Weekend picks and a peek at the future

Analyzing the 2020 Draft class

No grades, please.

It's impossible to determine if the weekend drafting by the Green Bay Packers will pan out or wash out before all of the team's and NFL's virtual technological hook-ups are even unplugged.  Let's give it some time, shall we?

But we can make some judgments on what General Manager Brian Gutekunst was thinking when his picks were submitted and offer some insight into how Head Coach Matt LaFleur will incorporate his 2020 draft class moving forward.

Let's take it pick by pick.

Round 1  Pick 26    Jordan Love   Quarterback   Utah State

The fact that it was a quarterback at number one was surprising enough, but giving up a 4th round pick to move up four spots to make sure you got Love?   Gutekunst must have known another team was lurking to jump between 27 and 29 to draft the Utah State prospect.     Packer fans have been blessed, no, maybe spoiled by watching first ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame play at the game's most important position for 28 years.   The Packers should squeeze a couple more years out of Aaron Rodgers at least, having him under contract through the 2023 season.  So why take Love?   Just ask the vast majority of NFL teams that have not been so blessed.   Without a top flight quarterback,  you've got a very slim chance to win consistently.   Love won't turn 22 until November.   If he's as special as the Packers believe he can be, maybe the run will continue.   At the very least, if something happens to Rodgers,  the Packers shouldn't be subjected to Brett Hundley or DeShone Kizer misadventures in the interim.   Sure it's a risk, but if it pays off.....   If it doesn't, the Packers will join all but a handful of NFL teams scrambling to find that next great QB.

LaFleur didn't speak with reporters until the end of the draft on Saturday night and his session with the media started with the decision to draft Love and proceeding on to the tightrope of coaching a Hall of Famer to be and the prized recruit:

 (Audio:  Matt LaFleur)

I was on the beat when Rodgers arrived in 2005 with Brett Favre beginning his annual retirement waffling.  It will be interesting to see how Rodgers handles himself and plays with a legitimate heir apparent in town.

Round 2  Pick 62  A.J. Dillon   Running Back  Boston College

This might be an indication why the Packers stayed away from the wide receiver crop  all weekend.    Matt LaFleur's ideal offense wants to get more out of the ground game to relieve pressure on Rodgers so he doesn't have to make ALL the plays.     Aaron Jones was fantastic last season, Jamaal Williams had his moments and Dillon will offer the system more power at 245 pounds and a surprising alternative in the screen or check down passing game.   Just go back to the 49er offense in the NFC title game.  Kyle Shanahan's game plan buried the Packers on the ground and don't forget, Raheem Mostert was the Niner's third string back who inflicted the punishment.    Dillon will spare Jones hits.  He might also replace either Jones or Williams who enter the final year of their contracts.

Round 3 Pick 94  Joshiah Deguara   Tight End  Cincinnati

LaFleur said he loves this pick because Deguara can enter a huddle and line up out wide, at the end of the line or in the backfield and make plays from all three locations.   The Packers want creativity from this position.  It was obvious Jimmy Graham's skills had eroded to the point it was way too expensive to bring him back for the final year of his contract.   Mercedes Lewis is the perfect professional mentor to the rest of the youngsters.  He'll be the heavyweight blocking tight end while Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger continue growing up in the system.

Round 5 Pick 175  Kamal Martin  Linebacker  Minnesota

This energetic linebacker will be hard pressed to wrestle what precious few snaps Oren Burks or second year pro Ty Summers might get alongside new starter Christian Kirksey.   Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will probably continue to utilize an extra safety in the box and that doesn't generate much confidence that the run defense will get significantly better.   At least Martin has a leg up on getting to know his fellow draft class.  He spent much of the early spring working out in California where Jordan Love and A.J. Dillon were also training.

Round  6  Picks 192,  208, 209     The Offensive Line Round

I'm lumping all three players together here, Jon Runyan, Jake Hanson and Simon Stepaniak.    Last year, Jared Veldheer helped rescue the tackle position coming out of retirement but the only reliable backup offensive lineman was Lucas Patrick and the Packers rewarded the reserve with a contract boost.    The jury is still out on Cole Madison and the rest of depth chart will be pushed by these three amigos.    All three, Runyan, the left tackle at Michigan, Hanson, the Oregon center and Indiana's Stepaniak at guard, were multi-year starters at major conference programs.   With coaching, they might develop into serviceable backups or someday, NFL starters.    Keep in mind, David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley have contractural expiration dates looming.

 Round 7 Pick 236  Vernon Scott Safety Texas Christian University

The first of two flyers that the Packers hope can fly downfield and cover kicks.  He has the size and speed to carry out those assignments but will have to sit and learn from Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, drafted as a long term solution at safety just a year ago.

Round 7 Pick 242  Jonathan Garvin  Defensive End Miami of Florida

The least of the Green Bay defensive needs was edge rusher what with the Smith brothers and last year's number one, Rashan Gary.  Yet here comes Garvin who was rated and tested far higher than his 7th round selection would suggest.   Makes me wonder what created that gap but this kid is just 20 years old and can certainly be protected at the tail end of the roster or the practice squad for a couple of years to see exactly what the Packers have.

For me, these are all just names on a list.   My eyes will tell me much more whenever I get to see this group working with veteran players I've watched for years.  But it will literally be two, perhaps three years and in the case of the quarterback, four or five before we know whether Gutekunst helped keep the Packers competitive or led a regression to the rest of the NFL pack.

Mark Daniels

I’ve got Green and Gold in my blood having grown up in Titletown and it’s been a treat watching and covering sports from the Packers to the preps for you in Green Bay for Midwest Communications.
As a kid, I chased Packer players for autographs, I’m still chasing ‘em now for quotes on the big play or big game. I’ve had the opportunity to cover Super Bowls, the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, NBA playoffs and major championship golf over the years but I get just as much enjoyment following the college scene at UWGB or St. Norbert, the Green Bay Gamblers and high school sports.
Our prep coverage was honored as the best of 2007 reinforcing our commitment to give these hard working boys and girls their due.
My work has also been recognized by the Associated Press and Wisconsin Broadcasters Association with several achievement awards.
Outside of the studio, off the field or away from the gym, I’ve had the pleasure of helping dozens of organizations over the years. I’ve served as race announcer and master of ceremonies at the Bellin Run almost from it’s beginning, spoken to various service clubs and hosted charity golf events or team banquets.
My wife Kari and I have raised two active children which has kept us involved in both school and club athletics for nearly 15 years. Chances are you’ll see me on a golf course when the weather’s nice. My roots are deep and that’s why I’m so enthusiastic about this area’s sporting scene, and as I often say, “Watching kids play games helps keep me young!”
Thanks for listening and see you at the game.