Packers 2018 Draft Class Gets Mixed Grades After Two Seasons

We analyze GM Brian Gutekunst's first draft class in Green Bay after two seasons. Who has been a big hit and who have been misses.

 

The 2018 NFL Draft was the first for GM Brian Gutekunst since taking the helm in Green Bay. After two NFL seasons, the Packers 2018 Draft Class has a mixed report card at best. Some players are already out of football, several are fighting for the football lives and many are at a crossroads where they may have just one more chance to prove they belong in the National Football League.

Still, the class of 2018 also provided the Packers with some important players who have contributed to the team’s success this past season and have the potential to continue to do so.

Here is a look at the class of 2018 and where they are right now in their NFL careers:

Round 1 Pick 18: Jaire Alexander CB Louisville

Alexander has established himself as the Packers top cover corner. He is quick, confident and has the short-term memory needed to be a very good cornerback in the NFL.

Alexander needs to improve in two areas to take his game to a Pro Bowl level. He needs to be a bit more consistent in coverage and he needs to hold on to possible interceptions more often. In two seasons, the Louisville alum has only three INTs and he has dropped at least a half dozen potential picks.

Overall, Alexander has proven himself to be a very good first round selection and he should be a fixture in the Green Bay secondary for several more years.

Round 2 Pick 45: Josh Jackson DB Iowa

If Alexander has established himself as a quality starter for the Packers, their second pick in 2018, Josh Jackson, has regressed.

Jackson started 10 games a rookie and made 49 tackles while playing in all 16 games.

In 2019, however, Jackson was only on the field for 10 percent of the Packers defensive snaps, did not start a game and made only six tackles all season. Undrafted players like Chandon Sullivan and Will Redmond passed him on the depth chart. He was effective on special teams.

Jackson lacks the pure speed to be effective in man coverage as a corner. He may be limited to zone coverage or need to be moved to safety where his lack of stopwatch speed is not as big an issue.

Jackson is at a crossroads and will have to show the coaching staff a lot more to remain on the roster in 2020.

Round 3 Pick 88: Oren Burks ILB Vanderbilt

Burks suffered injuries in the preseason in both 2018 and 2019 and they clearly slowed his development. The Vanderbilt product has yet to establish himself as a starter for the Packers despite their lack of talent and depth at his position. In fact, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine went to undrafted players like Raven Greene and Ibraheim Campbell at the hybrid ILB/S position rather than turn to Burks.

Burks was having a strong preseason in his rookie year but was injured in warmups before the third preseason game. He never seemed to get back on track.

He started four games as a rookie and made 24 total tackles. In 2019, Burks made only six total tackles while playing only 57 total snaps on defense, down from 122 snaps the previous season.

This summer’s training camp will likely be Burks’ final chance to show he is ready to be a solid contributor at the NFL level with the Packers.

Round 4 Pick 133: J’Mon Moore WR Missouri

The Packers released Moore this September before the start of Week 1. Moore seemed to lose his confidence and had some trouble picking up the offense. In 12 games in 2018, he caught two passes for 15 yards and returned four kicks. He dropped several passes in both the preseason and regular season.

He finished 2019 on the Browns practice squad and will be invited to training camp with them after signing a reserve/future contract with them on December 30.

Round 5 Pick 138: Cole Madison G Washington State

Madison sat out his rookie season due to personal reasons but returned to training camp with the Packers in 2019.

Madison made the team but was never saw action in any games and was placed on the injured reserve after suffering a torn ACL during practice.

The Washington State alum hopes to be ready for training camp this summer and will have another chance to show the Packers what he can do at that time.

Round 5 Pick 172: JK Scott P Alabama

Scott has done a good job of punting for the Packers over the past two seasons. As a rookie, he averaged 44.7 yards per punt and in 2019 he averaged 44.0.

The Alabama product placed 29 punts inside the 20 this season while having only four touchbacks. Ten of his kicks were downed inside the opponent’s 10-yard line.

While he has had a few inconsistent games, he has been a difference maker in others, like the Week 1 win over the Bears in 2019 where his punts helped tilt the field in the Packers favor in a low-scoring contest.

Scott has been a strong addition to the Packers from the 2018 draft.

Round 5 Pick 174: Marquez Valdes-Scantling WR South Florida

MVS has top-flight speed and a lot of potential, but his inconsistent route running has cost him valuable playing time and prevented him from holding down the WR 2 position with the Packers.

Valdes-Scantling caught 38 passes as a rookie for 581 yards and two scores. In 2019, his numbers dropped to 26 receptions although his average yards per catch improved to 17.4.

MVS had 16 catches in the first four games of 2019, then managed only 10 grabs in the final 10 games as his playing time diminished.

The talent is certainly there, but unless Valdes-Scantling can improve his knowledge of the playbook, his route running and establish more trust with his Aaron Rodgers, he will remain a one-dimensional backup who is only used on the occasional deep pass or gadget play.

Round 6 Pick 207: Equanimeous St. Brown WR Notre Dame

EQ showed some potential as a rookie, catching 21 passes for 328 yards and playing in 33 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.

St. Brown suffered an injury during the preseason and was placed on the season-ending injured reserve before the start of the 2019 season.

The Notre Dame alum has good size and ran consistent routes as a rookie. The Packers will bring in plenty of competition for St. Brown at the wide receiver position in 2020. EQ will have to show progress in order to make the team and carve out a role for himself in 2020.

Round 7 Pick 232: James Looney DT California

Looney played in three games as a rookie without distinguishing himself on the defensive line. This year, the Packers signed him to the practice squad and converted him to tight end. He will be a long shot to make the roster at that position in 2020.

Round 7 Pick 239: Hunter Bradley LS Mississippi State

You haven’t heard much about Hunter Bradley since he joined the Packers in 2018 and that’s a good thing because when it comes to long snappers, the only time you hear about them is when they make mistakes.

The Mississippi State product has not had any major errors as the Packers long snapper and has proven to be a consistent player.

Overall, Bradley has been a good addition for the Packers even if they did spend a draft pick on a long snapper to get him.

Round 7 Pick 248: Kendall Donnerson LB SE Missouri

Donnerson made the Packers practice squad in 2018. When injuries struck the team, he was activated in December but never played in a game.

The Packers waived Donnerson again in 2019 and he spent the season out of football. The Raiders signed him to a futures contract at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (31)

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CAG123's picture

February 20, 2020 at 12:43 pm

Josh Jackson is still the head scratcher for me I get he fell but he fell for a reason stiff hips, lacks the speed to play man, not physical at all, tremendous ball skills, great breaking on routes makes him a player for a heavy zone scheme. Even when he was being mocked to the Packers as a first round pick I was like “hell nah”! I was a bit hopeful for Jackson because he went to Iowa and they’ve been producing these DBs that aren’t the best athletes but have high football IQ plus he use to play WR but other than that what was Gute thinking? I mean even grading him on Gute’s “fast athlete“ scale he doesn’t really measure up.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

February 20, 2020 at 01:55 pm

I was surprised the Packers Drafted him, even in the 2nd round. He does not fit what they do at CB all. Apparently he isn't a fit at Safety either since they have not really tried him there at all. But, I think they really need to try him at Safety this preseason. Clearly he's not a CB since Pettine wants to play mostly man. Probably the main reason he's still around is his cap number is almost all dead money.

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Coldworld's picture

February 20, 2020 at 06:12 pm

I see him moving to safety. Too early to give up, and there was talk this season of having him learn a defined role, though I never heard what that is.

MVS is the other, hopefully a sophomore slump. Perhaps another year and a new position coach can undo whatever happened to his mind this season.

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stockholder's picture

February 20, 2020 at 01:21 pm

Josh Jackson GB, Josh Jones Jacksonville, Randall Clev. Hayward, Hyde, Brown, Just blows the mind. To many now to blame the guy that drafted them. Obviously it's the coaching!

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Since'61's picture

February 20, 2020 at 01:23 pm

Good point!!! Maybe this is why they added the secondary coach from the Viqueens. Thanks, Since '61

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Coldworld's picture

February 20, 2020 at 06:16 pm

Brown was a street free agent pick up. Others were more a question of maturity and positional use than ability as subsequently shown. Hyde was also cost. Since that coaching staff is no more, don’t see the logic behind your point here, particularly with a new GM

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CAG123's picture

February 20, 2020 at 01:55 pm

Jones has been waived by two teams he’s not a great example, Randall wore his emotions on his slave though his apparent criticism of the defense was valid, Hayward had his chance in GB does nobody remember the 2015 offseason hype he had? He was replacing Williams on the outside it was his year then he proceeded to get burnt like toast on a weekly basis he was sent back to the slot and replaced on the outside by the converted ROOKIE Randall. The Packers let him walk and he went to the Chargers who run a zone scheme and the rest is history the way people mention him as if he was this shutdown man corner that the Packers let leave. If Gute was GM he would have definitely replaced either HHCDor Burnett with Hyde TT was just being cheap. Brown is easily replaceable hardly worth mentioning.

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Timeout's picture

February 21, 2020 at 05:50 am

You left out another 2nd round pick, Quinten Rollins. It should come as no surprise why the wide receiver - tight end position is where it is when one looks at all the 1st and 2nd round picks used on db's in the last 5 years.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 21, 2020 at 11:31 am

Is he playing basketball in Europe?

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Since'61's picture

February 20, 2020 at 01:22 pm

With the exceptions of Alexander and JK Scott this draft has been underwhelming so far. Fortunately Hunter Bradley has been consistent while remaining unspectacular. I won't give up on Burks, Jackson or ESQ at this point but they are the only remaining players that I see who can still make a contribution for the Packers in 2020 and hopefully beyond.

Madison has effectively missed his first 2 seasons and will need to play catch up just to get into playing shape.

If the Packers take a few WRs in this WR rich draft, which they should, MVS will likely be passed up and chucked by the end of TC. ESB will remain a question mark until he proves he is recovered from injury and learn the new offense.

Given that we have only one legit starter from this group, not including the ST players, I would this give this class a C, minus at this point.

Hopefully, somehow, Gute will do better drafting from the 30th slot in this year's upcoming draft. Thanks, Since '61

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Lphill's picture

February 20, 2020 at 01:39 pm

Burks was a terrible pick and a 3 rd rounder, if released by the Packers I bet his career is over or maybe the XFL, Scott seems to come up small in big games so I bet the Packers will look to replace him.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 21, 2020 at 11:43 am

The scouting report from his play in the SEC had him getting washed out by O linemen and taken downfield with his tackling ability. Not a good call for an ILB.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

February 20, 2020 at 01:55 pm

What a horrible draft. At least this is better than the 2015 draft.

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CAG123's picture

February 20, 2020 at 02:02 pm

Talk about a stinker TT really drafted two project DBs with the first two picks a converted safety and a failed basketball player with one year of football under his belt playing at Miami.....of Ohio of all places hell if we want to get even deeper Randall’s first love was baseball an injury forced him football.

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Packjack's picture

February 20, 2020 at 04:00 pm

At some point you have to ask, is it the drafting or is it the coaching? Some marginal players could become pretty good with good coaching. On the other hand, some potentially great players could never live up to their potential with lousy coaching.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 21, 2020 at 11:35 am

The coaching should be there in college. In the Pros it is about refining technique and anticipation. Film Study and the attitude to improve. The reaches were noted at the time.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 21, 2020 at 09:04 am

2015 may rank among the worst across most NFL teams in history. GM there will tell you they flat out missed. And they still don't know why...

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Packer_Fan's picture

February 20, 2020 at 04:45 pm

Alexander is a gem. Jackson and Burk are busts. Maybe they can move Jackson to safety and salvage him a bit.l Moore is already gone. Scott is developing. Hunter is OK. I still hold out for MVS and ST. Brown.

Just to let you know, this is what SF did this year with their draft. Three starters, a backup OT that looks like he will develop. A punter who did better than Scott in the championship game. And a couple of picks that got hurt and didn't play.

Folks, that is what we need this year... Hitting on one or two doesn't cut it anymore.

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Timeout's picture

February 21, 2020 at 05:58 am

I agree, add Burks to the list of failed 3rd picks Montravious Adams, Khyri Thorton and to a lesser extent Kyler Fackrell.

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CoachDino's picture

February 21, 2020 at 01:37 pm

The problem is that according to history teams really only hit on a few players in every draft. After the 3rd round there's like a 25% chance of that player becoming a starter.
50% of first round picks are considered disappointments and a chunk of them are total busts. The numbers show after the 3rd pick in the draft the odds of a stud drop drastically.

All that said What a bad draft. You did get 1 instant starter and potential star. That is a success. Jones and Burks look like straight up busts but that can turn around. You do have a Punter, Long Snapper which is good use of late picks. EQS pans out as a #2 or #3 the draft would be considered a success. Not strong.

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blacke00's picture

February 20, 2020 at 04:46 pm

Not impressed with Gute so far. Let's see how th 2019 Draft stacks up, but I'm not holding out hope.

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mamasboy's picture

February 20, 2020 at 06:05 pm

After Alexander and maybe EQ and Madison, that draft looks a lot like 2015.

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Stroh's picture

February 20, 2020 at 09:02 pm

Jackson hasn't regressed, he just never was any good to begin with. Same CB he was as a rookie, with the same mistakes. The fact he started 10 games as a rookie is more indicative of how poor the secondary was that season. He is terrible in backpedal as well as flipping his hips to turn and run. His lack of speed shows up only when he's already been beaten at the break point in the route. He made plays in the Big 10 playing against college WR and terrible Big 10 QB like Hornibrook and TJ Barrett. Jackson is a lost cause and always has been. He should have been traded or drafted by a zone coverage team. Now its too late to get any value for him.

I still have some faint hope for Burks, only because he missed so much during Training camp and preseasons. Slight chance he can turn it around and become something more than a productive ST player.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

February 21, 2020 at 10:39 am

Jackson was drafted because his RAS is 9.73. He had more interceptions than any other college football player the year he was drafted. Give Gray a chance to see if we can get anything out of him. He made plays in college by being in the right place at the right time regardless of competition. If it was just QB play every big ten CB would have that amount of INTs.

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Thegravedigger's picture

February 21, 2020 at 12:26 am

I guess you could count darnell savage in this draft too since gut traded down to still pick jaire. So if savage keeps doing his thing and keeps the arrow up i would say not a bad draft. Still would like either burks eq or mvs to turn into something. I think eq has a better shot at being a solid reliable receiver than mvs. Id take either or though.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 21, 2020 at 11:39 am

Burks has a spot on sp teams, maybe?

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Exprt's picture

February 21, 2020 at 08:34 am

This draft is a disaster. Nothing 2-4. Then an ok punter. Wheres the Ml, Ot ,Te Wr, and rb. Draft the best available regardless of position. Go to free agency for position of need.
Let's get real!

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dobber's picture

February 21, 2020 at 08:48 am

The order of player procurement (FA ---> draft) doesn't lend itself to that unless your needs can be filled from a pool of players who are aging, pedestrian, or problem children.

FA allows you to narrow needs going into the draft, but it's still a crap shoot as to whether you're going to get the players you need there.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 21, 2020 at 09:32 am

Rule of thumb is three years. That's how long it takes for a class to shake out. Right now I say it's more a mix bag than anything else. As usual for this organization, injuries hit players they were counting on. Jackson and Burke's injuries were far more serious than the Packers understood, so their recovery time was longer. A lost season for both, it happens. The timeline for ESB is unknown for us fans, but let's not forget he had an awful knee injury in a preseason game when he had already made the team. MVS high ankle was never right after he came back. Packers valued him enough that they never shut him down. JK Scott played and punted well over this season at close to a blue chip level, and the rest were developmental players that teams draft to build on. It's those developmental types that make or break your draft, and your team. We'll see how this group plays out this year...

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dobber's picture

February 21, 2020 at 09:47 am

It could be the Packers still see a lot in that combination of Lazard, ESB and MVS, and that injuries hid what they really had in two of them. Maybe they essentially ride that group again in 2020, but if they do...man, the wolves will be howling.

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Packerfansupreme's picture

February 23, 2020 at 07:33 am

It's funny I was thinking about this draft class the other day. So far, outside of Alexander,hasn't looked great. Having a team with a draft and develop philosophy, we need more hits than misses. Hope this offseason is one to build off of

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