high draft pick to select Reggie Ragland when he’s another candidate to get taken off the field in subpackages (which again the Packers are in 60-85% of the time each year)?  Probably not.  With Martinez, the Packers get a player that does everything pretty well and checks off the Packers wish list of a player goes to work and makes plays based on grit and intelligence. 

Round 4, Pick 137: Dean Lowry, DE Northwestern – Ironically, the Packers have never had a true 3-4 DE player in their entire time as a 3-4 defense.  While Mike Neal and Datone Jones were drafted to play 3-4 DE, neither was the tall and powerful player like Calais Campbell who could set the edge and rush the passer occasionally.  Lowry has the body type to play a traditional 3-4 DE, especially considering he kicked inside a lot at Northwestern.  While I would argue that DE isn’t a terrible important position given how often the Packers are in a subpackage, using a 4th round pick on a rotational player isn’t a bad move by any means.  I’m not entirely sure how Lowry fits in as a nickel rusher given the Packers likely prefer smaller more powerful players but Lowry might be able to develop more power rush moves after spending time in an NFL weight room. The Packers picking Lowry might also signal the end of Josh Boyd, who had his moments but is coming off IR and was never able to establish himself in the defensive rotation.

Round 5, Pick 163: Trevor Davis, WR California – Sometimes I think Thompson can’t help himself when it comes to picking wide receivers.  While every pick ahead is an obvious hole in the team, wide receiver is definitely the most stocked position on the Packers.  Ironically the only thing I could think of when the Packers selected Davis was how pissed the fans would be when either Abberderis or Janis was cut to make room for him.  On a more serious note, it is important that west coast scout Sam Seale mentioned that he felt like the Packers wide receivers weren’t given much respect without Jordy Nelson and it wasn’t until Janis really started to play that defenses had to worry about getting beat vertically.  I’m not sure Thompson would straight up say the Packer’s offense lacked speed Davis definitely is a different type of player then the Packers typically draft and it’s a little bit of an enigma as to why Davis was available in the 5th round; Director of Player Personnel Elliot Wolf stated that Davis has 4.3 speed, can runs crisp routes (which won’t be as diverse as a full NFL passing tree given Davis came from the California “Bear-raid” offense) and has decent hands.  Maybe Davis fell through the cracks given he transferred from Hawaii and was lost in the shuffle at WR at Cal, but it’s also possible that he’s on the thinner side and might have some durability issues later on.

Round 6, Pick 200: Kyle Murphy, OT Stanford – While there was no discussion as to what position Jason Spriggs was going to play in the future (tackle), the Packers front office was a lot more coy when it came to Murphy.  My guess is that Murphy will likely be a guard for the Packers, in the Ted Thompson traditional MO of college left tackles playing guard.  While Murphy is on the taller side for a guard, he was more of a right tackle that moved over to the left side when Andrus Peat left for the NFL.  The selection of Murphy probably protects themselves from the departure of Sitton, Lang and Tretter.  While a Spriggs/Taylor/Linsley/Murphy/Bulaga line would probably be the worst case scenario, it has the potential to be pretty good.  If the Packers will almost certainly be able to resign Tretter and if they manage to keep either Lang or Sitton, then the line combination of Spriggs/Murphy/Linsley/Tretter/Bulaga hopefully won’t be too much different from their current starting line.  At the very worse, Murphy can likely take over Don Barclay’s role as the do it all swing linemen outside of center which is already covered by Linsley and Tretter.  

0 points

Comments (36)

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

May 01, 2016 at 07:32 pm

Davis has better hands than Janis and better height, vertical and health history than Abby. Have to see how fast he can pick up the offense.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

May 01, 2016 at 07:57 pm

The fact that Abby contributes little to ST (aside from punt returns after Hyde and Cobb) doesn't bode well for him.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
gr7070's picture

May 01, 2016 at 08:55 pm

Agreed on Abby. He's just not that good. Small. Not that fast. Not an amazing route runner.

Nice story. Love he's a Badger. But none of that earns a roster spot for long. Unfortunately.

I don't see him making team, unless they cut Adams, and still might not. And I don't see them giving up on the 2nd rounder yet, though maybe they should.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
croatpackfan's picture

May 02, 2016 at 04:02 am

You are wrong regarding Abby. Abby is the best route runner in whole Packers WR group. Several times he was picked out from Aaron for that. I trully thinks Packers will go with 6 receivers into the next season and Travor Davis will got one year to adapt his run/catch abilities to the Packers needs. True changes may come in 2017 season. Jeff is too valuable for ST and Jared (Abby) is very good slot receiver...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
NickPerry's picture

May 02, 2016 at 06:16 am

I have to agree with Craot here in Abby is an excellent route runner, hell that was what he was knowen for coming out. It's going to come down to Janis and Abby fitting for a spot this summer I believe though because Adams isn't going anywhere. Davis would get snatched off the practice squad if they try and stash him IMO. Hopefully who ever they HAVE to cut (Not keeping 7 WR) he doesn't go to that UGLY ass Purple team. I feel them lurking!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
jeremyjjbrown's picture

May 02, 2016 at 07:15 am

Abby is an excellent wide reciever. However, he is not fast enough to stretch the defense and Davis definately is.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
RCPackerFan's picture

May 02, 2016 at 07:33 am

While I agree I don't see them keeping 7 WR's, I am not going to rule it out.

They are likely eliminating 2 roster spots from last year. 3rd QB and 2nd FB. One of those 2 spots could easily be used at WR.

I'm not saying they will do that, but I can see where they would.

But we have to see how Nelson and Montgomery come back from there injuries, and also see if anyone else has anymore injuries to settle the position.
I'm not ruling out any of the 7 right now or writing any of them out.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
hobbes's picture

May 02, 2016 at 07:36 am

I don't know if I would say he's the best route runner on the team (I'd probably go with Cobb), but Abby definitely gets by by running precise routes in the short and intermediate passing game. If anything he lost out most from Nelson going to IR and his ability to produce ended being tied to Janis.

The other problem is that at least one WR will be cut, Nelson, Cobb, Adams and Montgomery all are locks so that leaves two spots for Abby, Janis and Davis. Davis almost certainly will also make the team even if he's no good in the preseason unless they think they can stash him on the ps

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
gr7070's picture

May 02, 2016 at 09:13 am

Nelson is the best route runner on the team, followed by Cobb, and from what we saw last year Montgomery is 3rd.

And I didn't say he was a bad route runner, just not amazing.

Calling Abbrederis an "excellent WR" is laughably absurd.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
holmesmd's picture

May 02, 2016 at 11:15 am

No he does not have better height. Davis is 6'1 and a skinny 188 lbs. Janis is 6'3 and 25 lbs heavier....and I'll be willing to bet as fast or faster than Davis. When Janis was drafted, he was the 2nd highest on GB's metric chart of every receiver in the draft! It's funny how fans forget that.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Evan's picture

May 02, 2016 at 11:25 am

"Davis has better hands than Janis and better height, vertical and health history than Abby."

Read that again...

He has better hands than Janis.

He has better height, vertical and health history than Abby.

(FWIW, I think Davis and Abby are the same height. Davis is certainly faster than Abby. Davis is about 8 pounds lighter than Abby, and we all thought Abby was too small, though Davis is stronger.)

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Evan's picture

May 02, 2016 at 11:28 am

Davis and Janis both ran 4.42. With Janis' size, that's damn impressive.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
dobber's picture

May 01, 2016 at 08:00 pm

A nice review and contextualizing of the picks. Thanks, Thomas.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
gr7070's picture

May 01, 2016 at 08:54 pm

Good article.

It's amazing how brutally bad Raji was in 2011-2014, and even more amazing how many awful Packer fans never noticed.

And WR is definitely not their most stacked position.
Cobb was not good last year; we all assume he'll be great-Cobb moving forward, but might not. Davante Adams is the worst WR in football (which says a lot about McCarthy playing him so much). He was horrific last year and advanced sites like Football Outsiders and numberFire had him in the bottom quartile his rookie year - when Rodgers was amazing and so was Jordy and Cobb; says a lot about how bad Adams really is.
Most think they have something in Janis (except McCarthy?!). Abrederis is just a guy.

DBs are probably most stacked??? As ordinary as Bakhtiari is OL might be most stacked. Spriggs could become special and for a 6th rounder pick we may have gotten something in the other OL.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
croatpackfan's picture

May 02, 2016 at 04:11 am

Go hate somewhere else. Whole group of Packers WR played injured through season, what was multiply with Aaron Rodgers injury which pushed him to throw from his back leg, so he was less accurate... I think Packers have very good WR group!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
hobbes's picture

May 02, 2016 at 07:42 am

In the middle part of the season, Rodgers simply didn't trust his teammates, whether it was the OL group or the receivers. Playing injured doesn't explain throwing to the wrong routes or throwing balls into receivers feet.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
hobbes's picture

May 02, 2016 at 07:41 am

Outside of 2010, Raji's numbers are very typical of a 3-4 NT, especially when you consider how many times he was on the field, which is not a lot.

As for Adams, it's hard to compare veterans Nelson/Cobb to Adams during his rookie year because of course Adams was going to play worse; Rodgers still hasn't built a up a rapport with Adams and even Nelson had an abysmal rookie season behind Driver and Jennings but he still turned out ok. Adams in his second year was a disaster but he was either hurt or playing hurt essentially the entire season so I think that has a lot to do with it.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
gr7070's picture

May 02, 2016 at 08:55 am

I'm not comparing Nelson/Cobb to Adams.

I'm saying Adams was horrible even though he had two amazing WRs to take the defense's attention and he had an amazing performance by Rodgers his rookie year. And he still looked bad.

And he was absolutely abysmal his second year.

While Nelson had a similarly poor rookie year he followed it up with what would have been the second best rate stat in the NFL by DVOA had he qualified for the minimum. And even without the minimum to qualify was still a top 40 WR overall with a very crowded WR corps!

That is worlds apart from Adams career path so far.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
hobbes's picture

May 02, 2016 at 11:07 am

If we are talking about Adams' second year, then he was the #2 WR right from the get go since Nelson got sent to IR in the preseason. Also I'm not sure a slot player like Cobb really can draw the attention of defenders like a perimeter player like Nelson. I'd probably guess that if Adams had play well, it would have freed up Cobb more than the other way around.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
DrealynWilliams's picture

May 02, 2016 at 11:45 am

This Adams hate has to stop. The guy had 1 horrible season. He's only been in the league for 2 seasons. Give him a chance to bounce back. James Jones received this same type of backlash until he went out and damn near caught 15 TDs in a season. Everybody loves him now.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
RCPackerFan's picture

May 02, 2016 at 12:07 pm

I agree...

Lets also not forget he was injured early in the year and tried to come back to soon from it. Which he wasn't able to do the things he normally did do, lost confidence and had a bad year as a result. The last game and a half though he really started to perform until he got hurt again.

He showed flashes his rookie year of being really good. He had a phenomenal off season according to the coaches and players.

I am expecting him to be one of the most improved players this year. If I'm wrong, I will say I was wrong.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
gr7070's picture

May 01, 2016 at 09:03 pm

It amazes me that no one seems to very clearly recognize what Ted is doing with college left tackles. People seem to comment on it like it's something that Ted just seems to do.

LT is like the starting pitcher of college prospects. Aside from some of the truly special guards at the big programs who happen to get lots of good line recruits, the rest of the talented OL in college all play LT, because that's where you play your best lineman. Just like college starting pitchers.

Colleges aren't putting their best arms in middle relief or even closer. Most those guys don't have pro talent, but the one guy who might be is a starter (or LT). The LT (or starting pitcher) at most all programs are the best talents.

And the best part, since they're not a stud from Texas or Ohio State, but a lesser known stud prospect (and probably only one) from Indiana or Iowa or Stanford or Cornell they come at a 4th round price tag.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Evan's picture

May 01, 2016 at 08:58 pm

Wait...Ted drafted a pitcher?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
gr7070's picture

May 01, 2016 at 09:00 pm

Two of them, second and sixth rounders.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Evan's picture

May 01, 2016 at 09:03 pm

Jeez. I trust Ted, but that seems risky.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Otto's picture

May 01, 2016 at 11:05 pm

Evan wins the internet for May 1, 2016. Well done.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
4thand1's picture

May 02, 2016 at 08:56 pm

If LT is a starting pitcher, what is a QB?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
RCPackerFan's picture

May 01, 2016 at 11:26 pm

Overall I think this was a very good draft. This is one of those drafts that won't get a lot of national attention, but is one that will help win championships.
Games are won in the trenches. Packers really improved their trenches in this draft. The Packers OL is probably the deepest it has ever been. The DL really added some much needed size.

The one skill position player they drafted is very intriguing. He is very fast, has really good hands and could possibly add something to the offense that is really hasn't had, pure speed.

Overall a really good draft.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

May 01, 2016 at 11:33 pm

I don't get it. Do lefty starting pitchers play right or left tackle?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
MarkinMadison's picture

May 02, 2016 at 07:23 am

Good draft, but boy, if you want a poster child for need draft this is it. Next time TT says BPA and you believe him, shame on you.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Bohj's picture

May 02, 2016 at 09:49 am

I don't know man. It would be reasonable to see that. However, this draft had alot of Bigs and linebackers. I think it makes more sense that the strengths of this draft just happens to cooincide with all of our needs. Picking in the low 20's all these years has made getting the good Bigs difficult. The only high first rounder we have had was Raji (Pick 9. 2009). We picked Bulaga (Pick 23. 2010) worked well enough.
And then: Sherrod (Pick 32. 2011). Broken leg...done.
My point is...we finally have a draft where there were plenty of quality Bigs to pick from when our turn came around. Would have been happy with about 4 or 5 guys at the spots. Really liked that we went up to get Spriggs. He would have been gone.
I think the only "need" pick..not BPA was our ILB.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
cheesehead1's picture

May 02, 2016 at 08:56 am

Saw Abby drop far too many passes along with Adams. No ones perfect, but I want someone with reliable hands. Hope they both improve this year.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
holmesmd's picture

May 02, 2016 at 11:35 am

The WR group will be sorted out by performance and injuries during camp & the pre season as it is every year. There may also be an UDFA surprise? Everything else is way too early speculation. What I will say is that Abby is probably the most likely to get clipped at this juncture. Let's see what happens. Pretty deep group though.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
hobbes's picture

May 02, 2016 at 06:43 pm

One big plus for Abby is he has a vote of confidence from #12. Rodgers has been pretty lukewarm about Janis basically from the get go. I'd rather have a slow small guy that Rodgers will throw the ball to than a fast big guy that Rodgers doesn't trust all the times.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
4thand1's picture

May 02, 2016 at 08:58 pm

After the AZ game, I think that will change.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
ebongreen's picture

May 03, 2016 at 11:18 am

I'm surprised how many people are, IMO, overthinking this draft class. (The article's author isn't one of them.)

Were I in TT's shoes, my priorities would have been: (1) add to the DL to replace Raji and create depth; (2) increase depth on the OL in general at OT in particular; and (3) add depth and competition everywhere possible, especially LB.

The Packers have OG candidates coming out their ears and two starter-caliber centers, but their depth at OT was exposed last year. For the moment, that's looks to be fixed. They've never had a prototype 5-tech on the DL, and now they do. They've got a new NT candidate. They've got two new LBs and a lanky speedball at WR.

It's a solid set of prospects. (Personally I would have used the 3rd rounder on CJ Prosise, but that's just me.) I understand wanting to get younger at OLB as a priority, but I'm not one to bet on a 25-year-old rookie coming off an ACL reconstruction as the future of my pass rush.

It's a classic Thompson draft, largely looking for mature "high-floor" players who he thinks will do well in the small-town environment of Green Bay, and drafting to replace players either already gone or potential free agents next year. I don't know why people expect anything else (or less) from him.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.