Packers 2019 Draft Class - NFL Player Comps

If you've been following me for a while, this is not a new piece.  Comps are always the easiest way to explain a prospect.  A comp is a player that we've seen play, at least for a few years, in the NFL.  These are of course optimistic in nature.  You're not going to compare guys to fringe players on an NFL roster.  You're going to do it with guys that fans have heard of.  I get a few wrong (Carl Bradford as Lamarr Woodley) and a few right (Corey Linsley as Scott Wells and Aaron Jones as Warrick Dunn), as do most.  If you want to check my work (boy I've been doing this for a while now), I've provided the links below.  

2018
2017
2016
2015
2014

Round 1a - Rashan Gary: Cameron Jordan, EDGE New Orleans Saints

Gary is not the speed/bend pass rusher that I love or that I felt the Packers could've used to pair with the Smiths, but heh is a rare size/speed combination, there is no question.  Cam Jordan in New Orleans is a great example of what Gary can become. 

Jordan has been one of the best defensive players in all of football for the last three seasons.  Despite a lack of tremendous bend, Jordan registered 12 sacks, 9 hits and 45 hurries, all the while grading in the top 5 of Pro Football Focus' run defenders on the edge.  Rashan's ability to corner is not on tape.  It's not really in the testing either.  His 7.26 3 cone drill was basically his one non-elite test for a man of his size.  

Gary's actually a better athlete than Jordan, but he's got a long way to go to become the same quality of player.  That's not saying much, though.  Jordan is, or at least should be, a perennial All Pro.

Round 1b - Darnell Savage: Nick Collins, S Green Bay Packers

It is borderline sacrilege to compare a Packers safety to Collins.  He's the best player I've seen at that position on this team since I've had any idea what I'm looking at.  With that said, the similiarities are striking.  Collins was a cornerback/safety hybrid at Bethune Cookman.  Savage played corner, slot, and safety at Maryland.  Collins ran a 4.36 40, Darnell Savage ran a 4.36 40.  Both guys, at 5'11" or so, are an inch or two shorter than you'd like a safety to be.  

Since the day of his neck injury the Packers have tried (and failed) to replace him.  It can certainly be argued that HaHa Clinton-Dix's excellent second season as the closest thing they've had.  Savage has the potential to be one of the truly difficult things to find in football, a single-high safety capable of excelling.  Sure. Savage, like Collins, can cause havoc around the LOS or in the slot, but that play that Collins made in Super Bowl XLV was everything he was about.  Yes, of course Roethlisberger's arm was hit, but Collins made the play from way down the middle of the field, and then made something special happen when he got his hands on the ball.

Round 2 - Elgton Jenkins: Brandon Linder, C Jacksonville Jaguars

Jenkins and Linder are relatively tall for centers, especially with a shorter (relatively) QB like Rodgers.  Linder was an excellent guard for the Jaguars as a rookie and has since kicked inside.

The Packers seem to believe Jenkins can play four or five positions for them and already list the young man as a guard.  Jenkins is a top tier interior offensive line talent, that is not something the Packers have drafted in a very long time.  They prefer to select tackles and kick them inside.

Round 3 - Jace Sternberger: Dallas Goedert, TE Philadelphia Eagles

Goedert may not have been as late an addition to the tight end room as Sternberger was, but the play types are very similar.  They both high point the football really well, excel in the open field and frankly weren't asked to block much in college.

Goedert did an excellent job blocking for the Eagles in his second season as a pro.  Sternberger at least shows the effort there.  If Jace is a big slot tight end, that's a fun little addition to the offense.  If he is a true threat at the "Y", the way that Goedert and his teammate Zach Ertz are, that's a completely different proposition.  

Round 5 - Kingsley Keke: Akiem Hicks, IDL Chicago Bears

This one definitely leans into the "best-case scenario" standpoint.  Hicks was somewhat of a late bloomer, and the same could potentially be expected out of Keke.  Keke has moved around a bit positionally.  He played inside as a sophomore and junior, but got moved around as a defensvie end in 2018.  

Kingsley is a quick-winning defensive interior disruptor. A play the run on the way to the quarterback type of player.  He's the kind of guy Ben Fennell has been begging the Packers to acquire.  With that said, he's a fifth round pick.  It's entirely possible, if not even likely that Keke will be on the Montravius Adams schedule of succeeding in year three or four.  Hicks didn't really break out until after his rookie contract and his move to Chicago to work with Fangio. The hope is of course that Pettine can have a similar effect on Keke without the need of a change in teams.

Round 6a - Ka'Dar Hollman: Aqib Talib, CB Los Angeles Rams

Hollman is long and runs well and is at his best as a press-man corner.  I would defintiely put him on a slower track than any expectations you'd ever have for Talib.  They were picked really far apart.  

With that said, both guys have tremendous length, run faster than most guys their size, and played college ball at non-traditional football powers.  Expecting Talib's career out of Hollman is foolish, but anticipating a similar style of play is not.  

I would not anticipate Hollman to contribute as a nickel player.  I would anticipate he tries to jam receivers on the outside.

Round 6b - Dexter Williams: Ryan Grant, RB Green Bay Packers

This one is too easy!  Just because Grant was a Notre Dame alum and a Pro Bowl level player and Williams is a sixth round pick actually doesn't mean that this one is in the unlikely category.  Chris Carson, a seventh round pick, and Philip Lindsay, a UDFA were both in the NFL's top 10 in rushing a season ago.  It's a very fluid position with a short shelf life.  Grant himself was an undrafted free agent. 

As far as play style is concerned, both are a perfect fit for the zone scheme that Green Bay ran while Grant was on the team and the zone scheme that LaFleur will want to run.  Both guys are one cut runners with tremendous balance through contact.  Williams is easily the most talented third option the Packers have had while Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have been tere.  At 5'11" and 216 he possesses the frame and size of a feature back.

Limited college production, with Grant playing behind Julius Jones and Dexter playing behind Josh Adams, affected the draft stock of both players.

Round 7 - Ty Summers: Jordan Hicks, ILB Eagles

Hicks reminds me the most of another linebacker from a Texas college, Jordan Hicks.  Both are rangy linebackers with elite athleticism.  Hicks is a bit quicker, Summers possesses better long speed.  Hicks was a mid orund pick, which is of course means he was taken well ahead of the Summers selection.  

Hicks cut his teeth with the Eagles on special teams early.  He's going to have to do the same thing in Green Bay.  There is not likely a path to immediate playing time for a 7th round rookie.

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Ross Uglem is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @RossUglem 

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Comments (31)

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draftnut59's picture

April 29, 2019 at 05:18 pm

I like your form of optimism.

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Ross Uglem's picture

April 29, 2019 at 05:31 pm

I appreciate that, and as I said, these are inhernetly optimistic. This is more about playing style than it is an actual likelihood that all of these draftees reach all of these levels. It would literally be the greatest draft class of all time.

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marpag1's picture

April 30, 2019 at 01:47 pm

"...these are inhernetly optimistic"

Don't be too hard on yourself. The 2014 comparison of Jeff Janis to Terrell Owens was almost spot on... almost. ;)

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albert999's picture

April 29, 2019 at 05:55 pm

Thumbs up Ross

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wildbill's picture

April 29, 2019 at 06:49 pm

Fun article, thanks

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dobber's picture

April 30, 2019 at 08:53 am

...and also the links to past draft comps were fun to investigate. Thanks for providing those, Ross.

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4thand10's picture

April 29, 2019 at 07:35 pm

Pretty well thought out article. You put a lot of work into this. I like it.

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Turophile's picture

April 30, 2019 at 07:43 am

Nice piece, Ross.

Hated the Gary pick when it was made. After (much) more digging I feel pretty good about him now. Another versatile addition, I think in two years he could surpass the Smiths and be 'the man' as a pass rusher.

Always thought Savage was awesome. As you said, how many guys can play single high properly, precious few have enough speed AND good enough instincts AND the desire to get in and tackle well. Savage may be an inch or two smaller than ideal and a few pounds lighter - but that doesn't matter stacked up against what he can do.

Elgton Jenkins was a real solid pick. Great fit for LaFleur's outside zone running. Smart, strong, flexible, positionally versatile, = safe pick and quality addition.

Loved the Sternberger pick even when I though his speed was 4.75 (his combine 40). For a 6'4", 250+ guy, he is absurdly smooth running down the field, he makes good cuts seamlessly, has good hands and plays faster than he times. When I heard Gute timed him in a workout at 4.66, that was icing. He isn't a blocking TE (at least not now), but as a move TE he could be a very nice addition.

As for the other picks, i thought the best of them was the RB Dexter Williams, just a great fit for what LaFleur wants.

Regarding the picks i haven't mentioned, I am going to wait until TC to get a better idea of their talents.

Taken as a whole, I'm very satisfied with the job Gutekunst has done. His choices show he is a confident drafter, willing to back his opinions up by picking guys with some issues, but someone that he obviously loved (Gary), and being willing to spend picks to move up for the right guy (Savage).

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zeroluv's picture

April 29, 2019 at 08:28 pm

I think Savage has the play style of Earl Thomas. Same height, weight, speed and hits like a mack truck. Based on tape....I don’t think that’s a stretch at all.

Gary looks and feels more like Julius Peppers. The only thing is Gary played with his hands in the dirt...not sure how he will adjust to being a linebacker but he does have the body type for linebacker.

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zeroluv's picture

April 29, 2019 at 08:37 pm

So quick question...I believe this is Crosby’s last year on his mega contract he signed 5 years ago. The Packers signed Sam Fricken a month ago to compete for the kicking spot. I like Mason crosby a lot but I would let Crosby walk and pick up a compensatory pick in 2021 if another team signs him. Do you think the Packers should look to try out UDFA kickers this year? I didn’t see any kicker invites. Just curious...

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Donster's picture

April 30, 2019 at 05:47 am

You got your wish zeroluv...

The Green Bay Packers have invited the most productive kicker in the history of college football for a tryout at rookie minicamp this week.

According to Brooks Kubena of The Advocate, LSU kicker Cole Tracy will be in Green Bay attempting to earn a contract at rookie minicamp.

Tracy (5-11, 184) made 29 of 33 field goal attempts and all 42 extra points for LSU last season. He was second in the FBS in made field goals and 10th in field goal percentage. He also tied a school record with a career-long 54-yard field goal and hit the game-winner against LSU.

Tracy was named first-team All-SEC, second-team All-American and a Lou Groza Award finalist. He participated in the Senior Bowl in January.

Before arriving at LSU in 2018 as a graduate transfer, Tracy made 68 total field goals at DII Assumption College. All combined, Tracy made 97 field goals and scored 502 total points, both NCAA records for all divisions.

For his career, Tracy connected on 82.9 percent of his total field goals, missing only five of 77 attempts inside 40 yards and hitting 7-of-10 opportunities over 50.

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NickPerry's picture

April 30, 2019 at 06:19 am

I saw that they invited Tracy too. IF the guy comes in for a tryout and kicks lights out my hope is he'll be there in the Summer and given a shot. BUT with a rookie comes much more uncertainty than Crosby has given me since 2012. Just look at Daniel Carlson last year for the Queenies...

UGH... Sometimes I hate change!

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zeroluv's picture

April 30, 2019 at 06:28 am

I love it! Hopefully he wins the job and we put him in the practice squad for a year to keep developing. Then after this season he takes over for Mason Crosby and we get a compensatory pick for him. Win win in my opinion.

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Coldworld's picture

April 30, 2019 at 06:57 am

Crosby is aging. Over his career he has been a good but not great kicker. At some point it will be necessary to move on. Whether that is now is questionable.

Obviously a lot depends on the team’s internal valuation but also on contractual status. With the tighter Cap position, one has to wonder whether Resigning Crosby is viable with all the other commitments even if it were preferred. Changing from a reliable, proven kicker is, however, not without risk: see the Bears’ current experience.

Additionally, with new coaches and I hope major changes in special teams, is this the time? One could argue it’s a good time for a clean break, but I lean to the view of it being better not to add another complication unless they really believe Crosby is in decline. Let the coaches focus on the other major tasks before them.

The newly invited kicker is intriguing. Why only invite to try out? Looking (without any real knowledge) at his record, one would think he would be worth an off season at least? It is possible that this suggests the one recently picked up is believed to be a real prospect, contrary to the general assumption here. It could be that the idea is simply to head-to-head those two and pick an off season competitor.

I don’t have a strong feeling on Crosby either way. Nor do I have the skills or information to evaluate kickers. I do think that we are seeing the beginning of the end though. Whether this is the ideal time to move on is questionable, but I see it as a possibility if someone significantly out performs him.

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zeroluv's picture

April 30, 2019 at 07:05 am

Well said Coldworld...Signing Sam Fricken and inviting a UDFA to compete is telling. I love Crosby as a Packer but he will command more money than Fricken or a Rookie. Many people never think of the future and next year with all of the players we will lose we should have 25 million in cap space. We will need to sign Kenny Clark and hopefully Martinez. After that....we will just have enough for the rookie draft class and a few million to cover any Mid season FA we might need to sign for injuries. I don’t think we can afford to keep him and since he is still serviceable....a team will sign him and we will be given a compensatory pick which is huge!

Also in 2021 we have David Bakhtiari due and he will command a lot of money as he is one of the best tackles in the game if not the best.

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dobber's picture

April 30, 2019 at 08:25 am

Can he kick when the weather turns to crap and the ball turns into a rock?

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Handsback's picture

April 29, 2019 at 08:41 pm

Ross...great job. Its not easy to find those comps.
Summers worries me a little in that Patterson, coach at TCU, is know to get the most out of defensive players. If he couldn't get Summers to play more instinctively I'm skeptical any coach can reach him. That being said....he could be a ST demon.

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Ross Uglem's picture

April 29, 2019 at 11:52 pm

at any rate I would not fret over a seventh-round pick. These guys rarely ever hit. They are basically UDFAs.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

April 30, 2019 at 07:01 am

Ross,
Your 'comps' make me wonder if by day you are a real estate agent, loan officer, or appraiser. LOL!

Nice work!

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Coldworld's picture

April 30, 2019 at 07:04 am

Prospect with elite measurables but in need of further development is effectively a way of saying special teams with a chance of genuine upside.

I am glad we take this type of risk in the seventh round and not in the mid rounds. This pick reminds me in many ways of Jones without the positional uncertainty except that it is in the right round to pick that way. Ironically they may end up competing for the same or similar roles.

In the meantime, I hope players like Summers can form a disciplined and effective special teams corps. Got to love the speed and agility they bring.

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zeroluv's picture

April 30, 2019 at 07:09 am

Special teams players are the X factor to any game. Our Special Teams were terrible last year. We could help give Rodgers a shorter field or even flip it to save our lives. I like Ty Summers....I wish him well. I think he can take over for Oren Burks for special teams and let Burks focus on ILB duties which is what he was drafted for.

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Since'61's picture

April 29, 2019 at 10:22 pm

Nice job Ross. The player comp s provide a nice perspective on what we might expect over time from our draft class. Thanks, Since '61

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bodei1newbie1's picture

April 30, 2019 at 04:45 am

nice job Ross but we will see what they can do

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Cartwright's picture

April 30, 2019 at 05:01 am

Since Rashad almost has his number, a comp to Dick Butkus would have been nice. and because of the number they gave him was wondering if he'll play middle linebacker in spots and not just along the line. A world record holder in the 40 yard dash, you can do a lot with that.

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Lphill's picture

April 30, 2019 at 05:38 am

I think Ty Summers is being underestimated, I think he makes the 53 on special teams and maybe more.

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Coldworld's picture

April 30, 2019 at 07:09 am

I think he was drafted to do that. I believe the Packers are moving to building a small core of players retained for ST. That is what the best ST units have trended towards in recent years. I particularly like that idea given that we are promised a thorough overhaul of ST approach and culture. Part of that should be giving these guys more of a ST focus and motivation to lead that change.

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NickPerry's picture

April 30, 2019 at 06:03 am

Nice Ross... Hopefully they come close or surpass those you've compared them to. IF that was to happen we'll be celebrating another SB trophy at 1265 Lombardi very, very soon.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 30, 2019 at 07:11 am

The hard part with comparisons is everyone will want to compare their careers. Which is not fair nor the point of doing a comparison.

Comparing their style of play is the best thing to do which is exactly what you did. Great Job!

Overall I like the comparisons.

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LambeauPlain's picture

April 30, 2019 at 08:02 am

If Savage becomes the second coming of St. Nick, Gutey will be viewed a prophet in GB. Virtually no one in draftnick world saw Savage as the top Safety. Gutey did, and wanted him to be a Packer....badly.

I also like the comp of Williams to Grant. And of Sternberger to Goeddert.

I think Jace could be the sleeper steal of this draft class. He was the most productive TE in college last year in yards per catch and total yards. Great routes and body control to make his field speed far better than 40 speed. And he catches EVERYTHING.

Good article Ross. (But proof read before posting....lots of misspellings.)

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LambeauPlain's picture

April 30, 2019 at 08:02 am

If Savage becomes the second coming of St. Nick, Gutey will be viewed a prophet in GB. Virtually no one in draftnick world saw Savage as the top Safety. Gutey did, and wanted him to be a Packer....badly.

I also like the comp of Williams to Grant. And of Sternberger to Goeddert.

I think Jace could be the sleeper steal of this draft class. He was the most productive TE in college last year in yards per catch and total yards. Great routes and body control to make his field speed far better than 40 speed. And he catches EVERYTHING.

Good article Ross. (But proof read before posting....lots of misspellings.)

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Titletown tremor's picture

April 30, 2019 at 09:40 am

Goedert was a rookie last year. He is much more physical than Sternberger

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