It's a Make or Break Year for Gutey's 2018 Draft Class

It's Year 3 for Brian Gutekunst's 2018 draft class, and for many of these players, it's either now or never. 

When the Green Bay Packers made the switch and hired Brian Gutekunst to be their next General Manager back in January of 2018, this roster needed a bit of an overhaul. After some early swings and misses in the draft along with former GM Ted Thompson's reluctance to use free agency - although when he did if often paid off in big ways - this Packers roster needed an infusion of talent.

So Gutey got to work.

Highlighted in a recent article by Andy Herman of Packer Report, with 2020 being just Gutekunst's third season at the helm, only 15 of Thompson's players remain on the current 90-man roster. Utilizing free agency heavily and not afraid to make trades in the draft, Gutey has given this roster a makeover, in which a number of the moves have paid off. 

Of course, there were the free-agent signings from last offseason that landed the Packers Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos. On top of that, the 2019 draft class is loaded with potential as just about the entire class could at the very least become contributors, with players like Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, Elgton Jenkins, and Jace Sternberger being high-end players. 

As good as those additions have been, on the flip side, just about the entire 2018 draft class has underperformed through their first two seasons, with of course, Jaire Alexander being the exception. But as this group enters their third NFL season, it's really now or never for them.

 At pick 45, the Green Bay Packers selected Josh Jackson, who saw a fair amount of playing time during his rookie season as he made 10 starts. However, he took his lumps as well. Jackson was targeted 66 times that season and allowed a completion rate of nearly 67 percent, gave up four touchdowns and quarterbacks had a passer rating of 112.7 when throwing his direction. Not to mention that he led the team in penalties as well. 

But it was his rookie season, and some of that was to be expected. Unfortunately, for Jackson and the Packers, 2019 was even worse. An injury in camp would send Jackson tumbling down the depth chart, and for the season, he played in less than 10 percent of Green Bay's total defensive snaps. Meanwhile, when Jackson was on the field, he was picked on once again, giving up seven receptions on eight targets, including a touchdown. 

Looking ahead to this season, the Packers have a talented cornerback room, but it's a young one, and Jackson is going to have the opportunity to play if he can prove himself. With that said, he's running out of time to do so here in Green Bay. 

Moving along to Round 3, the Packers traded up for linebacker Oren Burks, who, as a former safety, was supposed to give this defense a boost in coverage. But like Jackson, Burks has struggled to see consistent playing time. 

During his first two summers, injuries would get Burks off to a slow start that he wasn't able to recover from in either season. With his issues in defending the run, he's far from a three-down linebacker at this point, and in his limited coverage opportunities, he's simply failed to impress. Burks has the tools and skill-set to be a contributor at linebacker this season, but first, we have to see if he can stay healthy and put it all together. 

In Round 4, the Packers selected J'Mon Moore, but as we all know, he was cut before Week 1 of his second NFL season. 

With three fifth-round selections, the Packers first selected Cole Madison, who will be returning from IR. He has the potential to provide Green Bay with some depth at the interior offensive line position, but this is one of the more competitive positions on the team, and the Packers did just draft three interior linemen in this year's draft. 

Then was punter J.K. Scott,who has shown some flashes that landed him the nickname "The Weapon," but overall he has been quite inconsistent. Not exactly what you're hoping for if you're going to spend a draft pick on a punter.

At pick 174 was Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the deep threat on this team and someone who is being slept on a bit by fans. While the second half of the 2019 season was certainly rough for him, through the first seven weeks, Valdes-Scantling averaged nearly 20 yards per catch on 21 receptions with two touchdowns. And this includes a 133 yard performance against Oakland and a 99 yard game against Denver. But after seeing his snap count evaporate, the big question on everyone's mind is, can Valdes-Scantling rebound in 2020?

Round 6 included Equanimeous St. Brown, who many are excited to see this season. St. Brown popped during his rookie season as he averaged almost 16 yards per catch, recorded two games with at least 89 receiving yards, and of his 21 receptions, five went for at least 20 yards. Perhaps most important, though, is that he has QB1 in his corner as well. However, St. Brown has missed a full season with an injury, and it remains to be seen whether or not he will be productive upon his return. 

Finally, we get to Round 7, which includes James Looney, who has since converted to tight end and been a practice squad player. Long-snapper Hunter Bradley and Kendall Donnerson, who was most recently cut by the Oakland Raiders. 

Now, I've said all of that to say this; there are still several players in this group who can make plenty of noise this season. I'm particularly talking about Jackson, Burks, Valdes-Scantling, and St. Brown, with Scott and Bradley excluded since they are already starters along with the nature of their positions.

However, there's also a scenario in play as well, where those four players struggle, and considering that this is Year 3 for them, any poor 2020 seasons could very well end up being their final season in Green Bay.  

As the title of the article says, 'it's a make or break year,' and if things do, in fact, go south, well, then this draft class is going to be in very rough shape. Even with Alexander's contributions. 

---------------------

Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

NFL Categories: 
2 points

Comments (28)

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

July 10, 2020 at 01:16 pm

I think a more appropriate title for the article is: "This is the break year for Gutey's 2018 draft class." Frankly, outside of Alexander, they all pretty much suck.

+ REPLY
2 points
6
4
stockholder's picture

July 10, 2020 at 05:36 pm

MM would agree.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
TheVOR's picture

July 10, 2020 at 01:52 pm

Like Jaire Alexander a lot, that hit on that one. Scott is a decent talent, like him. The kicking game can be challenging in GB, and both him and Crosby are decent players. MVS is a huge question mark, started out as good as any rookie could with Rodgers, but declined last season. I "think" I understood where he may have been playing injured, but this is a big year for him.

Burks, Jackson, St. Brown. Cole Madison, big questions. I think Madison has a huge uphill battle, him missing his rookie campaign didn't help him, he was considered a decent prospect coming out, will be interesting to see what he can actually do after having a full year back. I'd say in limited looks with him, I didn't see anything special last season, but as with all linemen, DL or OL, I'm always pulling for them to make a jump. Hope he can, if so, just makes the team better.

Burks, they've been running the optimism up the flag pole since they drafted him. I don't see "it". If he's demonstrated anything, it's his lack of having an NFL body. Availability is King, he's been lack luster!

Really, Jaire is the stand alone Blue chip player, and Scott will always be competing, I like that player, I see Scott as a Grinder in GB. Just when you think he's showing mediocre, his hang times, and directional punting really stand out. Makes a lot of unnoticed "Big Kicks" for fair catches or non-returns. My 2..

+ REPLY
4 points
7
3
stockholder's picture

July 10, 2020 at 02:15 pm

Draft Parties. Fan poll approval. In depth player analysis, use to be important. Now; take it and shove it. More about $$$$ then common sense. Guteys drafts are luck. Based on underwear. A door that shows stubbornness. A locker room full of numbers but No names. Legends no longer will be drafted. Free Agency and money will determine a Legend. His survival isn't about who he drafts. It's only about the power with him. He's Sherman!!! And this won't be his last stop. Much like his draft picks.

+ REPLY
-7 points
4
11
ricky's picture

July 10, 2020 at 02:48 pm

Could you provide and English translation of this gibberish?

+ REPLY
3 points
6
3
dblbogey's picture

July 10, 2020 at 03:43 pm

He's speaking meth, I believe.

+ REPLY
1 points
4
3
gkarl's picture

July 10, 2020 at 03:55 pm

PBR maybe

+ REPLY
0 points
2
2
Leatherhead's picture

July 10, 2020 at 05:46 pm

No. I speak PBR, and that wasn’t it. I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t that.

+ REPLY
7 points
7
0
stockholder's picture

July 10, 2020 at 06:29 pm

Pabst Blue Ribbon, Is No-bull

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
marpag1's picture

July 11, 2020 at 03:24 am

I like to speak a bit of Laphroaig single malt scotch whisky, but I admit it can come off a little pretentious at times. So I keep a generous supply of ice cold beer as well, just to communicate with the masses.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
gkarl's picture

July 13, 2020 at 09:22 am

LH,

I will take your word on it, I just didn't think it was meth, but as being fluent in PBR myself I know I can occasional sound like that. :)

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PeteK's picture

July 10, 2020 at 07:16 pm

Stream of consciousness writing.

+ REPLY
-2 points
0
2
marpag1's picture

July 11, 2020 at 03:18 am

I down voted this because I doubt he's conscious.

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
gkarl's picture

July 10, 2020 at 02:56 pm

The smartest move Gutey make in 2018 was trading back, getting another first rounder in 2019 and still getting Jaire. The other 2018 picks has noted are TBD still.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Leatherhead's picture

July 10, 2020 at 05:51 pm

Absolutely. He traded back four spaces in the first and got another first. How many years in a row does that have to happen before the talent on the roster improves?

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
nostradanus's picture

July 10, 2020 at 04:07 pm

Alexander - A

Jackson (with Gray coaching) C+

Burks (No instincts on the fence but please special teams pretty well) C-

J Mon (please don’t draft receivers that can’t catch) F

Madison (The kid has talent he’s just had some bad breaks) C-

MVS (he has talent and he just may show at this year) B-

EQ (looked pretty good as a rookie, an unfortunate injury last year) C+

Scott (when he’s good he’s a field tilting weapon) B

Bradley (has been pretty good as long snapper not great) B

Donnerson & Looney (um, No) D -

This draft still has a chance in year three to be a pretty good one with Alexander Jackson MVS EQ Scott and Bradley they have all had their moments Burks has been solid on special teams and hopefully the lightbulb will go on. Madison unfortunately had the ACL injury and he faces a long hard battle in camp with the depth in the offensive line.

Projecting forward I’m going to give this draft a B-

+ REPLY
-1 points
3
4
Leatherhead's picture

July 10, 2020 at 05:18 pm

Using your grading system, I count 8 guys as average or better. Alexander is a starter on defense. Burks, Scott, and Bradley are special teams starters who do a good job

The receivers....and I’m going to throw in the UDFAs Kumerow, Shepherd, and finally Lazard....are the GMs attempts to be able to line up one capable, cheap, good blocking WR opposite of Adams who could help us win games. IMO, it’s been achieved so the F on Moore doesn’t matter.

If Jackson, Burks, EQ or MSV have a good year, then you cannot say this is a below average draft. If two or more do, I think you could fairly claim it was a pretty good draft.

As an aside, I think you are going to be revising your grade on Looney because he’s our blocking TE . Deguara and Sternberger for passing, Lewis and Looney for mauling. And he’ll probably be core special teams.

+ REPLY
3 points
4
1
nostradanus's picture

July 10, 2020 at 06:24 pm

I hope your prediction on Looney becomes reality, that would be cool

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
dobber's picture

July 11, 2020 at 10:43 am

The fact that only Moore and Donnerson have washed out at this point (and Moore is still in the league), even with all the later round picks, is pretty significant, but mapping draft success just based on which players make the roster is a specious argument. True, there's only one starter out of this class so far, but others are in position to start or be major contributors in year 3--which is when most analysts say the rubber hits the road for a draft class.

That said, now that we're a second full draft class post-2018, this is the point where these guys who flashed a little but really don't have it will wash out. I think Cole Madison is a goner. He's essentially missed all of his first two years, is coming off a major injury, and the roster depth has moved past him. Looney as a TE conversion project is a shot in the dark, and cost them virtually nothing to try. Big blocking TEs who offer next to nothing in the passing game are easy enough to find, though.

We can talk about the value the special teamers add to the draft class, but many have a problem with the Packers using draft picks on a punter or a long-snapper in the first place.

At this stage, I have a hard time giving this draft class much more than a C/C+.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 11, 2020 at 10:57 am

My grades so far:

Jaire: A
Jackson: D (get your ST guys late in the draft/UDFA).
Burks: D-
J'mon: F
Madison: Inc. or F- (no snaps)
MVS: B-
EQ: C
Scott: C+
Bradley: C+
Donnerson: F- (0 snaps)
Looney: F (19 snaps)

My grades are based solely on results.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
taarons420's picture

July 10, 2020 at 04:22 pm

Savage should count as part of this draft.
Wasn't he selected with the pick the Packers received for moving back before drafting Alexander?

Two, potentially, high-level starters out of, essentially, one draft... I'll take it.

Also... throw out anything after round 4.
5,6,7th rounders are crap-shoots.

Moore is the only confirmed "miss" at this point.
Jackson and Burks probably will confirm "miss' status this season... but there's still hope.

+ REPLY
-1 points
3
4
Leatherhead's picture

July 10, 2020 at 05:33 pm

Moore is the only miss at this point. We used a shotgun approach to the WR spot and only one pellet missed the target. I’ll take that.
P
And Scott, Burks, and Bradley are starters on special teams. Jackson too, for that matter. Burks took the 2nd most special teams snaps at around 250...Summers was most. Bradley and Scott were in the top 11.

Did you realize we had about 480 special teams plays during the season...about 30 a game ? Kickoffs, extra points, FGs, punts and returns ......and on every single one of those plays, points or possession or 40 yards of distance are involved,. Makes a fella think...

+ REPLY
-2 points
0
2
nostradanus's picture

July 10, 2020 at 06:22 pm

Good point on Savage

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

July 10, 2020 at 07:21 pm

No - He still cost an extra draft pick. Think about what Gutey gave away in picks. Also the Kizer trade, pick swaps! Had he kept Randall it would have changed the draft. Report was they loved Kizer. Which makes the Love pick even more a question mark. Throw in the firing of MM with this draft class. (Who paid the price) Gutey will hang himself. Looking back: Guteys input was why TT got so bad at drafting.

+ REPLY
-1 points
2
3
taarons420's picture

July 10, 2020 at 09:15 pm

randall quit on the team... during a game.
surprised they got anything for him.

how does drafting kizer have anything to do with the drafting of love?
are you suggesting that gute doesn't know qb's because a traded for kizer?
that's silly.

thompson drafted rodgers.
he also drafted brohm.

belichick drafted brady.
he also drafted ryan mallett.

dorsey drafted mahomes.
he also drafted kevin hogan.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
stockholder's picture

July 11, 2020 at 06:36 am

Randall was safety turned CB. Randall didn't Quit. The defense did. Think of how many left during his time here. Drafting Kizer? Trading for Kizer was on Gutey ( "Love" at the combine. ) So he went after him. Brohm was told he was drafted for back - up only. Drafting back-ups is a different animal. I 'd take a veteran over drafting a back-up anytime. Moore was just signed again to back up Mahomes. I get you Love Gutey. But since 2010 the holes never changed. He signed veteran FAs first. And they failed until the Smiths came here. Amos ended the revolving door at Safety.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
NickPerry's picture

July 11, 2020 at 08:49 am

I know many here are down on Jackson but I'm curious to see what Grey can do with him. Grey's a really good coach and will zero in on what Josh Jackson does best and utilize him that way. Then he'll help him be better at what his weaknesses are.

IMO Jackson should be used at Safety. For years we moved Micah Hyde all over the place when his best position was actually a weakness in the Packers secondary. So many here always pointed to Hydes 40 time at the combine, just like they have Jacksons time. Who cares? Hyde could ball and the Packers let him walk and have since spent MORE resources at the safety positions when they had part of the solution on their team already.

Buffalo put Hyde in a position where he excelled and KEPT him there. Their reward was Hyde became a All-Pro. Not saying Jackson could be an All-Pro but the kid has ball skills and the Packers need to do everything to try and utilize those skills. I think Grey will help him do that.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
CoachDino's picture

August 11, 2020 at 06:00 pm

In a way it's tough to judge.

They hit big in Rd 1. That's makes the draft an automatic C

Rds 2 & 3 have been flops but if they can contribute this year, even one of them it ups the grade. Both have the Talent.

When you land a #2 rec (albeit for just 1-1/2 seasons and another contributing receiver in ESB in the sixth. That's huge.

Then you hit on two speacial team starters year one in the late rounds.

That's a good draft.

If Burks or Jackson Become starter/role players you have yourself at very solid draft.

Remember - Don't compare drafts to all time greats but the current reality -

+ 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.