The Packers Have Gotten Good Value in the Seventh Round of the Draft Recently

It is rare for NFL teams to have great success in the seventh and final round of the NFL Draft. In fact, a seventh-round pick has a 30 to 35 percent chance of even making an NFL roster, let alone becoming a significant contributor or a starter. Despite these odds, Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst has found some contributors in the seventh round in recent years with some promising additions made in this year’s draft as well.

In 2022, the Packers selected offensive tackle Rasheed Walker in the seventh round with the 249th overall pick. Walker had been a highly regarded prospect before his final season at Penn State but struggled in his final season in college. That led him to slide down the draft board from a potential day one or two pick, to a seventh-round selection.

After playing just four snaps in one game as a rookie, Walker made significant progress in his second NFL season. He took over as the Packers starting left tackle in Week 2 after David Bakhtiari was injured. The Penn State alum started 15 games for the Packers and played 78 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.

After struggling with inconsistency a bit early, Walker improved as the season progressed. By the end of the season, Walker was a good pass blocker and a solid starter. He will be battling for the starting left tackle job again in 2024 with first round pick Jordan Morgan.

In 2023, the Packers added two more players in the seventh round who have already exceeded expectations. With the 232nd overall pick, the Pack chose cornerback Carrington Valentine. The Kentucky product made a strong first impression in training camp and that continued throughout the preseason.

During the regular season, Valentine started 12 games while playing in all 17 games. He became a starter due to injuries to Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes and proved equal to the task.

Valentine’s play was good enough to give Gutekunst the confidence to trade away veteran cornerback Rasul Douglas to the Bills at the NFL trade deadline.

Opposing quarterbacks completed just 57.6 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Valentine according to pro-football-reference.com and had a quarterback rating of just 84.8.

Valentine has looked good at OTAs this year and again drawn praise from Matt LaFleur and the coaching staff. He is expected to battle with Stokes for the starting boundary cornerback position opposite Alexander. Even if he doesn’t win the job, Valentine will likely play a significant role in Jeff Hafley’s new defense in 2024.

Ten picks after Valentine, the Packers selected Anthony Johnson Jr., out of Iowa State. Johnson started four games as a rookie and played in 12. He broke up three passes and made his first career interception. Opposing quarterbacks had a 66.8 rating when throwing to receivers covered by Johnson last season.

Johnson showed promise and will fight for a bigger role in the secondary in 2024.

This season, Gutekunst selected two players in the seventh round, and both have been pleasant surprises during rookie camp and OTAs.

Quarterback Michael Pratt is in a battle with Sean Clifford for the backup quarterback spot. The Tulane native was more accurate and did a better job of protecting the ball than Clifford did in OTAs. Pratt was also a player the Packers thought would go higher in the draft and were pleasantly surprised when he was available in the final round.

Then, with their final pick this season, the Packers added cornerback Kalen King. The former Penn State star was viewed as one of the top defensive backs in the draft before his final college season, but his play fell off in 2023. The Packers hope they can get King back to where he was a year ago and make a productive NFL player out of him.

Seventh round picks don’t usually make major contributions to NFL teams. The Packers have had more production from their seventh-round picks in the past few years than most. They are optimistic that that will be true again with Pratt and King this season and that the players they’ve already added will continue to contribute to the team’s success.

 

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You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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5 points
 

Comments (10)

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 15, 2024 at 03:10 pm

Obviously anything you get out of the 7th rounders is great but they also had four picks in the round in both '22 and '23 so odds are one or two could turn out. If two or three of them get 2nd contracts that's a home run.

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BubbaOne's picture

June 15, 2024 at 05:09 pm

Hmm, with the way drafting been going for Gutey, maybe he should trade his 3rd round pick for two 7th rounders...nyuk, nyuk!

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Bure9620's picture

June 15, 2024 at 07:22 pm

Sean Rhyan looks to be coming along a likely starter, Kraft was very solid in the second half of last season as well.

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Bure9620's picture

June 15, 2024 at 06:57 pm

It's actually quite an anomaly what they have found in the 7th. Walker and Valentine alone becoming contributors, one a 3rd boundary corner and the other a starter is pretty crazy..

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Johnblood27's picture

June 15, 2024 at 07:41 pm

Two words...

1) Donald

2) Driver

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Johnblood27's picture

June 15, 2024 at 07:42 pm

2 more words...

1) Mark

2) Tauscher

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splitpea1's picture

June 15, 2024 at 07:45 pm

2 more: Jim Ringo.

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Johnblood27's picture

June 15, 2024 at 09:58 pm

Ringo was back when there was a 35 round draft...

correction - 30 rounds!

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

June 16, 2024 at 11:19 am

Blood, you stole my thunder when you posted the great Donald Driver. Good post.

Few were better than Donald Driver, but the old time Green Packers legend Willie Wood who was passed over during the 20 rounds in the 1960 draft is one of them. I loved to watch him play the game and was 9 time pro bowl selection. It was a great day when our head coach at the time Vince Lombardi decided to respond to Willie's letter requesting a tryout.

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jurp's picture

June 16, 2024 at 05:32 pm

Some of those stories out of the 50s and 60s are wild. My favorite one is how the Steelers cut Johnny Unitas, without giving him one snap in practice. No one signed him, so he played only semi-pro football for $6 a game for a full season. Before the next season. he was asked at the last minute to join a fellow semi-pro baller at his tryout - and then the Colts signed him.

Of course, Starr has his own strange-ish origin story, too. Who knows what would've happened if Lamar McHan hadn't gotten a bit drunk and confronted Lombardi at dinner in 1960...

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