Handling the Bottom Tier of the Packers 2016 Draft Class

How will Brian Gutekunst handle the futures of Kyler Fackrell, Trevor Davis, Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy at roster cutdowns?

Ted Thompson’s second to last draft class in 2016 remains a mystery looking back just a short two years down the road from where we are at today.  With seven selections in 2016, Thompson produced solid defensive players by selecting Kenny Clark in the first round and both Blake Martinez and Dean Lowry in the fourth round.  All three players have been productive through their first two seasons with the Packers and remain with their arrows pointing up looking towards the future.

The real mystery lies in Thompson’s four other selections of that draft class that includes outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell, wide receiver Trevor Davis and offensive tackles Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy.  All four players have seen significant playing time in their respective roles on the team and now, as they enter their third year in the NFL, the question looms on whether they have a role with the Green Bay Packers moving forward.  With the experience that these men bring to the table entering 2018, this training camp and preseason should have been the time to separate the men from the boys at the NFL level. 

The determination as to whether or not the four players have made the jump required to make the team falls solely on new GM Brian Gutekunst.  As most of the armchair GM’s of the Packers would most likely vote a resounding “no” to most of these players, Gutekunst must weigh many factors when determining their future fate.

Kyler Fackrell

Immediately after being selected in the third round out of Utah State in 2016, opinions on Fackrell differed greatly.  While having the physical gifts of being tall, long and fast made him intriguing, his lack of physicality at the outside linebacker position raised a lot of red flags with people.  And after two years of seeing pretty significant action on the Packers defense, his production has left a lot to be desired with only five sacks, two tackles for loss and 34 total tackles to his credit.

 With the Packers front office doing little to help bolster the depth at the outside linebacker position this past offseason, Fackrell sits among the top four on the depth chart currently.  But throwing depth charts aside, Fackrell has surely been surpassed in playing time this season by what Reggie Gilbert has shown he is capable of and he also has the like of Vince Biegel, Chris Odom and potentially Kendall Donnerson nipping at his heels.

The question of whether Fackrell is truly battling for a final roster spot will remain a mystery until final cutdowns happen this Saturday.  At a position where production matters and Fackrell not having shown a lot of it in his short time in Green Bay, I wouldn’t be surprised if the team moves on from his services.  But in the same breath, a lack of depth behind Clay Matthews and Nick Perry could mean another season of Fackrell seeing plenty of playing time.  If the latter situation proves to be true, Fackrell needs to make a giant leap in his play.

Trevor Davis

Davis joined the Packers in 2016 after being selected out of Cal in the fifth round.  The small, shifty wide receiver entered the league with a scouted specialization in the punt and kick return games and that is where he has shined during his two years with the Packers.  Davis never latched on as a wide receiver that Aaron Rodgers could trust, but his dynamic punt return abilities have been impressive.

With the successes in Davis’ return game have come some frustrations with his judgement making abilities, both on and off the field.  And after missing significant time this preseason with a hamstring injury, Davis will be looking to make his 2018 debut in Kansas City on Thursday night.  And judging by head coach Mike McCarthy’s comments that a priority will be placed on him seeing significant work on special teams on Thursday, his potential role on this team moving forward is clear.

With roster cuts looming and a wide receiver room that is beaming with young talent, the question of whether there is a seat at the table for a return specialist will ultimately need to be determined by Gutekunst.  The roster battles at other positions will also weigh heavily in this decision for the GM.  In Davis’ absence so far in the preseason, the Packers have worked others into the mix returning punts and kickoffs.  Whether or not there are suitors for those roles may go a long way in determining Davis’ fate with the Packers.

Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy

Fans saw a poor display of offensive line play last Friday evening in Oakland when the coaching staff rested the starters.  Quarterbacks Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer were never able to find any sort of rhythm due to the constant pressure that they were under during the game.  Two of the men seeing significant time in that game were tackles Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy.

In a head-scratching move at the time, the Packers traded up in the second round in 2016 to draft Spriggs out of Indiana and his career has frankly been all downhill from there.  Through several stints in his first two years, Spriggs has been thrown to wolves on the starting offensive line and the wolves have made quick work of him.  But, in wanting to stick to their guns, the Packers have held steadfast on Spriggs.  The third-year tackle put on some weight this past offseason and entered training camp looking the part of an NFL tackle, but unfortunately, his play still hasn’t shown up through three preseason games as many have hoped.

In the sixth round of the 2016 draft, the Packers selected Kyle Murphy out of Stanford.  Murphy proved he could step in last season when he started the first three games of the year at both right and left tackle.  Unfortunately, his season was cut short with a foot injury that placed him on injured reserve.  Entering his third year in the league, hopes were high that Murphy could secure the spot as the reserve tackle that could cover both sides if needed.  But after last Friday in Oakland, where Murphy appeared to be playing with an injured foot once again, questions remain on his ability as he was pushed around for his entire time in the game.

Outside of the starting five on the offensive line, there are huge questions on the Packers roster.  And if history will teach us anything, the need for a solid backup or two is a necessity as an entire offensive line unit rarely makes it through 16 regular season games intact.  With the addition of Byron Bell looking like a flop and the general consensus that solid backup linemen are hard to come by in the NFL, the future of Spriggs as the primary backup to the tackles seems almost set in stone.  The extent of Murphy’s injury remains unknown to this point, so where he falls on the final roster remains to be seen.

As roster cuts come in just under four days, Packers fans will find out more about how Gutekunst will handle his duties as the team’s new GM moving forward.  Having been active in free agency, positioning during the draft and even pulling off some player for player trades, fans are getting the sense that the final assembly of the roster may take a fundamental shift from how Thompson organized the team.  Where Ted was always hesitant to move on from his draft picks that may not have been up to par, Gutekunst may be more likely to rid the team of the dirty laundry that he wasn’t responsible for.  Gutekunst just needs to determine whether Fackrell, Davis, Spriggs and Murphy are serviceable players moving forward or just Ted Thompson’s dirty socks.

________________________

Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

NFL Categories: 
0 points

Comments (27)

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

August 28, 2018 at 07:30 pm

I'm just not seeing any value in Kyle, Spriggs, Murphy, and only marginal for Davis.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
CheesyTex's picture

August 28, 2018 at 10:19 pm

Bell?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
gr7070's picture

August 29, 2018 at 12:31 am

While I'm not a big fan of his Fackrell is going no where. Here's clearly our 4th best OLB, and his PFF grade isn't nearly as horrible as Packers fans opinion of him.

Murphy, for a 6th round pick, has been a very solid or better pick. Hard to expect much more out of a 6th rounder than what he's shown. That's assuming the last game was heavily affected by the injury.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Since '61's picture

August 28, 2018 at 08:30 pm

Chuck Fackrell and Murphy. Keep Spriggs for depth at least until a better option is found. Davis depends on whether Gute values the FB spot more than an ST specialist. Other factors for Davis include whether the Packers keep 2 or 3 QBs, 6 or 7 WRs, or 9 or 10 OLs.

What happens to Davis if KC doesn't punt on Thursday evening? It could happen. Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Jonathan Spader's picture

August 28, 2018 at 09:43 pm

I think Muphy showed some potential at RT last year prior to his injury. He looked bad injured against the Raiders. Stash him on IR don't just cut him if possible.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Coldworld's picture

August 28, 2018 at 10:33 pm

Agreed. Hate to cut a player who was serviceable just because he was playing injured unless there is a player who is clearly better.

Spriggs has been better than billed recently according to most analysts.

Fackrell seems to be likely to be retained because he is assignment sure. Could Beigel push him? I haven’t seen anything yet that suggests it unfortunately.

Davis is, in my view, not good enough to merit a place on ST alone, but it seems the coaches disagree.

Sadly therefore I think all these players make it at the expense of better talent on offense (Davis) and due to no obvious replacements being available (the remaining 3).

Perhaps cut downs by other teams will change that of course, but typically most are too raw or unproven to plug and play. Maybe a trade for a vet (Hundley or even Cobb) could net someone from a team with depth on the OL or at OLB if there is a team with a strong enough need?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
gr7070's picture

August 28, 2018 at 11:20 pm

Agreed on Murphy, Fackrell, and Spriggs.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
croatpackfan's picture

August 29, 2018 at 01:44 am

OK, would you cut the player who was 2nd and 4th in his team role in whole NFL, for example, CB, punter, RB, DL, kicker?

I do not know why people do not like Davis. From the first day he was drafted there is a lot of Jeff Janis fans who saw him as danger for their beloved WR who is not even sure for the roster spot on Browns...

It is ridiculous.

I remember anger with Davante Adams in his 2nd season and lot of requests to cut him or release him. Many of you are suggesting that Davante should be replaced with Jeff Janis. Hilarious moments. Short memory?

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

August 29, 2018 at 04:25 am

I like Davis as a person. However, I don't think he has enough talent to play in the Packers offense. For the most part, he's been a good returner, inconsistent but pretty good, overall. I don't think he's worthy of the 53 personally. Let's see what BG thinks! Janis has not now, nor has he ever had anything consciously or subconsciously to do with my evaluation of Trevor Davis' play.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
croatpackfan's picture

August 29, 2018 at 05:48 am

My comment regarding Jeff/Trevor was not against you or any person particularly, it is general impression.

I do not think that we, as fans, can be really objective in estimation of Davis return skills. Sometimes looks like he needed to do differently, but we do not see whole field as he sees it. And than there is also something we are not informed what was his assignment for every and each play. He might be instructed to catch the ball on specific play when we thinks (because it looks like to us) he should try to return or left the ball to go to the end zone.

Also, when people are complaint that Davis fair catch the ball at 5 yards line, they do not consider there is only 33% chance for ball to roll to the end zone. Ball can also jump in the air more or less vertical (and there is large chance to be downed at 1 or 2 yards line by the punting/kicking team!) , or ball can roll backwards and be downed at, lets say 7 yards line. All together, I do not see lot of inconsistency in returner job did by Trevor last season!

Not to mention that he had several very good returns, especially that one of 61 yarder which made Packers possible to win the game at the end!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Firstdown's picture

August 31, 2018 at 10:40 pm

21% of Davis' punt returns went for 20 yards or longer.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Turophile's picture

August 29, 2018 at 05:54 am

I'd be tempted to IR Murphy (he could be an IR returner later in the season if needed).
I'd keep Fackrell this year. He and Biegel can fight for OLB number 4 snaps (and I think Fackrell is ahead at this time).
I'd keep Spriggs this year.
I'd drop Davis and have someone else return punts/kicks - too much talent elsewhere to keep a guy who does nothing as a WR.

So, one deferred to later, two kept, one visited by 'the Turk'.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Community Guy's picture

August 28, 2018 at 09:52 pm

i have a little bit of hope that Spriggs and/or Murphy can still come through with solid careers ahead.. i feel Fackrell and Davis are long shots to get another contract with GB. i think they should keep Kumerow over Davis on this year's 53. special teams will eventually work out.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Oppy's picture

August 29, 2018 at 05:50 am

I don't know if special teams will just eventually work out.

We don't have to look back very far to recall how atrocious Packers special teams were.. for years. We've finally been seeing some positive results on our special teams units over the last two or three seasons. A way to quickly get back to those old, miserable ST days would be intentionally letting your best ST player go, one who contributes in every phase.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
cap'n kirk's picture

August 28, 2018 at 10:01 pm

Clark is a stud (best DEF player on the team IMO), but outside of that, the 2015 & 2016 draft classes are abysmal. Look what Gutey has done in year 1, to address the mess Ted left at TE & CB. Next year it will be the OL/OLB positions. They held onto Ted for about 3-4 years too long (same can be said for Dinosaur Dom). Hopefully they can cash in, before QB1's window is closed.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
croatpackfan's picture

August 29, 2018 at 01:47 am

Yeah, I agree... Lets cut whole draft class except Clark. Let say first Blake Martinez and Dean Lowry!

You are true expert!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
cap'n kirk's picture

August 29, 2018 at 07:38 am

If the best you have to come at me with is those two, then you're helping to prove my point.

You need to settle down, little fella.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Demon's picture

August 29, 2018 at 07:56 am

Do we really need to insult each other again? We know he does not want to cut martinez and clark.

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

August 29, 2018 at 03:55 am

well said. I'm referring to Kirk and not the negative Croatian

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Oppy's picture

August 29, 2018 at 05:53 am

Croat's snarky tone might be off-putting, but is he wrong?
I think it's fair to say Martinez and Lowry have been strong contributors and good players so far in their short careers.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Tundraboy's picture

August 28, 2018 at 11:00 pm

The statement that Fackrell has other players nipping at his heels is comical. In what alternate universe is that true

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Colin_C's picture

August 29, 2018 at 12:31 am

I wonder if they've ever considered moving Fackrell inside? With out current depth there, he might be able to carve out a roll. Then again, having a guy who's never started inside could be just as detrimental.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
MITM's picture

August 29, 2018 at 01:24 am

Hes not nearly physical enough to play inside, and his body type just doesnt work - save for being an athletic freak of a specimen.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Guam's picture

August 29, 2018 at 07:56 am

Nailed it Turophile! Spot on assessment.

While Davis is an excellent return man, he has never delivered as a WR. His return duties can be covered by others (Jackson?) and the Packers would have to give up a good receiver to open a roster space for Davis. Don't see that happening, particularly since Gute let another one trick pony (Janis) walk in the offseason.

I am not happy with Spriggs and Murphy, but I don't know of any better alternatives at this point. Bell certainly hasn't worked out.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
egbertsouse's picture

August 29, 2018 at 07:58 am

They will all be on the team. Packer management never admits its mistakes. That’s one of Uncle Ted’s legacies. There are already narratives being promulgated that say these guys are good, getting better, are ST aces, or whatever is needed to justify keeping them while cutting players that actually perform. Actual performance does not matter in GB, we’ve all watched enough Barclay, Hawk, Bush, Hundley, and HHCD to know that. So you writers and bloggers, keep spreading to hopeful narratives for the fans. I just won’t be buying them.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PatrickGB's picture

August 29, 2018 at 09:34 am

I don’t live in Wisconsin. I end up listening to the local sportswriters in my area(s). Believe me, other GMs have done much worse. And the local fans say pretty much all the thing that we say about TT. Believe me others have done worse and done so higher in the draft order. Yes he could have done better with some guys but he could have done worse too.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GLM's picture

August 29, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Concerning Davis....remember Desmond Howard? MVP of Super Bowl XXXI? He was the best we had seen since Travis Williams, I think...still wasn't a good enough receiver to keep him. In retrospect, considering the amount of yards he put up on the board as a return man (and points, too) we should have kept him on the team. He was worth it, even if he couldn't be a wideout.

Is Davis as good a return man as Howard? No. Is he the best on the team? Probably...tough call...If Howard wasn't worth keeping, I don't see how Davis is....just my own take on it. Of course, that was then, and this is now.

+ 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.